Members of the recent folk revival like to paint visionaries like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Bluegrass legends like Del McCoury as their forefathers. Really, though, aside from the “newgrass” groups like the Avett Brothers with their traditional instrumentation, most of today’s mellow acoustic guitar-strumming folk bands draw more from the sometimes maligned folk-rock trend of the later ’60s and ’70s, with bands like Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and their offshoot The Flying Burrito Brothers. In their new Daytrotter session Vetiver embraces this heritage, covering “Here Tonight,” a song that Byrds songwriter Gene Clark wrote for his former bandmates in the Burrito Brothers.
Back in March, the A.V. Club began their latest Undercover set with Iron & Wine covering George Michael. Today, six months later, they wrap it up. In that time we’ve heard performances from the Mountain Goats, They Might Be Giants, the Hold Steady, and a couple dozen more. The final cover comes from Fruit Bats, who were forced to take Loretta Lynn’s “The Other Woman.”
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.
Last month, we heard the first cut from upcoming John Martyn tribute album Johnny Boy Would Love This. Today we have seven more to check out, from some of the album’s heaviest hitters. John Martyn may not be a household name, but these cuts should help breathe new life into many near-forgotten gems.