Like all national musical movements, French rock and jazz-rock can be defined by certain groups whose music has profoundly marked this movement.
In France, two groups have had a profound impact on its musical life. These two groups who were considered internationally as the representatives, the ambassadors of the French musical movement, are MAGMA and ANGE.
Through their excellence, their national and international audience, and their immediately identifiable sound, MAGMA and ANGE asserted themselves as the incontestable leaders of French rock.
Both have insisted upon the specificity of their music and their identity and national sources of inspiration while at the same time affirming the universality of their music; and both have given birth to a school of groups who are "enrolled" in the same current, the same musical style as they. These groups have submitted to their influence, learned their musical lessons and, along the way, discovered how to retain this influence while evolving beyond the inherent internal limitations of this style in order to impose their own music upon it (ATOLL, WEIDORJE...)
But the history of French rock isn't limited to citing these two names. Other groups who have not received national or international acclaim have, however, succeeded in forging a personal sound removed from Anglo-Saxon influences; but a more restricted audience has deprived them of deserved recognition. Among these groups and musicians the names of ART ZOYD III, HELDON, ETRON FOU, Z'n'R, Jacques THOLLOT, GWENDAL and in the coming generation, Philippe CAUVIN, UPPSALA, ESKATON and Serge BRINGOLF must be kept in mind.
Moreover, alongside those groups whose personal style and original music define a French "rock" totally owning its own sound and particular national identity, coexist numerous groups who, although influenced by different foreign musical currents, also take part in the French rock movement. Even if their originality is less assertive, their sound less "national", they are nevertheless a part of the movement of French rock.
The history of French rock began in 1969 with the formation of groups created for the most part by former accompanists of variety show singers and studio musicians. These groups constituted the first wave of French rock which raised so much hope and enthusiasm before receding and leaving behind a bare empty beach when lack of success and subsequent finances swept these groups away.
At the beginning of the 1970's, the groups who commanded attention were TRIANGLE, Alan JACK CIVILISATION, MARTIN CIRCUS (the first to demand its own identity, its nationality, and the first to express itself only in French), DYNASTIE CRISIS, ZOO, ALICE, TOTAL ISSUE.
Essentially Parisian at the beginning, this phenomenon rapidly reached the provinces where other groups began to establish themselves. At last, the first French musical bomb exploded in 1970 with the release of MAGMA's double album, a group whose music, method of expression, appearance, and trademark set them apart from all the other French groups of the period.
French rock ramified itself musically into different branches: alongside the branch inspired by Anglo-Saxon models, an "underground" current coexisted which blended sophisticated and bewildering music with delirious, surrealistic lyrics (GONG, AME SON, etc followed this musical direction). A protesting, rebellious and politically committed branch also proclaimed its existence with groups such as RED NOISE, KOMINTERN, MAAJUN, and BARRICADES (future Z'n'R members). A current of progressive rock represented by groups like
MOVING GELATINE PLATES, ERGO SUM, ALICE and CATHARSIS producing a complex and worked-out music based upon finesse, technique and the melodic and instrumental richness of their compositions was particularly noticeable.
These different branches, however, had a short- lived existence, being gradually worn down by lack of support from a public too inclined to depreciate its own national groups in relation to Anglo- Saxons, by the insolvency of record companies who care only about profitability, and by the lack of support on the part of the "specialized" press who are more preoccupied with launching a fashion trend and who suffer (and transmit this disease to the public) from that famous inferiority complex in relation to Anglo-Saxon music, and little by little they disappeared.
Only the most unyielding groups, animated by an unshakeable faith and ardor, passed through these trials and survived.
Born in 1970, but whose audience and reputation only began to grow after 1972, ANGE constituted the second major event after the emergence of MAGMA to disrupt the quietude of French rock. Originating from the provinces and lacking musical antecedents, the members of ANCE (despite being endowed with limited instrumental technique) commanded attention through their profound personality, their ability to "touch" the public and to make it feel the emotional energy contained in compositions addressed as much to the heart as to the mind. It is this impact, this power to sensitize the audience, that was the basis of their success. ANGE encouraged the birth of an entire school of groups inspired by their example and by their musical ideas. (MONA LISA, ONIRIS etc...).
