La Bottine Souriante

La Traversée de l'Atlantique

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Back before they acquired a horn section and turned into a strange sort of Quebecois rhythm and reels band, La Bottine Souriante plied a more traditional brand of regional folk music, complete with call-and-response vocals, occasional sets of Celtic jigs and reels, and the trademark boot-stomping percussion typical of that area (bandleader Andre Marchand is credited with "guitare, pieds et voix"). This is one of the better albums from the band's early career. There's something irresistible about the rollicking good humor of this music, and it's hard to imagine anyone not dancing to the strains of "Sur le Pont d'Avignon" or "La Madelon." Marchand's voice is a wonderful, rich instrument, and he and Bernard Simard are both outstanding guitarists. The lineup is rounded out by fiddler Martin Racine and accordionist Yves Lambert, who mostly play in unison while the two guitarists play different but complementary rhythm parts. The debt to Celtic music is obvious on tunes like "Le Reel du Mal de Do" and "Le Petit Cheval de Bois," but no one would ever mistake La Bottine Souriante for an Irish group. Highly recommended.

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