Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pagliaro: A Second Helping

This post contains a first for this blog: it’s about two songs sung entirely in English. But fear not Quebecois separatists and Francophile fetishists alike, there is good reason. For, despite having devoted two posts to him already, I have decided to do a third post about Michel Pagliaro. After looking at my visitor stats, I have realized that a large number of my visitors are Pag fans and it’s time to give the people what they want.

I am consistently in awe of how many different musical projects Pagliaro was involved in during the late 60’s and early 70’s. From improv freakouts to orchestrated pop music (as well as doing song writing and production for other artists), his name seems to pop up under the strangest circumstances. Thanks to the thorough discography listed over at, it is possible for the casual fan to track down many Pagliaro rarities, providing one has the money and the inclination. However, even the nerdiest trainspotter overlooks things and until I bought this record blindly for 10 cents one summer day (hope you enjoy the crackle), I was not aware of its existence.

I was flipping through records, and noticed Pagliaro's name in the songwriting credits on both sides of a beat up 45 with a pretty groovy looking label. I also saw that longtime Pag producer George Lagios was credited on both sides of the record as well. Sold! confirms that it is indeed a Pag side project, one of his first attempts to break into the English language market.
The B-side,“I Wanna Turn You On”, is my favorite of the two sides. It has a groove similar to “Journey to the Center of Your Mind” by the Amboy Dukes, but with more of a prog-pop feel, (there is some FUNKY FLUTE in the best Ron Burgundy 70’s style all over this track) which makes sense knowing how big progressive rock was in Quebec. The lyrics make it clear that by the time this record was released in 1970, psych was a thing of the past:

We don’t need no hippies, cause we got too much soul

We don’t need no money, cause we got too much sou

I have been taking this as my personal mantra lately, as I neither have money and nor like hippies.

The A-side “We’re Dancing (‘til It Blows Over) has more of a laid back funky groove to it, with drums that are positively in the pocket and vocals that sound a lot like Brad Delp from Boston. This is topped off with a chorus that has some sort of post-Vietnam generation hippie hangover feel to it:

We’re dancing til it blows over, we might dance forever

Taking in mind the whole downer the entire Western world was on at this point culturally, and the particular confusions of FLQ-era Quebec, the head-in-the-sand sentiment of the lyrics has a real poignancy to it. After a worldwide violent and revolutionary period in the late 1960’s, there was an active and almost nihilist desire to somehow escape in early 70’s pop culture (which of course lead to punk, which was a desire to escape FROM early 70’s pop culture…).

I love the entire song BUT the chorus. The whole track has got a great groove, the vocals are nice, but something in the chorus melody is too "AM Gold" for me. It sounds like the soundtrack to Travis Bickle shooting out his TV screen.

And, (allow the pun), there was no second helping from The Second Helping, they disappeared after this single as Pagliaro focused on his rapidly burgeoning solo career. The A-side of this record, “We’re Dancing…”, did appear in French on Pagliaro’s last album for RCA in 1974 as “Viens danser.”

The instrumental track is the same, with the vocals simply redone in French. Surprisingly, the record does not sound dated; if anything it anticipates the type of tight, funky rock that Aerosmith and others would produce throughout the 70’s.

Second Helping- We're Dancing('til It Blows Over)
Second Helping- I Wanna Turn You On