These groups influenced by ANGE invented and developed a typically French music based more upon the expression and transmission of emotion and the creation of moods than on technical and musical virtuosity.
Alongside these two great currents of music which created the notion of "typically French rock" abroad, different musical branches began to develop after 1973-74 which were already present in other countries. The advent of the synthesizer and German space "floating music" movement instructed a whole generation of groups and especially solitary musicians, who behind their keyboards and sequencers, took up this new musical path.
Certain musicians, however, distanced themselves rapidly from the models and the already worn-out cliches of German synthetic rock in order to create music based upon keyboards and the multiple sonorities, climates and colours produced by the new gamut of electronic instruments, thus offering an original music which was often highly refined, beautiful, suggestive and full of imagery.
Among these newcomers possessing talent and personal inspiration, one must cite the names of EDEN, François BREANT, Henry TORCUE, Roland BOCQUET, Olivier ROY, Yves and Alain LORENTZ, Richard VIMAL. And also on a parallel path but diametrically opposed at the level of musical ideas and directions, one must put forward the name of Richard PINHAS of HELDON. PINHAS represents another facet, another point of view, in electronic rock which is no long-era generator of dreams, but instead a dispenser of anguish and fear; and which builds up a music of an extreme violence, inhuman savage and taken to the limits of endurance, the bearer of a permanent tension.
Progressive rock followed its already-begun musical evolution under the aegis of the Anglo-Saxon school represented by groups such as KING CRIMSON, JETHRO TULL, and CARAVAN in order to branch out into different directions. With the advent of sophisticated rock whose ringleader was GENESIS, French progressive rock was situated in the groove between those two beacons (KING CRLMSON and GENESIS) offering a highly technical music whose musical and melodic precision was irreproachable-also endowed, however, with sensitivity and enormous emotional potential.
Among this generation of progressive groups we may cite ARTCANE, ARACHNOID, SHYLOCK, the excellent MELODY and the exceptional and unequalled PULSAR, who became a model in itself and one of the best international progressive rock groups.
Next to this pure progressive style, the form symphonic rock represented in England by YES or BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST offered an elegant, refined highly worked-out music. In France TREPONEM and TAT PRONG called attention to themselves this musical style through their individual qualities and the excellence of their melodically technically perfect compositions.
The musical movement born in Canterbury, broadcast and spread by illustrious and prestigious groups such as SOFT MACHINE or EGG, perpetuated itself while completely evolving under the Eons of groups such as HATFIELD and the NORTH and HENRY COW. This movement was transplanted to France and gave birth to groups such as TRAVELLING, then OCARINAB, MOSAIC and P.FORGAS, whose musical ideas point of view and extra-musical conceptions evoked those of their English family.
The space rock and instrumental rock created Mike OLFIELD also had their followers and equivalent in France represented by Christian BOUL, SPACECRAFT and CLEARLIGHT but with, however, an assertive national and personal influence in the list of the musical ingredients used to create these kinds music.
Similarly, from 74-75, with the success of jazz rock an entire generation of musicians followed this musical direction which from the point of view of instrumentation techniques and musical creation overthrew and replaced progressive rock. Because of its excesses, jazz rock became a pretext for sterile, gratuitous displays of virtuosity and exhibitions of the musicians' talent often to the detriment of melodic construction and elegance.
The jazz rock groups who commanded attention through their originality, individual ideas and their will to avoid the beaten paths and the pitfalls of gratuitous exhibitions were ZAO, TROC, GONG (at the time of "Shamal"), David ROSE (at the beginning of his career), POTEMKINE, SPHEROE, George JINDA, CHUTE LIBRE, CORTEX and BEDJA BECHT amongst others.
Among the singers who express themselves in French, those whose personality or compositional and arranging talents indisputably set them apart include Emmanuel BOOZ, Antoine TOM, Catherine RIBEIRO, MAMA BEA, Brigitte FONTAINE.
