Les Sinners are a pretty famous band in certain circles. Garage rock/psych completists are familiar with their three LP’s in their original incarnation. Their first album, "Sinnersime", was put out on the tiny Rusticana label in 1967. It’s on the wall of every record store in Montreal, usually for 100 bucks. It has a heavy Yardbirds influence, with fuzztone rave ups mixed with catchy pop songs. It was bootlegged in Italy sometime in the 80’s, and is definitely a known record amongst the garage rock nerds of the world. It is worth noting that the most rocking songs on the LP are the ones sung in English. Les Sinners were from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, a neighborhood with a large Anglophone population so it isn't strange that they would record English material.
After their first LP they signed with Jupiter, a label that was home to mostly more traditional acts like Donald Lautrec. They released two LP’s on Jupiter, the confusingly titled “Sinnerismes” and “Vox Populi”, which were later collected on a “24 Greatest Hits” record, also on Jupiter. These continue the psych-pop sound of the first LP, while dropping some of the more “rave-up” sections and fuzz, in favor of tighter song construction.
“Sinnerismes” has both garage rock rawness and tight, poppy melodies, with Bo Diddley beat riffing supporting sweet harmonies. There's also some weird drug culture babble ("L.S.D. Ha! Ha!) and a Beatles cover song. It's a fun record.
“Vox Populi” is a concept record about the “voice of the people” and has dialogue snippets of "man on the street" banter between every song with a trashy psych backing. Medium cool, indeed. The songs themselves are a little more far-out than the previous records. Their is a definite influence of the Who's pre-Tommy stuff, especially in all the La-la-la-la backing vocals.
After those albums, singer Francois Guy left to form Le Revolution Francaise, who had a huge hit with the song “Quebecois." The Sinners carried on with a new singer and released a self titled LP on Trans-World in 1971. The problem is the new singer kind of had that “drunk uncle accompanying himself on guitar around a campfire” vibe, or even worse the “the cover band playing ‘Mustang Sally’ at an Italian-American street fair” thing.
Even with the decline in the vocal department, the album is still a very solid hard rock record with touches of prog/psych. It reminds me of the first Man LP, or if Procol Harem were a bunch of dope addled punks from Montreal instead of some prissy English guys.
There is actually a heavy tribal vibe on some of the tracks, with lots of bongos and hand percussion like they had just come back from seeing Santana. There are a couple duds on the album, with one ballad about Quebec sounding like your boy Ziggy Stardust on a very off day. Just like the first Sinners LP, the funkiest song on there is sung in English. It sounds sort of like War or Mandrill and has 70's funky flute all over it.
The song I picked to represent this album, is the opening track “OK L’Chien”, mostly because it features one of my favorite musical memes of the late 60’s/early 70’s, which comes in at about 2 minutes into the track (It’s a sort of afro-beat sounding descending riff that was came from, of all places, “Inna-gadda-da-vida” by Iron Butterfly. It’s the bassline that comes in after the drum solo at about 13:00, whilst the tension builds up for the return of the main riff. It next appeared as the bass line in “Rabbit Got the Gun” by the J.B.’s and almost at the same time, popped across the ocean to appear as the bassline and sole melodic element in Max B.’s “Bananaticoco”, possibly my favorite fake afro-beat song made by Europeans ever).
Anyways, this is a nice solid funky rock song with only slightly ridiculous flute solos and slightly ridiculous overwrought vocals.
OK L'Chien-Les Sinners