In a world not necessarily known for altruism and kindness, Martin Stephenson really is one of the good guys. He first came to prominence at the beginning of the 1980s as frontman of The Daintees; one of the more inventive of the guitar bands of the time. They signed to the prestigious Kitchenware label, and released their first album Boat to Bolivia in 1986. Three more albums followed before they parted company with Kitchenware and went their own way.
For the past three decades Martin has been ploughing his own idiosyncratic furrow, taking a mixture of folk, rock, show tunes, roots music, country music and punk, adding a soupcon of Stephenson-magick and producing something which is completely his own.
Now he is doing something very brave, but also very interesting. He has re-recorded the songs from his first four Kitchenware albums, and is releasing these re-imaginings here on Gonzo Multimedia.
Earlier in 2012 he told Gonzo Daily: “I mean albums in a way, are like photographs really. I wish I had more of a documentation-type perspective when I was younger - I would have had an easier time, but the kind of vibe the people gave you in the studio in the early ‘80s, it was like the be-all and end-all , you know, the vocal take your life was on it, you know. It induced a lot of stress in the music, and there was the pressure because of the money was being spent, and you felt a lot of pressure, you know.”
Playing the new versions back to back with the originals is an interesting experience, both for the listener and for Martin. As he said:
“that was an interesting journey to do that, because sometimes when you’re young and they put you in a studio with a producer they tend to try to control you and it’s really good to hear a song that’s not over-produced. It’s a bit like art, you know, I like the sketches and I like all the pencil lines before the covers go on.”
As his latest album (California Star) is testament, Martin continues to make exquisite records and to break new ground artistically, and these four re-imaginings of his earliest works are a valuable and much welcomed addition to his canon of work.
Check out the artist page for Martin Stephenson
Check out the artist page for Martin and Helen
Check out the artist page for The Daintees