Showing posts with label French. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 April 2012

À L'Olympia - Alan Stivell (1972)

I found this LP in an op-shop and had no idea who Alan Stivell was or what sort of music he might play, but on the back cover were seemingly random phrases written in French: 'Futurisme', 'Diversité des cultures', 'Progressive-folk', 'Celtic pop-music', 'Monde technologique' and so on - it seemed like it would be interesting enough to gamble $10 on. It certainly was. This album is in fact, a live recording by Alan Stivell at the Olympia theatre in Paris from 1972. Stivell was responsible for something of a renaissance in the Celtic folk music of Brittany and interest in the Celtic harp generally during the seventies. This performance combines this traditional folk music with elements of rock and prog very effectively on this LP using harp, acoustic and electric guitar, dulcimer, banjo, violin, organ, drums, percussion, electric bass and bombarde, a traditional French reed instrument in the oboe family. Most tracks feature Stivells distinctive vocals (in French and English) and are traditional tunes that he has arranged for his band. For a live disc, the sound is excellent, although the crowd noise in between tracks is positively deafening, but I guess they were just really into it! I know I would have been - it sounds like an incredible gig. The first side is a mellow set which showcases the more folky material whereas the second side brings out the more contemporary rock influences. Although the first side is a great listen, I prefer the more folk-rock fusion tracks from the B side such as the instrumental 'Pop Plinn' which combines rocking guitar lines with a Celtic harp breakdown and a bombarde solo (the crowd goes nuts for the latter). The circular melody of 'Tri Martolod' and it's contemporary sounding beat make this another highlight of side two along with the closer 'Suite Sudarmoricaine' which starts with a flute-driven section but then quickly segues into a upbeat seventies rock song with a very catchy wordless chorus allowing even us non-Francophones to sing along.

Label: Polydor
Released: 1972
Players: Alan Stivell - Celtic harp
Gabriel Yacoub - guitare, dulcimer, banjo
Rene Werneer - fiddle
Pascal Stive - orgue
Gerard Levasseur - basse
Henri Delagarde - violoncelle, flute, bombarde
Dan Ar Bras - guitare électrique
Michel Santangeli - batterie
Serj Parayre - percussions
Mikael Klec'h - flute, bombarde