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3 stars Don`t expect any 23 minute epic showpieces or album cover artwork concepts depicting three headed fire-breathing mythical dragons defending magical kingdoms in sureal landscape settings from this 1973 premiere album from Québec folk-prog band Octobre. While all the adventurous musical essentials of contemporary early seventies progressive rock are heard here to great effect, lyrically Octobre`s romantic visions seek to explore the harsh social realities as well as their passion for their hometown of Montréal, Québec which is exemplified in the song " Dans ma ville" ( In My City ). The lush multi-tracked vocals of leader Pierre Flynn ( then only 18 years old ) are the driving force behind this 28 minute album which was otherwise recorded straight with no overdubs on a shoe-string budget. Without unecessary flashiness the solid precision of the well matched talents of the individual musicians combine to make this album click.

Despite their emotionally drenched musings the songs are not as dark mooded as those heard from counterparts in the UK at the time and to non-francophones might even come off as love songs, which in a sense they are. Not in the boy meets girl sense but rather in a more profound way, dealing with feelings towards the isolation of the lower working classes of society, particularilly in Montréal in 1972. At times, Flynn paints himself into passionate rages and this is most evident on the catchy "La maudite machine" ( The Damn System ) which became a rebel yell and defined the heartbeat of a younger generation of French Canadians.

Musically there are few dull moments with Flynn & company and due to time restrictions the pieces don`t have time to become tedious and are full of intricate dynamics and compositional skill. This is demostrated right fom the opening track " Si on partait" ( If We Left ), which became an almost instant hit on local charts, where a theme is stated and no time is wasted in developing it with several fast paced changes and motions in just two and a half minutes. This formula more or less continues throughout the album and would develop even more over subsequent albums. The listener is also constantly injected with sporadic but not overwhelming doses of Genesis & Gentle Giant influences and to a lesser extent early King Crimson. French Canadian folk roots surface everywhere and are most evident in Flynn`s passionate melodic voicings and the resulting Octobre hybrid sound was sort of French-Canadian folk meets art rock.

A ghost from the vaults this first Octobre album never made it on to CD format and remained in the " albums that time forgot" file until 1995 when 6 of it`s 8 tracks made it on to a CD compilation entitled " Octobre: 1972- 1989 " which is featured in a separate entry in progarchives. Well worth the search in it`s original LP form, this superb debut is a testimonial to the raw talent displayed by this unique Québec group which was to form a core of a movement of folk oriented rock in French Canada in the early seventies. Add ½ star.

Report this review (#122715)
Posted Friday, May 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Octobre's debut album came as a slap in the face to almost everyone in Quebec in late 72. Recorded at Studio Six, but spartanly produced and enveloped in the blandest artwork possible, the quartet (your standard prog line-up with the keyboardist as the singer) was made up of a pair of cousins (Flynn and Dorais) and their longtime buddy bassist Légaré came from high-school blues rock groups Gladstone and Maelstrom. Behind the song format "à la chanson française", there were some real superb musicianship (usually not expected in that genre), a very "rock feel" and some incredibly thoughtful text from Pierre Flynn that had the lyrical and philosophical depth of the greatest Jacques Brel or Brassens. Indeed, kids identified a lot to those lyrics that sweated the asphalt and transpired vandalized bus stops, reeked of boondocks apartment buildings, soaked of hot city nights etc. It just talked to them just as if it was themselves thinking it. Aside from Octobre, the only other group that managed this IMHO was Harmonium, even if the later was much more ideal and hippy dream. Flynn's text were written mostly as a teen ager and later in his life would cause him a it of awkwardness as he was an adult

Those lyrics really absorbed a big part of the attention paid to Octobre, but Hebert's drumming was always excellent, Légaré's bass sinuous and fluid at wish, Dorais's guitar always discreet when needed and blistering when expected. But more than anything, Octobre was Pierre Flynn's cargo ship for the truckloads of ideas he came up with, both musical (he was the main composer and a very good keyboardist) and lyrical (he was the singer).

From the opening organ line of their first single Si On Partait (if we left) to the closing of future hit single La Maudite Machine (damn machine >> the society), you will subjected to great music, with plenty of prog characteristics, but you shouldn't expect flashy virtuoso solos or extended intros and outros. The music is at the service of the song and texts, but let that not deter you either: there is plenty to hear for the proghead.

