Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cano - 1976 - Tous Dans L'Meme Bateau

Tous Dans L'Meme Bateau

01. Viens nous voir (8:37)
02. Dimanche après-midi (3:40)
03. Pluie estivale (2:51)
04. Le vieux Médéric (3:00)
05. Les rues d'Ottawa (3:45)
06. En plein hiver (9:25)
07. Chanson pour Suzie (1:00)
08. Baie St. Marie (9:12)

- Marcel Aymar / voice, acoustic guitar,Turkish cymbals
- David C. Burt / electric guitars, harmonica
- Michel Dasti / drums, percussion
- John Doerr / bass, synthesizer, trombone, electric piano
- Michel Kendel / grand piano, bass, electric piano
- Wasyl Kohut / violin, mandolin & Seagulls
- Rachel Paiement / voice, acoustic guitar, percussion
- André Paiement / voice, acoustic guitar

Guest musicians:
- Merv Doerr / trombone
- Nick Ayouh / clarinet
- Jimmy Tanaka / congas
- Luc Cousineau / percussion

This French-Canadian group (but not Quebecois), is from the Northern-Ontario province where almost half the population is francophone. CANO stands for Cooperative Artistes du Nouvel Ontario and they were based in the city of Sudbury. Formed as far back as 71, and from an ideal semi-hippy-pastoral commune and developing into theater, poetry, writers, and a whole bunch of artisans/craftsmen and a 320 acres Buffalo ranch. This commune attracted people from all over Northern Ontario, Quebec, Acadians from Eastern Canada. One of the branches became the musical group, and recorded in late 75 their debut album after being together for over three years.
Their music exemplifies best the Northern Canadian Pioneering spirit, and lyrically, the songs often make reference to the harsh condition they and their ancestor endured: the voyageurs, the portage from one lake to another, the fur-trading, the wars between the colonizing powers, the life with the Indians etc.. An octet, their music sounds like a folkier and more challenging Renaissance (Haslam-era), but they have clearly their own sound too. Their albums are a mix of mainly acoustic (but hardly excusively so) rock with some powerful atmospheres, and the first two albums are essential listening to Canadian folk rock. Their albums became increasingly electric and more "commercial" and they eventually folded by the mid-80's after some six albums. Their first three albums have been re-issued on CD a few years back and should still be available.
An interesting anecdote is that the Franco-Ontarians have yet another group, Nathan Mahl, but they chose not to sing in their native French: another proof of Ontario losing its roots.

Debut album from this combo emanating from a communal art association in Northern Ontario, and quite a pleasant surprise for the proghead looking for progressive folk music. Heavily laced with the rude weather and rough wildlife mixed with a superbly generous hippydom, Cano's music shines in this writer's memories of a happy "teendom". Memories of campfire with girls (and condoms;-), beers (and doobies;-) and guitars (and bongos;-) on a lakeside beach (called Creemore Dirtywater Upheaval;-) with the stereo blasting Harmonium or Rush certainly, but also of Cano. The album came with a superb artwork evocating the old Pioneering days with Fur traders, Canoes and portages, which represent one facet on CANO.

Cano's music certainly reflects the calm pastoral life of the mid-Northern Ontario, where French and English speakers lived alongside with few problems (in later albums Cano will also sing tracks in English), but as mentioned above, the rough conditions. Apart of the stunning 8-min opener (Viens Nous Voir inviting you to jump in their wonderful world), most of the first side is relatively short folk rock (trad folk as main inspiration but with a clear Acadian flavor) tracks, depicting crazy old fools (Mederic - a jig), to boring Sunday Afternoons and getting lost in the big cities (Rues D'Ottawa). The piano playing is sometimes reminding me of the one in Skynyrd's Freebird.

The second side of the album was made of two lengthy stunners with a short interlude separating them. En Plein Hiver, depicting the winter "blah" (Ontarians will appreciate) with this especially beautiful spirit that Harmonium managed on their debut and the Cinquième Saison. As will be usual, Cano start slowly and calmly, taking their time in building a sweet but implacable crescendo, to culminate superbly, and then ending in a short recap of the intro. In some way, if people asked how rush could make so much "noise" being just a trio, one of the most intriguing antithesis of that is how could an octet such as Cano be so delicate? The closing Baie St-Marie (written by Marcel Aymar who also had done the opening salvo) is probably a better tourist postcard than any possible picture could probably: as cymbals, seagulls, creaking wooden boats will gradually lead into an acoustic strumming guitar doubled by an electric piano, bongos, a swinging funky electric guitar, then drums and a superb violin (remember this was an octet), the track is now into a delightful groove with Kohut's violin twirling, swirling, twiddling, circling, flying from one ear to the other. Believe me, you'll want to visit the place that inspired such a great musical moment. In the middle section, the track slows back down to allow a sleepy trumpet answers the seagulls and the dramatic violin underlining the sea-lost father (Acadian hardships are never really far away from the superb lyrics) and a solemn end.

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