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Beau Dommage

Beau Dommage - Beau Dommage

Beau Dommage
Capitol - 1974

Michael Panontin
An offshoot of UQAM* performance art ensemble La Quenouille Bleu, Quebecois folk-rockers Beau Dommage began to take shape when songwriter Pierre Huet and guitarist Michel Rivard were joined by bassist Pierre Bertrand, later adding Robert Leger (keyboards), Marie-Michele Desrosiers (vocals) and Paul Desrosiers (drums). Though quintessential Montrealers - witness the fetching cover photo of a typical streetscape of those charming cheek-by-jowl Plateau walk-ups - Beau Dommage are musically more rural Quebec than Gallic metropolis on their 1974 debut.

Blithe and pastoral, with Michel Rivard's breezy acoustic guitar front and centre, the hugely successfulBeau Dommage mixes traditional Quebecois folk with some country twang and seventies pop-lite. Some tracks, like the opener 'Tous les palmiers' or the syrupy ballad 'Montreal' tread perilously close to yacht rock. Others fare better, like the flute-inflected 'Chinatown', a lilting musical trek through a snowy Montreal , with honey-sweet harmonies that should please fans of Stereolab. The wonderful 'Le Picbois', on the other hand, walks a more rustic road, hinting at the folk musings of Steeleye Span or Fairport Convention.

Beau Dommage would ultimately become a household name in Quebec and, to a lesser extent, in France with the release of four LPs between 1974 and 1977. But by the following year, with solo careers beckoning for Rivard and (Marie-Michele) Desrosiers, the band had split, though they were certainly not above holding the rock star equivalent of a rent party - the reunion tour - reforming several times in the eighties and nineties (followed of course by the resultant live albums, and no doubt other merch).

*L'universite du Quebec a Montreal

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