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    COLIN BLUNSTONE

    ColinBLiveHis incomparable voice has been in our consciousness for five decades, on some of the most memorable songs in pop history. In 2012, Colin Blunstone’s amazing heritage is more respected than ever – and he’s about to add to it.

    ‘On The Air Tonight’ is the new album by one of Britain’s greatest vocal stylists, the 11th solo studio set in a career that has had fantastic new momentum in recent years. From media, fans and fellow musicians alike, there’s now fresh appreciation all over the world for Colin’s work in his own name, as guest vocalist.

    Now rightly regarded as one of the most innovative British groups of their brief but brilliant 1960s incarnation, the Zombies’ name was happily reactivated by Colin and keyboard wizard Rod Argent for globally acclaimed records and tours, as they built up to the 50th anniversary of their formation in 2011. That was fuelled by the incredible afterlife of their fabled (and famously misspelt) ‘Odessey and Oracle’ album, released after the band’s initial split in 1968. By 2003, its brilliant originality was recognised with a place in the top 100 of Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 Albums of All Time list, and it went on to win Mojo’s Classic Album award in 2009.

    Blunstone’s timeless tones have been at the forefront of the Zombies’ ‘She’s Not There,’ ‘Tell Her No’ and ‘Time of the Season,’ collaborations with the likes of Dave Stewart (‘What Becomes of the Brokenhearted’) and the Alan Parsons Project (‘Old and Wise,’ among many other album appearances), and a solo catalogue containing such gems as ‘Say You Don’t Mind,’ ‘I Don’t Believe In Miracles,’ ‘Misty Roses,’ ‘How Could We Dare To Be Wrong’ and ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears.’

    So now, after another breathless period of glowingly-reviewed international touring with the Zombies, it’s time to shine the solo spotlight on Colin again for ‘On The Air Tonight.’ Produced by Jon Sweet and recorded at studios in Norfolk, Wales, West Sussex and Dorset, it’s a collection of new compositions by Blunstone and other writers, seasoned with some well-chosen revivals. This is an album to add new distinction to a lifetime of recording, in which Colin has put his unmistakable vocal mark on so many classic tracks.

    Hand on heart, it’s impossible to think of another singer that could master such a wide-ranging collection of ballads and uptempo songs, selected with the sort of loving attention that has typified Blunstone’s entire recording span. Colin himself contributes two superior solo compositions (the romantic, piano-driven ‘So Much More’ and the Salsa-flavoured ‘Dancing In The Starlight’) another co- write and an elegant reappraisal of the beautifully tender ‘Though You Are Far Away,’ first recorded on his much-loved 1971 solo album debut ‘One Year.’

    Two further tunes come from the impressive South Wales soft-rock trio the Sonic Executives, who also play and add their lush harmonies to the album, and Blunstone pays tribute to two late and great British musicians and friends of his, Pete Bardens and Duncan Browne. Bardens, once of rock stalwarts Camel and before that a fellow traveller of Colin’s on the 1960s beat circuit, wrote the title track, ‘On The Air Tonight’ as well as the strident album opener ‘Turn Your Heart Around’ (first recorded when Bardens and Blunstone were in the band Keats). Singer-songwriter Browne, meanwhile, is represented via ‘Wild Places.’ As the ultimate surprise, ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ is co-written by Melanie C, during a wave of activity for the artist known to some as Sporty Spice. She’s been a judge on the ITV talent search ‘Superstar’ ahead of her own role as Mary Magdalene in the upcoming UK arena tour production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.

    Best of all, Blunstone’s extensive live schedule of recent times means that many of these tracks have already been road-tested and passed with flying colours. That spirit was in the studio, too.

    “About half the songs were recorded with the band all playing live at the same time, at the studio in Norfolk,” he says. “I sang the vocals live as well and we’ve kept those.”

    A few modern wannabes could learn a thing or two from that.

    The new version of ‘Though You Are Far Away’ shows how a vintage song can be updated. “In a way, we’ve covered a cover,” says Blunstone. “There was a Belgian artist called Jasper Steverlinck, who had a big hit single, and when he did an album to follow it up, that was on it, he covered it. But he had a pianist playing the string parts, and it was really good, so I put it into the live show in that arrangement. It went down so well, I thought I’d really like to record it.” So it renews its place among Colin’s many classic ballads of his early solo years, including ‘Keep The Curtains Closed Today,’ ‘Exclusively For Me’ and his definitive take on Tim Hardin’s ‘Misty Roses.’

    The core band on the new album is guitarist Tom Toomey, who also plays with the Zombies; Pete Billington, who’s played keyboards for the likes of Alison Moyet and Kid Creole; bassist Chris Childs (Andy Summers, Paul Young) and drummer Pat Illingworth (808 State and the other Dave Stewart, the one from Eurythmics).

    ‘On The Air Tonight’ abounds with connections to Colin’s illustrious past, and while we can’t hope to cover all of that history here, a couple of stories give a flavour of just how long he has been a presence on the music scene.

    His friendship with Bardens, who died in 2002, goes back to Colin’s teenage years. “Pete was a really prolific writer and a great character,” he says. “He was in a band called the Cheynes with Mick Fleetwood, and I remember the Zombies played with them very early on in Kingston-upon-Thames, in one of our only amateur dates outside the St.Albans area.” Around that time the Zombies entered a competition called ‘Herts Beat’ and saw off 100 competitors to win it.

    “I remember thinking ‘Do I dare to imagine there might be a professional future for the band?’ We were 18. I’d finished school the summer before. We recorded ‘She’s Not There’ in the spring of 1964, I was 18 then and 19 when it came out, but we did decide to become professional musicians before it was a hit. We bought an old truck and we were going to, I don’t know, just drive around and look for gigs.”

    He had recorded Duncan Browne’s ‘Wild Places’ with the English singer- songwriter himself before his 1993 death, but never released it. This new version is a fitting tribute to an underrated talent, best known for his 1972, Mickie Most-produced hit ‘Journey.’

    “I used to share a flat with him at one point, about 1969 or 1970, in Ennismore Gardens. I stayed there for about a year, and that inspired the title of my second solo album, ‘Ennismore.’ Dunc was the most phenomenal classical guitar player, he encouraged and supported me a lot, as I tried to expand my playing, and he also encouraged me to write a lot. It was a very important time for me.”

    Inspiringly, decades later, he’s still touring and recording with the same energy and the same peerless vocal range. ‘On The Air Tonight’ is a timely reminder that, once again, it’s the time of the season for Colin Blunstone.

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    For more info please contact gaby@greengabpr.co.uk. Colin is available for interviews.

    GREENGab-PR

    Address: 85 Clifton Hill, London, NW8 0JN Email: gaby@greengabpr.co.uk Tel: 0207 625 7951 / 07968199 617