Lougarou

Lougarou

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Credited to Lougarou, the Quebec group that would later change its name to Garolou, this eponymous debut holds a special place in the history of the Quebec folk revival of the late ‘70s. Unlike La Bottine Souriante or Dominique Tremblay, Lougarou ditched the matter of authentic delivery and went straight for the trad rock hybrid, targeting radio airplay and wide consumption. The gamble paid off, and Lougarou can be seen as the first widely successful trad rock album in Quebec, before La Bottine Souriante or Le Rêve du Diable broke into the mainstream. But this success was achieved at a cost: the rock arrangements are not subtle. In fact, some songs (such as "Ah, Toi Belle Hirondelle!," the album's hit single) have been mercilessly trampled. Still, fans of Quebec folk or French folk revivalists like Malicorne and Tri Yann will find in Lougarou a surprisingly well-balanced and mature platter. The centuries-old French songbook is represented by songs like "La Belle Françoise," "La Vendée" (aka "J'ai Vu le Loup, Le Renard, le Lièvre"), "La Partance," and "À la Claire Fontaine." The last two show a certain originality in the arrangements and the latter became a live favorite thanks to its symphonic bombast, inherited from the heydays of progressive rock. Strangely, the band touches the Quebec-bred tradition with less conviction. "Dis-Moi, Charles" is almost caricatured in its interpretation, while "La Complainte de Mon Frère" lifts a rural folk tune found by Philippe Gagnon (Michel Faubert would record a much more faithful and poignant version of it under the title "La Mort en Camion" 20 years later). "Éclipse," the album closer, is the only non-trad piece, an instrumental composition by keyboardist Steven Naylor that illustrates the group's ties (at least in its early days) with the prog rock/jazz-rock scene. It is very similar to some of Morse Code and Sloche's material, but remains an exception, especially since the group's music will become even more mainstream with time.