Lovin' You Ain't Easy / She Moves Light - 7"
Much - 1971
"At one time, it was believed that Michel Pagliaro would become an international rock star," Quebec journalist Helene de Billy once wrote. "Then he disappeared, long enough to become a true artist."
The man Bomp magazine once called "the uncrowned king of Canadian rock and roll" got his start very early in life. "I was kind of a lonely kid," Pagliaro would tell blogger BJ Kahuna. "My father bought me a guitar, so I started playing on my balcony [in Montreal]. And then I started hanging around with these kids and then sooner or later we started doing these Saturday night dances."
Pag, as he was often called in Quebec, started sawing against the grain almost from the get-go. By eighteen, he had joined Les Chanceliers, a local combo known mostly for lame cover versions, en francais, of the latest American and British hits. But rather than churn out the usual mush, he lent them his scorching 'La generation d'aujourd'hui' , which Les Chanceliers wisely included as the backside of their first single together and which in hindsight was easily the best thing the group ever recorded.
By 1970, Pagliaro had that rebel image down pat, sporting a look of wavy shoulder-length locks and aviator sunglasses. But the Quebec pop scene can sometimes be a bit of a straitjacket. So with one eye on the lucrative anglo market outside Quebec, he hooked up with radio powerhouse CHUM, who had recently launched their own Much label in an attempt to cash in on the newly crafted CanCon regulations.
His opening salvo, a bluesy, organ-tinged number called 'Give Us One More Chance', managed to elbow its way into the top-30 in Toronto in late 1970. But it was his next song a year later that would blow things wide open for Pagliaro. 'Lovin' You Ain't Easy' used an entirely different approach, taking a page out of the power pop songbook with simple, crisp guitars, post-Beatle hooks and glistening harmonies. That style had certainly proved popular enough up here in Canuckistan; Badfinger had already reached the top-ten with it and the Raspberries would do the same the following year.
'Lovin' You Ain't Easy' spent nearly two months up in the CHUM-AM charts, reaching an impressive #9 the week of Dec. 4, 1971. What's more, the disc also sold well across the pond, with copies pressed up in the UK, Norway, Spain, France and even Portugal. Strangely, though, its American issue on Pye tanked. In fact, the U.S. market would prove to be eerily elusive for Pagliaro, who admits to never having played a single concert there in his entire career.
And though Pag would tweak the charts outside Quebec a few more times, the last with 'What the Hell I Got' in 1975, he did indeed ultimately disappear from the pop world. As for Pagliaro the true artist part, writer Jymn Parrett had this to say about a concert of his: "Even without the trademark sunglasses, Michel Pagliaro remains inaccessible. Black stud leathers compete with disdainful sneer. Slithering, pounding, almost never smiling, Pagliaro the lizard king du monde onstage delivers state-of-the-art rock and roll without nice-guy pretensions."