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BLONDEL

Amazing Blondel

Prog Folk


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Amazing Blondel Blondel album cover
3.37 | 25 ratings | 8 reviews | 4% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Leaving Of The Country Lover (6:34)
2. Young Man's Fancy (5:20)
3. Easy Come, Easy Go (6:09)
4. Sailing (4:30)
5. Lesson One (2:50)
6. Festival (3:27)
7. Weavers Market (4:35)
8. Depression (3:25)

Total time 36:50

Bonus tracks on 1995 CD release:
1. Prelude (2:19)
5. Solo (2:38)

Line-up / Musicians

- Edward Baird / vocals, guitar
- Terence Wincott / vocals , guitar, percussion, flute, crumhorn, piano, recorders

With:
- Paul Rodgers / vocals (7)
- Sue Glover / backing vocals (6-8)
- Sunny Leslie / backing vocals (6-8)
- Steve Winwood / bass
- Simon Kirke / drums
- Adrian Hopkins / harpsichord, string arrangements
- Jack La Roche / strings leader

Releases information

Artwork: C.C.S.

LP Island Records - ILPS 9257 (1973, UK)

CD Edsel Records - EDCD 460 (1995, UK) With 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

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AMAZING BLONDEL Blondel ratings distribution


3.37
(25 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(4%)
4%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(52%)
52%
Good, but non-essential (32%)
32%
Collectors/fans only (12%)
12%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

AMAZING BLONDEL Blondel reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is a very 'Up' album - a collection of simple happy, smiley acoustic folky songs led by acoustic guitars with the 'medieval' instrumentation taking a back seat, though still present. For some reason I am always reminded of Harvey Andrews, circa mid-70s, when I hear this album!

Even on CD, the album is essentially presented as two distinct 'sides'. Chapter 1 is mostly full band arrangements for the songs, separated by short-ish section of orchestral drones. Favourite is the singalong Young Man's Fancy. Chapter 2 works best for me with songs written in a more traditional style and mostly without the bass/drums rhythm section which tends to give it a lighter feel, and also without the orchestral linking sections. Favourite tracks are Sailing pushed along by the guitars with some string and harpsichord accompaniment; the faux-traditional Festival; and the street theatre of Weaver's Market which includes Paul Rodgers on vocals amongst others.

I can see no relevance to Prog, but I have always loved it, so I am loathe to give it less than 3 stars. If you like acoustic guitars in a folky singer-songwriter vein then you should give this a try, and at 39 minutes it clearly doesn't outstay it's welcome.

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars So other than poking some fun at them once and a while, Amazing Blondel doesn’t really factor into my musical consciousness all that much. They aren’t really my ‘cup of tea’. That said, this is a band that has an interesting history, and for those who are real acousto-geeks, some pretty interesting instruments that aren’t exactly common sights across the progressive landscape. I’ve listed some so you can Google them to see how weird they look: crumhorn, glockenspiel, theorbe, ocarina, cittern, tabor, violone. Have fun.

If you’ve no knowledge of Blondel’s music at all - think a little bit Gryphon, sort of Blackmore’s Night, maybe in the vein of Incredible String Band, along the lines of the Chieftains, bordering on Malicorne, not unlike Richard Thompson, ….. so you get the idea. This is ‘old-fashioned’ music, played with largely acoustic instruments, ethereal lyrical topics from ages long ago, etc., but not really exactly like anyone else.

So, roughly in the company of the aforementioned bands, but also in many ways quite unlike them. What little I’ve read of this band and their fans leads me to believe that even the most subtle distinctions are quite significant to them. Blondel is more vocal than Gryphon, more inclined toward woodwinds (and their custom-made 7-string guitar-lutes) than Night’s twelve-string guitars and other stringed accompaniment, less political than Richard Thompson, decidedly British and so distinct from the Chieftains, and probably a just a tad bit more socially adept than the Incredible String Band. Like Gryphon, they’ve been around since the 60’s, disappeared for a while in the 80’s, and seem to be managing to make a quiet living touring and releasing the occasional compilation and even new material today.

