Solid Air

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This article is about the folk album. For the low density material, see Aerogel.
Solid Air
Solid air.jpg
Studio album by John Martyn
Released February 1973 (1973-02)
Recorded November–December 1972
Length 34:44
Label Island
John Martyn chronology
Bless the Weather
Solid Air
Inside Out
Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[4]

Solid Air is the fourth studio album by the English folk singer-songwriter John Martyn, released in February 1973 by Island Records.


Contemporary reviews were favourable, with music weekly Sounds declaring that "Solid Air flows beautifully and shows the entire spectrum of music that John Martyn has at his fingertips."[5] The album has continued to receive acclaim and is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery.[6] The album was rated as the 67th Greatest British Album Ever by the British music magazine Q, and was also included in their list of Best Chill-Out Albums Of All Time.

"Solid Air", the title track, was dedicated to a friend of Martyn's, Nick Drake.[7] Drake died of an antidepressant overdose 18 months after the album was released. Martyn said of the track "It was done for a friend of mine, and it was done right with very clear motives, and I'm very pleased with it, for varying reasons. It has got a very simple message, but you'll have to work that one out for yourself."[5]

"May You Never" became something of a signature song for Martyn, becoming a staple of his live performances. Released in November 1971 as a single in an early form, the song was re-recorded during the Solid Air sessions.[8] Eric Clapton covered "May You Never" on his 1977 album Slowhand. When Martyn was presented with a lifetime achievement award by Phil Collins (a collaborator of Martyn's) at the 2008 BBC Folk Awards, Clapton sent a message saying that he was "so far ahead of everything else it was inconceivable" and acknowledged the extent of his influence on "everyone who ever heard him."[9][10] Martyn and his band, including John Paul Jones on mandolin, played "May You Never" and "Over The Hill" at the Awards Ceremony.[11]

In 2006, Martyn performed the album live in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series and subsequently toured the UK.

A remastered CD was issued by Universal Records in October 2000. This CD was packaged in a card slipcase, and featured a remastered version of the original album with the addition of a live version of I'd Rather Be The Devil. Solid Air was given a further remastering and repackaging when a double CD reissue curated by John Hillarby was released in 2009, and which included several alternate studio and live versions.

The album cover is an example of schlieren photography demonstrating the 'solid' nature of air.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by John Martyn except "I'd Rather Be the Devil", by Skip James.

The track listing of Solid Air is as follows:[4]

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Solid Air"   5:45
2. "Over the Hill"   2:53
3. "Don't Want to Know"   3:02
4. "I'd Rather Be the Devil"   6:18
5. "Go Down Easy"   3:35
6. "Dreams by the Sea"   3:17
7. "May You Never"   3:41
8. "The Man in the Station"   2:53
9. "The Easy Blues"   3:20
Total length: 34:44

2009 Deluxe Edition Track listing[edit]

Disc 1 (Remastered Original Album)

  1. "Solid Air"
  2. "Over the Hill"
  3. "Don't Want to Know"
  4. "I'd Rather Be the Devil"
  5. "Go Down Easy"
  6. "Dreams by the Sea"
  7. "May You Never"
  8. "The Man in the Station"
  9. "The Easy Blues/Gentle Blues"

Disc 2 (Outtakes, Demos and Live recordings)

  1. "Solid Air" (Alternative Take)
  2. "Over the Hill" (Alternative Take)
  3. "Don't Want to Know" (Alternative Take)
  4. "I'd Rather Be the Devil" (Alternative Take)
  5. "Go Down Easy" (Alternative Take)
  6. "Dreams by the Sea" (Alternative Take)
  7. "May You Never" (Alternative Take)
  8. "The Man in the Station" (Alternative Take)
  9. "The Easy Blues/Gentle Blues" (Alternative Take)
  10. "Keep On"
  11. "When It's Dark"
  12. "In the Evening"
  13. "May You Never" (Single Version)
  14. "The Easy Blues" (Live)
  15. "May You Never" (Live)
  16. "I'd Rather Be the Devil" (Live)



  1. ^ "20 Best Folk Music Albums of All Time". NME. Time Inc. UK. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Fielder, Hugh (September 19, 2016). "The 10 Essential Folk Rock Albums". Classic Rock. TeamRock. Retrieved September 25, 2016. 
  3. ^ Various Mojo Magazine (2007-11-01). The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition. Canongate Books. p. 302. ISBN 978-1-84767-643-6. 
  4. ^ a b Solid Air at AllMusic
  5. ^ a b "The Official John Martyn Website | Maverick singer, songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire!". Retrieved 2014-07-26. 
  6. ^ " Parker...1001 Albums". Retrieved 2014-07-26. 
  7. ^ "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die", Robert Dimery, 2005, p.190
  8. ^ "The Official John Martyn Website | Maverick singer, songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire!". Retrieved 2014-07-26. 
  9. ^ "John Martyn". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-07-26. 
  10. ^ "Press Office - John Martyn picks up Lifetime Achievement Award at Radio 2 Folk Awards". BBC. 2008-02-04. Retrieved 2014-07-26. 
  11. ^ "Radio 2 - Folk Awards 2008 - Report". BBC. Retrieved 2014-07-26. 

External links[edit]