Monday 27 January 2014

Beausoleil Broussard Compleat By Request

From prognotfrog: [reprinted by permission:]

"As promised here is the first Beausoleil Broussard album from Nova Scotia 1976. This album is more folkloric and simple, almost the whole of side 1 to me is fast-forward material, pockmarked by a load of choreiform folk jigs and assorted folks songs which some might appreciate but I am not too partial to (apologies to those who differ). At the end of the side however a nice folk-rock track called "Restons la terre est belle" (Let's stay the earth is beautiful) sung by the wonderful Isabelle Roy talks about the history of the namesake. In fact inside the gatefold a little blurb elucidates the meaning of the title: "Joseph Broussard, named Beausoleil, was one of the chiefs of a movement that conducted by sea first through the Antilles, then from there to the country of the Bayous, hundreds of prisoners either from the ancient fort of Beausejour or from the camps of Halifax. The boat that served for these adventures was torn from the hands of the English during a mutiny organised by him, at the moment of the deportation."
Right, and I think that clears it all up.
At any rate, it seems from the lyrics the album is a kind of document song cycle about the adventures of Beausoleil.

The second side is more varied and interesting. Track 2 starts promisingly with a gorgeous 1700 minuet on harpsichord and flute, unfortunately it segues into the shrieky babbling fiddle music again. The next song "La femme de l'ivrogne" (The wife of the drunk) is a conversation song between these two typecast protagonists, and in my opinion well worth listening to, beginning to end. There is nothing unconventional about the lyrics, with the usual platitudes about the wife's role and the man's role presumably from the point of view of the 18th century. A complete lack of irony makes this very typical of 70s music. Ignore the lyrics though, the melody and acoustic guitars are sublime. Here the balance between traditional song and pop is absolutely spot-on perfect.
Next track starts with organ (the acoustic or church kind) "Les vepres et le reel..." before tragically moving into the fiddles again. This album as well closes out with two amazing compositions, Mouvange, an instrumental with wordless singing, and La revanche des berceaux (Revenge of the cribs -- great title).

Again the masterpiece sits at the very end of the album, with some ingenious chord changes and such intense emotional singing on the part of Isabelle as to give me chills up my spine. As well note how artistically the two acoustic guitars play off each other, strumming different arpeggios and melodies behind her voice with the occasional cymbal crash providing really intense drama."

From prognotfrog: [reprinted by permission:]

"I won't talk more about the band or style but refer you to the real highlight on this album, 'L'annee noire' (the black year). This song is quite beautifully written (lyrics by Jacques Savoie with music from the singer, Isabelle Roy) and stands with the best songs from Connivence and french-speaking Canadian folk-rock.

"I read in an old book
the name of a child born much too young.
It happened in 1794...
She was born in the black winter
that was so hard,
no one thought they would survive...

She never knew that life
could have some good times,
The best that she ever knew...
was to go to sleep one time for good
to a lullaby that her mother
still had the heart to sing to her."

Wow, what fabulous lyrics, and I said earlier, completely lacking in irony as typical of this era. Note the beautiful sustained violin background notes adding that note of pathos to the piano. On these vinyl rips the sound of the grand piano is so full, warm and gorgeous, I defy anyone to bring me a CD that sounds the same.

I should also point out the first track of side 2, Mutinerie (referring again to the annoying story behind namesake Beausoleil Broussard) which is a three-part suite, starting with another beautiful lullaby-like piece by Isabelle Roy, moving into folk jig territory, before evoking the wave-like feeling of 3/4 on piano arpeggios in the end and some gorgeous three-part harmony vocals on Isabelle's part. The little instrumental song "Pif et caribou" again is highly reminiscent of Connivence or L'engoulevent, wordless singing on some very nice minor chord changes, musique by Claude Fournier.

Mention must be made unfortunately of the cover wherein we can again laugh at the hairstyles of the seventies-- sadly, the haircut beautiful Isabelle Roy got was all too fashionable at the time."

