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Offenbach - En fusion CD (album) cover

EN FUSION

Offenbach

 

Prog Related

3.08 | 5 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars This was a long-standing wish of Gerry Boulet as he was friendly with Vic Vogel and they'd played some gigs together. As the title suggest, this is the fusion of Offenbach with the Vic Vogel Big Band and the resulting is one hell of a slice of brass-rock. Recorded live At the St Denis theatre late March 79, the single-disc album presented only a part of the show, leaving the rest in a drawer. That particular drawer got raided in the mid-90's and the bottom-of-drawer tapes published in the double boxset that was released by BMG.

Actually it is definitely more of an Offenbach formation that was annexing the VVBB as its horn section, but the resulting repertoire cannot be considered as a "live best-of with brass", even if obviously a lot of the tracks are the better-known tracks with a "horn-ier" twist (I didn't say twąt ;o)p)))), such as their anthemic Caline De Blues re-arranged for the occasion. BTW, they threw in a four-female back-up vocal section as well, that included the well-known Christiane Robicheaux for better effect. Starting with the wild-paced Ma Patrie Est A Terre (my homeland lays on the ground), most likely referring to up-coming Sovereignty issue referendum, the group soon changes pace with Boulet's slow Faut Que J'me Pousse, where Gerry starts alone on piano, with Gravel soon in with discreet guitar wails, the music slowly gathers horns, bass, drums and then more horns, to end with everyone (that's 22 people) joining in by the end. Emotional, especially with Gravel's splendid guitar and Boulet resembling Procol's Gary Brooker.

Some tracks were probably played for the first time in a while that night, like 100 MPH Teddy or the 105 MPH A L'Envers, where the VVBB acts mostly as an enhancer with wild responses or superb underlining lo-brass lines, or even killer trumpet or sax solo. Although most of these tracks don't ooze "prog", there is plenty of drama and interplay, much like in the batter Chicago moments. Promenade Sur Mazrs is one of four tracks featured from their Tabarnac album, including the Piaf cover Hymne A L'Amour, not a wise choice, because breaking up the ambiance and by its overly-syrupy arrangements.

The tracks that were left off the original album are generally jazzier, like the Ellington homage Duke's Shuffle - the only VVBB track, along with Georgia on My Mind, which will be released in a studio version by Offenbach later on. These tracks are in general less biting, even though Gravel's guitar pulls a few mean solos (notably on Sad Song) and the horn arrangements arte very tasty.

What's amazing is that by 79, this type of music was still being released: organ-driven brass rock. Totally anachronistic, but in a few months, the prog scene of La Belle Province will get swept from the map. In the meantime, if you love a large brassy fairly conventional sound, this is exactly what you're searching for.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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