As every psych fan knows Blonde on Blonde, the Welsh band who took their name from, well that Dylan album, delivered a cracking debut album in 1968. From the off Contrasts is full of zippy punky psych pop with a hint of prog too. The sitar driven Spinning Wheel, bizarre cover of Eleanor Rigby and folky Kinks-esque B side Country Life are just three of the many gems on the album.
Unlike a lot of their contemporaries Blonde on Blonde did actually get to record two other albums, though for some odd reason they have fallen off the radar a little. Perhaps because the band replaced its initial excellent vocalist Ralph Denyer with the more languid, proggy pipes of David Thomas.
Nevertheless both Rebirth and Reflection On A Life, which have recently been reissued by Cherry Red on CD, have loads to offer anyone who loves the proggier end of psych, or is that poppier end of prog?
Of the two Rebirth, which snuck out in 1970 is the stronger collection. The band nails it from track one with a dramatic Moody Blues-ish ballad Castles In the Sky and the more reflective Broken Hours. Other highlights include Heart Without A Home, which pairs a Krautrock eish drum beat with a powerful anthemic chorus, and the seven minute long Circles which comes in a three minute version as a bonus track, though I’d stick with the seven minute extended freak out.
Reflection On A Life which followed in 1971 took the band deeper into prog, though with heavier guitars (I Don’t Care) and folky interludes (Ain’t It Sad Too). Occasionally it gets a little too jarring to these ears on tracks like The Bargain and Happy Families. Still it all comes out in the wash with the gentle string backed finale Chorale which sadly seems to fade away just as it gets going. The stand out though is the single Sad Song For An Easy Lady, a classy slice of turn of the decade pop.