reviewed by Tom Greuling
ESTORATION is the long awaited (24 years is a mighty long time) reunion album from Amazing Blondel, and I'm delighted to say that it was well worth the wait.
The album begins with "Benedictus Es Domine", which may be best described as a latin chant with guitar accompaniment. An organ in the bridge adds power to the plaintive vocal harmonies and plucked guitars. It's new territory for the group and makes for pleasant listening. "Praeludium in D", an instrumental that would fit in very nicely on Fantasia Lindum, is next. It's wonderful to hear the recorder and those great Gladwin guitar runs again. This is followed by "Highwayman", a song about a dastardly gent, that also harkens back to the early days of the band a touch of harpsichord and some great vocal harmonies. It's the chorus harmonies throughout that strike me most about this album they jump out at you from the speakers. Another short instrumental, "Fugue", follows - a great tune, and very Blondel.
"Cawdor and Widdershins" is one of the highlights of the album. Flowery lyrics, some nifty double tracked recorder from Terry, great interplay between John and Eddie's guitars, strong vocals it's all here on this track, and they've even tacked on a bit of a jig at the end. The band has added lots of little touches like this throughout the album to enhance your listening pleasure. Eddie Baird contributes "Aubaird" a solo guitar piece similar to his "Solo" from the purple album. It's a beautiful piece, exceptionally played. The song "Love Lies Bleeding" is next up. A great chorus and some very touching lyrics nobody can write lyrics like John Gladwin.
Another Baird instrumental, "Edagio", follows. It begins with a solo guitar that is soon joined by a second guitar and recorder. Too bad Eddie didn't write lyrics for the tune I would have liked to hear him take a lead vocal. For me "Sir John in Love Again" is the best song on the album, classic Blondel up tempo with an infectious chorus and a powerful bridge. Once again, the instrumental tacked onto the end of the song adds a lot. This is followed by "Interlude", another pastoral Gladwin instrumental that sounds familiar somehow.
Terry Wincott wrote the final song on the album, "Road to Sedgemoor". It's a bit quirky, in a Gilbert and Sullivan sort of way. Definitely a departure for the band, "Cawdor Revisited", an instrumental reprise of the earlier song, ends the album on a high note. The last strains of recorder and guitars fading out leaves me wishing for more. If I have a complaint with this album it is that at just over 43 minutes it's too short.
The recording quality and production values throughout the album are excellent. They spent a long time in the studio, and it shows, as everything is just right. It's tough to compare this to any one of their previous records. While it is closest to Fantasia Lindum, it really incorporates elements from all four of the band's Island albums, with a liberal sprinkling of new musical directions. The booklet contains full lyrics and some great pictures of the band.
Reunion albums are more often than not disastrous, but this album stands up very well against anything they've ever done. Malcolm and Barry at HTD Records are to be congratulated for recreating Amazing Blondel. They clearly believed that the band could deliver a quality product and they have. And kudos of course to John, Terry and Eddie who still sound so great 20 some odd years later. It's amazing. Please don't make us wait that long for the next one.