An original style which subtly combines French songs with rock asserts itself with the arrival of the phenomenon MANSET, whose success contribuated to this movement's recognition. Singers such as ILOUS, GILLY, ZACHA, FARR, BLOCH-LAINE celebrated this marriage between songs with texts of quality and an elegant, sophisticated rock, full of finesse and based on elaborate, very polished vocal parts and clever, poetic and intimist lyrics.
After the advent of Breton progressive folk represented by Alan STIVELL's consecration, MALICORNE's success proclaimed the birth and recognition of the French progressive folk movement and opened the way for many groups and musicians including some like Dan AR BRAS, Bernard BENOIT, GWENDAL or Eminanuelle PARRENIN who mixed folk, rock and jazz to produce a synthesis of excellent quality. They asserted themselves by the profound originality and richness of their music.
Apart from these musical styles, an original, purely national music existed from 1974-75 onwards. This music was based on satire, parody, pastiche and used humour, derision and even provocation in the French tradition with a certain distinction, a falsely serious refinement inherited from the generation of musicians from the beginning of the century (SATIE, DEBUSSY...), the whole thing interspersed with borrowings from different musical forms (classical music, jazz, rock, popular tunes, fair music etc...). MAHJUN, ETRON FOU, Albert MARCOEUR, even ZNR, represent this typically French movement.
Halfway between modern European music (STRAVINSKY, BARTOK, DEBUSSY etc...) and a certain British progressive tendency (HENRY COW, KING CRIMSON), a musical school called "New Musics" asserted itself; it was represented by groups such as PRESENT, UNIVERS ZERO or ART ZOYD.
The striking fact which dominates French musical life since 1975 is not a purely musical phenomenon but a socio-economic one, consisting of the obligation of French groups to self-production work and even self-distribution, and to scatter their energy and strength in extra-musical activities.
Since 1975 the record companies, caring about nothing except profitability, only produce groups "devoted" to success and who therefore play fashionable music capable of being appreciated by the greatest number of people. To encourage this success it is enough to condition the public by offering it only music which is written in the same style, and therefore they stir up and develop a fashion around that particular style (new-wave since 1979, funk since 1981, etc).
The consequence of this unrestrained search for profits has been the abandonment of all other productions which are judged to be unprofitable and whose style doesn't enter the category of fashion. One of the dramatic effects of this commercial politics has been to deprive groups of a national network of distribution and to condemn their music even more to be locked into the ghetto of self- productions which benefit only from the lack of publicity (due to lack of finances) the silence of the media (entirely on the payroll of the record companies and concerned only with the latest fashion) and from local or marginal release, factors which keep the group from making its productions profitable and from practically ever having the chance to record again.
From 1977 to 1982 progressive rock was particularly discreet and only a few groups produced excellent albums which often remained without a follow up. For their originality and talent one can mention the exceptional group ASIA MINOR (one of the best French formations along with PULSAR), DUN, TERPANDRE, Laurent THIBAULT, ZARTONC, NEO, WLUD, Jean-Pierre ALARCEN, NUANCE (still present), SKRYVANIA...
ANGE and ATOLL (who became one of the major groups in French rock and as important in the evolution of French music as its neighbor from Belford) influenced a certain number of groups amongst which some rivaled with their models by their good qualities and original ideas. One can mention ELOHIM (2), SYNOPSIS, DATURA, ANUBUS...
As far as MAGMA is concerned, its style influenced the music of groups or musicians, sometimes slightly (FALSTAFF, ARCHAIA), sometimes more strongly (NONEYELK). Alongside these "natural children", its "spiritual children" grew and prospered under its protective claws before they showed their own talents and spread their wings by developing their own music, inspired, derived and transcended by the Master's, under their own name (PAGANOTTI, GAUTHIER, WIDEMANN) or with their group (WEIDOEJE, EIDER STELLAIRE).