"Long long ago this very website introduced us to a remarkably unknown french-canadian folk band called Beausoleil Broussard, hailing from the east coast of Canada in the form of a compilation album. Now we are going to cover the original discography of this long-lost band, that stands comparison favourably to quebecois artists Connivence, L'engoulevent, or ontarians CANO. I'm sure I'm not the only one who prefers the warm full and harmonious sound of vinyl records over the remastered cd, especially in a case like this where some lost tracks, often very well composed, inevitably were left off the compilation. The band's name can be discovered from wikipedia.

"Joseph Gaurhept Broussard (1702–1765), also known as Beausoleil, was a leader of the Acadian people in Acadia; later Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Broussard organized a resistance movement against the forced Expulsion of the Acadians. In 1765, After the loss of Acadia to the British, he eventually led the first group of Acadians to southern Louisiana in present-day United States."

Of course this tells us this foursome hails from Acadia. The title of the disc means (in slang) "the middle of the century that's coming". I return to the same themes in each post, this music does not deserve to be forgotten, it could be played on 70s rock stations with the best of them, and always make sure to check out the album covers, in this case a gorgeous photograph of a girl looking through binoculars to the side, with a beach in the background. This is their last album and probably the most successfully and professionally composed. The first two will be coming shortly. Note the back of the album with its hilarious facial hair, and the female singer (Isabelle Roy, who has an amazing sparklingly clear and vibrato-strong voice) with the pippy longstocking hair. I can't help but laugh when I look at these old portraits.

Like the 2 aforementioned (Connivence and L'engoulevent) and Les Seguins, this album mixes jigs and trad. folk music with a lot of more progressive, sometimes classical elements, the last track in particular features a symphony orchestra backing. A very characteristic mix for the seventies as we all know.

A stand-out track on the first side is "Squall" (as in wind) which discusses loneliness in relationships.

"One is never as alone as when one is sleeping with one's lover.
One is never so vague as in the middle of the night."

The soprano sax at the intro and throughout clearly states its melancholy case with its swooping figures moving through E minor. The last track on side A, title track, is a masterpiece of progressive folk, an equal to the L'engoulevent album without a doubt with its chamber elements, its chanted folk refrain. I am not sure what the song is about, it discusses traveling to the ocean, to the rivers, nostalgia or foreboding, it's not clear.
Ignore the bizarre annoying dialectical (materialist?) talk on the fourth track's first minute to note the instrumental gigue which follows : it passes bizarrely from G major to B flat minor then E flat, an astonishing modulation for a folk record!

On side two we have three standout compositions, "Enfantaisie" which is a very gentle instrumental acoustic guitar lullaby-like piece again with some very interesting chord progressions, and the last two tracks. "La fuite en avant", meaning, fleeing towards, is a basically an evocative poem, mysteriously suggestive, sounds to me again like a relationship gone bad song.
"On the third day of the full moon
The night on purpose went full straight
Woke up late, woke up in remorse,
Stayed close to the walls to not be seen..."
How nice to see bona-fide poetry behind this music!
It's astonishing how singer Isabelle Roy hits those high E notes with a superlative vibrato, almost operatically pure and powerful.

The last track is the composed orchestral piece, "Tourterelles tristes" (sad turtledoves). Highly reminiscent of the instrumental Connivence pieces from their magnificent three albums, this song suggests again what potential the combination of classical music, rock, and folk can achieve in a synthesis that takes music farther than it ever went before or since, a perfect synergy where the whole is so much more than the parts. Sadly this track was left off the compilation cds.

Anyone with much info on the band will be welcome to add something in the comments, it's difficult to find online due to the (relative) commonness of the band's namesake. And stay tuned for more from the same act."


  1. Thanks, Julian! At least we have recovered some of these lost masterpieces.

  2. I'll post John Fiddy's Pastoral Scenes next, then go back to some new material. Remainder of old pnf requests are these:

  3. Hi Julian, could you please re-up Beausoleil's Mitan, thanks


    2. Thanks for this too, much appreciated

  4. Hi Julian, could you please re-up Beausoleil Broussard 1976, i need that album to complete the discography. thanks

  5. Hi there, could you re-up the album Beausoleil Broussard 1976 please the link is dead, thanks a lot


    2. All three I reupped permanently, hopefully:
      Broussard ST
      Broussard Mutinerie
      Broussard Mitan

    3. TY Very Much Julian, by any chance do you have the 3rd album of Connivence ? Connivence III