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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Johnny Hallyday

Live at Montreux 1988

Review by Gary Hill

We as Americans can be pretty arrogant when it comes to music. It’s hard for us to imagine any kind of a pop or rock star outside of our own little musical world. Well, Johnny Hallyday is one such person. In his native France the man is a rock idol. After listening to this live CD from 1988 I can see why. He’s every bit as talented – in fact, some would argue more talented – as any number of rock stars more familiar to those stateside. His music is more diverse than a lot of rockers, moving from old school rock and roll to near progressive rock. It’s all delivered with a power and a passion that makes it great. While most of the lyrics are in French (including reworkings of a couple of Bob Seger tunes) you probably won’t feel like you are missing out if you don’t speak the language. I know I don’t and I didn’t.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Mon P'Tit Loup
This is a great fast paced old school rocker. I can’t imagine a better way to start this off. It’s a French take on a Bob Seger classic.
Laura
Hallyday and company drop it back for this balladic number. In the wrong hands or in a bad spot on an album this cut would fall flat on its face. Here, though, it works very well, coming across and a powerfully evocative piece of music.
Que Je T'Aime
With a bit of prog rock type texture, this is a powerful and very dramatic piece of music. While the first two were both strong, this one soars out of the stratosphere. Both the music and the vocals lend a lot of emotion and magic to this track.
Je Te Promets
The audience sings along on this balladic piece. It’s a good number, but pales in comparison to the powerhouse that preceded it. Still, when it gets infused with a bit more oomph later it works much better.
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
Another cover, this one feels a lot like the opener. It’s another frantic old school rock and roller and a killer track. The guitar solo on this is particularly tasty, as is the sax solo. The lyrics here are left in their original English.
Envie
This comes in feeling almost metallic. It’s built into an awesome dramatic rocker that has definite progressive rock leanings to it.  A couple sections late in the track feel just about pure prog.
Le Bon Temps Du Rock & Roll
Here we get more Bob Seger in the form of this French translation of “Old Time Rock and Roll.” It’s another scorching jam.
Gabrielle
This one feels a bit like something the Blues Brothers might have done. It’s a high energy rocker that’s lots of fun.

Toute La Musique Que J'aime
Here we get a slower, bluesy jam that’s quite cool. It’s a nine minute tour de force that has some killer guitar work.

Quelque Chose de Tennessee
This is a pretty and evocative ballad. I wouldn’t normally recommend ending an album (or a concert) with something this contemplative, but for some reason it works quite well here. In fact, I couldn’t imagine a better parting tune for this release.
 
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