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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Eyes of Blue - In Fields of Ardath

This is Eyes of Blue’s second album released on the Mercury label in 1969 and reissued by Esoteric Recordings last year. After the release of their debut, Crossroads of Time in that same year, the Welsh group got recognition for Lou Reizner and composer Quincy Jones as they got to work with the composer who would later do film scores such as In Cold Blood, In the Heat of the Night, and The Italian Job whilst getting recognition with his work with Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson.

Eyes of Blue worked with Quincy on a film in 1970 called Toy Grabbers which had different names including Mother, The Seduction of a Nerd, or Up Your Teddy Bear which is released on Something Weird video and on Troma Entertainment Films back in 2005. It is often considered the worse film starring Julie Newmar, Wally Cox and Victor Buono. One of the songs that was featured in the film is the lullaby, militant, dream-like mellotron beauty Merry Go Round.

It has this acoustic-organ melody and background vocalization with a heavenly choir atmosphere before John Weathers’ galloping drums set the tone of the carousel of dreaming into this child’s dream of riding into the spinning wonders. There’s the homage to Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Expereinced?-era with backward tapes, swirling grooves on The Light We See while their tribute to Django Reinhardt of the classical jazz beauty of Souvenirs.

It goes through various intersections that Ritchie Francis does. From the scratchy record effect as it heads to the acoustic melodies before the clean electric guitar improvisations and then organist Phil Ryan and Ritchie fade off into the sunset for a wonderful send-off. But their homage to Graham Bond, is still growing strong with the Cream effect for a haunting Blues Rock voyage of their dazzling cover of Bond’s composition, Spanish Blues. Phil is having the Bond effect in him to head into town that gives him complete free-rein.

The blaring yet shuffling take of an earlier version of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane-era meets Family’s Music in a Doll’s House-era twist comes kicking the door down with a bulldozer at the right momentum thanks to the intense Harmonica punch with an dooming midsection of Mellotron, Organ, and Guitar like something terrible is happening before back into the roar of After the War.

After the release of In Fields of Ardath, Mercury dropped the band as Lou got them a new deal with the Pegasus label and recorded their third album entitled, Bluebell Wood. But they didn’t use the Eyes of Blue name because Lou originally wanted to call them Bloody Welsh, but stuck with Big Sleep instead. The band broke up and they went on to various bands from Wild Turkey to Gentle Giant.

I have listened to In Fields of Ardath five times now. It is a perfect understanding on where the band could have continued on if they had moved forward. The 16-page booklet features interviews with Ritchie Francis and John Weathers about the making of the album with liner notes done by Malcolm Dome. It includes the single bonus track, the soul-blues rock groove of Apache ’69. It did receive a few radio airplays but disappeared without a trace.

Even though Lou thought it would be a hit, which for me, it could have received some recognition but I think the marketing was not done properly. The band recorded the album in about five days and while it did well, you could understand why they were ahead of their time and the label never gave them another chance.

The booklet also features pictures of the band, promos including the Speakeasy, Langland Bay Hotel, the movie poster of Up Your Teddy Bear, screencap of their appearance of the movie, Connecting Rooms, Middle Earth, and a 45 RPM’s of their singles. Not to mention the original foreword notes by Quincy Jones. If you love Gentle Giant, The Graham Bond Organization, Cream, and Wild Turkey, you will delve into more of Eyes of Blue’s music with this amazing reissue Esoteric have put out.

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