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.
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.
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.
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.
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.