Ten years ago I released my album ‘By The Banks Of The A350’ which I recorded at home on my Tascam eight track machine. I live by the A350 (a major road) in Wiltshire, England, hence the name. It is also a play on the traditional English folk song ‘By The Banks of the Sweet Primroses’, which is the final track on the LP. I decided it would be a good idea to shoot the album cover in eighteenth century dress by the side of the road and dragged my long suffering (and then heavily pregnant) wife to a busy spot to pose with me. I remember there was a lot of blowing of lorry horns and shouts from passing motorists. We then drove to the nearby picturesque village of Lacock for the back cover shoot, but by this time my wife had had enough of being laughed at so I had to go into the Red Lion pub dressed like an idiot by myself.
To celebrate its anniversary, I am giving the LP away as a free download for a limited period. The high quality download includes nine bonus tracks - alternative mixes, live versions and two previously unreleased songs:
Terrascope Online review by Phil McMullen:
“There was a time when we were inundated here at the Terrascope with singer-songwriter albums with a folky, psychedelic pop edge to them, the vast majority of which I confess passed me by although the cream of them (and here the Kitchen Cynics and Todd Dillingham spring to mind immediately) inevitably rose to the top and stayed there. Several claimed inspiration and allegiance to the Bevis Frond; some more obviously than others, it’s fair to say.
It’s been a while, but the Wiltshire-based Blake makes the wait bearable at least. Admirers of the Frond’s earliest bedroom recordings, with squeaky Farfisa bleat, fuzzy guitars and crash-bang drums will find much to admire on his album ‘By the Banks of the A350’, particularly numbers such as ‘Almost Blue’ and ‘I Believe in You’. The opening ‘Soul Agent Pt 1’ sounds for all the world like an outtake from the Fred Bison Five’s ‘Beatroots’ collection, whilst later on in the collection ‘Soul Agent Pt 2’ (arguably the standout number on here) could sit alongside the material on Bevis Frond’s ‘Auntie Winnie’ album quite comfortably.
My favourite moments though are where the guitar explores a more down-home, rural-rock sound not a million miles removed from the likes of 70s acts such as Bronco and Gypsy - ‘Come to Me’ and ‘Goodbye Cruel Pop World’ are perhaps the best examples of this, with the former showing tell-tale signs of being influenced by Julian ‘Blake’ Pugsley’s alter-ego as a member of a Beatles covers band, although apparently he’s John rather than Paul.”
“Not since the heady days of Adam Ant has a frilly-necked shirt, stockings and shoes with massive buckles on them been essential rock ‘n’ roll attire. But, on the cover of this album, Blake hints at his own peculiar reinvention of the past. Indeed, the Bath-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (AKA Julian Pugsley) likes to spread himself around. Across the 15 tracks on ‘By The Banks Of The A350’, he pops in and out of sweet jangly pop, sweaty Britrock, glam, electronica and a few other bits and bobs besides.
The opening “Soul Agent Pt 1”, for instance, is a fizzy ‘60s organ groove, but it’s quickly supplanted by the Housemartins/Shop Assistants ‘80s indie jangle of the bouncy, melodic “Kiss Of Judas”. Things get melodramatic with the Scott Walker balladry of “Goodbye Cruel Pop World”, but it’s tracks like the Fratellis-esque “Being With You”, the early Beatles “Come With Me” and the smooth acoustics “Falling” that provide the base of this record. Strong, well written and soulful pop music that wraps your ears in a toasty duvet of good vibes.
In between all that, though, is the weird stuff that makes things really interesting. “Yuri Searches For God” is a massive synth-off with all the powder-faced romance of Japan or Bowie. “Baby Don’t Be Down” cocks a cream-coloured Trilby to The Style Council’s café jazz. Meanwhile, the brilliant “Sevens & Nines” is a Technicolor Restoration glam stomp with the swagger of Goldfrapp and the pretension of The Doors. Finally, we get to the Morris-dancing-friendly “Banks Of The Sweet Primroses” – a bouncy acoustic number that sounds like you think the whole album might be like if you’ve only glanced at the cover. In fact, there are a hundred things going on in Blake’s head and the grassy verge of an arterial road in Wiltshire is as good a place to start as any. “