Ville Emard Blues Band - VEBB Complet 1973-1975

Year of Release: 2004
Label: ProgresSon Records
Catalog Number: MPM01
Format: CD
Total Time: 146:04:00

VEBB Au Complet 1973-1975 (or VEBB Complete 1973 ? 1975) is exactly that. All the recordings made by the Ville Emard Blues Band, the live album Live ? Montr?al from 1974 and Ville Emard (1975) and the single that included "Yama Nekh" and "S'asseoir Danse Le Champs" from 1973. All of the music has been digitally remastered. The album also marks the debut release from the new Canadian label ProgresSon Music, "a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting music from Qu?bec."

25 musicians appear on this two-disc release, including bandleader and bassist Bill Gagnon, who represent Qu?bec's best progressive rock musicians. The group name came from the area of Montr?al where Gagnon had his studio. Members of Contraction, Vos Voisins, Toubabou and Harmonium are among the group. The liner notes, in both French and English detail the groups' short-lived history and includes pictures, a chart showing who played or sang on each piece and more. Because many of the performers play multiple instruments on multiple pieces, and more than one plays any one instrument, it's not always so clear as to say who is exactly playing what when, just that they are included on particular track. In the mix are saxes, a trumpet, a flugelhorn, guitars, basses, pianos, organs, drums and vocals. There are several lead vocalists here, though for the most part it is Lise Cousineau (who sounds like Chrissie Hynde, though chronologically it'd be the other way around) and Rawn Bankley (also guitar). You may be wondering what the progressive content is, but just listening to often complex arrangements, the way the instruments interact, that question is answered. And with 20 musicians on stage and doing something all at once, that everything is played so tight - yet loose, as there is a relaxed and casual atmosphere - is no mean feat.

There's so much here, so many diverse styles - jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, funk, gospel, and rock of a style that at varying times will bring to mind Hendrix, Cream, early Deep Purple, and Santana - that the only way to talk about this album is in brief. I say brief, because this is such terrific stuff that you're going to be discovering it yourself in full.

Disc One is Live ? Montr?al. It starts off with the funky "Soumis," which segues into the sultry, saxy "Octobre (Au Mois De Mai)." Next comes the throbbing bass and fuzzed guitar groove of "Ville Emard Blues," where careening guitars create a complex chaos that sometimes borders on the abstract. There's the elegant and lovely "Comme Par Magie," with Cousineau on lead vocals again, followed by the kick-ass rock 'n' blues of "That Ain't No Way To Be," sung by Bankley, that recalls a gospelly Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Miller plays an energetically trilling flute solo here, too. The torchy, melancholic "Ste-Melanie Blues" follows that in a piece that includes electric piano and breathy flute. And just for more variety is the classy piano-based piece "Ode ? Une Belle Inconnue" composed by Pierre Nadeau, featuring multiple pianos (there has to be two... the other played by Robert LaChapelle), sparse percussion, and beautifully haunting vocalizations. It's an epic piece with a grand sweep. It's not perfectly executed, but one imagines that Nadeau was possessed by the passion of the piece; and one must recall that this was performed live, and that is what makes it amazing.

"A World Of Love (Make Some Music)" is a sunny R&B piece with a cheerful vocal delivery from Bankley, that just steers clear of Oliver-like sappiness here. Jethro Tull come to mind with the shuffling "Va T'en Vite" - and yes, it's the brass and flute that prompt the Tull thought (as "Living In The Past" comes to mind). Though Cousineau doesn't sound a wit like Ian Anderson . This track is a bonus that didn't appear on the original live release, but was included where it appeared in the actual live set. "Pixieland" is another track that is more jazz-inflected rock with lots of Rhodes, guitar leads, and vocalizations (I'm reminded a bit of Boz Scaggs and Steely Dan musically). "Indian Given God" features a resonant acoustic guitar from Bankley and a warm vocal delivery - a piece that falls somewhere in the territory of Jim Croce and Gordon Lightfoot. He is joined only by Michel Dion on bass. "City Music" is another piece written by Bankley bluesy number, complete with harmonica and banjo (though neither is credited in the booklet, Hout is credited with harmonica on the page at the ProgresSon website). Closing out disc one is "Poirots N?vros?," written by Gagnon, which is an sometimes eccentric avant-garde jazz piece with tooting sax, brassy trumpet, alternatively expansive and chunky piano runs, rumbling percussion, and gurgling bass.

Disc Two begins with the last three pieces of the Montreal set, "Strange" and "Solos De Batteries." The latter is not a boring exercise in "look how clever I am," it is a fully-fledged piece that happens to put some great drumming front and center. "Yama Nekh" is a rhythmic, slightly middle-eastern accented piece. The concert ends with the jam "You And Your Mother," whereby all the performers are introduced and allowed a little solo (though they've all had some focus throughout the set). The Ville Emard album holds down the next nine tracks, beginning with the rocky, jazzy "La Poutine ? Ma Tante Anna." The fragile piano (Estelle Ste. Croix) and vocal (Ste. Croix and Sharon Ryan) piece "In Our Loneliness" is quite lovely, even as it is, as the title would suggest, tinged with melancholy. "Affaire C.S.R. Vs Marlyle Killer & Stobert Ranley" is a jam (or three way duel) between drummer Christian St. Roch, guitarist Robert Stanley and saxophonist Carlyle Miller. There's only a hint of a western theme - as in the "old west." "Where's Your Money" is a ballsy blues-rock barnstormer, more rock than blues.

