Epic E 30974
The Zombies had lots going for them back in 1964: a unique sound, Top Ten hits, Rod Argent and Chris White beginning to blossom into fine writers and arrangers, and a highly talented young singer with the unlikely name of Colin Blunstone.
While most British vocalists tried their best to sound as if they'd just crawled out of a Mississippi swamp, Blunstone steadfastly retained his accent and concentrated on singing. His high, almost feminine voice brought emotion to a song, turned fair numbers into good ones and integrated itself with the music -- never interfering yet never hiding behind it. His timing was almost flawless.
The Zombies, of course, are no more. Argent and White carry on with Argent, however, and now Blunstone is back with an album of his own. Argent and White produced and arranged parts as well as writing some material. Argent serves as a backing group on several cuts. But it's still Colin's album.
Blunstone's voice remains one of pop's most recognizable and expressive; moving effortlessly from one pace to another, cracking or sighing at just the right moment and running words together or drawing them out as the song requires. The voice changes little for the hardest rock cut or the softest ballad, but the end result does. Perhaps most important, he realizes his limitations and does his best to work within them.
The major problem here is production, a conflict between music and vocals which was avoided with the Zombies. Strings appear on almost every cut and are generally not only unnecessary but distracting. The all important vocal-instrumental separation is lost. As a result, the best cuts here are those on which the strings are arranged so that Blunstone can work with them rather than fight them, or when toned-down horns are used to counter and highlight his low-key style. Ideally, he would be best off with the simplest backing possible.
"Carolina Goodbye" is one example of successful string arrangement for Blunstone. The song opens with simple vocal backed by acoustic guitar and as the strings move in the voice grows with them rather than sinking beneath them. With "Let Me Come Closer To You," mellow horns effectively back the mild voice and provide perfect balance. Blunstone wrote these numbers and shows some talent in this direction. He easily turns essentially trite songs into good material.
Listening to One Year, I can't help thinking it's a pity the Zombies didn't stick together. Colin probably would have been magnificent after eight years with the same people. But he's all right here and it's nice to have him back.
- Bob Kirsch, Rolling Stone, 4/27/72.
From the opening track of this album, "She Loves The Way They Love Her," Colin Blunstone brings back fond memories of the Zombies, a great band that he sang lead with. Aided by the sympathetic production of two other ex-Zombies, Rod Argent and Chris White, Blunstone resurfaces with a very melodic collection of soft rockers. His gentle voice is perfectly suited to the subdued ambiance of the recording.
Despite an orchestrated arrangement that is a bit too drawn out, Blunstone really shines with his interpretation of Tim Hardin's classic "Misty Roses." "Caroline Goodbye," "Mary Won't You Warm My Bed," and "Her Song" also stand out as Colin Blunstone joins the ever growing list of ex-group players now making a successful go of it as solo artists.
- Tara, Words & Music, 5/72.
Blunstone's first album, One Year, was his best, though the follow-ups Ennismore and Journey also had their moments. * * *
- Richie Unterberger, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Blunstone's solo debut One Year combined the flattering elements of a wistful tone, romantic focus and sympathetic arrangements.
- Patrick McCarty, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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