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(45:43, Musea Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Visions 2:21 2. Blue Eyes 2:08 3. She Leaves Me All Alone 4:22 4. So Long 2:28 5. On the Beach at Fontana 3:22 6. The Swimmer 2:15 7. The Model 3:21 8. Part Time Punks 3:12 9. The End 9:43 10. Andalucia 2:02 11. I'll Never Be Back 4:54 12. Sha La La 2:58 13. Let It Go 2:41 LINEUP: Pascal Comelade keyboards Terry Den guitars, percussion Florence Berthon vocals; melodica With: Marco Houri guitars Cathy Claret saxophone Laurent Smadja saxophone Yves Smadja harmonica; keyboards
Prolusion. The French trio FALL OF SAIGON was a short-lived but important entity in the annals of French rock, and despite only releasing a single album in 1983 prior to breaking up sometime around 1984, they have apparently been rather influential in the French rock scene. Their album has long been out of print, and this 2011 reissue is in fact the first reissue made of this now 30 years old release.
Analysis. This is an album that, by and large, won't be too interesting to the avid and dedicated progressive rock fan. The music explored is rather far away from progressive rock in style, original compositions and bonus material alike. But there are two good reasons for some to explore this material, disregarding fans of course. It is a band setup featuring the talents of Pascal Comelade, and this is a unit that appears to have found quite a lot of inspiration in the art rock universe for their endeavors. Fall of Saigon described itself as a band inspired by the likes of Nico & The Velvet Underground, and has been categorized as a minimalistic new wave band in terms of stylistic expression. Their new wave aspirations first and foremost revealed in opening piece Visions, a compositions that basically comes across as a stripped down version of Blondie as I experienced it. But from then on other likely sources of influence for their material are rather more intriguing. The music is stripped down and minimalistic, but both Blue Eyes and So Long are compositions that should have a familiar sound to fans of good, old The Doors. While She Leaves Me Alone, On the Beach at Fontana and (to some extent) The Swimmer are closer in sound and style to the likes of Kraftwerk. Neither of these constructions are as sophisticated or interesting as the likely influences, but to my ears the legacies of these past giants of rock are easily heard in this material: pleasant songs, and I'm not surprised that material of this kind made an impact in the early 1980's. The bonus material is, at least to some extent, more interesting however. The live recordings of material by Kraftwerk, TV Personalities and The Doors respectively do leave a bit to be desired admittedly, but the almost epic length take on The End showcases a strong composition that survives a stripped down arrangement and lacklustre recording quality both. Not that this is a surprise, as truly strong compositions are difficult to ruin. But it's the additional material credited to Fall of Saigon that warrants purchasing this album, at least if you're a fan of this act, Andalucia and I'll Never Be Back the main reasons, as this more organic and relaxed take on their style showcases a band with much more of a unique sound. If they had continued as a unit and in this direction they might have made much more of an impact than they actually did. Sha La-La-La and Let It Go are both high quality excursions as well, but these creations are closer to the singer/songwriter type of material, dream-laden melancholic wanderings with a spirited sax insert that does add a positive and vibrant tinge to the proceedings. But for a progressive rock fan this material won't be too well received, I imagine; fans of the French chanson perhaps a better audience for compositions of this particular kind.
Conclusion. Those who dearly want to re-experience early 80's new wave pioneers, Fall of Saigon have been given the opportunity to do just that with this reissue, and fans should also enjoy the extra material appended to the original EP. Dedicated followers of Pascal Comelade will most likely also want to seek this one out due to his contributions. Dedicated progressive rock fans might want to distance themselves from it however, unless they have a particular interest in exploring bands that have been influenced by The Doors and Kraftwerk respectively.
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