By Various Artists
This album is a tribute to the late, great John Martyn. I suppose it could have been a train-wreck, but it's not. A double album with only a few disappointments. I suppose the depth of his back catalogue helped a lot in averting disaster, there was a lot of good stuff to choose from, that plus the quality of the artists contributing to the project. Not everyone liked John's vocal delivery style and new voices may bring his work to a wider audience. The performers include older established artists like Judy Tsuke and Phil Collins, fellow-traveller alt.folkies like Vashti Bunyan and Beth Orton, some more recent stars like David Gray and Joe Bonammassa and, frankly, some you have heard of (though some may be hiding behind pen names).
Most of the artists play it pretty straight in the style of John, some do it 'their' way and some do something in between. That said, the most interesting performances are where the artist is prepared to take a risk. It seems to be the more established artists or the newbies who were willing to do this. Phil Collins, who worked with John for many years, does a 'Phil Collins, Face Value' era version of 'Tearing and Breaking' and Robert Smith does a jangly guitar Cure-esque version of 'Small Hours'. When I saw that Snow Patrol were doing 'May You Never', a fave of mine, I was expecting a straight(ish) guitar thrash in the style of 'Run' or 'Spitting Games' (Which might have actually worked IMHO). As it happens they try something different, and more in keeping with a late-night sit-on-the-couch-with-a-bottle-of-Red album that this is. They produce a slow builder with strings and brass which climaxes not too far away from what I was expecting.
My favourite tracks include Sabrina Dinan doing a 'Corrine Bailey Rae meets Madeline Peyroux' jazz samba of 'Certain Surprise', Sonia Dada's street-corner soul 'Dancing, the lately departed Syd Kitchen's 'Fine Lines' and, yes, Snow Patrol.
I would have given it a higher score if they had supplied the full album for review and not an 'edited highlights' with the best tracks and most known stars. Luckily it's on Spotify so I could listen to the whole thing.
You can too if you want to try before you buy. http://open.spotify.com/album/2FMxWoZ0AVzFzbQzmdBIQY