A particular aspect of the French scene appeared around '82 with groups such as 0DM, Phillipe DORAY, VIDEO AVENTURES, PTOSE and LOOK DR BOOK. These groups placed the emphasis more on research than on finish. Synthesizers usually dominate and new ideas abound in each bar; one could compare them, without seeking any relationship between them with the RESIDENTS.
Since '82 the progressive rock revival in Great Britain has found a parallel in France with the emergence of new progressive groups or the rejuvenation of others and the release of new productions such as STEP AHEAD, THALASSA, LA ROSSA, EDHELS, the last one being Jean-Pascal BOFFO's wonderful concept album. With all these productions we can hope for this musical style's return to the limelight.
Since '82 jazz rock has also evolved through a profound mutation; keeping always a very complicated, elaborate and technically rigorous music, it has diversified and has been enriched by new influences giving more importance to the lyrical and melodical side of the compositions and to their construction and developments. Groups such as OZ QUARTET, BOOMERANG, HIATUS, INCROYABLE JUNGLE BEAT, MINIMUM VITAL, Serge BRINGOLF or FOEHN show the same concerns and musical ideas; they are the most talented representatives of this progressive jazz rock movement.
Finally, some groups or musicians distinguished by their profound originality defy all classification. Their music borrows from or is influenced by different kinds and styles of music: rock, jazz, and classical music without allowing us to define them by a single and restrictive label. Amongst these unclassifiable musicians and groups of great quality, one can mention the names of Philippe CAUVIN, UPPSALA, ESKATON, Jean-Paul PRAT, Yochk'o SEFFER, NEF or L.B.C.
Even if, from 1982 onwards, a creative revival shows itself at the level of the different musical styles (jazz rock, progressive rock...), the problems based on the socio-economical structures of the record market remain and the groups must surmont many difficulties to manage to make heard their music.
What is the future of French rock and jazz rock today? The prospects for improving the record market and its systems of distribution are practically nil. Even if between 1975-78 certain record companies (Free Bird, Tapioca, Atem...) of average importance but well-established in the national echelon were devoted to promoting non-commercial records, they sank in the storm and no new record company of their size (except MADRIGAL or AYAA) has appeared to succeed them. Now more than ever musicians must take their fate (and their chances of success) into their hands: self-production, putting together an effective national system of distribution, searching throughout France and outside its borders for support and contacts.
The era of musicians who were concerned only with creating, enclosed in their musical world, is over. Now, in order to express themselves, they must be administrators of their means of distribution, production and promotion. It is, it seems, the only possible outlet for these groups to survive and to surpass the stage of their first (and only) album. This path has been taken up by groups such as ESKATON and UPPSALA who, for ten years without respite, have struggled fervently to make their music heard.
French rock in all its forms will have to overcome these obstacles in order to have the right to exist and to express itself.
This work is devoted to listing French discographic productions from 1969 to 1985 in the areas of rock and jazz rock. Under this denomination of "rock" are repertoried of the different tendencies in rock (progressive, melodic, symphonic, electronic, etc...) excluding hard rock, rock'n'roll, punk and new wave.
The recordings (LP's, singles, EP's, maxi SP, mini LP) of these groups and musicians appear in this list, with the exception of those produced on cassette.
This book seeks to draw up a complete and exhaustive list of all the group's productions who fit into the above-mentioned tendencies, from the most well-known to the most obscure, and it attemps to discuss the most widely distributed works as well as the most private self-productions of limited or local release.
Despite the intention to present a comprehensive work, it is possible that certain productions have been omitted and passed over in silence. May the groups who are victims of these unintentional omissions be indulgent and understanding. The reason for these omissions stem from lack of knowledge and information concerning self-productions and marginal editions. For this reason it has been particularly difficult to establish a complete list of self-produced works which have appeared in France since 1977.
But certain careful readers will notice that, in the case of some very unusual groups, certain works from their discography have not been cited. Here it is a case of deliberate choice, since these works depart from the musical framework delimited here: in other words, these groups or musicians have made records which no longer belong to the world of rock, but to that of the most commercial variety shows.
