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TANGERINE

Prog Folk • France


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Tangerine biography
TANGERINE are a largely forgotten French folk band that stood out for releasing a couple of minor prog folk albums in the mid-seventies that often hearkened back to late sixties and early seventies North American folk. The band consisted of vocalist Valéry Btesh (who did not appear on the band's second release 'Memoire'), multi-instrumentalist Marc Donahue, and guitarists Gabriel Malka and Charlie Sabban.

The band's first release 'De L'Autre Cote de la Foret' came in 1975 and was distinguished by the distinctive folkish vocals of Valéry Btesh, who also accompanied the remaining trio on guitar. This gave the band a rather unique sound that often featured four guitarists but not much drumming except for the soft bongos offered by Donahue and some guest work by Roger Gremillot. The band's songs alternated between English and French, with each showing distinctive influences. The English compositions most often sounded similar to American and British acts ranging from THE BYRDS to AMERICA to GENESIS, while the French tracks can be favorably likened to HARMONIUM or BEAU DOMMAGE.

The band's second release in 1976 ('Memoire') was marked by the absence of Btesch and a noticeable shift to a more blues-rock sound and heavier emphasis on English vocals. A 1977 release ('Reves Cristal') was co-titled as a TANGERINE and Valéry Btesh offering, but was in fact for the most part a Btesch solo recording. The band faded from public view shortly afterwards, and although CBS released a little-heralded single "L'Epouvantail" b/w "Mon ami Kid" in 1981, by then TANGERINE were little more than a memory.

TANGERINE are being added to Progarchives for their brief discography of progressive folk music that demonstrates the appealing blend of French musical intimacy with the blues and hippie psych influences of seventies west coast America and folk French Canada.

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TANGERINE discography


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TANGERINE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 7 ratings
De L'Autre Cote de la Foret
1975
3.04 | 4 ratings
Memoire
1976
3.79 | 5 ratings
Rêves Cristal
1977

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TANGERINE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Rêves Cristal by TANGERINE album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.79 | 5 ratings

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Rêves Cristal
Tangerine Prog Folk

Review by Discographia

4 stars Very surprising to see on this package referenced by the nomde 'Tangerine "while the artist is" Valery + Pollen Btesh. I have the real hard and there is no 'dem tangerine ention above, another story màrqueting, since' Pollen 'is a group known in France, while' Tangerine 'it is known, and since Valery Btesh played with the band, the scheming level marketing was possible, damage dependent. This album not deserve it ... ets sound very good, bass bassist of 'Pollen' is excellent. The song Valery Btesh superb. The title 'dreams crytsal is really wonderful, a very large title, a sublime melody, it really is fabulous. "suspicious" is a title sung in English, things change, and it can go, but nothing to do with the beautiful song in French. "Memory" is an interesting title, superbly sung in French by Valery Btesh. Very beautiful progressive folk, a beautiful object to obtain.
 Memoire by TANGERINE album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.04 | 4 ratings

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Memoire
Tangerine Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Well here’s a band that made a pretty dramatic shift in direction between their first and second albums! Tangerine were a French prog-folk act whose main appeal on their debut were the vocals of one Valéry Btesh, a folk voice in the classic sense who apparently departed for a solo career following that release. This album features the remaining musicians, all male and all of whom sing and play guitars in addition to other instruments. There are a couple of guest musicians scattered throughout as well.

The biggest difference in the sound though is that the music on this album is decidedly more west-coast American soft-rock influenced than their first release. That album also had some soft-rock leanings including a blatant rip-off of America’s famous pop-single “Sandman”, but here the transition is pretty much complete.

Not that I’m complaining really – I like that sound, but if you’re expecting really progressive music you’ll find that in rather short supply on this record. “Eraverita” maybe still qualifies, and perhaps the mellow French-language “la Source de Vie”. But otherwise this is guitar-driven music, albeit a lot of it acoustic, and with fairly simple arrangements and lots of vocals, most of them English.

