Saturday, 11 March 2017

"One Year" by COLIN BLUNSTONE (August 1998 Epic/Rewind CD Remaster - Reissued March 2010) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Say You Don't Mind...You'll Let Me Off This Time..." 

Colin Blunstone's debut solo album "One Year" has always been a huge fan fave - its 1971 stippled effect LP sleeve and distinctive Epic Records yellow label enough to make men of a certain age go mushy. Not only did it contain the hugely popular and melodic hit single "Say You Don't Mind" (peaked at No. 15 in early 1972) - it featured more of the same - other breathy lushly orchestrated beauties that stand up to scrutiny in 2017 - 46 years after the event.

Which brings us to this 'Rewind' CD - a basic Remaster from Sony's Epic accompanied by a hugely inadequate gatefold slip of paper as a supposed inlay. Still - it sounds good enough - and at least it's still available relatively cheaply. Here are the details... 

UK released August 1998 (reissued March 2010) - "One Year" by COLIN BLUNSTONE on Epic/Rewind 491694 2 (Barcode 5099749169425) is a straightforward 10-track Remaster of the 1971 LP and plays out as follows (43:23 minutes):

1. She Loves The Way They Love Her - Side 1
2. Misty Roses
3. Smokey Day
4. Caroline Goodbye
5. Though You Are Far Away
6. Mary Won't You Warm My Bed - Side 2
7. Her Song
8. I Can't Live Without You
9. Let Me Come Closer To You
10. Say You Don't Mind
Tracks 1 to 10 are his debut solo LP (after The Zombies) called "One Year" - released December 1971 in the UK on Epic Records S EPC 64557 and January 1972 in the USA on Epic Records E 30974. Produced by ROD ARGENT and CHRIS WHITE (both of Argent) - it failed to chart in either country.

"Caroline Goodbye", "Though You Are far Away", "I Can’t Live Without You" and "Let Me Come Closer To You" are Colin Blunstone originals - "She Loves The Way They Love Her", "Smokey Day" and "Her Song" are Rod Argent/Chris White songs (both from ARGENT) - "Mary Won’t You Warm My Bed" is a Mike d’Abo cover version - "Misty Roses" is a Tim Hardin cover version and "Say You Don’t Mind" is a Denny Laine song (he would later play and be a part of Paul and Linda McCartney’s Wings).

Four members of the British band ARGENT (Rod Argent, Russ Ballard, Robert Henrit and Jim Rodford) play on three songs - "She Loves The Way They Love Her", "Caroline Goodbye" and "Mary Won't You Warm My Bed". Rod Argent, Chris White, Jim Rodford and Colin Blunstone had also been founder members of THE ZOMBIES - Drummer Robert 'Bob' Henrit also played with The John Verity Band in 1974, Phoenix in 1976 and Russ Ballard's Barnet's Dogs in 1980. Alan Crosthwaite also plays guitar on "Misty Roses".

The gatefold slip of paper that is the inlay reproduces the original album musician and recording credits (T. Rex and Bowie's Tony Visconti arranged some of the tracks) and Blunstone's own short appraisal from the rear sleeve (he'd written the record between July 1970 and July 1971 hence its title) – but absolutely naught else. It doesn't even advise who remastered what or where or from which source – although to my ears the sound is GORGEOUS. Most of these songs feature Blunstone up against a set of cello strings or lone viola – and the clarity is beautiful. Most of the 'Rewind' Series of CD reissues were like this - short on details - but with excellent Remastered Audio. Let's get to the music...

As early as March 1971 – Epic UK tried the Mike d'Abo song "Mary, Won't You Warm My Bed" as his British debut 7" single using the non-album Blunstone original "I Hope I Didn't Say Too Much Last Night" as its flipside. But there were few takers for Epic EPC 7095 and it tanked. Speaking of catalogue disasters - it doesn't of course take particular genius to work out that if the Sony Rewind compilers had any brains or real interest in this reissue – they could easily have included that non-album song as a Bonus Track (but alas). Epic UK then tried 45 No. 2 in early October 1971 just before the album was about to hit the shops. Pairing two of his own - "Caroline Goodbye" with the equally beautiful "Though You Are Far Away" – Epic EPC 7520 suffered the same fate as its March 1971 predecessor - no takers. Which is a damn shame because both songs make for a truly classy outing – melodies that deserved a better fate. Epic in the USA paired "Caroline Goodbye" with "Misty Roses" in January 1972 (the month the album was released) on Epic 5-10826 but it didn't chart.

It wasn't until late January 1972 when the album's last cut - Denny Laine's fabulous "Say You Don't Mind" - got put on UK 7" single No. 3 - and suddenly Blunstone was on the map. Epic S EPC 7765 entered the British pop charts 12 February 1972 (only two weeks after its 28 January 1972 release date) and eventually rose to a respectable and deserving No. 15 - staying a total of 9 weeks in the Top 40. The brass band sounding and organ based "Let Me Come Closer To You" was its perfect B-side in Blighty - in fact I thought it should have been released as the follow-up 45.

The album's opening track is the overly busy and loud "She Loves The Way They Love Her" - the earliest recording for the album where Blunstone clearly hadn't yet decided that his debut would be a largely quiet affair with melody, acoustic guitars and various string instruments. It sticks out as a rather odd and bombastic beginning. Things however settle into Nick Drake beauty with Colin's seriously smart and superbly arranged cover version of Tim Hardin's "Misty Roses" - a highlight on his "Tim Hardin 1" debut LP on Verve Forecast in 1966. Chris Gunning arranged the sweetly played string section that makes up Part 2 of the "Misty Roses" cover - and I wish we finally knew the names of the classy players (but no). Other highlights include "Smokey Day" which comes so close to "Bryter Layter" in its ethereal gorgeousness - again wonderful string arrangements from Chris Gunning. The hurting "Her Song" is probably the ballad I return to the most – amazingly poignant - almost too sad. It’s yet another moving song - even from a distance of nearly five decades – on an LP that deserves to be rediscovered. 

Never as retro-cool as Nick Drake or commercially hip as Cat Stevens - nonetheless Colin Blunstone produced a hugely underrated album in "One Year" - something of a masterpiece in my mind (excepting that opening clunker). I just wish the CD showed that same love and affection. What we essentially have here is a 5-star singer-songwriter album from back in the day being given a 3-star CD reissue in the 90s. 

Blunstone would then follow "One Year" with "Ennismore" in November 1972 and "Journey" in March 1974 - both available on a Floating World/Voiceprint CD reissue in 2014 (see separate review). 

"...I love you are love to me..." - Colin Blunstone pines in the aching "Her Song". I feel the same. Check out this forgotten classic...

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