Rock and Roll Postcards from France – Record Reviews by Gérard

It has been awhile since I have featured some record reviews from the Rock and Roll Report’s “European Rock Correspondent” Gérard Girard while the site was sputtering along over the last few months but now that things are running back to normal and he is back with some of his always informative record reviews that will certainly help guide you to rock and roll nirvanna. Today he reviews the latest releases from The Maharajas, Fugu and Steven Mark. Tomorrow he will review Tody Castillo, Bill Ricchini and The Daylight Titans.

THE MAHARAJAS “A Third Opinion” (Low Impact Records)

A_third_opinion 3e album pour ce quatuor suédois et confirmation qu’ils sont les gardiens de la flamme concernant les 60s proto garage rock. Des compositions brillantes et percutantes avec une entrée en matière étincelante (“i’m cracking up“) et au total 14 titres incontournables. Les Maharajas évitent facilement l’écueil du revivalisme un peu aigre de pas mal de combos qui évoluent dans ce domaine musical. C’est probablement la grande force de “a third opinion” qui fait chauffer ma platine cd depuis plusieurs semaines. Grand, très grand album.

Third album for this Swedish foursome and this album all but confirms that they are the guardians of ‘60s proto-garage rock. With brilliant and hard hitting songs and material like I’m Cracking Up (click for the MP3) that just sparkles there are a total of 14 songs that are impossible to ignore. The Maharajas easily avoid the tendency to be mere copy-cats unlike some bands that play in this genre. It is the sonic power of “A Third Opinion” which is the reason that this CD hasn’t left my player in many weeks. A great, great record.

FUGU “As Found” (Third Side Records)

As_found Une véritable joie pour moi de vous présenter le deuxième album magnifique de Mehdi Zannad aka Fugu, véritable pépite Pop de cette fin d’année 2005. Magnifiquement épaulé par Tahiti 80, Mehdi nous propose un véritable feu d’artifice de mélodies franches, de refrains accrocheurs et de ponts lumineux. De ces albums qui donnent encore leurs lettres de noblesse à cette Pop magnifiée dans les 60s grâce à Brian Wilson et Lennon Mc Cartney. De l’ouvrage artisanal dont on a bien besoin dans cette période morose et froide. On ne peut que remercier chaleureusement Mehdi pour ce lustrage impeccable de la lettre “p”. Cocorico!!! Magnifique.

It is a total joy for me to present to you the second magnificent album from Mehdi Zannad aka Fugu and the veritibale pop nugget that he produced at the end of 2005. Magnificently produced by Tahiti 80, Mehdi produces a veritable fireworks of fresh melodies, refrains with hooks galore and luminous bridges throughout. It is one of those albums that pays a gifted tribute to ‘60s pop luminaries like Brian Wilson and Lennon and McCartney. It is this kind of artistic craftsmanship that we need in this cold and morose age. We can only generously thank Mehdi for returning the luster back to Pop. Cocorico!!! Magnificent.

Steven MARK “Aloneaphobe” Basset Records (www.stevenmarkmusic.com)

Aloneaphobe la galerie des héros de Steven Mark est classique mais de bon ton : Lennon, Dylan, Townshend, Morrison. On est bien au rayon des songwriters avec le deuxième album de ce new yorkais. Une voix suave et apaisante avec une pointe de mélancolie qui illlumine 14 titres sans faiblesse. On peut citer Elliot Smith mais aussi James Taylor pour la douceur des mélodies et des harmonies vocales. Aloneaphobe fait partie de ces albums qu’on écoute dans leur intégralité comme un bon bouquin ou un alcool rare, avec délectation.

The list of heros of Steven Mark are classic but songwriting giants: Lennon, Dylan, Townsend, Morrison. We get a nice effect from the influence of these songwriters on the second album of this New Yorker. With a suave and illuminating voice that adds a touch of melancholy to these 14 songs yet this only makes them stronger. You can hear perhaps the influence of Elliot Smith but also perhaps James Taylor in the gentle melodies and vocal harmonies throughout this CD. Aloneaphobe is one of those albums that we listen to that is to be savoured from beginning to end much like a good book or a fine bottle of expensive wine, with delight.