Thursday, May 10, 2007

Michel Pagliaro

Along with Robert Charlebois, Michel Pagliaro is the dominant figure of Quebecois rock music of the last 40 years. He has had countless hits in both English and French and released over two dozen albums. His persona as the straight up rock and roller is the flip side to Charlebois’ brainy eclectic.
Sadly, most of his records are pretty boring boogie rock. Kind of like Status Quo sung in French. Chugging Rhythm guitars copping Chuck Berry licks.
However, his early solo material on Trans-World, Spectrum, and especially the DSP label, is amazing. These records are funky, yet sophisticated. It’s late 60’s bachelor pad music. He covers Claude Francois, Bobby Hebb, Otis Redding, and the Classics IV. Hearing songs like “Sunny”, “Spooky” and “You Showed Me” sung in French gives them a continental lounge lizard feeling that sounds impossibly suave to Anglo ears. However, these records are never cornball because there is genuine grit and soul in Pagliaro’s voice. He never sounds forced or awkward doing R&B the way Nino Ferrer or Eddie Mitchell can. His version of Otis Redding’s “Dum Dum Dum” is funky and sure-handed, with the band rising to the challenge as well.
Apparently, Pagliaro did not like being pushed in this pop direction that was supposed to make him palatable to a mainstream audience. He was definitely a rock and roll guy and did not want to be made into Engelbert Humperdink. However uncomfortable he may have been, he sounds good doing this type of material. His cover of “What a Wonderful World”, “Que Le Monde est Beau”, is beautiful, with an orchestrated pop feel similar to Dusty Springfield or the Walker Brothers.
Sadly, Pagliaro left this international playboy music behind forever in the early 70’s, becoming Quebec’s most beloved hard rocker, covering Little Richard and Chuck Berry, in addition to playing his own rock songs. It’s good, solid, meat and potatoes rock, but it doesn’t have either the funkiness or sophistication of his earlier material.
Michel Pagliaro- Que Le Monde est Beau

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Blogger S.ébastien said...

This is incredible! I never got to find this one after years in Montreal. Great blog! Glad to see/read that Quebec's music is enjoyed outside our Belle Province...

Drop by Patrimoine PQ and find more great and obscure titles, never reissued, from Quebec. This month, we kick off with Le Jour du Seigneur (1971): xian-psych-pop produced by François Dompierre. Next stops: Vox Populi (Les Sinners), Jean Fortier, Guy Trépannier.

You even got the 25e Régiment!?! Great selection!!!

June 1, 2007 at 7:27:00 PM PDT  
Blogger petergunn said...

thanks for the kind words, if i was smart enough to speak/read french, i would enjoy your blog more!

regardless of my retarded language barrier, it's great to see someone else on the internet talking about quebecois stuff, as opposed to only focusing on french ye ye girls...

June 14, 2007 at 1:27:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Dave Sylvestre said...

"Some Sing Some Dance", "Lovin' You Ain't Easy" and "What the Hell I Got" are three of the greatest singles released anywhere For fans of Pagliaro the great pop-rock songwriter, these are indispensable!

January 24, 2010 at 5:32:00 PM PST  
Blogger petergunn said...

yunno, the more i listen to those 70's Pag records, the more i like em!

January 26, 2010 at 10:01:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Gary said...

Excellent notes, and I must say, having lived in Montreal in my 20's in the 70's and always liking Pag a lot, I never knew much about this earlier period you mention. My knowledge begins with all the great English hits he had including Rainshowers - and they were great - and some of the fine French material of that time including J'entends Frapper, Louise, and the song that covers Riot In Cell Block No. 9 (but also others).

Finally, his late 70's Time Race (English) and the French version, Le Temps Presse are outstanding music, IMO. His band if I recall right included Marty Simon on drums, Busta Jones on bass, Jim Zeller on mouth harp, and I think Billy workman on lead guitar. I saw this band live and they were extremely good. I preferred the title song in French, Temps Presse, which has a harder sound than the English version, more reliant on guitar and less on keyboards.

But I agree 100% he has been the dominant figure in Quebec rock for 40 years although Charlebois ranks up there and "brainy eclectic" expresses him very well, he was a great rocker but also had the kind of intellect I'd associate with people like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, a thinking man's rocker.

February 5, 2015 at 11:23:00 AM PST  
Blogger petergunn said...

Gary, I'm embarrassed how long it took me to read your comment, but thank you, I agree with what you wrote re: Pag and Charlebois being the two dominant forces in Quebec rock and thanks for sharing your memories of seeing the band...

February 21, 2016 at 6:57:00 PM PST  
Blogger petergunn said...

Gary, now i'm embarrassed because I realized you were quoting me... regardless thanks for reading!

February 21, 2016 at 6:59:00 PM PST  

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