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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Ange - 1983 La Gare De Troyes
 
Ange - 1983 La Gare De Troyes



ARTIST: Ange
ALBUM: La Gare De Troyes
LABEL: Philips
SERIAL: 812 139
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1997, Musea, FGBG 4206.AR

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Christian Decamps - lead vocals, pianos * Francis Decamps - keyboards, backing vocals * Serge Cuenot - guitar * Laurent Sigrist - bass * Jean-Claude Potin - drums, percussion

Additional Musicians: Guy Boley, Tristan Gros - vocals * Marc Fontana - sax * Guy Battarel - emulator, PPG, programming * Anne, Maria - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 La Gare De Troyes * 02 À Saute-Mouton * 03 Questions d'Générations * 04 Va-t'en * 05 Les Moments Bizarres * 06 Sheherazade * 07 Les Jardins * 08 Neuf Heures * 09 Tout Bleu!

WEBLINKS: www.angemusic.com


Background
French rock history is littered with colourful, sometimes bizarre characters. At the forefront of the French prog movement were Ange and Magma, with Pulsar and Atoll in tow. Magma remain unfathomable to me, deliberately fleeing from accessibility like a snow goose over the mountains. Ange took a more melodic and listenable approach to their 70's prog output, admittedly a touch bizarre at times, yet much of it is considered classic by serious prog aficionados. In Christian Decamps, Ange had one of the more distinctive and commanding front men in rock, the band going on to considerable success in France and surrounds. England was also invaded and although Ange won some fans, the French lyrics proved to be a drawback to meaningful commercial success. By 1978's 'Guet Apens', a now familiar transformation began to slowly play itself out. You guessed it, AOR elements began to appear, subtle at first but increasing with each subsequent release. By 1983 Ange's conversion to AOR was as total as it was stunning. This is eactly the kind of album that gets a one star rating on prog sites, described as a betrayal of progressive principles and a commercial sellout. Rantings such as this represent music to my ears. Were a slew of other prog bands not similarly battered for going AOR in the 80's? The likes of Eloy, Yes, BJH, Rush, Omega and several others come to mind, many of my favourite AOR bands in fact. Now then, percolating some French Roast through the trusty old AOR coffee machine, will the result satisfy?


The Songs
Title track 'La Gare De Troyes' shows that Ange were paying very close attention to what Saga were achieveing in Europe, a great synth hook combining with spiky riffing to secure a bedrock for that exquisite melody to build on and flourish. Dramatic vocals not miles from Michael Sadler, plus some kind of disembodied ghost of a long disused train station announcer's voice adding flair and flavour to both song and concept. A storming AOR start to the record, this is tasting very good indeed. 'A Soute Mouton' carries a synth motif intro straight from the Saga debut but quickly introduces various Toto elements, slightly funky at times, a captivating AOR hybrid that enchants the more you hear it. 'Question D'Generation' sets up house on an unforgettable synth hook, crunching rhythm guitar combining with said hook in a call and response tour de force. Vocals remain in the Sadler terrain and it's working a treat, turning my coffee a rich blue like the album cover. This is exactly how I hoped French AOR would sound, fierce contender for classic status. 'Va T'En' features some dramatic tempo changes yet manages to redirect the melodic flow over it's rocky river bed with simple elegance. Another winner, both immediately pleasing and containing layers to be discovered with future listens. 'Les Moments Bizarres' carries off the walking bass effect in combination with Roadmaster era synths, the pomp AOR is happening right here, the simple chorus melody once again elegant and ticking all the right boxes.

'Sheherazade' is a true showstopping moment, the Saga connection once again coming through in the half time tempo, rhythm guitar punctuation blasts directly from the Ian Crichton arsenal, the vocals again recalling Sadler's urgent, piercing delivery especially in the chorus. For all that, it still sounds like Ange, adding their own French roasted flair into the fabric of the song, thrilling AOR. 'Les Jardins' can surely not keep up this relentless quality, yet it does. Theatrical dramatics come to the fore during the verses, a little like period Styx at times, switching to surging Toto in the chorus, sounds like Lukather powering that sleek vehicle forward, terrific AOR yet again. 'Neuf Heures' quietens the pace right down with a piano ballad, full of emotion and melody, delivering us to the album closer 'Tout Bleu!' Here Ange remember their prog roots to an extent, this nine minute workout going through three clear phases. The first a three minute AOR extravaganza full of synth tension, outrageous riffing and plenty of chanted vocal melody. This moves via a soaring guitar solo into a reflective synth and vocal piece, eventually reaching a grand finale of Queen proportions. This sounds like a kind of French AOR national anthem, stirring to say the least, and a terrific way to wind down the record.


In Summary
To echo what I said above, this really is exactly what I hoped French AOR would be: inventive, entertaining and melodic to the extreme. The French lyrics seem to add impact to this, far from being an obstacle. It's to be hoped that 'La Gare De Troyes' met with the success it deserved, a hidden AOR classic in my view. Information on it's commercial fortunes proved elusive, though a concert released on video from 1985 shows Ange selling out the legendary Zenith arena, clearly still a major draw in the 80's. I can confirm that a label change was next for Ange, for 1985's follow up 'Fou!'. Snippets I've heard on youtube indicate that AOR was again firmly on the agenda, it wouldn't be far fetched to expect a review in these pages in the near future.


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Comments
#1 | Eric on June 13 2013 12:16:42
Nice to see these guys here although I have to say I've never cared for Decamps theatrical vocals and their early Genesis-influenced albums never did much for me either. I need to take French prog in small doses. Magma? Not a clue what that's all about. Klingon opera?
#2 | AOR Lee on June 14 2013 05:36:01
Agreed Eric, Decamps in the mid 70's was a little off the wall vocally. Thankfully by around 1980 he was taking Michael Sadler lessons and singing really well, suiting the AOR style Ange pursued in the 80's. Magma ... WTF ??
#3 | Eric on June 14 2013 12:09:38
Magma's Christian Vander is a virtuoso drummer, up there with the best, although... I bought 'Attahk' in the early 80's based on the H.R. Giger cover but oh my god. Supposedly it's one their more commercial albums, needless to say it was 'difficult' at best.

Good review Lee. More please.
#4 | AOR Lee on June 15 2013 05:50:07
Tx Eric, more Ange once I get my copy of the next album 'Fou!', currently in the post. I saw these guys mentioned by one of our site regulars Tonissive, in a comment he made on your Pulsar review
 
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