It seems the trio started out in a band called Methuselah, and might have gone down a road more like Jethro Tull were it not for their developing an interest in quieter, more ethnic acoustic songs played in a chamber-like live format (in this case ethnic being more like Renaissance-era British traditional music played by three guys who looked like they were acid freaks from Haight-Asbury). But this is not classical music, and there are accommodations for the modern, including said 7-stringed guitar-lutes with electric pickups built-in, guest musicians like Paul Rodgers and Steve Winwood to give them street-cred, and the occasional off-color bawdy joke between songs. If these guys were of Jewish ancestry and the scene was being played out on the north shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, we’d probably call it klezmer.

The preceding histography was compiled solely for my personal benefit – thanks for playing along.

Blondel (the Purple Album) was the first recorded by the band as a duo, a situation created by the departure of founding member and chief composer John David Gladwin, apparently due to a disagreement over the extent of touring the label expected from the band (he seems to have returned in the old-timers version of the band that is loosely formed today). Gladwin’s departure meant that composing fell to lutist (is that a word?) Eddie Baird, apparently since Terry Wincott, the other band member, was too busy playing seven or eight different instruments on the album.

The result was an album not quite like the previous ones, or at least what little snippets of those previous ones I have heard. The Purple Album is a bit less ‘minstrally’, more like simply mellow folk music with some precision technical execution. Instead of conjuring up visions of Robin Hood prancing around in tights, you’re more likely to envision a calm meadow full of posies and a babbling brook on the horizon.

“Leaving of the Country Lover” sets the meadow-with-brook tone perfectly, with mild harmonizing vocals that would have done Crosby, Stills & Nash proud. The music is almost completely acoustic, and the string arrangements compliment well without overpowering the song.

“Young Man’s Fancy” almost sounds like an early 60’s pop song in the vein of the Moody Blues, while “Easy Come, Easy Go” adds some very intricate finger work on the two 7- string guitar-lutes played by Baird and Wincott (did I mention Paul Rodgers adds his voice to this album – it’s noticeable here). “Sailing” has a long strumming lead-in and eventually gets to the lyrics, an embarrassingly personal love song to someone Baird must have been pretty fond of.

With “Lesson One” the Moodys sound is actually pretty plain, although Baird’s voice here sounds very much like Arlo Guthrie. “Festival” isn’t very festive, more like a guy with an acoustic guitar playing a soft, sad one to his fair maiden under the grandstands.

“Weaver’s Market” tosses in some female backing vocals, and is more string-intensive than the rest of the album. There’s some background voices rambling as well, I guess simulating market sounds.

The ending song, “Depression”, is very close to a plain old sad John Denver song, heavy on the guitar strings but very little other accompaniment.

Like I said, this kind of music isn’t really my thing, but there was a time years ago when I was a bit more adventurous in randomly selecting unknown music off my local record store shelves just to try it out, and that’s how I came across this one. In some ways it sounds like that is what Amazing Blondel did way back in the late 60’s, only they were actually creating the music, not just listening to it, and it turned somehow into a life-long calling. More power to them.

I’m hesitant to call this progressive music since it’s more like a throwback sound, but prog folk seems to fit well enough for now. Knowing what the band sounds like now, I probably wouldn’t buy this album today, but it’s well enough done and seems to have found an audience, so who am I to judge? A good but not essential album, so three stars it is.

peace

Review by kenethlevine
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog-Folk Team
4 stars In the broad brush world of progressive rock and its many sub genres, the transitional album is a fascinating beast. Some of the best offerings in history could be so described, as the band has its feet in two eras, the one past and well documented, the other in a yet unrealized future. In the realm of these denizens, "Blondel" is the representative from Amazing Blondel and, depending on your taste, you might regard it as their best. Because it is not quite as unique as their previous efforts, I cannot quite succumb to such platitudes, but suffice to say it is definitely up there.

Without the minstrel John Gladwin himself, AB could have easily packed it in. He really was their sound in so many ways. He wrote most of the songs and did most of the singing, but instrumentally they were group efforts, and Baird and Wincott had to be influenced in the songwriting department by Gladwin's legacy. I would not be surprised to learn that they had actually written quite a bit in the preceding 3 years, because what is presented on "Blondel" is like what came before, except that it sounds influenced by 300 year old music rather than the real deal. Even the subject matter has not changed that much, except that the focus is more on boy-girl romance rather than love of countryside. It's all romance anyway. The harmonies, acoustic instrumentation, heavenly melodies and earnest demeanour all remain. This version may not be as idiosyncratic, but it is just as authentic.

