In the mid-eighties, the Canadian New Wave band Platinum Blonde released a song called “Not In Love.” While they achieved hometown success, they remained relatively obscure to the masses. At best, consider them kitschy, but they were never the front-runners of New Wave. And it’s tempting to suggest Platinum Blonde caught a revival when Crystal Castles, featuring Robert Smith, covered “Not In Love” last year. However, Crystal Castles made a far more popular, better-crafted version of the song, leaving Platinum Blonde to remain largely unknown.
Artists who contributed to the new John Martyn tribute album had a lot of options when choosing a track to cover; Martyn released twenty albums during his forty-plus year career. Thirty artists covered a song from Martyn’s expansive catalog to create Johnny Boy Would Love This: A Tribute to John Martyn. The British singer-songwriter, best known for his unique style on guitar, had a career that spanned genres from folk to jazz to rock and his music touched artists old and new. We previewed contributions from Beck, David Gray, and others earlier this month; now the complete album is available.
The remarkable scope of Johnny Boy Would Love This is an asset in that the album offers a rich, diverse group of tracks from well-respected artists. However, similarities between many tracks give the feeling that the collection could have been more carefully curated. Both discs are disproportionately populated with gentle, introspective covers; all the tracks respectfully pay tribute to Martyn, but not all offer something unique to the collection. There are, however, a selection of standouts among the thirty songs that make Johnny Boy Would Love This a worthwhile purchase for Martyn fans.
Song of the Day posts one cool cover every morning. Catch up on past installments here.
Looking at Robert Smith’s exterior, you wouldn’t peg him as a romantic. Yet, behind the eccentric disheveled hair, past the purposely-pasty skin, and beyond the Goth guy-liner, Smith is a pretty sentimental dude. The Cure frontman penned “Just Like Heaven” after an inspiring trip to the seashore with his girlfriend, Mary Poole. The song not only won over the girl who became his wife, but became the band’s first song on the Billboard Top 40.