Tim Blake played synths with Gong, Hawkwind, Steve Hillage, and other similar projects before going solo as a synthesizer performer and recorder. This was Blake's first studio release versus his recordings of live gigs. He really polishes things up a great deal, adding guitars and singing in the style of Gong's Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage's solo offerings. Blake's vocals would never be his strong point. His blessing to the ears was and always will be his ethereal and spacy synthesizer expertise. As Gong and Steve Hillage all preached the New Age and tuning into earth vibes and aligning one's soul with Earth energies to bring in a world of light and love – so Blake also crooned. No doubt, the '70s drug culture and disenchantment with organized religion had an immense influence on philosophy and music.
It's hard to believe that Morning Glory Ramblers is the first full-length recording by Norman and Nancy Blake in eight years. Certainly they've been active, from playing on all 47 Down From the Mountain dates, performing on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Cold Mountain soundtracks, June Carter Cash's final album, Wildwood Flower, and various other projects. This album, recorded on the soundstage of the Western Jubilee Warehouse in Colorado Springs, is a dynamite setting for the material found here. There are 17 songs in this collection, seven of them traditional melodies, still others so old they've seldom been heard over the last century, a Hank Williams' tune, and a couple by friends of Norman and Nancy's that are so saturated in the deep country, they could have been written decades before.
Too many synth artists of the early to mid-'70s seemed more interested in demonstrating their dexterity with their instrument than actually showing why it was worth being dexterous with in the first place. The reason Tim Blake is important is because he took the opposite approach entirely. Schooled in Gong and soon to dignify Hawkwind, Blake is a composer first, a technician a very distant second. And if New Jerusalem, his solo debut, represents a peak which electronic rock in general has yet to top, Crystal Machine is at least equal to the task. In maintaining the earlier album's application of melody over mood, Blake totally separates himself from the ranks of sallow, clever souls who let their machines do all the talking – a lesson which, by year's end, both Jean Michel Jarre and Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" would both have translated into worldwide chart-toppers. More importantly, however, Blake also liberated the synth from the showroom and showman.