The comparisons include America, Ambrosia, and on “Unexpected Visitor” even the seventies pop crooner Rupert Holmes. One really strange track is “The Way I Feel” with almost Jim Morrison-like vocals set to a heavy bass line and lounge-act instrumental accompaniment. Kind of fun to listen to but definitely not progressive music.

I personally find this to be an interesting though not exceptional album, not very innovative but representative of much of the mainstream soft rock music of the mid-seventies for the most part. I’m going to give it three stars with the disclaimer that this is not a very prog-like album. But it makes for a decent listen on a cool Saturday afternoon with some light snow falling outside but the smell of spring in the air. Which is exactly the context in which I’m listening to it right now. Recommended if you are in a similar setting.

peace

 De L'Autre Cote de la Foret by TANGERINE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.04 | 7 ratings

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De L'Autre Cote de la Foret
Tangerine Prog Folk

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars The main riff and chorus of the title track sound as if they were lifted verbatim from the 1972 America tune “Sandman”, but otherwise this is a pretty decent album.

Tangerine’s debut features the lovely folk-infused vocals of Valéry Btesh garnished liberally with four (yup, four) guitarists including Ms. Btesh herself. Acoustic guitars at that. Some of them 12-strings. Plus bongos, flute and spindly clavier, an instrument that always makes music sound slightly (or completely) baroque and definitely folk. Not that these guys need any help in that department; these tracks do that quite nicely all on their own.

Several things about this band stand out aside from the four guitarists and minimal drumming. They also alternate between English and French vocals, something that is rather unusual for a native French band. I’ve heard Canadian bands do this fairly often, but rarely old-world Frenchies. They wear both sounds quite well, although there is a clear tendency to emulate the early seventies American west- coast sound on the English tracks. And their arrangements seem to slide effortlessly between folk, mellow jazz and an almost easy-listening pop. Plus just about every track has a fadeout ending, something that rather annoys me but which I’ve never really heard a band do pretty much as a matter of course, so it definitely is a trait that stands out. And finally, this is one of the only seventies folk bands I’ve ever heard manage to use a flute without sounding like Jethro Tull. Props to them for that.

Aside from Ms. Btesh’s exquisite vocals, the predominant sounds come from the guitars. With four of them to leverage the band is able to layer strumming acoustics with more elaborated rhythms and even a bit of picking. The multitalented Marc Donahue also lays down some very cool saxophone tracks in places, most notably on the long and languid “Méditations”.

In contrast “Liberté” is awash with mellotron (just kidding – that’s always fun to throw in though. There’s no mellotron at all really). Actually “Liberté” is pretty heavy on flute and three-part vocal harmonies, and even though this one is sung in French the timbre is an awful lot like so many of those American seventies pop-folk tunes.

After the riff-lifting opening title track, the brief acoustic ditty “Death”, and the lengthy “Liberté”, the rest of the album consists of six more tracks, all of only three or four minutes each and most of them rather similar: flute, acoustic guitar strumming, and two (sometimes three) part vocal harmonies. The only real exception is “It's Ending” in which only Btesh sings and the guitarists manage a pretty ambitious rhythmic volley that lasts several minutes punctuated by the flute and bongos. Otherwise the back half of the album is fairly unexceptional pop-folk, very nicely done but not really noteworthy.

The band would lose Btesh before their next release a year later, and as part of the change would also adopt a decidedly more blues-rock sound with significantly more English vocals. I would imagine this put off some fair portion of their fans and may have been part of the reason why that was their final release. The last album to bear the Tangerine name is actually a Btesh solo album in which she is backed by studio musicians. So if you want to hear the band at the height of their creative expression this is probably the album you want. That said, I can’t bring myself to give it more than three stars due mostly to the lack of innovation and the clearly copped riffs right on the opening strains of the record. The vocals are much better than good though, and the four acoustic guitars are a refreshing treat, so a solid three stars seems an easy mark to give. Recommended to seventies prog folk fans but don’t expect to find this a masterpiece – it’s just a very good and forgotten folk record, nothing more, nothing less.

peace

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the artist addition.

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