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Amazing Blondel

Prog Folk

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Amazing Blondel England album cover
3.37 | 52 ratings | 13 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

- The Paintings (Three Pastoral Settings For Voices, Flute, Guitars And Orchestra):
1. Seascape (6:13)
2. Landscape (7:38)
3. Afterglow (3:40)
4. A Spring Air (3:41)
5. Cantus Firmus To Counterpoint (3:21)
6. Sinfonia For Guitar And Strings (3:11) (from the suite 'For My Ladys Delight')
7. Dolor Dulcis (Sweet Sorrow) (3:25)
8. Lament To The Earl Of Battesford Beck (3:11)

Total Time: 34:42

Line-up / Musicians

- John Gladwin / lead vocals, 2nd guitar, double bass, tabor, tubular bells
- Terence Wincott / flute, recorder, harmonium, pipe organ, Mellotron, bongos, percussion, vocals
- Edward Baird / 1st guitar, dulcimer, 12-string guitar, percussion, vocals

- Adrian Hopkins / harpsichord (6,7), strings / oboe / horn arranger & conductor
- Jaque La Roche / strings ensemble leader

Releases information

Artwork: Colin Carr

LP Island Records - ILPS 9205 (1972, UK)

CD Edsel Records - EDCD 501 (1996, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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AMAZING BLONDEL England ratings distribution

(52 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

AMAZING BLONDEL England reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Of the acnowledged trilogy of Amazing Blondel (the first three albums), it is this one I appreciate the less, but very slightly less so! The usual music developped in the previous two albums is again present here oscillating between Tir Na NOg , Malicorne & Gryphon but always remaining a tad below those acts. Further comparisons to Steeleye Span can be made.

If I may point out, there is a compilation of the first three albums (Evensong, England & Fantasia Lindum) called Englishe Musicke that will fit perfectly as a good introduction to the band. My personal advice would be to stick at that as the rest of their career is definitely less interesting and they will even lose the Amazing part of their name (not that they ever were amazing anyway)

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars England is a peculiar album to handle. It doesn't contain any passages of complex progressive music and at no point does rock come into the picture. Yet it sits very comfortably in any progressive rock collection. The downright languid pastoral music performed by the trio of Gladwin, Baird and Wincott may well be original compositions (at least they're credited as such even if a couple of them seem like re-arranged classical staples) but they are rooted very much in the traditions of Elizabethan England.

The musical style on this album sees Wincott's fluttering flute and a string orchestra conducted by one Adrian Hopkins (who also guests on haprsichord) adding glorious flourishes over a double acoustic guitar "attack" comprising Baird and Gladwin, but if one was truly pressed to name the distinguishing feature of this record, it would undoubtedly be Gladwin's timeless rich melodies that come to mind. The vocal stylings will not be to everyone's taste (the word "twee" does come to mind!) but coupled with lyrics that evoke an England that died centuries ago, Gladwin successfully takes his listeners with him on a uniquely rustic time travel.

The quality of the music is astonishingly consistent throughout the album although the three-part opener The Paintings is never quite surpassed. Other highlights include A Spring Air, Cantus Firmus To Counterpoint, Sinfonia For Guitar And Strings, Doctor Dulcis (Sweet Strings and Lament To The Earl Of Bottlesford Beck. Wait a minute ... did I just name the whole album?

Seriously, as a mood-setter, this album has few peers, but you really have to be in the mood. As I said earlier ... a peculiar album to handle. ... 65% on the MPV scale

Review by kenethlevine
4 stars As with the previous "Fantasia Lindum", "England" finds Amazing Blondel burning out on Side 1, but what a majestic explosion it is! Here we have a trio of songs, two of them unusually long by Blondel standards, all audio paintings of natural scenery. They are not quite a suite like "Lindum", but both "Seascape" and "Landscape" allow for more progression and development than the miniature components of the prior effort. Both are of interest to progressive fans who prefer a soft, deliberately antique style, not because it really slots into our genre so readily, but simply because of the level of quality and underlying gentle seriousness, or perhaps more studiousness, of the lyrical imagery, composition, and arrangement.

The shortest and last part of the trilogy might be the best thing they ever did. "Afterglow" really condenses the band's love of their surroundings and is simply rousing in every sense. The vocal technique of Mr Gladwin is staggering in its beauty, and the lilting harmonies only augment his efforts. As for the rest, "Sweet Sorrow" has a similar timbre and is also uplifting, but the rest of side 2 is nice without being outstanding in any way.

