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TRACK LIST: 1. By the Sons of Mandrin 4:51 2. At the Cafe of Colibri 4:06 3. And So the Rain Will Go Away 6:07 4. Around the Fireside 3:05 5. Tumblers 4:00 6. Child-colored Eyes 4:24 7. Atlantis 5:21 8. Hymn to Life 9:48 All tracks: by C. & F. Decamps, except 1 & 8: C. Decamps & Brezovar, 2 & 3: C. Decamps & Guichard, 4 & 5: C. Decamps & Haas. English lyrics: by Quartermain. LINE-UP: Christian "Destin" Decamps - - vocals; piano & string ensemble; - acoustic guitar; accordion Francis "Hugues" Decamps - - Organ, Mellotron, synthesizer Jean-Michel "Dorian" Brezovar - - electric & acoustic guitars; flute Jean-Pierre "Joli Faon" Guichard - - drums & percussion; harmonica Daniel "Fier a Bras" Haas - - bass & acoustic guitar With: Michael Quartermain - backing vocals Produced by Ange. Engineered by H. Lousteau at "Son' Art".
Prolusion. "By the Sons of Mandrin" is the English-language version of ANGE's fifth album "Par les Fils de Mandrin" previously released only on LP (by Mercury in North America and Philips in Europe) and only once, in 1976. So it's quite the right time to refresh the remembrances of the album and tell those still unfamiliar with it of what they should expect to hear on this CD. If you wish to read the other Ange-related reviews available on ProgressoR, click >here, >here, >here, and >here.
Synopsis. Above all, I'd like to notice that the album was thoroughly remastered for the CD edition and sounds excellent by all means. Generally, Ange's fifth album is considered less impressive than their previous ones, but I think it is hardly inferior to any of them. Even though about a half of the songs here, and especially Tumblers and Atlantis (5 & 7), are almost instantly accessible, all of them are marked with the touch of magic, as well as the majority of the band's early works, and are very good, at least. The music on these two is rather a calm, mellow, and atmospheric Symphonic Art-Rock with the charming passages of acoustic guitar and flute being often at the helm of instrumental arrangements and the approximately equal quantity of vocals and poetic narration. In any case, both of them are full of originality and beauty, and I wouldn't say they're atypical for the classic Ange sound. Both of the songs: And So the Rain Will Go Away and Hymn to Life (3 & 8) begin with soft and atmospheric symphonic music, which later transforms into an intensive, truly classic Symphonic Art-Rock, though the second half of Hymn to Life is in addition (indeed!) anthemic in character. Around the Fireside (4) features only passages, solos, and rhythms of acoustic guitar, vocals, and the brief solo of harmonica somewhere in the middle of the track. This is certainly one of the most diverse and impressive classical guitar-based pieces with vocals ever created in the history of Rock music. The songs: By the Sons of Mandrin, At the Cafe of Colibri, and Child-colored Eyes (1, 2, & 6) are filled with all the possible progressive features and, along with Around the Fireside, are the best tracks on the album. All three of them represent Classic Symphonic Art-Rock with distinct elements of Hard Rock and theatric vocals. However, Christian Decamps' vocals (and even narration) are theatrics everywhere on the album, and Ange's music itself is in many ways theatrical as well. Which, in its turn, is due to the fact that French Folk music and chanson exerted some, yet, obvious influence on the band's creation, too.
Conclusion. "By the Sons of Mandrin" is among the most interesting albums by Ange and is certainly the best place to start for those still unfamiliar with the creation of this leader of French Progressive and one of the 'titanic' bands of the genre in general. Of course, these words are above all destined to the young generation of Prog-lovers.
VM: January 3, 2004
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