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Mulgrave Street / Inspiration Notes

AMAZING BLONDEL arose in late 1969 from the ashes of a ten promising British group called “Methuselah.” Terry Wincott and John Gladwin quickly decided that their new duo would mirror British musical heritage, utilizing Elizabethan song structures and instruments. “We really wanted to bring back romanticism” offered John, “and that’s really where the ‘Amazing Blondel’ came from.”
          Blondel was (you Elizabethan historians will recall), the official minstrel to Richard I, and the superlative adjective was tagged on after everybody stared in awe at the strange variety of instruments that the duo played on stage. Among the musical oddities they utilized were things like lutes, crumhorns, recorders, harpsichords, theorboes, dulcimers, glockenspiels… not exactly your run-of-the-mill rock band lineup.

 'Mulgrave / Inspiration' cover           In 1970, after one albums in this strict Elizabethan mold, Eddie Baird joined, and for the next three years Amazing Blondel worked as a trio. It must have been extremely tough going in the face of the prevailing heavy metal madness, and, as John remembers, “It used to take us at least three hours before a gig just to tune up our lutes. Once it took us five ours, and the heat in the hall just made the strings go right out of tune again.” Perahps it was this type of occurrence that finally caused John Gladwin to leave in early 1973, just after the group’s third album, “England,” was issued.

          Strangely enough, it was one of Britain’s foremost rock ’n’ roll bands that took a special interest in Amazing Blondel, helping to bring them further into the public limelight. It was the members of Free who helped get Blondel onto a new label, DJM, and later chose them as opening act on an extended British tour. This new-found influence probably contributed to Amazing Blondel’s re-thinking of their musical direction, for, on “Mulgrave Street” (originally issued in Britain in late 1974), they were transformed into a proudly distinctive rock band. The term “rock” is used in the widest sense of the word, for actually their music is impossible to label in a few quick words.
          Suffice it to say that the vocals and harmonies are emotionally moving, the original music is impeccable, and the overall effect is quite enthralling. Others must have agreed, because their fellow visitors to “Mulgrave Street” included some of Britain’s most famous names: musicians like Pat Donaldson, Alan Spenner, Roxy’s Eddie Jobson, and the late Paul Kossoff (whose solo work on “Hole in the Head” must be heard). Additionally, Eddie Baird and Terry Wincott were joined by three-fourths of Bad Company, Simon Kirke, Boz, and Mick Ralphs, on “Help Us Get Along.”

          The vagaries of the music business being what they are, neither “Mulgrave Street” nor the following “Inspiration” (5/75), were released here in America. This occurred in spite of the fact that advance promotional copies of “Mulgrave Street” had been mailed to college radio stations, and the record company was virtually deluged with congratulatory plaudits. Amazing Blondel cults sprung up in the strongest places, and import shops were hard-pressed to keep up with the sudden demand. On “Inspiration” Blondel’s sound had progressed and matured even more, forging a completely individualistic style. Here they were backed by a set group of musicians, people like William Murray, Mick Feat, Dave Skinner, and Mel Collins, and the result was truly memorable.

Alan Betrock, July 1976
(From the american "Mulgrave Street / Inspiration" issue)


 Terry Wincott's Italian tour diary      Gladwin's notes on Blondel Music