John Martyn / The Best of the Island Years: 4CD box set


Many of you will recall the John Martyn Island Years box set from last year. The 18-disc collection was memorable as much for the scale of the undertaking as for the amazing deals/pricing errors (delete as applicable) that came up on Amazon. At one point this massive set was available for around £30!!

Those deals are now a distant memory and you have to pay over £150 at the moment to pick up the big bastard of a box.

Cue then, The Best Of The Island Years, a new set described by Universal as a ‘four-disc digest’ of the definitive 18-disc collection. The 56 tracks here are culled from outtakes, unreleased and rare live recordings – basically best of the box – and includes the three unreleased songs included on the daddy set; Hi Heel Sneakers, from the Grace And Danger sessions; Love In Your Life from Sapphire and Lifeline from the Apprentice sessions.

The Best of the Island Years is set for release on 4 November 2014. Will update this post with track listings as soon as they are confirmed.

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[…] Last week we revealed that Universal Music would be releasing a four-CD ‘highlights’ set of last year’s mammoth John Martyn Island Years box set and today we can reveal the track listing. This 56-track digest is taken entirely from the outtakes and like the big set runs in chronological order and this new set comes packaged as a hardcover ‘book set’. […]

Will Johnston

The MP3 version of the full boxset was £1.29 on 7digital for 24 hours earlier this week!


I think I’ll wait for the best of the best of the best single CD

Stevie Dal

I think it’s good. Bound to be lots of JM fans who have the albums but thought the big box was too expensive (times are tight for many) just r to hear outtakes etc. This way it’s an affordable box with the prime cuts.
Hell , i have the big box but i might even get Santa to bring me this for in the car !

Steven Roberts

Something of a misnomer, titling this set `The Best of the Island Years`.

‘Best of the stuff that didn’t make the cut the first time round’ would be closer to the truth, given that this is comprised entirely of outtakes/live cuts etc.

Not that this still can’t be a great set (I have the mega box, and there are some fantastic rarities, to be sure) – but it’s an odd sort of primer that doesn’t include the classic album versions of May You Never, Small Hours, Sweet Little Mystery……


This may be a bit cynical of me, but I can’t quite see the market for this. I mean, if it operates as a “best of” for Martyn “plus rarities,” we’re golden and newer fans can use it as a primer.

Otherwise, the only market for this would be people who wanted the big box (which I have and it’s a thing of beauty to be sure) but who… either didn’t feel like saving pennies for it… or? I mean, really, if you wanted the whole shebang, there’s no point to this.

Primer it is, then… At least, we can assume so given the lack of a posting track listing.