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6.9.08

Pollen




Pollen - Pollen - 1976 - Kebec Disc Canada

Led by Jacques-Tom Rivest, Pollen were an acclaimed and much sought-after progressive rock band from Quebec.This great band on their only autonomous release, mix strong vocals and rich melodies on various dynamic multi-part compositions which are very well arranged. The virtuoso keyboards, and soaring guitar solos are brilliant.This album ia a great example of mid-seventies progressive rock. The songs are sung in French, adding great character to the symphonic undertones. Reminiscent in parts of early ELP, Harmonium, and Gentle Giant, this album is an overlooked gem of seventies progressive rock.

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

1. Vieux Corps de Vie D'Ange - Jacques Rivest/Roger Magnan/Pollen
2. L'Etoile - Jacques Rivest/Roger Magnan/Pollen
3. L'indien - Jacques Rivest/Roger Magnan/Pollen
4. Tout L'temps - Raoul Duguay/Pollen
5. Vivre La Mort - Jacques Rivest/Roger Magnan/Pollen
6. La Femme Ailee- Jacques Rivest/Roger Magnan/Pollen

BAND

Tom Rivest - vocals, bass, acoustic guitars, keyboards
Sylvain Coutu - drums, vibraphone, percussion
Claude Lemay - keyboards, flute, vibraphone, bass, vocals
Richard Lemoyne - electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, bass

REVIEWS / BAND INFO

Having toured with the likes of Gentle Giant (in 1974) and Caravan (in 1976, the year they released this album), one can say that Pollen was one of Québec's biggest progressive acts in the mid 70s. The band married tight musicianship and dazzling special effects and could be perceived as Québec's most symphonic contribution to the world of prog. This eponymous CD is the only living testament to this line-up under the "Pollen" name and may be the brightest jewel in the Québecois progressive crown. The disc opens with "Vieux Corps De Vie D'ange" which immediately sets the tone for the album. Gobs of analog keys and Rivest's inimitable crooning voice launch into protest mode. The title of the track is in fact a play on words. The expression vieux corps de vidanges is a Québecois slang for "old garbage cans". However, when written as "vieux corps de vie d'anges" it translates literally as " the old bodies of the lives of angels". The track denounces the Catholic religion which ruled Québec with an iron fist in a velvet glove for hundreds of years. It took the quiet revolution (revolution tranquille) of the 60s for the Québecois people to rise above the controlling influence Catholicism had on a very naïve and poorly educated peasant mass. The topic was an especially sore spot throughout the early 70s. Musically, the track offers up a very dramatic mixture of pomp and symph filled with gorgeous keyboard excursions and extremely dramatic vocals from Rivest. "L'Etoile" follows and veers the disc into a mellower, almost Harmonium-like direction. Acoustic guitar and Rivest's crooning relate the tale of a star which lightens the rural winter night sky above a remote Québecois village. The star is in reality a space ship from a more advanced culture which appears to humanity in order to help us veer off our self-destructive path. Yes, the concept sounds cheesy, but the track remains a very interesting piece which demonstrates the band's ability to write a more radio-friendly number ( radio friendly circa 1976, that is..). "L'Indien" is a bittersweet number about urbanization and its cost. The modern world is viewed through the eyes of an old Indian who reminisces about how his people's lives were so different before the white man appeared. This is another ballad which again has a slight Harmonium feel to it ( the Harmonium influence was very strong in bands which followed them as their music was ubiquitous in Québec after the release of Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison). Rivest does manages to put his own stamp on this one and his melancholic crooning and acoustic guitar is achingly poignant throughout the number. "Tout'l Temps" turns the album on its ear. It's a quirky up-tempo number built on a jazz-like drum beat and swirling keyboards. Lyrically, it's an uplifting piece about letting out one's positive energy to share with the world. The band once again shows a penchant for being able to write pop pieces with symphonic flair. The song ends on a particularly high note with some very tasty keyboards. "Vivre La Mort" is one of the disc's best numbers. It has a darker feel to it and lyrically deals with abandoning one's physical shell to embrace the after-life. The musical framework of the piece is built upon some powerful drumming and theatrical keyboard chords as the tracks builds to a crescendo. Halfway through the number we get a taste of Pollen's truly symphonic nature. Guitars and keys coalesce as the song builds up a head of steam before pushing the listener over the top in a fine display of tight musicianship. "La Femme Ailée" closes off the album in grand style. Another track which sings about departure from the physical self, although this one seems a tad more ambiguous than the previous numbers. Musically, this is the disc's epic track. It begins inauspiciously enough with some gentle guitar passages and delicate vocals. Slowly, the track builds in intensity until it explodes in grandiose fashion. The closing 6 minutes of this number showcase Québecois progressive in its finest light. Complex tempo changes and superlative instrumental prowess are the order of the day. Somber church organ cedes to powerful drum fills and moog madness and some excellent lead guitar before returning to the track's main theme and closing off the disc. Musique ProgresSon has added yet another feather in its cap. The re-issuing of this quintessential progressive gem should open the label to more scrutiny by the general progressive rock community. Once again, attention to detail was the order of the day. From the beautifully sounding re-mastering of the music, through the magnificent archived photos and brief band bio, ProgQuébec have given this band and this disc the makeover it deserved. This is truly a classic and one of my favorite all-time prog albums. Highest recommendations! © Yves Dubé, September 6th 2005, The comments are property of their posters, all other content © Sea of Tranquility