This, however, concerns only certain very exceptional groups (MARTIN CIRCUS, DAYDE). It is also for this reason that certain groups judged to be closer to variety show music than to rock have been left out (this is the case for CLASSICAL M, PRESENCE, CHOC, AEROPLANE).
This work has a double objective: on one hand, to serve as a reference work, as a dictionary which allows one to get to know the complete discographies of French groups, and on the other, (it had been originally conceived in this way) to be a source of information, an auxiliary tool intented to enlighten the amateur of French rock as to the interest and musical style of the groups whose existence and musical worth he may have previously ignored. It is for this reason that, in addition to reference indicators (label, series number, date of release) a short presentation appears for each group which tries to be as objective as possible (although this ideal of objectivity is difficult to attain) defining the style, the musical branch to which it belongs, and giving some more specific information shout the music, whether it be in relation to a limited musical school (Canterbury school, Californian school, etc) or in relation to other groups, thus allowing one to situate them musically.
We must specify that we have not taken into account in this book any session participation by musicians on records outside our classifications. It would have been quite illusory to try to compose such an inventory because some of the quoted musicians in question (TOP, PACANOTTI, CECCARELLI etc...) have a tendency to appear on a phenomenal number of records because of their career as studio musicians or accompanists to variety artists.
Moreover they generally don't influence the music played by these artists and the musical interest is very limited. Only an anecdotal or historical interest remains or that of a purely fanatical collector.
We must also point out that all compilations which do not include any unreleased tracks and any "Best of" records do not appear in this book.
As far as the references are concerned, they are the ones from the original edition. However, we sometimes mention the reissue reference.
We must also specify that the records musical interest has nothing to do with the length of the presentation text in this book. Sometimes the unknown music of a confidential production deserves a larger analysis and presentation than more famous groups which are already known by most readers (MAGMA, ATOLL, ANGE, ABUS DANGEREUX etc...). The texts of some little known groups are thus longer than those of groups which made their mark on the French musical scene. The length of a presentation text can on no account be used as a measure of the group's interest nor as a judgement of its value.
Our aim was to inform the reader about the style and "value" of groups unknown to him. That is why our chosen aim was to present and define to the best of our ability the music of obscure groups.
In conclusion, our purpose was to establish an inventory, a dictionary, without any discriminatory distinction or judgement concerning the artists's value; if sometimes we allow ourselves to show a preference for s certain group or record, this preference is most certainly personal. However, it is always in s very precise context and style. The fact that we give our opinion indicates that the group or record in question is essential for any fan of this style (progressive rock, jazz rock...). In such a case, taking into account the qualities and ingredients of this style, the record is quoted as a reference and appears to us as a must for any fan of this style.
Apart from these very few preferential indications, our aim was to act as historians, "anthologists" or "encyclopedists" (because what is good for one is not necessarily good for everyone) and give the reader some references, descriptions, indications and a precise, detailed definition concerning the productions in the styles included in this book.
Those finalities guided the direction taken by this book which we hope will help you to know and appreciate the different aspects of French rock and jazz rock productions from today and yesterday.
As mentioned in the introduction, the aim of this book is to explore some currents of French "rock" such as progressive rock, jazz rock, new musics, Avant garde, synthetic rock, electronic rock.
On the other hand some other musical styles such as new wave, punk, hard rock etc... have been deliberately omitted. This musical choice is a deliberate musical hiss. This delimitation is somewhat subjecte and may seem arbitrary; some readers may be surprised to find some groups in this book and not others. But it must be said that musical classification has never been scientific. It seems quite impossible to try and classify each group in a precise category. For some there is no ambiguity, but many intermediary zones exist between each musical style where classification is uneasy, even illusory, becoming a pre text for entomological quarrels which we don't Want to take part in.
The reader must remember these criteria while reading this book. This kind of quarrel, which is unfortunately typically French, is particularly sterile and uninteresting.
Consequently, the choice whether or not to include a group in this list was made in consideration of these elements and on account of our criteria for classification which we consider clear and precise enough.