After "England", apparently Mr Gladwin didn't feel he had much more to add, so he departed the group not to return until their brief 90s reunion. The band soldiered on and maintained quality through several releases, but it was Gladwin who had made them amazing and oh so much a product of England.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Charming but unchallenging

Amazing Blondel represents a very sweet and soft Folk style. This music is purely acoustic Folk with lovely melodies and sweet harmonies. While I find this music listenable and even quite charming at times, I must say that it is exceptionally easy on the ear and it offers very little challenge for the Prog fan.

There are sweet harmony vocals here, but not at all the kind of complex harmony vocals that, for example, Gentle Giant are loved for. There are also lots of lovely flutes, but not the aggressive and rapid kind of flute play that, for example, Jethro Tull are famous for. There are strings to give this music a symphonic "sweep", but needless to say, this has nothing whatsoever to do with Symphonic Prog. Rather, the strings make it appropriate to call this "Chamber Folk (Pop)".

The religiously influenced Cantus Firmus To Counterpoint is an utterly tedious song that repeats 'halleluiah' infinitely! This is the weakest song on the album. Sinfonia For Guitar And Strings feature some nice keyboards like harpsichord and, of course, strings.

It must be emphasised that there are no drums, bass or electric guitars on this album ensuring that this music completely lacks a Rock base. This is not necessarily a criticism, of course, but it does put the music of England somewhat outside my (and most Prog fans') musical interests. There are, however, a couple of other albums by this band that I enjoy a bit more than this one.

I really cannot recommend this to anyone other than serious fans and collectors of this kind of Folk music

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars To be honest, "Prog" folk has never been my favourite genre (along with "prog" metal should I say). And I can't be laudatory about the music featured on this "England" album.

OK, there is some good fluting ("Landscape") but overall the music that can be experienced is rather thin and never essential. This album displays some medieval stuff, decent vocal harmonies as well as average arrangements. Is this enough to make it a thrilling adventure? Of course not! Only a bunch of old England folk stuff. No big deal IMHHO.

The whole album is a challenging trip to a revolved time. When rock didn't exist. I don't like this album (but I have never been a fan from this band). This is not prog folk. Just folk. From the early seventies.

The best track out there is the instrumental "Sinfonia For Guitar And Strings". Some sort of romanticism can be felt; and the sweet acoustic guitar is quite crafted. So: one good song out of eight. How does this score?

No fantasy: just an accumulation of boring tunes. I'm still wondering why I grant this one with two stars. The poor "Cantus?" is rather representative of the "press next" type of song. Gosh!!!

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is their fourth album and the last with John Gladwin, who wrote the most part of their discography until then, and shortly after the recordings left to go solo. After his departure the remaining two members Baird and Wincott decided to go on, shortening the name in "Blondel".

The music follows the same patterns of the previous records and is even sweeter and charming, expanded by strings in a sort of symphonic folk pastiche.

On par with "Fantasia Lindum", Gladwin delights us with another beautiful side-long suite, entitled "The Paintings". Differently from the former, the latter is more predictable and does not feature any improvisation, so I cannot say it is at the same level.

Curiously, in spite of the sweetness of the whole record, it ends with a noisy blurp. I've almost jumped off my chair the first time I heard it.

Review by TCat
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars Amazing Blondel's sound in the beginning tended to lean towards a renaissance sound of Elizabethan style music, lots of nice harmony, acoustic guitar, flutes and other reed instruments. The music was rather simple most of the time, but very true to the style. The album "England" is a perfect example of the sound they were trying to accomplish. The first three songs are very pastoral and linked together as a suite based on some paintings. This suite is excellent and well-composed. The album would have benefitted well to continue with this concept. The sound and production is clean and crisp, the way you would expect this type of music to sound. The music is far from complicated, but it is definitely inventive and original even considering they vintage style of music they are making.

The remaining songs are quite short, remaining under 4 minutes and as such, are underdeveloped. The only real redeeming track is the "Sinfonia for Guitar and Strings" which I wish was longer as a typical Symphony would be. A very pleasant instrumental which would have taken the album to another level if it were explored more. Other than that, "Cantus Firmus to Counterpoint", though sporting an impressive title, is pretty much just a variation of "We Three Kings'. Nothing else stands out here, the rest are just overly simple pastoral sounding songs. Pleasant to listen to most of the time, but sometimes on the weaker songs, things get a little too cheesy, and would probably only be taken as overly charming to the point of satirical. I would call the album good, but non-essential. Nice but, except for the first 3 tracks, not very well developed.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I do like these attempts at recreating old/ancient musics, folk, courtly, minstrel, and religious. Thus, I am thankful for artists "obsessed" with these forms and instruments as John Gladwin, Terry Wincott, Edward Baird, Adrian Hopkins, and Jaque La Roche were.