Pollen's self-titled debut is for several reasons perhaps the best introduction to Québec's prosperous progressive rock scene of the mid-to late 70's. The most obvious reason is simply because their music will fit the taste to almost anyone into classic 70's symphonic progressive rock. The band were formed four years earlier, and had apparently a quite eventful career already before their debut finally was recorded and released. With the exception of drummer Sylvain Coutu, all the members of the band were obviously multi-instrumentalist who beside their main instruments also handled flute, keyboards and vibes. "Vieux Corps de Vie d'Ange" opens the record with a quite weird theme that wouldn't been out of place on Il Balletto di Bronzo's "Ys", although Pollen's music is far more harmonic and melodic This part doesn't last for long either, as the track quickly transforms into a complex piece that alternates between vocal and instrumental passages before it all starts to build slowly up to a very beautiful and powerful finale with lots of swirling keyboards and bassist Jacques Rivest's emotional vocals. This is for me easily one of the highlights of the record. "Étoile" is tasteful and soft symphonic progressive rock in the vein of classic Premiata Forneria Marconi, although Pollen cleverly avoided sounding like the band they obviously were inspired by. The acoustic and pretty ballad "L'Indien" has some slight similarities to Harmonium, who were another excellent progressive band from Québec. The track is not entirely acoustic either, as it also features a dreamy keyboard passage. The second side seems to be slightly more upbeat, and kicks right off with the short and catchy "Tout l'Temps" that is based around a quite intricate keyboard theme. "Vivre la Mort" starts as an organ-driven progressive rocker that midway transforms into a dramatic instrumental piece. "La Femme Aileé" is with its 10 minutes the longest track on the album. It opens with an acoustic part with some beautiful whistling synths, but picks gradually up pace and ends in the most impressive, intense and complex instrumental section of the entire album. Here the band really showed that they equalled even the best of any other 70's progressive rock group. The band decided to break up later the same year, a fact that should make everybody even happier that they at least got time enough to record this album. © 1996-2007 vintageprog.com


