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Morse Code - La marche des hommes CD (album) cover


Morse Code


Symphonic Prog

3.92 | 72 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nº 197

The progressive rock scene in Anglophone Canada during the 70's wasn't particularly robust. Rush is the most well known band to attempt to apply English progressive sensibility to their sound. On the contrary, for Francophone's, was given a huge welcome to the progressive rock. It's very curious how English progressive rock became most popular in Canada in the Province of Quebec where most people speaks French. Certainly, that is why many of those bands chose to sing in French, thus creating a platform that made French lyrics acceptable and even desirable.

So, it was in that context that appeared in the 70's many progressive rock bands in Quebec like Offenbach, Morse Code Transmission (latter Morse Code), Octobre, Contraction, Et Cetera, Pollen, Incubus (latter ExCubus), L'Orchestre Sympatique, Conventum, Toubabou, Harmonium, Garolou, Sloche and Maneige.

Morse Code is one of the best Quebecois prog rock bands of the 70's, alongside with Harmonium, Pollen and Maneige. Their origin goes back to 1967, when bassist Vallée and drummer Roy founded Les Maîtres. Following the recruitment of keyboardist and singer Simard in 1968, and then Jocelyn Julien on guitar, the band made their first steps performing rehearsals for The Beatles and The Bee Gees. Turning cheerfully in all the trendy clubs of his city and province, the combo begins to forge its own repertoire, and modifies their patronymic in Morse Code Transmission at the request of their record company which publishes, in 1971, their first eponymous debut album. That opus is a collection of short and commercial plays, sung in English. Continuing in this direction, after the replacement of Julien by Bernard Tapin, the band offers in 1972 a double album "Morse Code Transmission II". But, it was not until 1975 that the group really took off under the shortened name of Morse Code with the superb "La Marche Des Hommes", entirely sung in French.

The line up on the album is Daniel Lemay (vocals, flute and guitars), Christian Simard (vocals and keyboards), Michel Vallée (vocals and bass) and Raymond Roy (drums and percussion).

"La Marche Des Hommes" has seven tracks. "La Marche Des Hommes" is the title track. It shows impressive songwriting skills from Simard, often with the instrumental and vocal sections based partly in the same themes, giving the track a feel of continuity despite its complexity and many chord changes. This is the great highlight on the album. "Le Pays D'Or" is a ballad with one of the finest melodies on the album, featuring some unusually authentic sounding mellotron strings. It provides a strong contrast to "La Marche Des Hommes". Some may like it more than others, but I like it. "La Cérémonie De Minuit" shows further Simard's clear influences from Tony Banks in his keyboard playing. It features acoustic guitar and alternates between a simple but space rock styled part and this acoustic part with a wavering Hammond sound. This is another great inclusion on the album. "Cocktail" is an instrumental track. It's a great sounding track with flute. The bass, the mellotron and drums are so impressive too. It contains an excellent catchy mix of music. This was a hit at the radio and one of a TV program took it for their theme song. "Une Goutte De Pluie" is the band in really laidback and relaxed mood, pleasant and moody. It's a delicate and endearing ballad highlighting Simard's emotive vocal delivery and light piano work. This is another good ballad. "Une Goutte De Pluie" sounds nicely but it's probably, in my humble opinion, the weakest track on the album. "Qu'Est-Ce Que T'As Compris?" is quite the opposite, showing their upbeat and rocking side, but still wrapped up with the same symphonic progressive arrangements as the rest of the songs. This is an all out rock number showcasing each member's strengths. It has been aired many times from every radio station of the province of Quebec, and probably it's still aired nowadays. "Problème" is a grandiose ballad but with a modest length at only two minutes, which was a pity that it was not a bit longer. It shows more of the band's softer but powerful side. This is a good song mix with a lot of mellotron and the catchy refrain on "Problème" is very soothing too. "Problème" closes out the album properly in a very calm and catchy way.

Conclusion: "La Marche Des Hommes" is an impressive statement for Morse Code. Leaving in the past their psych influences, Morse Code return in mid 70's with a bright symphonic prog album with careful guitar work, intelligent vocal parts, dominant organ sounds and some mellotron touches, not far from what Genesis, Ange and many other prog bands were creating a few years earlier. This is an excellent example of Quebecois symphonic progressive rock music. "La Marche Des Hommes" contains all the right moves and all of the elements sure to please any 70's progressive rock fan. The music was highly influenced by Genesis but with that French influence getting compared with the likes of Ange. The vocals are all in French. In fact, if you are a fan of such prog bands coming from France like Ange, Mona Lisa or Atoll, you won't have any problem in warming up to this album. It's a highly recommended album for all prog lovers.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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