- The Paintings (Three Pastoral Settings For Voices, Flute, Guitars And Orchestra): 1. "Seascape" (6:13) nice pastoral music using ancient instruments that fails when the multiple voices sing the choral sections. (8/10)

2. "Landscape" (7:38) a continuation of the previous song with slightly different themes and weaves but using the same pacing, flow, and instrumentation. Voice and oboe enter together in the second minute while the orchestrated background weave supports beautifully. The lead vocal, melody, and lyric are much more engaging here and even the little choral support is improved from the previous "setting." At the 4:00 mark a different voice adds something in the left channel while an instrumental section seems to go on. Nice guitar work within the orchestra but it sometimes it feels a little buried there. The flutes and oboes and strings are definitely more forward in the mix. The final minute going out is kind of a slowed down, choir-supported crescendo. (13.5/15)

3. "Afterglow" (3:40) a third "setting" using the exact same pacing and structure, hand percussives, recorder, bass, oboe, multiple male lead voices and antiphonal choir help present this more light and frivolous song. (8.5/10) - 4. "A Spring Air" (3:41) guitars, orchestra, flutes support this more-traditional folk-sounding tune. The entire feel here feels so RenFair appropriate. (8.75/10)

5. "Cantus Firmus To Counterpoint" (3:21) presents itself as a religious (Christmas) choral song of the pre-Thomas Tallis era--almost as if the congregation of a small countryside church service were being recorded. Some of the voices are able to be singled out due to their . . . idiosyncracies. (7.75/10)

6. "Sinfonia For Guitar And Strings" (3:11) (from the suite 'For My Ladys Delight') an instrumental just as the title indicates--a guitar with orchestra strings backing it--though the appearance and takeover of a harpsichord in the second section surprised me. The third and final section reverts back to strings support though there is a more Spanish feel to this section. (9.25/10)

7. "Dolor Dulcis" (Sweet Sorrow) (3:25) acoustic guitars, orchestra strings, support this minstrel-like folk song (a courtly love song?). The chorus presents in the choral form that we've now come to expect. The lyrics bring this one up to a higher level than the music alone might do. (9/10)

8. "Lament To The Earl Of Battesford Beck" (3:11) an odd and eerie song using electronic engineering techniques to create some of the sonic landscape here. Weird--especially for a song to close an album with. (7.5/10)

Total Time: 34:42

Four stars; an excellent addition to any lover of Prog Folk music and a great example of the effort within progressive rock music to explore, recover, and preserve the instruments, styles, and traditions of older musics-- here pre-Enlightenment.

Latest members reviews

1 stars The one thing I get on my mind by listening to this England of the Amazing Blondel is a movie showing bees and butterflies and great harmonie. Everone is smiling and dancing on the road. Animals live together with men in some kind of supersweet paradise full of beautiful flowers and trees. I don' ... (read more)

Report this review (#642050) | Posted by the philosopher | Monday, February 27, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars AMAZING PEAK The two opening tracks are easily the best songs of the disc, and also of the band's history. Afterglow completes the trilogy of the "Paintisings" (Landscape, Seascape and Afterglow); this one and Dolor Dulcis are tipical Blondel's song, from the vein of Fantasia Lindum. Spring Ai ... (read more)

Report this review (#110496) | Posted by sircosick | Friday, February 2, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I go way back with this album. I discovered it in 1995 at the wee age of 19 and immediately warmed to its soothing, wistful atmosphere and melodic baroque arrangements. Amazing Blondel are a count-on-one-hand British folk group that I love, most folk I despise with a passion and don't even con ... (read more)

Report this review (#99376) | Posted by | Friday, November 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A group which is not easily categorized, 'England' is arguably Amazing Blondel's best work, featuring a very high level of musicianship throughout, and an excellent sense of arrangement. One not so taken with early music may find the vocals difficult at first, but once one becomes comfortable with t ... (read more)

Report this review (#24270) | Posted by Gonghobbit | Monday, January 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Again an excellent piece of music by Amazing Blondel, but similiar to FANTASIA LINDUM I do not like the last song. But after all, they did a series of three excellent albums: EVENSONG, FANTASIA LINDUM, and ENGLAND. The group is one of my most interesting discoveries during the last years (I am a 'ne ... (read more)

Report this review (#24269) | Posted by | Thursday, January 15, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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