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Amazing Blondel - The Amazing Blondel & A Few Faces CD (album) cover

THE AMAZING BLONDEL & A FEW FACES

Amazing Blondel

 

Prog Folk

2.96 | 27 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This is the debut album from the folk band Amazing Blondel, who was formed from the remnants of the psychedelic band Methuselah. It is pretty much what you would expect from a traditional folk band, but there really isn't a lot of prog on this first album. That doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable, because it is in it's own way. One of the advantages of this album over later albums is that there is more variety apparent, and a lot less pop, which is always a good thing. There are some traditional instruments and some non-traditional, and this all works together quite well and lends to some variety that wasn't present on their more pop oriented albums that would come later. This album also has a lot more than just a couple of guys with acoustic guitars, as you can see from the line-up list above. There is a lot of soul in this album, which is also missing from later albums.

The band ventures away from folk a little bit here and there throughout the album. For example, "Canaan" introduces a bluesy aspect in the vocals, which I was surprised to hear actually work. It definitely sounds like there is a brass section on a few of the songs, but they are not listed in the line-up. There is also plenty of more traditional sounding songs here, including the excellent "Shepard's Song" which is over 6 minutes of acoustics, vocals and a very nice lute melody. I like the variation in the vocals and the harmony present in this song. At this point, on the second half of the album, the songwriting tends to suffer a bit more, but improve a bit on "Minstrel's Song" especially with the longer instrumental break, but still don't quite reach the quality of the first half of the album. The album ends on a low point with the kooky (and, yes, dated) "Bastard Love". This unevenness takes the album from a 4 star to a 3 star rating. But overall, it's still an enjoyable album to listen to on occasion.

Who cares if some of the lyrics are a little corny, because most traditional folk have corny lyrics, at least they sound corny nowadays, but originally they didn't. I am also surprised that this doesn't sound too dated for the most part, but when they revert to trying to produce pop music in later years, they do sound dated. It's nice that this is not so much the case in this collection of tunes.

With the variety of styles here, the band was obviously trying out different sounds to see exactly where their niche was. Of course, as we know, the band would follow the more folk music route then the rock and blues sound, and for the first few albums after this, they do quite well, but at times tend to lack a bit in the variety that is apparent in this album. After the "Blondel" album in 1973, the band would start to venture away from folk and try to introduce pop elements to their sound, and that is where things take a turn downward, seemingly getting worse as time progressed. This is too bad, because they were a decent folk band, even if the sound was not so variable at times and also quite simplistic.

I do like the variety here, and the use of instruments of all kinds, and that the band doesn't just rely on vocals, but have plenty of instrumental passages to keep things interesting. Fun to listen to, but uneven at times. However, it is still mature and interesting enough for a debut album.

TCat | 3/5 |

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