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Offenbach - Traversion CD (album) cover

TRAVERSION

Offenbach

 

Prog Related

3.31 | 7 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars After the great rift of Offenbach that saw Lamothe and drummer Belval leave to join forces with former co-leader Pierre Harel another group, the band managed to survive with ever- changing personnel and had to wait almost two years to return to the studio with a (more or less) stabilized line-up. Boulet is now the only original member with guitarist Jean Gravel, the new line-up is featuring a second guitarist John McGale, who also plays the flute and will provide a few tracks. New bassist LeBoeuf will soon become the glue to the new line- up, compromising and arranging the almost-finished tracks. But the group had lost all of its momentum at home with the erratic Never Too Tender, and they were facing an uphill battle in a Quebec scene filled with Harmonium, Beau Dommage, Maneige, Octobre, et many more. Even worse, we are in 79 and fairly soon the local prog scene will be wiped out by the disco craze (La Belle Province reacted a little late to it, but massively), but this album will score well with the public, who appreciate the texts of the new lyricist Pierre Huet.

The album is a succession of classic Offenbach tracks that will get not only major airplay on the radios, but most of them will the core of their concerts for years to come. Boulet's joual lyrics, sung ala Robert Charlebois or Pierre Flynn (of the rival group Octobre) crossed with a tad of Eddy Mitchell, are of course a major feature of the album, but his Hammond B- 3 is still the other audible landmark in years when its appeal was definitely on the wane. Gravel's guitar shines in passages, but mostly as a solo instrument (the solo in Coyote or the opening Ayoye) and in the good opening track Je Le Sais Bien. In some ways their sound is still more of an early 70's than a late 70's, partly due to Boulet's excellent organ. Generally the album is a short blues-derived hard rock tunes, devoid of much adventures or experiments, but still having some instrumental bravura, when the occasion arises (not enough to my taste) and the odd flute (in Deux Autres Bieres) provide short hard'ons for progheads.

Despite the local public's wariness, especially with some Anglophones in the band, Offenbah created the album that the Québecois public wanted to hear, and the group will find healthy sales and a a local fame. In fact, they will be the last of the 70's group to live well, surviving until 85 and rake in many awards of all kinds, but that's another story. This is an overtly commercial album and a good mastery of French might come in handy, but obligatory, because the blues-derived organ-driven hard rock is quite accessible (but certainly not groundbreaking) and certainly held up with the AOR "kings" of the era. Despite it's overt commercial nature, this is a classic Québecois album that still might interest the prospective proghead.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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