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4 stars I am both amazed and honored to be the first reviewer of this superb prog release. Fiori-Seguin was a one-shot collaboration between Serge Fiori of Harmonium fame and Richard Seguin who contributed backing vocals on Harmonium's final studio album, L'Heptade. Deux cents Nuits l'Heure will instantly appeal to fans of that album, and in many ways is almost like the "lost" Harmonium album: Many of the same musicians appear on both titles, the same art-rock feel is present, and obviously the songwriting contributions of Fiori link the two. Side by side, I would probably be unable to choose a favorite; both L'Heptade and Deux cents Nuits l'Heure fall short of the perfection that is Harmonium's Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquime Saison, but are equally very good in their own right. Having just signed a huge contract with CBS and recording what was(at the time) the most expensive album in Quebec music history, the expectations were undoubtedly high for Fiori-Seguin and sales did not disappoint. I surprised there is not more awareness of the album, I myself just having learned of its existence last month. Deux cents Nuits l'Heure is essential for art-rock aficionados, but not necessarily Prog Folk or general Prog collectors. Fans of Harmonium, Supertramp, late-era Pink Floyd, and Steely Dan will definitely need to put this on their short list.

The title track will sound very familiar to Harmonium followers - "Deux cents Nuits l'Heure" sounds strikingly like L'Heptade in terms of production. In fact, this is one of the best sounding discs in my entire collection. The studio shimmer is slick but not overly so; every instrument is just well recorded and mixed in a balanced way that attracts you to the music rather than detracting from it. Fiori's voice hasn't changed a bit and the professional accompaniment is tasteful. Seguin's 12-string guitar is not utilized until the end of the song, which transforms to an Americana or country/western feel. Overall, the song is a very pleasant start to the album. "'a Fait du Bien" uses a different approach and soothes the listener with a soft jazz sound; the female backing vocals and flute runs are a particularly nice touch to the song. The last three minutes are a symphonic feast, evocative of Harmonium's best work and really the first moment on the album that feels special. The next such moment is not far off: "Illusion," for me, is the album centerpiece and a 5-star no- brainer. Awesome, heavy vocals and sinister drums, swathes of fluid lead guitar and a sense of purpose contribute to the best song on Deux cents Nuits l'Heure.

"Viens Danser" reminds me a bit of "Dixie" from Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquime Saison, as its bouncy tempo and upbeat feel is very much in the Prog Folk realm; this provides a nice contrast after the foreboding "Illusion." "Chanson pour Marthe" is a bit sugary for my tastes, but still a palatable ballad and quite good for a more commercial offering. The Fiori-penned "La Moiti' du Monde" features sax and plenty of funky drumming to create an AOR impression, but this is all but gone by the three-minute mark: A volcanic overflow of huge bass synths and pads keep the song firmly planted in Prog. Despite the state of the music industry in the late seventies and the enormous pressure Fiori-Seguin must have been under to create a hit, the two never forget what got them here and always add just enough of these little creative nuggets to surprise the listener. "La Guitare des pays d'en haut" is opposite of the heavy "Illusion," but succeeds just the same. Fiori and Seguin sing in unison harmony for much of the song and do so with a natural intuition and never fight for prominence in the mix. Deux cents Nuits l'Heure is not perfect but a very pleasing listen that is better than good and greater than non-essential.

Report this review (#917431)
Posted Thursday, February 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Review Nº 430

Fiori-Séguin was a Canadian progressive folk band, a collaborative effort by Québec singer-songwriters Serge Fiori and Richard Séguin. They made only an album in 1978 called 'Deux Cents Nuits À L'Heure' (Two Hundred Nights Per Hour).

In 1977 the two singers and guitarists Serge Fiori and Richard Séguin got together to realize their own project. Fiori was previously one of the leaders, if not the main band's leader of the progressive band Harmonium, which had temporarily ceased its activity in 1977. Séguin, together with his sister Marie-Claire also had their own band called Séguin, which had already broken up in 1976. He also participated with backing vocals on the last Harmonium album 'L'Heptade'. The joint efforts of the two musicians resulted in their one-off work 'Deux Cents Nuits À L'Heure'. Several other Harmonium musicians were also involved in the recording. In 1979, Fiori reactivated Harmonium for few concerts and then withdrew from the music business for few years in the new decade. Séguin then worked as a soloist, mainly in the folk field.

'Deux Cents Nuits À L'Heure' was a huge album at the time. It sold more than 200,000 copies, spawned a number of hit singles, and garnered three Félix awards at the inaugural ADISQ gala in 1979, for the best album of the year and best group of the year. Séguin and Fiori wrote two songs apiece separately and three songs together for 'Deux Cents Nuits À L'Heure', which still sounds remarkably fresh, even in our days, and that is very much in the same vein of the last album of Harmonium, 'L'Heptade', which was released in 1976. So, in other words, 'Deux Cents Nuits À L'Heure' is a folky singer-songwriter album mixed with some progressive rock flourishes, all tied together by Fiori and Séguin's unmistakable voices. Curiously, the project was supposed to be a Québécois supergroup with the vocalist of Beau Dommage, Michel Rivard, as the main band's singer. But, Rivard dropped out when he fell hard for a woman in Belgium.