Pollen was a group hailing from Quebec who released a single slab of brilliant, emotional symphonic prog that has served as my introduction to the amazingly rich Canadian scene. The group certainly takes their biggest cue from early Genesis, as well as Ange, though certainly not in a watered down, simplified way at all. This album simply rips. Impeccable musicianship guides the band through distinctive compositions full of layered, intricate themes, gorgeous melodies, soaring atmospheres and everything else a 70s sympho-head like myself craves. Pollen certainly project a haunting, original style with fluid transitions from atmospheric, pastoral beauty and moments of grand, Ange-like fury. The vocalist in particular is less harsh and easier to stomach than Christian DeCamps, and the music is general is more flowing and melodic, with plenty of Hackett-esque guitar work and soaring keyboard melodies reminiscent of Banks. They're not really French technically, but they sound it, similarly evoking Pulsar in their spookier moments. There are really no dud tracks at all on the album, as it maintains a consistent flow of superbly melodic, darkly engaging pieces from beginning to end. "Vieux Corps de Vie D'Ange" is an up-tempo opener, with jaunty rhythmic currents and dramatic vocals. The next two tracks veer more into laid-back, pastoral territory, producing some extraordinarily beautiful melodic themes, and a grand, almost orchestral feel. "Tout L'temps" and "Vivre la Mort" take up the intensity again, and are probably the two finest cuts on the album. Supremely aggressive, enthralling rhythms and melodies coalesce beneath the dramatic and emotional vocal delivery. "Le Femme Ailee" closes out the album in superb form, opening with melancholic, acoustic balladry before building into an active, up-tempo monster with soaring Moog lines that bring to mind the best work of Novalis. Overall, this is impeccable symphonic progressive rock, and should be an extraordinarily easy sell for fans of that genre. © Greg Northrup [July 2001] © 2002, The Giant Progweed


Pollen were a Quebec based progressive rock group which formed in 1972. This is their sole studio recording, released in 1976. The group played a style of symphonic rock closely resembling the French theatrical groups Ange and Mona Lisa, although at times they more influenced by Yes than either of those bands. There also seems to be a little influence from the Italian bands too, although this may be coincidental. Pollen's musicianship was of a high calibre, the standout for me being keyboardist Claude Lemay (who went on to become the musical director for, of all people, Celine Dion). He gives a decidedly "GeniYes" slant to the album by playing arpeggios like Rick Wakeman and solos like Tony Banks. The GeniYes feel is further strengthened by the guitarist, who plays arpeggios like Steve Hacket and solos like Steve Howe. The compositions and arrangements are generally excellent. Although Pollen play a moderately accessible form of rock (by prog standards), they begin with what is probably the most challenging song on the album. "Vieux corps de vie d'ange" starts off with harsh harmonies and a shifting time signature, before settling into something that sounds to me like 11/8 (if I'm counting right) and a standard peaks-and-valleys song structure. It is in the latter that lies Pollen's strength. Being equally competent playing loud, brash music or a quiet, reflective style, they handle the peaks and valleys very well indeed. About the only time they really stutter is about six minutes into the final track, where the music starts to seem more about form than content. Four years worth of experience with the band and musical ideas have been distilled into forty minutes here. This album is a must have for fans of the French theatrical style, being about the same quality as Au-Delá du Délire and Avant Qu'Il Ne Soit Trop Tard, but without the over-the-top vocals (which may or may not be a good thing). review © Conrad Leviston — 5-22-06 © ground and sky 1999-2008


