The Apprentice was mostly completed a full two years before it was released. Martyn's record label, Island, rejected the tapes of the songs in 1988, even though artistically they were not too far removed from his previous release, Piece by Piece. In fact, this album turned out to be the more cohesive of the two. Eventually released by Permanent Records, it's by and large a well-crafted collection of songs. Its only weaknesses are the sometimes too-strong dependence on synthesizers and the song "Deny This Love," which is Martyn doing bad dance music (and featuring a truly horrible a cappella introduction). Otherwise, it's an enjoyable album. "Look at the Girl" is a wistful follow-up to his 1974 song "My Baby Girl," while the haunting and moving "Patterns in the Rain" features Martyn's first recorded acoustic guitar playing in years (even though it's not very predominant). "Income Town" is an upbeat, more rock-oriented track, which has a sort of obscure in-joke added to it. Loud arena applause accompanies the beginning, though listeners will notice in the LP liner notes that the song is credited as being recorded at a club called the Green Banana in Toronto. Longtime fans will recognize this mythical club as a recurring Martyn joke. The Apprentice, along with Cooltide, caps off the smooth jazz sound of his '80s albums, and is one of the best of this series of works.

Leave a Reply