'Deux Cents Nuits À L'Heure' has seven tracks. The line up on the album is Serge Fiori (vocals, 6 and 12-string electric and acoustic guitars, Fender Rhodes and tambourine) and Richard Séguin (vocals and 12-string acoustic guitars). The album had also the participation of Monique Fauteux (vocals), Robert Stanley (guitar), Jeff Fischer (synths and organ), Neil Chotem (Yamaha piano), Libert Subirana (flute, alto and soprano saxes), Michel Dion (fretted and fretless basses), Denis Farmer (drums, cowbell and tambourine), Pierre Cormier (congas) and Michel Lachance (tambourine), as guets.

It was conceived as a group's effort. All the players were involved in the arrangements. Instead of the high concepts of 'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquiéme Saison' and 'L'Heptade', Harmonium's last two albums, 'Deux Cents Nuits À L'Heure' is a bit more accessible and covers a wide range of styles and tempos, incorporating many of the sounds and stylings familiar to the fans of Harmonium, including the extensive use of the 6 and 12-string acoustic guitars, flute and saxophone. It relies on vocal harmonies, is plenty of acoustic guitars, and occasional progressive rock developments.

About the tracks, the title track 'Deux Cents Nuits À L'Heure' is of Fiori and Séguin. It's very familar to Harmonium fans. This is a great opener to the album with a very good instrumentation and where the voice of Fiori sounds nice as is usual. 'Ça Fait Du Bien' is also of Fiori and Séguin. It's a bit different from the title track. It sounds jazzier and the use of female vocals on the back adds a beautiful touch to the track. 'Illusion' is of Séguin. It's probably one of the two best tracks on the album, if not the best. It has very impressive vocals and a great guitar work perfectly supported by some very interesting drumming work. 'Viens Danser' is of Fiori. It's very much in the prog folk vein. This is another great track that brings a nice and interesting contrast with the previous track 'Illusion'. 'Viens Danser' became an FM radio staple in the Francophone countries. 'Chanson Pour Marthe' is of Séguin. It's another song that contrasts on the album, making of it a diversified work. This time we have a good and pleasant balad written in a more commercial vein. 'La Moitié Du Monde' is of Fiori. It's another great track on the album. It has an impressive musical performance performed by several intruments. Especially the use of the sax and synts make of it a great prog track. 'La Guitare Des Pays D'En Haut' is of Fiori and Séguin. It's probably the second best track on the album with 'Illusion', despite both are two different tracks. The harmony is amazing and 'La Guitare Des Pays D'En Haut' closes the album in a high note.

Conclusion: 'Deux Cents Nuits À L'Heure' offers an elegant and melodic music, lavishly orchestrated that doesn't differ much from that is found on the aforementioned Harmonium album, 'L'Heptade'. It has great instrumentation, a rich and cozy production that perfectly integrated the solos, the round but never shallow melodies and the complex looseness. The pieces sound more electric and modern and the keys are a bit more clearly in the mix. Electric and acoustic guitars and the characteristic, expressive French singing of the two main protagonists are in the foreground of the mostly extensive compositions. It's a great album that gentle closes the heyday of prog rock in Québec at the 70's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#2541519)
Posted Saturday, May 8, 2021 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Québecois folk sensations Serge Fiori (HARMONIUM) and Richard Séguin (SÉGUIN) began a brief collaboration in 1976 which resulted in Richard's participation on Harmonium's last studio album L'Heptade (November 1976) and then this award-winning hit album, released in 1978.

1. "Deux cents nuits à l'heure" (8:22) pop Country-Western; not very proggy at all. (17/20)

2. "Ça fait du bien" (8:31) more like what one comes to expect from anything involving Serge Fiori. (17.75/20)

3. "Illusion" (7:30) more dynamic and prog rocky than the previous two songs--though it does get a little EAGLES-like at times. The finish (final 90 seconds) is by far the best part--perhaps the best thing on the album. (13.25/15)

4. "Viens danser" (6:04) light and bouncy Fender Rhodes backs Serge's melodic vocal. Apparently, this song was quite the hit in French-speaking countries at the time--probably helping to propel the album to it's "Album of the Year" Félix prize at the first annual Gala de l'ADISQ. Infectious Latin rhythms and melody quite similar to those that would render Joe Jackson's "Cancer" a minor hit in 1982. (8.875/10)

5. "Chanson pour Marthe" (4:26) the lead vocal here sounds so fragile with its DONOVAN "Hurdy Gurdy Man" exaggerated vibrato. Again, radio-friendly pop schlopp is what this sounds and feels like, not Prog Folk. (8.6667/10)

6. "La moitié du monde" (6:34) French Billy Joel anyone? A very emotional song construct--one that is obviously intended to pull hearstrings. (8.75/10)

7. "La guitare des pays d'en haut" (6:14) more jazz-tinged pop music in the TOTO/STEELY DAN vein. Polished, professional, and highly engaging. Gino and Joe Vannelli would be impressed. (9/10)

Total Time 47:43

B-/3.5 stars; a wonderful collection of expert song-crafting that is, unfortunately, not as prog-worthy as one might be led to believe: To my ears, the music encapsulated in this album is more pop-oriented than true folk or prog folk, thus my down-rating.

Report this review (#2921322)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2023 | Review Permalink

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