This reissue includes a certain number of improvements and innovations. Firstly a particular technical effort has been made to improve the book presentation and finish and the precision and quality of the references.
For that purpose, all the references and years of publication have thus been revised, checked and corrected where necessary. Secondly the presentation texts have been modified and corrected. Many of the texts have been developed, completed and improved in an attempt to be more precise and give a better definition of the music played by the groups concerned.
Lastly we have included more photos of record sleeves in this second edition to help the readers when searching in record shops.
Apart from the development of the presentation texts, the most important innovation is the addition of more than 150 new groups and musicians compared to the first edition. This list includes not only the new records from '85 but also some forgotten, obscure and confidential productions from the listed styles.
Some groups and musicians belonging to musical styles who were not included in the first edition (progressive folk, French songs of quality combined with sophisticated rock, modern electric jazz etc...) have been added to this reissue.
We hope that all these improvements and innovations will satisfy to you.
We want to express our deeper thanks to all those who helped to the release of this reissue and specially: Helen BRIOLAT (translation), Thierry MOREAU (design), Michel BARR, Main JULIAC, Michel LECANE (all three for their large discographical help). For additional informations: Michel SEYER, Damien FOUQU, Jean-Christophe ALLUIN, Eugen SCHIESS, Archie PATTERSON, Patrick ROLIN, Jean-Luc GOTTVALLES, Frédéric VION, Jacques TONI, Jean-Claude GRANJEON and all the others.
Amongst musicians, let's quote for their help and support: Dan AR BRAS, Robert KEMPLER, Setrak BAKIREL and ASIA MINOR, KELTIA MUSIQUE, le C.A.M, CRYSTAL LAKE, Jean-Pascal BOFFO, JoNi DUGRENOT, Marc CECCOTTI and EDHELS, Serge BRINGOLF, Philippe CAUVIN, Alain MION (CORTEX), Claude DEMET, Michel LE BARS and EIDER STELLAIRE, ELOHIM (2), ESKATON, André VIAUD, Philippe DAMPERON (GALERE), Jean-Jacques CILLES (CERISE Productions), Philippe RAVON (Studio CARAT), Stella VANDER, Jean LAUNAY (MEDIA), Didier THIBAULT (M.C.P, MOVING), MINIMUM VITAL, NAOS, NEF, NOCO MUSIC, NUANCE (2), Jean-Paul PRAT, PULSAR, Olivier ROY, Christian HOFF (SYNOPSIS), Henry TORGUE, SHUB-NIGGURATH, Pascal BUSSY (TAGO MAGO), TROISIEME DEIL, Dany MARCOMBE and UPPSALA, Francis ADAM (studio OMEGA), WLUD, Alain GRIMA (studio 621 for LA ROSSA) and some others.
I Want to personally thank for their essential help and their friendship: Bernard GUEFFIER and Denis MEYER (photo?), without forgetting: A. JULIAC, M. LECAME, H. BAREE, M. SEYER, J.C GRANJEON, J. TONI, J.L MARTIN, D. ART, F.X PROJEAN, T. SPORTOUCHE and amongst musicians those whose friendship and music helped me in the release of this hook: Gilbert GANDIL and PULSAR, Gathy GUERRIE and NUANCE, Jean-Luc HERVE, Véronique VERDIER and SMUB-NIGGURATH, Joel DUGRENOT, Michel LE BARS, UPPSALA, Henry TORGUE, A. PFEFFER and the German group ROUSSEAU.
I thank you for their support to this book's distribution: Archie PATTERSON (EUROCK), Steven FEIGENBAUM (WAYSIDE MUSIC), Andy GARIBALDI (LOTUS RECORDS), the friend Masahiko KAGAWA (MARQUEE MOON), Martin REICHOLD (OLDIE-MARICT), Angel ROMERO RUIZ.
And lastly, those amongst the readers who are now personal friends: Brian GEIGNER, James BLOEDEL, (both excellent American musicians), Thommy WARD, Eugen SCHIESS, Ralf GEITMANN, Masahiro SAKAGUCHI...
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