Sunday, September 5, 2010

Laughter and Sorrow

I recently got back from a couple weeks north of the border, including a fun filled frolic at scenic downtown Niagara Falls:

While up there I had the chance to record a couple radio shows with Simon from Psyquebelique and Seb from Patrimoine PQ. You can hear them both at my Viva-Radio archives. Sometimes you need to click on the page twice to see the list of old shows. Viva is a little glitchy, truth be told.

(top secert stuff with Simon)
(Doing the Sepra-twist w/ Seb)

While recording Seb's show in his wonderful swinging pad of records and vintage gear and knick-knacks, I brought up the record at the top of this post, figuring it was certainly old hat to a psych nut like him. To my surprise, he didn't know it, so I figured it was worth blogging about.

Unlike the vaguely effete pop music I have been writing about lately, this track is definitely pure rock n roll. It's a strange sort of record; a fuzzy, tribal build up with vaguely soulful screeching vocals. It's divided into two parts, a simple fade in/out slice that doesn't really help the record out much. However, good luck finding two copies in order to make a seamless live mix (ALTHOUGH I HAVE HEARD THAT THERE IS THIS PROGRAM CALLED SERATO WHERE ONE COULD DOWNLOAD THE MP3 FILES BELOW AND MIX THEM LIVE AS IF THEY WERE RECORDS AND IT WOULD BE AS IF ONE DID HAVE TWO COPIES OF SELF SAME RECORD!).

This song was definitely made to be listened to in one go, not as separate parts 1 and 2. That said, I prefer part 2 (What's up with those James Brown records that are labeled Pt 15 and 16? Also, what's up with those Rufus Thomas records where Pt 2 is NOT a continuation of Pt 1, but a different take of the same song? Really.). The fact that this song was issued as a 45 is funny in and of itself. Songs like this are albums cuts, pure and simple. In this context, 45's, with their self contained 3 minute blocks of sounds seem like greasy kids stuff; the relics of a bygone era before Progressive FM.

I am guessing that Pax, not being a humongous label, didn't want to take a chance on a LP by an unknown (?) act. Pax was primarily a 45 label, so perhaps they wanted to stick to want they knew. Or maybe Laughter and Sorrow were like the early Stooges and only had one song.

The song itself is basically just one big buildup. No chord changes, no chorus, no bridge. Just a one chord vamp. In fact, it doesn't even sound like a song at all until about 2 minutes in. And by the time Pt 1 really gets going, it's time to flip the record over.

Pt. 2 actually features vocals, and the singer sounds a bit like a young Bob Seger. He has a nice white soul voice, although you can't really understand what he's saying, outside of faux-gospel shouts of "Give us a sign" and "Liberation!," which sort of get enveloped in the nasty wah-wah freakout going on over in the guitar player's area.

So, I am a big fan. But, I know nothing about the group. I can assume they are anglophones from Montreal, but this just an assumption. Anyone with any info on this group out there? I'm all ears.

Laughter and Sorrow- Liberation pt 1

Laughter and Sorrow- Liberation pt 2


Blogger S.ébastien said...

I dig those PAX singles, man! And I specialy liked that one when you introduced me to it last summer. I still have so much to learn about english Quebec bands!

I wonder who was behind such a freaked-out single...

November 9, 2010 at 3:35:00 PM PST  
Blogger S.ébastien said...

Dig this, Peter. Around 1970, Pax did have enough dough to print some LP's (Paul Lauzon, Kiowarini, Charlotte & Hervé) but relied mainly on only a couple of obscure 45 singles (Jay of Les Sinners, Roger Rodier, Denis Pantis, Pagliaro, Eric). Speaking of Pantis, I always tought that he was behind this mysterious label (most artists were already protgés of him), but I found out recently in a 1968 Disque-Ton magazine that Quebec city band Les Vant'Zell (close to Les Sinners; no single to my knowledge) initiated the label the same year.

Pax stopped the presses around 1972.. until coming back to life in 1978 with a new funky-disco-humoristic perspective. Most of the acts were now loussely based on Tele-Metropole (now TVA) TV station staple of stars. There you go...; )

November 9, 2010 at 5:03:00 PM PST  
Blogger petergunn said...


November 30, 2010 at 1:12:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like some of sam roberts track on chemical city when the entire band use to have beard.

January 27, 2011 at 6:03:00 PM PST  
Blogger S.ébastien said...

Get this, Peter! I found an 1972 article about Laughter & Sorrow and they talk about their new single on HIPPOPOTAMUS and plans for an LP. They name different tracks so I guess there's another 45 for us to hunt.

I even got a picture! ; )

May 12, 2011 at 8:40:00 AM PDT  
Blogger petergunn said...

ooh, i gotta see that!

i wonder if this 45 ever came out? or the LP?

May 31, 2011 at 12:04:00 PM PDT  
Blogger S.ébastien said...

Not to my knowledge... but who knows!?!! ; )

May 31, 2011 at 12:15:00 PM PDT  

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