MAZING BLONDEL was formed by John Gladwin and myself after the break-up of too-loud rock band Methusala. We were soon joined by a talent guitarist Eddie Baird and after a disastrous "showbiz" record signing, Amazing Blondel were recommend by the members of the band Free to Island boss Chris Blackwell. After signing to Island Records and Artists, Amazing Blondel quickly produced three albums with the above line-up and undertook a series of intensive international and national tours to promote them. Amazing Blondel always seemed slightly eccentric, sweet and a little out of space: pseudo-Elizabethan/Classical acoustic music sung with "British" accents to the contemporary music audience of the day. From this unlikely combination Amazing Blondel carved a niche in the market with people who appreciated the music and were prepared to purchase records and attend to concerts.
Amazing Blondel adored recording. At that time Basing Street Studios were in the forefront of producing the most innovative and successful independent music in Britain and it gave us the exciting opportunity to work with such notables as Phil Brown and Adrian Hopkins. To hear the orchestrations for the first time was exhilarating and to hear the final product, although never perfect, was delightful and professionally satisfying. Sample almost any live concert and you would notice the audience unusually quiet, attentive and polite, the repertoire performed as technically correct as possible, the dexterity of the instrumentation (40 in all) and the music interspersed with crude and bawdy humour.
The live performance, however, was sometimes overshadowed by the drudge of touring. There were the personal and group obsessions and amusements, tunings (hours spent), countryside pursuits, martial arts and fitness, dogs and hotel swimming pools, the daily view through the windscreen, food, flying, music in general, personal relationships, road managers, any ‘in joke’ repeat endlessly over and over until no longer funny but spitefully annoying. The demise of Amazing Blondel as featured on these albums was like a balloon deflating and, despite the ministrations of manager imploded with only a whisper John Glover, Amazing Blondel imploded with only a whisper of air. Strangely, if that balloon had continued to float, that niche in the market would probably still exist today. Ah… if only…!
Terry Wincott (1993, Notes to the Edsel's "Fantasia Lindum" reissue)
The Island philosophy was to promote music that would not normally reach the wider public; we certainly fell into that category! Commercial considerations seemed secondary and yet nearly everything Island touched was immediately revered and success followed. A friend told me at the time, "You can go into a record store and buy any Island album without hearing it and you know it will be good", such was their reputation.
Blondel promote its image of English Minstrelsy and conjured up images of the golden age. Words were chosen carefully: bedroom became ‘chamber’, clothes became the Chaucerian ‘clouts’, and if we sang about contraception, then it had to be chastity belts! We perpetuated Blondel in how we dressed and how we looked - it was a time of magic.
John Gladwin (1995, Notes to the Edsel's "Evensong" reissue)
FTER the departure of John Gladwin, Terry Wincott and I never considered that Blondel would have a second life, continuing to tour and record several more albums albeit in a musical style hitherto unknown to ardent Blondel fans. After all the years building the band from the worst noisy club gigs to playing the finest city halls, theatres, churches and cathedrals in England and abroad, culminating in most groups’ dream ‘to tour America’, to lose the lead singer and songwriter would normally lead to a complete split. But fate had something else in store.
I remember Terry ringing me up and saying "Island want another album" and I said something like "Great, but who’s going to write it?". "You can" he said, which was a great vote of confidence considering I had only written instrumental tracks and co-written the odd song on previous albums. I don’t recall thinking too much about it after that, apart from realising it would be too contrived for me to write in the style that John had made very much his own. Terry and I agreed to keep it fairly acoustic, but with the addition of bass and drums, and engage the services of Adrian Hopkins to score the orchestra.
Our manager John Glover secured Stevie Winwood on bass since he knew he admired the drumming of Free’s Simon Kirke and we were only too please when Free’s singer Paul Rodgers joined the sessions on "Weavers Market" along with top session singers Sue and Sunny, and much-respected violinist Jack La Roche (who stayed after time and practised his part walking up and down the recreation area). I even recall John Gladwin, who happened to be in town, calling in to one of the sessions during playback and nodding his approval. With all this moral support we started to feel more confident and produced "Blondel", the "Purple Album" as it become know. It is in parts very naïve as one would expect, but its a landmark in the history of Amazing Blondel.
Eddie Baird (1995, Notes to the Edsel's "Blondel" reissue)