Tuesday, 3 May 2016

"Ennismore/Journey" by COLIN BLUNSTONE (2014 Voiceprint 2LPs on 1CD) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Something To Warm Me On A Lonely Winter's Night..."

A clever reissue this – the former Zombie's singer COLIN BLUNSTONE gets his 2nd and 3rd Solo albums on Epic Records from 1972 and 1974 reissued onto 1CD – both unavailable digitally since 2003 when the Sony Legacy issues were deleted.

Well licensed from Sony Music and featuring the talents of Chris White and Rod Argent of The Zombies and Argent and a guest appearance by Duncan Browne – they’re back via Floating World Music & Voiceprint – and sounding damn good (just as I remembered). Here are the miracles...

UK released July 2014 – "Ennismore/Journey" by COLIN BLUNSTONE on Floating World/Voiceprint VP604CD (Barcode 0805772060425) offers 2LPs on 1CD and plays out as follows (73:24 minutes):

1. I Don't Believe In Miracles
2. Exclusively For Me
3. A Sign From Me To You
4. Every Sound I Heard
5. How Wrong Can One Man Be
6. I Want Some More
7. Pay Me Later
8. Andorra
9. I've Always Had You
10. Time's Running Out
11. How Could We Dare To Be Wrong
Tracks 1 to 11 are his second Solo LP "Ennismore" – released November 1972 in the UK on Epic Records EPC 65278 and in the USA on Epic KE 31994. NOTE: Tracks 2 to 5 on Side 1 of the original LP are listed as a 'Quartet' with (a), (b), (c) and (d) parts. Rod Argent and Chris White of The Zombies (& Argent) produced the album.

12. Wonderful
13. Beginning
14. Keep The Curtains Closed Today
15. Weak For You
16. Smooth Operator
17. You Who Are Lonely [Side 2]
18. It's Magical
19. Something Happens When You Touch Me
20. Setting Yourself Up
21. Shadow Of A Doubt
22. This Is Your Captain Calling
Tracks 12 to 22 are his 3rd solo album "Journey" - released March 1974 in the UK on Epic Records EPC 65287 and in the USA on Epic KE 32962. CHRIS WHITE of The Zombies and Argent produced it. ROD ARGENT and PETE WINGFIELD play Keyboards, Guitars by Colin Blunstone and DEREK GRIFFITHS, Bass by TERRY POOLE, Piano by RICHARD KERR, Classical Guitar on "Keep The Curtains Closed Today" by DUNCAN BROWNE, Backing Vocals by THE KING SINGERS.

The 8-page booklet has new liner notes from noted writer ALAN ROBINSON and pictures cool stuff like the Dutch 7" single picture sleeve for "I Want Some More" which had "Pay Me Later" on the B (not released in the UK). "Andorra" and "Weak For You" also came out in Euro territories and they're here as well. There are old interview quotes from Blunstone discussing his association with Duncan Browne of Immediate and Rak Records fame (his "Journey" single is one of 'the' 70ts sublime moments). AUDIO - apart from a 'licensed from Sony Music' credit - there are no mastering/remastering credits at all - but one has to assume the audio is the Sony Legacy issues of old. This CD sounds amazing for the "Journey" album - whilst merely good to great for "Ennismore" (a tad hissy on some tunes)...

Named after a 'state-of-mind' and a beloved flat in Ennismore Gardens in London - "Ennismore" the album opens with the single and a firm fan fave - "I Don't Believe In Miracles". Epic UK put it out a month before the LP hit the shops - October 1972 on Epic EPC S 8434 with the album cut "I've Always Had You" on the flipside. Radio and the public liked it and rewarded the catchy falsetto chorus with a Number 31 placing on the UK charts (odd then that the album didn't follow suit). "Exclusively For Me", "A Sign For Me", "Every Sound I Heard" and "How Wrong Can A Man Be" made up the 'quartet' of songs on Side 1 - an arc-of-a-love-affair foursome - that like relationships blows hot and cold - my fave being the pastoral cellos of "Every Sound I Heard" where our Col hears his girl's name everywhere he turns his lugs. Side 1 ends with the zippy acoustic guitars and funky keyboards of "I Want Some More" - another potential hit 45. 

Side 2 opens with the happy/sarcastic "Pay Me Later" which features some great slide on the acoustic. One of the mysteries surrounding the album is that Epic didn't pick the cool/funk "Andorra" as a next single - nice beat and pace - and would have built momentum for the album. The audio on the quiet "I've Always Had You" is gorgeous - nice air around those high cat strings - his voice so clear as well. The beautiful "Time's Running Out" has always had that excessive hiss problem and this mastered version is no different - such a lovely song - but you do have to tolerate the transfer (doesn't stop the song from being a highlight on the LP). Epic tried "How Could We Dare To Be Wrong" as a 45 in the UK on Epic EPC 1197 in February 1973 achieving a modest 45 placing and staying on the charts for only two weeks.

The "Journey" album opens with the slightly bombastic "Wonderful" that ends in a sort of Beach Boys "Smile" vocal refrain by a choir. The voices cleverly segue into the altogether more adventurous and lulling "Beginning" and in its own way - very Beach Boys. But when that classical guitar of Duncan Browne comes sailing in on "Keep The Curtains Closed Today" - the chills go up my arms. It all comes together - gorgeous song - voice - the accompanying backing vocals The King Singers. But then we get the super-produced but slightly overdone "Weak For You" and "Smooth Operator". Side 2 opens with "You Who Are Lonely" - a plaintive song about being 'in the hands of fate' - nice melody and gorgeous production values. My other fave on that side is the big acoustic strums of "Setting Yourself Up"...

Although more polished in every way - album No. 3 "Journey" is missing something that his 1971 debut "One Day" and its 1972 follow-up "Ennismore" possessed in spades. Still - it's a blast to have these forgotten 70ts singer-songwriter slices of magic back on my shelves - and in decent sound too...

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