The French-Canadian Pollen was a symphonic progressive band founded in 1972 by singer/bassist Tom Rivest and guitarist Richard Lemoyne. Although they performed throughout 1973 and 1974, Pollen did not cut an album until the end of 1975. Released in 1976, the self-titled debut album was Pollen's only record; the band was still in the process of "making it" and that was not a commercially viable place for a progressive band to be in 1976. Hence, the band dissolved shortly after the release of their only record. The album was reissued for CD with finely remastered sound in 2005 by the ProgQuébec label. I possess scant knowledge of the band beyond this album and what I read in the liner notes. Therefore, I am unable to offer an opinion as to whether Pollen's album is an accurate summation of their performance legacy, or whether it represents a new direction for the band. The music itself is fairly typical symphonic prog for the period: vocals are mixed with instrumental parts and the dominant textures are electric keyboards and acoustic guitars. As a singer, Privest sounds like Greg Lake, which I'm sure contributes to the feel of the band being influenced by ELP. I don't speak French, so I can't comment about the quality of the lyrics. I think that the album is basically a good one. I find nothing here to be earthshattering; however, none of the tracks sound weak to me, either. Like most symphonic prog bands cutting their teeth in 1973 and 1974, Pollen offers little in their sound or style that could be described as new or novel. Nevertheless, they do a pretty good job with the materials that they use. Like fellow second-generation symphonic bands that were popping up all over Italy at the time, Pollen's sources seem to have been the usual UK names; in Pollen's case, Genesis and Gentle Giant appear to be the primary sources, with ELP and Yes fulfilling secondary roles. The album has two longish pieces and although I think that both are decent (especially the album's finale, "La femme ailee,") I'm more impressed by the shorter tunes. "L'etoile" may be heavily influenced by Genesis but it's still quite effective, the 12-string textured beginning parts contrasting well with the Tony Banks-like synthesizer passages introduced toward the end. "Tout'l Temps" is the shortest song on the album but its energy and strong melodic content make it the most memorable of the bunch for me. Its use of counterpoint suggests a Gentle Giant influence (Pollen did tour with Gentle Giant in 1974, according to the liner notes). "Vivre la mort" is more melodramatic, but it also does a fine job of packing its attributes into a relatively compact five-and-a-half minutes. All in all, I think that fans of symphonic prog will want to track this album down, especially those who don't mind the electric guitar being given a fairly small role in the music. Fans of Italian symphonic bands PFM and Banco should especially take note. Standard disclaimer: ProgQuébec's Sean McFee is also a reviewer at Ground & Sky. review © Matt P. — 12-7-05 © ground and sky 1999-2008

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

You know I'm a sucker for bands that are compared to Gentle Giant(LOL)!
I mean any band that pull off that type of sound has to have something special to offer, right?
Gonna give this try. Thank you! (for everything else too A.O.O.F.C.!)

-->D.Moose

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi, -->D.Moose! Let me know what you think of album. I may be comparing too many bands to GG, when in reality no band can "hold a match" to them!

Anonymous said...

Hello again, A.O.O.F.C.!

Also got around to hearing this....the verdict? well, it's French alright (LOL!) but kidding aside, it's real not that bad! It does lean heavy in the Genesis/Ange sound, with thin slices of Yes/Gentle Giant/ELP in the mix. Very good instrumentation, and the songs are well rounded. They managed to keep it fresh & original too. Just glad I don't understand French: If the Sea of Tranquility review about the storyline is true, it sounds pretty goofy (but then again, IT IS FRENCH! ^_^)

Thanks again for the great share my friend; Looking forward to what's in store next!

-->D.Moose

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,-->D.Moose. Viva La France! In fact, viva any kind of music, as long as it's got some merit. I'm glad you found something worthwhile in album!...Cheers, & TTU soon

Lawrence said...

Thanks...

A.O.O.F.C said...

Thanks, Lawrence. You're welcome

Anonymous said...

link is dead, will you re-post it please, thank you very much

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Anonymous. I haven't got original album to upload again, but you can find same album @
http://phrockblog3.
blogspot.com/2009
/03/by-request-
pollen-pollen-
1976-canada.html
All credit to that blog, and thank you for request

shadesofindigo said...

sadly phrockblog is completely shut down.. and this would have played well on my mostly canadian youtube channel.. If you can't find it I will have to search for it... oh and I am surprised I have not run into any Powderblues band.. I don't know if you mind zips but i hear are what I have of theirs uploaded to rapid.
https://rapidshare.com/files/459356759/Powder_Blues_-_Lets_Get_Loose_320kps.zip

https://rapidshare.com/files/459359557/Powder_Blues_Band_-_Blues_Jazz__Blazz__320kps.zip

https://rapidshare.com/files/459373688/Powder_Blues_Band_-_Swingin__the_Blues__320kps.zip

https://rapidshare.com/files/459377079/Powder_Blues_Band_-Thirsty_Ears__320kps.zip

https://rapidshare.com/files/459379544/Powder_blues_band_-_First_Decade-Greatest_Hits.zip

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,Thomas. Great links which will be of interest to many people including me! Thanks a million!
Try http://rapidshare.
com/files/
279188857/Pollen__
Reissue__1976.
rar

& TVM to the original uploader. Cheers,Thomas! Catch you later...P