Antoine [RTE]

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Antoine made the most visible response to the folk-rock craze of the mid-'60s of any French artist, particularly with his controversial "Les Elucubrations d'Antoine" (which is included here). His self-titled debut LP finds him heavily influenced by the early electric Bob Dylan in its insouciant tough-guy delivery and basic bluesy rock backings with gnarly guitar, though acoustic folk, the British Invasion, and French pop also come into play on occasion. The wholly acoustic "Bruit de Roses," for instance, sounds far more like early acoustic protest-era Dylan than the mid-'60s brand. But the sub-electric-Dylan-ish stuff is far more prominent, though the nuances of the French social rebel lyrics will go over the head of non-French speaking listeners. Those who can speak the language, or at least some of the language, can zero in on "Les Elucubrations d'Antoine," in which Antoine replies to a presidential letter asking what can be done to make the country richer, thusly: "Put the pill on sale in the dime stores." That happens to be one of the gutsier musical tracks, too, with very Dylanesque blasts of harmonica. Also on hand is the pounding "La Guerre," which Time magazine memorably described at the time as "like a medley of 'Eve of Destruction' and 'Blowin' in the Wind.' On the gentle "Pourquoi Ces Canons" and "J'ai Oublie La Nuit," however, he sounds far more like the early Donovan, with whom he's pictured in one of the photos on the inner gatefold sleeve. "Une Autre Autoroute" adds some welcome British mod rock influence that makes it a tad more melodic than the rest of the LP, and a bit of the Beau Brummels-style moodiness makes "Autoroute Europeenne No. 4" the standout.

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