Amazing Blondel are an English acoustic progressive folk band, containing Eddie Baird, John Gladwin, and Terry Wincott. They released a number of LPs for Island Records in the early 1970s. They are sometimes categorised as psychedelic folk or as medieval folk rock, but their music was much more a reinvention of Renaissance music, based around the use of period instruments such as lutes and recorders.
John Gladwin (guitar and vocals) and Terrance (Terry) Wincott (guitar and vocals) formed a band called The Dimples along with Stuart Smith (drums) and Johnny Jackson (bass guitar). Signed to the Decca label they recorded a single, the “A” side “Love of a Lifetime” and the “B” side written by John Gladwin titled “My Heart is Tied to You”, disappointingly the record didn’t chart, although more recently the “B” side has become popular on the Northern Soul scene.
Following the break up of The Dimples John and Terry formed a loud “electric” band called Methuselah. However, at some point in Methuselah concerts, the duo would play an acoustic number together: they found that this went down well with the audiences and allowed them to bring out more of the subtlety of their singing and instrumental work. They left Methuselah in 1969 and began working on their own acoustic material.
Initially their material was derived from folk music, in line with many of the other performers of the time. However, they began to develop their own musical idiom, influenced, at one extreme, by the early music revivalists such as David Munrow, and the other extreme, by their childhood memories of the Robin Hood TV series, with its pseudo-mediaeval soundtrack by Elton Hayes.
The band was named after Blondel de Nesle, the musician in the court of Richard I. According to legend, when Richard was held prisoner, Blondel travelled through central Europe, singing at every castle to locate the King and assist his escape. This name for the band was suggested by a chef, Eugene McCoy, who listened to some of their songs and commented: “Oh, very Blondel!” and they began to use that name. They were then advised to add an adjective (in line, for example, with The Incredible String Band) and so they became “Amazing Blondel”.
Their first album The Amazing Blondel (also called “Amazing Blondel and a Few Faces,”) was recorded in 1969 and released by Bell Records. It was directed by session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan. At about this time, Eddie Baird (who had known the other members at school) joined the band. On 19 September 1970 they were one of the bands to play at the first Glastonbury Festival. Following what Baird described as “a disastrous ‘showbiz’ record signing”, Amazing Blondel were introduced, by members of the band Free, to Chris Blackwell of Island Records and Artists. Blackwell signed them up to Island … (by wikipedia)
This was actually the first Amazing Blondel album, but spent most of the last 25 years of the century as one of the most sought after collector items. While it’s fair to say that the value of the LP was based more on rarity than quality, this is in fact a very good album.
To recap the history up to this point, most members of the band had been in a group called Methuselah, which issued one fairly heavy psychedelic album featuring several strong themes, some of which can be seen infiltrating this somewhat uneven AB debut. About half the tracks owe more to Methuselah while the other half have that Elizabethan flavour for which the group would become better known, if not exactly household names, through the first part of the 1970s.
This juxtaposition of styles in almost alternate order actually works quite well, with Wincott’s more rugged voice on the delightful “Bethel Town Mission” and the somewhat Blood Sweat and Tears influenced “Canaan” contrasting well with Gladwin’s more elfin voice on “Saxon Lady” and “Season of the Year”. It doesn’t hurt that the songwriting and arrangements are already pretty mature, if simultaneously a bit naive. The rousing and raucous closer, “Bastard Love”, produces an unlikely combination of the two styles, resulting in a humour that later would only be perceptible from their live shows.
The weaker tracks hint at Blondel’s occasional tendency to overestimate the elasticity of some of their material, as in “Shepherd’s Song” which is frankly a bore. But on the whole this is a document that is likely to make more than a few faces happy. (by kenethlevine)
John Gladwin (guitar, vocals, bass)
Terrance (Terry) Wincott (guitar, vocals, flute, recorder, harmonium, percussion)
Clem Cattini (drums)
Chris Karan (percusion)
Gary Taylor (bass)
01. Saxon Lady 3.10
02. Bethel Town Mission 3.15
03. Season Of The Year 2.46
04. Canaan 3.50
05. Shepherd’s Song 6.14
06. You Don’t Want My Love 3.59
07. Love Sonnet 4.08
08. Spanish Lace 2.46
09. Minstrel’s Song 5.34
10. Bastard Love 4.10
All sings written by John Gladwin
What a great cover !