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Alan Stivell

Prog Folk

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Alan Stivell Chemins de Terre album cover
3.93 | 26 ratings | 3 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Susy Mac Guire (3:35)
2. Ian Morrison Reel (4:09)
3. She Moved Through The Fair (4:13)
4. Can Y Melinydd (1:59)
5. Oidhche Mhait (1:53)
6. An Dro Nevez (3:45)
7. Maro Ma Mestrez (3:08)
8. Brezhoneg' Raok (3:08)
9. An Hani A Garan (4:11)
10. Metig (4:07)
11. Kimiad (3:34)

Total time 37:52


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

Alan Stivell / Celtic harp, vocals, Scottish bagpipes, whistle, mellotron, timbales, harmonium
Gabriel Yacoub / acoustic guitar, banjo, dulcimer, psaltery, vocal
René Werneer / fiddle, vocals
Pascal Stive / organ, piano
Jean-Luc Hallereau / bass, vocal
Dan Ar Bras / electric and acoustic guitars, vocal
Michel Santangelli / drums
Marie Yacoub / spoons, vocals
Elyane Werneer, Mireille Werneer / vocals
Michel Delaporte / tablas
Bagad Bleimor / bagpipes, bombardes, Scottish drums

Releases information

LP Fontana 9279 038, CD Dreyfus 362022

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Buy ALAN STIVELL Chemins de Terre Music

Chemins De TerreChemins De Terre
Imports 2010
Audio CD$20.05
$15.06 (used)
Chemins De Terre by Alan Stivell (1990-01-01)Chemins De Terre by Alan Stivell (1990-01-01)
Audio CD$105.80

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ALAN STIVELL Chemins de Terre ratings distribution

(26 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(69%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ALAN STIVELL Chemins de Terre reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars The bridge

Coming from a family that, at least on my mother's side, used original folk music as the way it was intended - as a means to communicate with each other beyond words through dancing and facial expression when you hear that particular melody that goes way back with your blood roots. As far back as I can remember, my family has always ended big get-togethers spanning from weddings to birthdays - with a traditional song where everybody stands together in a huge circle, in one big meat embrace, singing about the land and nature where we grew up. When I was smaller, I didn't understand the significance of it, even if I did sense a togetherness beyond the mundane, - but as the years roll by, I've begun to look around at these familiar faces, and especially my grandfather - and quite magically during these musical family injections, his normal rock steady face begins to quiver and journey out above the wheat fields and forests. He looses himself for a moment or so, but I'm sure he goes somewhere. That's when it struck me, even if I think that most of these people listen to god awful music - that we as humans all have something that moves rock - inspires hope in us and strengthens the brotherly love. I may not be that different after all, I just don't enjoy Hansi Hiterseer...

I get that same feel with Alan Stivell, and I can just imagine old Celtic families dancing around to a wee little ditty listening to some of the more traditional tracks on offer here. If you don't know Stivell, then imagine this musical prodigy from the 19th century suddenly stepping into a time-machine - ending up in the 70s with all these long haired musical pioneers - searching back and forth in time and history for something special, unique - something that touches the soul. Alan shows them what he can do with the Celtic harp, which he has been playing since the age of 9 - and by a strange touch of faith, a truly stunning meeting of new and old takes place. Stivell actually means source, and when you listen to this record - you quickly realise why. Dulcimers, banjo, fiddle, all kinds of acoustic guitars - that beautiful otherworldly harp as well as something I'd never ever dream of infusing in a rock setting, had I not heard Korn actually, which is the bagpipes. All of this creates original Celtic folk music - yet somehow that's not entirely what it's all about. Just like ELP were about bringing the classical world into the rock n' roll - you too have that same sense of fusion here. There's electric guitars and bubbly organs - shining through in the midst of things, emanating a certain psychedelic rock attitude, - as well as sprucing up the endemic folky atmospheres with a modern peep into the start of the 70s, where everything was a-go. It was indeed a time of magic - finding out what musics could be glued together to form some kind of new and enticing cohesive whole.

Alan Stivell's voice is something that deserves a paragraph for itself. Like a twitching baby bird in the morning sun - a frail piece of organic mater, his voice shakes and trembles without ever becoming whiny or depressive. This man pushes forth sentences like setting small paper ships to sea in a puddle. They fit so beautifully with the harp - hitting those same kinds of intimate heights - oozing heartfelt warmth.

There are moments on this album that make my skin crawl like a welcoming rush of young baby caterpillars climbing my torso. It's beauty like crystal, though never as sterile and clear - it is folk music with heart and soul - something dug straight out of the ground like a pound of potatoes - something familiar and old. The last track for example uses bag pipes in a way that stretches the imagination - and serves up something entirely different than all those burial scenes you get in Hollywood flicks - though a thousand times more gripping and essential - essential in a manner that makes you think you're from Ireland or Scotland and have fought with William Wallace, but in a modern war where you afterwards went out drinking beers and listened to blues whilst dancing, twirling and yelling profanities in the street. This music bridges time itself - brick by brick - all the way back to the original Celtic tradition - straight up to the electric guitar and all of the fire it brought with it.

Review by Einsetumadur
4 stars 12.5/15P. Hands down, this record which is actually buried in oblivion, features about 30 minutes of pure magic - electric folk of its finest kind and not a bit less majestic and unique as the critically acclaimed work of Steeleye Span and others. And the remaining 10 minutes are absolutely good, too!

