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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Amazing Blondel: Inspiration


1) All Time For You/Inspiration; 2) Thinking Of You; 3) You Didn't Have To Lie About It; 4) I've Got News For You; 5) The Lovers; 6) Good Time Gertie; 7) On A Night Like This; 8) Love Song; 9) Standing By My Window; 10) Be So Happy; 11) They're Born, They Grow And They Die.

There are several known usages of the word 'inspiration' as defined in Webster. One is: «the act or power of exercising an elevating or stimulating influence upon the in­tel­lect or emotions». Ano­ther is: «a supernatural influence which qualifies men to receive and communicate divine truth». Thus, all I can say is, if this album has really been created under a «supernatural influence», we're all doing good staying well grounded in the non-supernatural; and if it was recorded with the in­tention of exercising an elevating or stimulating influence upon my intellect or emotions, I can only thank God it's not 1975 all over again.

Think a sequel to Mulgrave Street, but this time, with (a) all traces of Blondel's past washed away, (b) any hopes for Blondel's new future dissipated — no wailing electric guitar solos, no catchy choruses, just a never-ending string of watery, utterly predictable mid-Seventies soft-rock à la Carpenters or, at times, even Barry Manilow. There is exactly one fully decent song on here: 'You Didn't Have To Lie About It', and even that one mostly sounds good in its context, what with its bass-heavy boppy-poppiness so reminiscent of the Beatles' style circa Sgt. Pepper (think 'Getting Better' and the like). But already the second Beatles rip — title track — commits the ut­ter sacrilege in being built around... a musical bit that is directly lifted from the instrumental sec­tion of 'Something' (!!). (Which, for a moment, brings me onto thinking that 'Something', in its way, basically invented the «deep ballad» format of the 1970s, without falling victim to it, kinda like 'Stairway To Heaven' is the Blessed Mother Power Ballad of so many rotten kids).

Everything else is, at best, forgettable, ultra-sweet acoustic pop, and, at worst, polysaccharidic balladry. Basically, the distinction is simple — as long as Baird and Wincott hunt for the Beatles, the music is tolerable ('Good Time Gertie', a 'Dear Prudence' rip-off instrumental, is another OK contribution); once they start hunting for America or James Taylor, the music is no longer music, just sap dressed up in musical clothes. To finish you off with one last staggering blow, Baird ends the album with five minutes of pure orchestral Mantovani ('They're Born...') as if Inspiration were some frickin' Hollywood epic in need of a proper exit music arrangement. Well, I exit here all right. Like I said, Mulgrave Street was at least sing-along-able, in parts; Inspiration, in comparison, is vomit-along-able, and the only reason George Harrison did not sue the bastards was that The Chiffons taught him to be a peace-abiding, court-avoiding gentleman. Thumbs down, without further debate.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad I've heard this album. People often talk about the wretched excesses of 70's soft rock, and I've always nodded my head and pretended I knew exactly what they're talking about. I've never sat through a single LP by America, Bread, Barry Manilow or any other of these supposedly wicked crooks of popular music, but now I can safely say that yes, I have seen 70's soft rock at its suckiest, and it does indeed suck quite mightily.

    As for Carpenters and James Taylor I don't have any antagonistic feelings towards them. Though this is probably because I haven't listened to a Carpenters LP in years, I have a homemade compilation which is pretty great (Rainy Days And Mondays, Let Me Be The One, B'wana She No Home, Man Smart Woman Smarter, etc.) and the only James Taylor album I have is 'Sweet Baby James', which I think is pretty nice. Well I guess it's more of a stripped down singer-songwriter folk/country album than Mantovani-inspired soft-rock, so maybe I just haven't heard his really bad stuff.