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Imago - 1978/2004 - "Derriere la Rideau"

(39 min, Musea)


****
                 
TRACK LIST:                             

1.  Apres Avoir Colle 4:15
2.  La Dentelliere 3:49
3.  Fanzine 4:04
4.  Dors-Dors 3:49
5.  Fable 3:17
6.  L'Ami Americain 5:14
7.  Le Cachot 3:41
8.  Hit Parade 4:26
9.  Dernier Voyage 3:33
10. Journey 3:16

All tracks: by Benguigui & Six.
Produced by S & G Bleiveis.
Engineered by P Omnes.

LINEUP:

Bernard Benguigui - flute; vocals 
Claude Six - acoustic guitar; vocals
Vincent Absil - electric guitar; vocals
Jean-Paul Verrier - bass
Charles Benarroch - drums
With:
Luc Plouton - keyboards

Prolusion. The French band IMAGO was at the peak of their activity in the second half of the '70s, when they released four albums: "Folle Avoine" (1976), "Portraits" (1977), "Derriere la Rideau" (1978) and "Auhourd'hui C'est Deja Demain" (1980). Another release featuring all-new material, "Drenier Bulletin", saw the light of day only 19 years later, although the band's reincarnation came about in 1996. This CD presents their third album in its original form, as it was on LP. No additional material is present here. Imago's current status is: disbanded again.

Analysis. The 39-minute "Derriere la Rideau" consists of ten rather short tracks, all being songs in the strictest sense of the word, i.e. vocals heavy and even more. Only about a half of them contain instrumental interludes. Fortunately, the musicians play with ease, providing rather diverse arrangements alongside the vocal lines, and by the way, it's the guest keyboardist Luc Plouton who best of all succeeded in this field. Another musician with noticeable progressive tendencies is flutist Bernard Benguigui. Acoustic guitar player, Claude Six, really shines on the tracks with no drums, while on the others he plays rhythm, i.e. plays mostly a supporting role, as well as the remaining band members. It's no surprise that Imago was one of France's most successful touring bands at that time, as their proto-progressive blend of pop, folk (chanson), Rock and Hard Rock, sometimes with elements of then new-fashioned disco and reggae, is both very simple and very effectual. At one point I even heard something resembling rap, so the authorship of that popular style still remains uncertain:-) Fanzine and Fable are noticeably heavier than the others, with the vocals having a distinctively French theatric feel. La Dentelliere, Dors-Dors and Journey are very nice ballads with a pronouncedly acoustic sound. All were performed without the rhythm section and are somewhat complicated, due to the thoughtful interaction between instruments involved, namely: acoustic guitar, piano and flute. Most of all, however, I liked the longer tracks: L'Ami Americain and Hit Parade. Less repetitive than the others, these are notable for Plouton's really excellent performance in addition. His passages and semi-improvisational solos on piano and organ cross the length and breadth of the basic themes, making the songs sounding much more progressive than it was initially intended. I mean, only two musicians (Six and Benguigui) are credited as creators of the material, but they certainly aren't responsible for the guest's arrangement ambitions. However, one song, Dernier Voyage, is too simple even for a proto-progressive music, to say the least. In fact, it is done within extremely primitive pop format, and its childlike gleefulness is just too far-fetched. Perhaps the band lacked one song to have a full-length LP; otherwise I can hardly explain the fact of its inclusion on the album.

Conclusion. From the progressive standpoint, this album isn't of great value. Most of the music is very accessible. However, it's mostly original and is really well executed. At least in this respect, Imago made a more positive impression on me than Cinema's latest opus. This CD might have a solid success in the musicians' native land, but I don't think its popularity will transcend France's frontier.

VM: February 11, 2005


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