I got this album when I didn't have a clue what Celtic folk was actually about. You cannot imagine how amazed I was when I dug that one out after having falling in love with all the electric folk stuff from the UK. And it's today I found out that Dan Ar Bras (later of Fairport Convention) and the Yacoub siblings (of Malicorne) contributed to that album as well.

The farewell song Kimiad is just an experience of its own. I'm a big fan of Steeleye Span's Saucy Sailor, but this one tops it for me. There's Alan Stivell's gravelly voice, the fluent acoustic guitar picking, the majestic wailing of the bagpipes, the sad and low-key rolling of the percussion - and an extended mournful Mellotron cello counterpoint (at 1:50) lamenting underneath this overwhelming piece of beauty. Kimiad actually is a Breton farewell song, and every departing man or soul who is released to these sounds may be envied - it's really that good. The brief Oidhche Mhaith isn't a tad less fascinating, but restricts itself to the swirling backing of Alan Stivell's harp and Pascal Stive's Hammond organ. Marie Yacoub, a gorgeous folk singer who was sadly underused on Malicorne's debut album, is one of a bigger bunch of backing voices, but is easily distinguishable. The moment when the Hammond organ enters is proof against everyone who believes that folk music and electronic instruments don't belong together.

In spite of Stivell's thick accent, or maybe even because of it, She Moves Through The Fair is my favorite interpretation of that English ballad, which is surely the best-known tune on this album. The harp spins relentlessly around the calm drone of the bagpipes in the second half of the song, at some places the acoustic guitar takes over the job of swirling around without me actually realising the change in instrumentation, and who would have thought that adding some distant tablas to the instrumental playout of the track could be so effective? Usually, tablas on folk records annoy me (Steve Ashley's Stroll On is an exception), but this is simply perfect. An Hani A Garan is another ballad which falls into the category of the previously mentioned songs, but adds an icy three-part tin whistle (or 'pipe', as Morris men mayhap would put it) arrangement which takes over the lead in the last minute of the song. A treat!

But some of the recordings on this album drive the folk rock approach even further. The most radical and hard-rocking one is the Ian Morrison Reel, a blasting piece of folk'n'roll with a marvellous fiddle tone and more bagpipes rushing away on a tight rhythm of drums, bass and electric guitar. Check out the early albums by the Scottish band Run Rig, too, if you're into this particular kind of folk rock. Brezhoneg Raok (I think this means 'Breton Rock' in English) is a rock number composed by Stivell, and although it's got hardly any relation to folk music it suits the rest of the album fine. Some might call Dan Ar Bras' electric guitar tone a bit murky, but I get on with it really well since he doesn't dominate the songs and because what he plays is really good - fuzzy dual lead guitars, some theatralic string bends and jazzy flourishes. And most importantly the rhythm section isn't just another copy of Dave Mattacks et al., but a machinery of its own, as the weird but successful Celtic/jazz fusion mix-up of Metig reveals. This piece moves from spacy Hammond organ carpets beyond a dance part with some wordless singing to some military drum rolls before entering into a swinging band coda. Utterly enjoyable music, and this applies to all of the aforementioned tracks!

The three pieces which are 'only' in the 4-star realms are An Dro Nevez, Can Y Melinydd and Maro Ma Mestrez. The first one is a jig type of piece floating away on a laid-back band groove, bagpipes and fiddle taking the lead and mountain dulcimer and a slightly funky electric guitar in the background; it's just a wee bit too long for its own sake with the same melody being repeated over and over again. Can Y Melinydd, with - as it seems - dual lead vocals by Alan Stivell and Gabriel Yacoub and Yacoub's sister on spoons, is a pretty upbeat song led by banjo and twisted bass lines. Maro Ma Mestrez turns out to be more psychedelic again although the first verses - sung a capella - actually promise a more traditionalist rendition of this tune. It's a spacy lead guitar and, again, the Hammond organ which finally turn the cards during the second half of the song.

This leaves us with the opener Suzy MacGuire, which is one of the rare examples in which true psychedelia and folk music touch each other at the right place, creating something really groundbreaking altogether. In the very beginning there's only Alan Stivell and a muted drum, but then the dulcimer enters the fold and propels the song further on until Stivell's reedy harmonium adds a grievous note to the song. In the end you find crashing cymbals, swirling harps and wayward piano vamps turn around a reverberated electric guitar solo. A real piece of genius again!

First of all - this album brought the tentative ideas of the French electric folk group Malicorne to perfection. They were much too diffident and stubbornly traditional on their very first album which came out at around the same time (although the magic La Pernette makes a difference). Chemins De Terre is among the real classics of the seemingly inexhaustible folk genre and, as other reviews have already stated, manages to create that special connection between you (as the listener) and the earth you stand on - at least if you want to. If you have the chance to visit the countries where this kind of music comes from, be it Ireland, France, Scotland, England or maybe even parts of Germany - use your time to empathise with the country and the music. This album is the perfect soundtrack for a day at the sea. As well it is a suitable addition to the collection of anyone who has at least some relation to folk music.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Chemins de Terres was also released in other countries as From Celtic Roots, Attention! (German release on Fontana with awful cover, as was the case of the other Attention! series released in that country) and Celtic Rock (strangely also released in Germany, this on on Vertigo). I can understand ... (read more)

Report this review (#303052) | Posted by Progfan97402 | Sunday, October 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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