Reviews

Restoration
reviewed by Joe Conway

        Amazing Blondel has really lived up to its name. For, amazingly, after a gap of 25 years, this folk trio from North Lincolnshire has re-emerged, complete with its original line-up and a brand new album, appropriately titled Restoration.

 I N the heady days of the early 70s, the Blondel musicians underwent a sea-change from rock backgrounds and became an immensely popular acoustic folk band, which nevertheless shared gigs with rock legends like Cat Stevens, Free, Traffic, Procol Harum and other Island Records bands.

Pressure told
        After three years of continuous touring in England, Europe and America, however, the musicians began to suffer from the relentless pressures of life on the road and despite various re-groupings and re-namings, they finally fell victim to their own success and disap-peared from the scene.
        A year or two ago, after pursuing quite separate careers in music and out of it, John David Gladwin, Terence Alan Wincott and Edward Baird got together again for an exploratory meeting, and Restoration - together with a string of live appearances - is the result.
        Anyone expecting a straight forward replica of previous albums is due for a surprise.
        For while the unmistakeable Blondel sound is there - based on the intricate opu-lence of guitars and mandolins contrasted with flowing vocal lines on flute and recorders - there is a new mellowness and maturity in this music which makes for delightfully laidback listening.

More reflective
 'Restoration' cover         Generally, speeds are slower and there is a more reflective quality to the songs and guitar solos which appear on the album.
        There is even a mildly jazz inflection to some of the guitar chording, heard, for example, in the lovely introduction to the first track, Benedictus Es Domine.
        There is more mild and mellow guitar playing in John Gladwin's Baroque - influenced Praeludium and Fugue which are interpolated between songs. In a similar way, Edward Baird provides two superbly accomplished pieces with the punning titles Aubaird and Edagio.
        Between the various laid back instrumentals come six splendid songs which evoke a timelessness inspired partly by historic events and partly by a fascination with raw life in a traditional rural setting.
        Particularly good are Sir John In Love Again with its stunning key changes, ecstatic chorus and suitably neo-Elizabethan coda, and Cawdor and Widdershins with its haunting chorus embellished with woodwind rhythms played by Terence Wincott.

Superb lyrics
        Highwayman and Love Lies Bleeding are almost as satisfying and contain lyrics of superb quality which are nevertheless immediately accessible.
        The last song, The Road To Sedgemoor, is a still more ambitious piece, with extra vocals by Joan Crowther.
        While not precisely Lincolnshire's answer to Clannad, the members of Amazing Blondel successfully demonstrate in this album the vitality of their enduring vision of a past age.

(Lincolnshire Chronicle, 1/8/97)


  'Restoration' reviewed by Tom Greuling      'Live Abroad' reviewed by Michael Billington