From the opening "if we left" segueing Ca Prends Presque Rien (it takes next to nothing. to become alienated) than sidestepping for the weaker Dans Ma Ville (describing the urban hell to be fled), then into Les Vivants (the alive ones., which depicts those who are not or faking it) and on the flipside Viens Vivre (come live), you can see the the way the "thematic subject was heading for. A rather accurate if a bit cruel description of our bleak future that one just had to avoid serving La Maudite Machine, which swallows innocence, chews life and spits out wasted lives.

Octobre's music is of course very much axed towards the French lyrics,, so it is rather hard to really recommend the group to those who don't have a good mastery of the language, but the texts alone are interesting enough to want to learn the language. A real classic, although I wouldn't call it all that essential for progheads, unless having lived the plight sung by Octobre.

Report this review (#129117)
Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3, 5 stars !!! In spite of not could classify this first album of the Canadian band OCTOBRE as a work of the same "caliber" of disks of other bands of the same country (for instance: MORSE CODE "Procréation", POLLEN "Pollen" and etc...), even so I classify his work as worthy of being known by the community of prog fans. I say this, because, although it doesn't present many moments of virtuosity (nor instrumental, nor vocal) their music are "filled" of quite interesting themes and us which it is almost imperceptible some influence of any other band (I admit that I didn't get to notice any enough strong influence that it went worthy of note), what does with that his sonority is very particular. Besides, the disk presents many themes that make to deserve an audition, such as: the track 3. " Dans Ma Ville", track 4 "Les Vivants" with a "dialogue" among harpiscord & eletric guitar as main theme, track 7 "Bonjour" with beautiful work of hammond-organ and etc... Actually only I find lamentable the fact of this album it was not thrown in cd. My quotation is of 3,5 stars, emphasizing that this albun deserves place in my collection of progressive music!!!
Report this review (#308542)
Posted Saturday, November 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Progressive rock can have many kinds of subjects: from war, fantasies of the medieval times, as well the tarot cards. Hell, it can even be about a tale of two brothers in New York City. However, one subject in Canada was practically rarely discussed: the government itself. Octobre, named after a local political crisis in their hometown of Quebec, would come to the front out of the many bands spawned by the French-Canadian/Quebecois folk rock renaissance of the early seventies (along with Harmonium, Offenbach and Maneige) to go against the higher-ups relentlessly. Led by an eighteen year-old vocalist/keyboardist from a bourgeoisie upbringing, Pierre Flynn had a bone to pick with the government along with other band mates, and oddly used the genre of progressive rock to voice their discontent with the political situation of the time.

Octobre's self-titled album, released in 1973, would introduce many into the horrid situation Quebec was in at the time. Most notably the October Crisis of 1970, which would result in the assassination of Quebec's Labor Minister Pierre Laporte. These particular incidents, along with the reluctance of the local government to do much about the situation angered many; Flynn was one of the many.

Recorded on a shoe-string budget, Octobre was rather short, clocking in at twenty-eight minutes. As far it was concerned, that was more than enough time to convey the band's message, and left for absolutely no time to waste on the typical progressive rock tropes. The main focus was getting the point across, which was well done. Behind the message was the excellent work done by the band: Mario Legare's fluid bass work, as well Pierre Hebert's stunningly accurate drumming held the compositions by Pierre Flynn together. Not to mention the edge guitarist Jean Dorais brought to Octobre's music.

Songs such as La maudite machine (The Damn Machine), and Les Vivants (The Living), would show many the great anger welling within the band, and would inspire a younger generation of French-Canadians to speak out against the local government. Throughout the album, there are vague hints of folk-rock, most notably on Au fond de tes yeux (Deep in Your Eyes) and Bonjour (Hello), which brings up comparisons to fellow Quebec band Harmonium. There are also touches of influences by Gentle Giant and Genesis on tracks like Ca prend presque rien (It Takes Almost Nothing), which further displayed the band's intent on causing change in Quebec, one way or another.

With the exception of a few weak moments, Octobre made for a staggering debut unlike any other. The folk-rock influences would eventually phase out, but for the time being, it would have to remain while the band searched for their voice. The aggression of the band's music can only give a vague idea of what was going on at the time, and to make it more confusing to some, it was entirely in a foreign language. But language truly doesn't matter; only if you can immerse yourself into the world of Octobre will you understand what happened. And maybe the music will accompany you in discovering the story of the people of Quebec, and finally understanding the message the band tried to convey forty years earlier.

Report this review (#1151583)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2014 | Review Permalink

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