One other characteristic has been inherited - the tendency to front load albums. The components of Side 1 are all breathtaking, enhanced by judicious orchestral introductions and energetic and optimistic verses and choruses. The one that holds up best is "Young Man's Fancy", with its upbeat yet soothing approach and lovely fadeout, but both "Leaving of the Country Lover" and the Paul Rodgers backed "Easy Come Easy Go" are both fluid and captivating. The latter could have been a hit single in its day, and is the first recorded association with Free/Bad Company personnel. Side 2 does contain several gems - "Sailing" and the melodically innovative "Festival".

In retrospect, these modest fellows need not have implied that they were no longer amazing when they labelled this disk. It is of typically high quality and warrants a place in your collection if you ever thought of including soft rock on your top shelf.

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars If you would except that the leader and brain of the band (John David Gladwin) has left the band; there is nothing really new under the "Amazing Blondel" sun.

There are maybe less medieval sounds in here, but globally the type of music played by the band doesn't leave any place to surprises of any sort. This is folk music: light, acoustic, pleasant at times, na´ve ("Sailing") and straight forward ("Lesson One").

Unlike some other bands referenced in the same category, "Amazing Blondel" is hardly prog. At least so far in their career (but they will never be). One can find some fine acoustic moments ("Solo") which sounds quite Hackettesque. But on a global scope, there are hardly anything captivating on this album.

As usual as well, when a track includes some fluting it is generally of better quality and offers some more freshness to the whole ("Festival"). This is another good track from this "Purple" album. It is followed by the worse and totally useless "Weaver's Market". But it is not the first time that the band offers some surprise like this one.

The album closes on a good note as well: the pastoral and tranquil "Depression" is expressing positive notes and is quite welcome. It won't prevent though the two stars rating (like each AB album so far).

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars "Amazing" Folk Pop

Finally I have been able to put my hands on this album, which has for a long time been the missing piece in my Amazing Blondel collection. I now own it as part of a 2010 two-on-one CD release together with the group's previous album, England (just as their Evensong and Fantasia Lindum albums were released together some years ago). While England, for me, was something of a disappointment, this gorgeous little album entitled simply 'Blondel' has very quickly become my favourite in the Amazing Blondel discography. With this album the acoustic Folk group took a step closer towards the Pop and Rock world. Though the trio was reduced to a duo for this album, they invited a handful of guests to provide various instruments. For the first time we hear bass guitar (played by Steve Winwood) and drums. But this tendency should not be exaggerated as this is by no means a full-fledged Rock album. This is still strongly acoustic and it is still very much a product in the distinctive Amazing Blondel style. The progressive aspects are definitely present, but subtle.

In some ways Blondel might be seen as a transitional album between the group's Folk phase and their later Pop phase. As such it is an interesting mix between the two styles and the tunes are very charming indeed. Prog Rock fans might perhaps question the relevance of Amazing Blondel here, but anyone with a taste for acoustic Folk Pop should not miss this lovely album.

This album is a very good place to start if you want to investigate Amazing Blondel. A solid three stars and a worthy addition. Recommended!

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the first album recorded after the departure of writer Gladwin. Baird and Wincott decided to continue as a duo. Baird proved to be a valid writer too but the music was subjected to a significant change of direction.

While the sound remains predominantly acoustic, the sound is "updated" (acoustic instruments are less varied) and "modern" (thanks to drums and bass guitar played by Steve Winwood).

The fantastic opener "The Leaving of a Country Lover" starts with deep orchestral murmurings and then developes one of the most beautiful melodies I ever heard. The closer is even better, short, sad, aching, intense and romantic as never before.

In the middle a bunch of (folk) feathers and, above all, the most satisfying record from the band, in my opinion, although there is no high points as in "Fantasia Lindum" self titled suite.

Latest members reviews

5 stars For my first Prog Archives review I thought I would take a trip back to 1973. It was an interesting year for this quaint little trio (soon to be duo) from the UK known as Amazing Blondel. Under the leadership of John Gladwin and with the able assistance of Eddie Baird and Terry Wincott, these tale ... (read more)

Report this review (#258290) | Posted by DavidMinasian | Monday, December 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars very nice album. it sometimes reminds me of Pentangle, another time of Genesis, but it is giving me a good time, every time i hear it. i like the more mediaviel approach of the older albums, but this one also works very well. ... (read more)

Report this review (#51006) | Posted by | Sunday, October 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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