Vince Martin

Vince Martin's primary claim to fame is that he was briefly in a duo with the far more famous (and talented) singer/songwriter Fred Neil, recording one rare LP with him, Tear Down the Walls, just before Neil went solo. Martin had actually entered the music business as a teenager, getting a Top Ten hit with "Cindy Oh Cindy" (backed by the Tarriers) in 1956, and met Neil around 1960, although the two didn't team up until 1964. The record is far more notable for the contributions of Neil (who wrote about half the songs, the others being largely comprised of folk standards) than the far more ordinary-sounding Martin. There's a bit of a schizophrenic feel to the album -- coffeehouse-styled folk on the one hand, and bluesy, more idiosyncratic stuff on Neil's tunes -- and Neil's original songs would have been far more suited to solo delivery than the duet arrangements that made their way onto the release. Still, it's a nice-enough sounding collectable, and also notable for foreshadowing folk-rock in its use of Felix Pappalardi (later to produce Cream) and a pre-Lovin' Spoonful John Sebastian (harmonica) as session musicians. Martin later released some even more obscure material for Capitol as a solo artist, the first of which was If the Jasmine Don't Get You the Bay Breeze Will. The LP, like Fred Neil's Sessions, was produced by Nik Venet, and has a loose jammy vibe. Unsurprisingly, given how Martin and Neil had crossed paths in the 1960s, it was similar in some respects to Neil's work, though the tone was lighter and more country-folk inflected. Another album, Vince Martin, appeared on Capitol in 1973. ~ Richie Unterberger

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