Rebirth is the second (and best) of three albums released by late sixties/early seventies band Blonde On Blonde. Debut album Contrasts had ranged from pop to rock, with elements of folk and psychedelia. With distinctive new singer Dave Thomas on board, and fiery guitarist Gareth Johnson taking a dominant role, Rebirth was a far more coherent affair. The band delivered an ambitious set of melodic, progressive rock. From the Moody Blues-like pop-rock of opening track (and single A-side) Castles In The Sky to the Procol Harum-style keyboard grandeur of finale You’ll Never Know Me/Release, via heavy magnum opus Colour Questions, Rebirth is consistently excellent. Released on indie label Ember, without the promotional clout of a major progressive label like Harvest, Deram or Vertigo, Rebirth somehow got lost in the plethora of fine rock released in 1970.
Now Fantastic Voyage is on a mission to elevate Rebirth to the pantheon of classic rock albums. Expanded to include the single version of album tour de force Circles, Rebirth has been mastered from original tapes and housed in a new sleeve, based on a striking publicity photo of the band posing in a castle. Collectors can rest assured that the rather rudimentary original sleeve artwork has been retained within the booklet, along with contemporary images and new sleeve notes. Blonde on Blonde evolved from Newport, South Wales-based blues band The Cellar Set. Gareth Johnson (lead vocals), Richard Hopkins (bass guitar, keyboards) and Les Hicks (drums) had all relocated to London by 1967, where they recruited two more musicians and settled on the name Blonde On Blonde.
By the summer of 1968, the band was sufficiently ensconced in the underground scene to participate in A Magical Mystery Tour (Middle Earth’s two-day event at The Roundhouse), perform at the first Isle Of Wight Festival, and open for The Doors and Jefferson Airplane back at The Roundhouse, all within the space of three consecutive weekends. Shortly thereafter they signed to Pye and quickly released a single. Reduced to a four-piece, the band recorded debut album Contrasts (released June 1969) during gaps in their live schedule, which by now included headline gigs, as well as supporting the likes of Pink Floyd and Donovan.
Retreating to South Wales, the trio of Johnson, Hopkins and Hicks recruited new singer Dave Thomas, and played at the 1969 Isle Of Wight Festival. Signed to Ember Records, they re-emerged in 1970 with a heavier, more consistent sound, displayed on their second album, Rebirth. The band’s third album (and second for Ember) followed, with Graham Davies replacing Richard Hopkins. The band split soon after. Singer and guitarist Dave Thomas remained on the music scene, ultimately returning to his first love, the blues.
- Castles In The Sky (Blonde On Blonde)
- Broken Hours (Blonde On Blonde)
- Heart Without A Home (Blonde On Blonde)
- Time Is Passing (Blonde On Blonde)
- Circles (Blonde On Blonde)
- November (Blonde On Blonde)
- Colour Questions (Blonde On Blonde)
- You'll Never Know Me/Release (Medley): Part 1 / Part 2 (Blonde On Blonde)
- Circles (Blonde On Blonde)