Another Gagnon composed piece is the dark jazz-fusiony "La Machine Infernale" which includes almost gurgling, churning guitar, more horns (and anyone who knows me, knows I love to hear horns), and an ultra-dark, bubbly bass solo from Gagnon ... like molten lava set to explode. "Le Chemin" is a piano and vocal piece that gives us a new sound to the VEBB mix: over the lovely tinkling piano of Yvan Ouellet, we get soft male vocals, given that "Alan Parsons Project" haze. "Sleepy Teepy" is a countrified guitar ditty from Bankley... at 1:25 it can't be more than a bitty ditty. "Secret Pour Pierre-Antoine" is a warm piece that is almost atmospheric with muted guitars and bass providing a bed for Ste. Croix's lovely, almost earthy vocals; the warm tones of flugelhorn help to open the piece. "Guess Who's Coming To Jam" is space-jazz number with passages that include at varying times frenetic piano, guitar, and bass playing, with the occasional blasts of horn (yum), including a sharp trumpet solo from Roger Walls, and voices.

Two tracks got my verbal creative juices really going: Hip-cool 50s lounge jazz that's just a little too experimental for the lounge is what one gets in "Kondy Donky," (disc one) the brassy sound of saxes are offset against a dark and throaty bass and rumbling drums. The fuddy-duddies sipping their martinis are shifting uncomfortably in their seats while the younger, hipper set are digging their groove, man. They get it... Fiery guitar leads drag the 50s into the late 60s with some Hendrix and Santana inspired guitar licks, the lounge giving way to an apartment somewhere in San Fran. Oh, and except for some vocalizations, this is an all-instrumental track. And "Walter's Van" (disc two) begins as darkly slinky jazz number, that looks at you coyly, promising much. Though it doesn't ride on top, Gagnon's walking... strolling, really... bass line sets the pace, over which saxes hoot and toot, percussion snicks and rattles and shakes like bones in some voodoo-like ritual. Whatever is going on in "Walter's Van" it's not just a night of cheep sex and booze... but some otherworldly, heady experience that you may or may not remember in the morning.

Rounding out the collection are two tracks that appeared on a 1973 single, "Yama Nekh" and "S'asseoir Dans Les Champs." The latter is a light and airy vocals and acoustic guitar piece, gentle and peaceful.

All this diversity is not a bad thing, even as the contrast between "Comme Par Magie" and "That Ain't No Way To Be" is great and seems like you're at two different concerts (it almost suggests a "enough of this frilly stuff, let's rock!" attitude - and Bankley just about says that, too, leading in to the piece). The rest of the live set is of a piece, fitting together well. I think overall, it's that live material that's the strongest, though the Ville Emard stuff is far from weak. There just an extra spark of life in the live material... perhaps because it is live and there's so much energy from performers and audience alike. There's great stuff be found here; ProgresSon start off with a keeper.

Disc One: Live ? Montr?al: Intro (0:39) / Soumis/Octobre (Au Mois De Mai) (6:21) / Ville Emard Blues (3:47) / Comme Par Magie (6:00) / That Ain't No Way To Be (6:12) / Ste. Melanie Blues (4:00) / Ode ? Une Belle Inconnue (6:14) / A World Of Love (Make Some Music) (3:39) / Kondy Donky (9:00) / Va T'en Vite (4:29) / Pixieland (3:23) / Indian Giver God (4:41) / City Music (4:37) / Poirots N?vros?s (6:42)

Disc Two: Live ? Montr?al: Strangle (12:09) / Yama Nekh (3:56) / You And Your Mother (8:16) / Ville Emard: La Poutine ? tante Anna (2:43) / In Our Loneliness (3:21) / Affaire C.S.R. vs Marlyle Killer & Stobart Ranley (4:21) / Where's Your Money (4:39) / Walter's Van (6:31) / La Machine Infernale (5:49) / Le Chemin (2:45) / Sleepy Teepy (1:25) / Secret Pour Pierre-Antoine (3:48) / Guess Who's Coming To Jam (6:48) / '45 tours/Rpm': Yama Nekh (3:08) / S'asseoir Dans Les Champs (4:00)

Rawn Bankley - guitars, vocals
Marcel Beauchamp - piano, clavinet, Eminent, guitar
Lise Cousineau - vocals, tambourine
Michel Dion - bass
Denis Farmer - drums
Bill Gagnon - bass
Roger Gougeon - flugelhorn/tambourine
Gilles Mass? - guitar (D2: 8, 9) Marcel Hout - drums, percussion, harmonica
Robert Lachapelle - piano
Yves Laferri?re - bass
Carlyle Miller - saxophones, vocals, flute
Renald Montemiglio - saxophones, flute, tambourine
Pierre Nadeau - piano, organ, clavinet
Yvan Ouellet - piano (D2: 10) Christiane Robichaud - vocals, tambourine
Michel Robidoux - guitar (D2: 5,8, 13-15)
Sharon Ryan - vocals (D2: 5, 9)
Christian St. Roch - drums, vocals, organ
Estelle Ste. Croix - vocals, piano (D2: 5, 9, 12)
Michel S?guin - percussion
Robert Stanley - guitar
R. Moore Tellier - guitar (D2: 9, 12)
Serge Vailli?res - guitar
Roger Walls - trumpet (D2: 6, 13)

Minute! Ville Emard Blues Band S''en Vient Is Coming (bootleg) (1973)
''Yama Nekh/S''assoir Dans Les Champs'' (1973)
Live ? Montr?al (1974)
Ville Emard (1975)
''Yama Nekh/Va T''en Vite'' (1974)
Ville Emard Blues Band (1979)
VEBB Complet 1973-1975 (2004)

Genre: Various Genres

Origin CA

Added: March 29th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1271
Language: english


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