Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
My Lordes, Ladyes and Gentlemenne...
3rdeadly3rd | Brisbane, Queensland Australia | 07/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I present, Amazing Blondel.That might sound a bit overdone or precious, and so might the idea of a band from the 70s dressing up as medieval minstrels and playing music which sounds like medieval minstrel music, but this album is not in the least bit precious or gimmicky. On the contrary, it's really something.A lot has been written about the influence of English folk on prog rock - especially Jethro Tull's folk-rock grounding (see "Songs from the Wood" to get a better understanding of this), but in Blondel the folk influences are not marginalised at all and are in fact glorified to the point where - were this the 1500s, Blondel would be a "folk band".Because of the unfortunate difficulty in finding the albums "Evensong", "Fantasia Lindum" and "England" - from which this compilation is taken - my recommendation is to purchase this recording and snap up the original albums (at almost any cost) if you should see them.So, what exactly does Blondel sound like? The best demonstration of their sound can be found in the first track - the 20 minute opus "Fantasia Lindum". This is a multi-part composition in which the trio sing (in 2- and 3-part harmony) and play every single instrument lised - from crummhorn to lute to recorder. The oft-repeated "Theme" section is played to perfection by John David Gladwin (the brains behind the group) on lute but it is the vocals which hold the key to the song. A particularly spell-binding moment comes in the "Celestial Light" passage (performed as a stand-alone song in many concerts), where the three voices climb the scale in unison before hitting an ethereal high note - one which Yes' Jon Anderson would be quite proud of.That is not to say that the remainder of the album is anything less than stellar. A combination of jigs, dances and ballads with their musical and lyrical background rooted in English history is delivered in perfect style. "Toye" and "Three Seasons Almaine" (an Almaine being a type of dance) both feature splendidly harmonised choruses and lyrics which any songwriter would die for.These vocal selections are balanced by the extended instrumental passages - including one half of "Fantasia Lindum" (the album)'s "Two Dances" and the closer both here and on that album, "Seige of Yaddlethorpe". "Yaddlethorpe" warrants particular attention, as it recreates musically the sound of a seige - trumpets (or rather, crummhorns) urging the troops forward, some percussion (one of the few moments of this on the disc) as the attack commences and finally more crummhorns and martial drums gradually receding. Did Yaddlethorpe fall? Who knows. Whatever happened, it must have been a great sound.One of the more incongruous moments is found in "Old Moot Hall", where Blondel reveal their pop-rock roots (roots which they had only recently abandoned) in the chorus: And I don't want to live at Old Moot Hall anymore/For the memories of our courtship there can never be restored/Na na na na na na na na na na na. Simply typing those lyrics doesn't truly convey exactly how Beatles-y (or at least, British Invasion-y) they sound. No matter, the song is still a highlight of the album - as are all the others.As an added bonus, the liner notes are written by a band member and provide a very humorous insight into the life of the band.As mentioned previously, as well as this disc, try to find the three albums it is a composite of ("Fantasia" has a wonderful track entitled "Safety In God Alone" which is not represented here, the only omission from that album). A warning, however, following this period, Blondel gradually moved into the rather bland side of 70s folk-rock. During this time, they dropped the "Amazing" part of their name, becoming simply "Blondel". So avoid those particular albums unless bland "Oh how I wish you were here my significant other who is somewhere else" sentiments appeal. Blondel also reunited for the "Restoration" album recently, and I have only heard good things about it - likewise about their live shows.Enjoy this album, certainly a one-of-a-kind band and one with an all too brief history."
Achingly beautiful, simply amazing, truly essential.
Thomas Paine | Elmhurst, Il United States | 01/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album is truly a feast for the ears. Much like the Strawbs. The 20+ minute Fantasia Lindum is Amazing Blondel's magnum opus and is alone worth the price of admission. Amazing Blondel is a group of 3 mega-talented musicians who play the instruments of yore...way yore. Cittern, harmonium, flute, recorders, crumhorn, tabor pipe and yes, even the ocarina! This is the stuff of olde Elizabethan minstrals and the band itself takes it's name from Richard The Lionhearted's alleged favorite minstral. If you want to be swept away some 500 years, this album is sure to take you back to a simpler time. Pick it up at any price and you'll be glad you did. Wonderful stuff. This album is out-of-print and hard-to-find but if you do locate it you'd be wise to snap it up. Pour yourself some mead and let the music wash over you."