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Blonde on Blonde - Contrasts CD (album) cover

CONTRASTS

Blonde on Blonde

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.13 | 18 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Most likely you go your way and we'll go ours

If it was not for the fact that their albums came a little too late, Welsh band Blonde on Blonde would probably be listed on this site under the "Proto Prog" category. Their music certainly has psychedelic content, but it lacks the sophistication generally associated with genuine prog, even in its infancy. "Contrasts", the band's first album, dates from 1969, and thus just about falls within the proto prog period (defined retrospectively of course). It is an album of short tracks, the longest being around 5 minutes, but the band still manage to explore some interesting and at the time adventurous styles and sounds.

The opening "Ride with Captain Max" (no relation!) for example has some fine lead guitar and a dynamic arrangement, while the following Beatlesesque "Spinning wheel" (not the BS&T song) combines eastern sitar sounds with pop harmonies.

The inclusion of three cover versions, two written by the Incredible String Band's Robin Williamson plus a Beatles song, betrays a band still unsure of its own song writing talents, but performance wise little is left behind in the cupboard. To be fair, the covers are more accurately described as interpretations, the ISB certainly never sounded like this, and "Eleanor Rigby" is barely recognisable at times, especially the intro.

Elsewhere, "Mother earth" displays more overt prog leanings that the majority of the tracks, with organ and guitar supporting an anthemic vocal. The short harpsichord instrumental "Regency" is pleasant if a little out of place while "Island on an island" prolongs the folk feel in a soft regency ballad, complete with recorders and lute.

Overall, an enjoyable album, but one which only flirts with the very edges of prog. The music is performed with admirable competence, and the album offers the promise of greater things to come.

This would be Ralph Denyer's only album with the band, his duties being assumed by David Thomas for the following "Rebirth". Denyer would however go on to form the superb one album band "Aquila" (also listed on this site).

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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