John Martyn : Small Hours
In November of 1977, the British songwriter John Martyn released One World. Next to 1973's Solid Air, it may be his most cherished album. NME called it "mean, moody and magnificent".
What you would never guess from listening to this man's soft voice and the experience of having his beautiful music wash over you is that Martyn was incredibly tempestuous. By 1977, following the death of friends Nick Drake and Paul Kossoff, Martyn was fully engulfed in his heroin addiction and heavy drinking lifestyle.
One World was an opportunity to return to what he did best. At Island Records founder Chris Blackwell's Berkshire home, Martyn made a mesmerizing album with the help of Stevie Winwood and friends who helped on Solid Air.
When people talk about One World, they inevitably bring up the nearly nine minute closing track "Small Hours". It was recorded outside, near a lake, with Martyn improvising with his guitar and echoplex. The unmistakable sounds of birds ( Loons? Geese?) can be heard. There's some percussion. Some organ from Winwood and Martyn singing " Keep on loving while your love is strong, Keep on loving 'til your love is gone away".
One of 1977's transcendent moments.