Ange - 1986 Egna

Lee South AfricaLee South Africa South Africa
edited August 2 in year-1986


LABEL: Trema
SERIAL: 310 256
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 1990, Trema, 710 256 (CD)


LINEUP: Christian Decamps - lead vocals, pianos * Francis Decamps - keyboards, backing vocals * Serge Cuenot - guitar * Laurent Sigrist - bass * Francis Meyer - drums, percussion

Guests: Martine Kesselburg - female vocals * Bernard Torelli - programming

TRACK LISTING: 01 C'est Après Coup Que Ça Fait Mal * 02 Fais Pas La Gueule * 03 Revoir Les Sorcières De Salem * 04 Les Dessins Animès * 05 Coeur De Paille Couer De Pierre * 06 Le Dernier Romantique * 07 Le Cul Qui Jazze * 08 Tout Comme Dans Un Livre


At the end of my last Ange review, I hinted at reviewing the follow up album ('Fou') next time out. Well, that one proved very elusive to get hold of, not helped by one of those sites who claimed 'we do not ship to South Africa' ... hmm, not great especially after my card details were given and I was under the assumption it was in the post. Still, it remains on my shopping list.

Meanwhile, one copy of this 1986 gem suddenly appeared for sale on discogs, so the deal was done and it undertook a long trip from Norway to Johannesburg. I confess I purchased without hearing a bar of music, simply on faith due to the excellence of 1983's 'La Gare De Troyes' record.

'Egna' was the follow up to the elusive 'Fou' album, following hot on it's heels the year after. Concrete information on Ange's 80's fortunes are not forthcoming but concert attendances and tours all over Europe confirm their legendary status continued through the decade.

A look into the prog sites will reveal that, like so many other bands, the shift to AOR in the 80's is much hated and plenty of one star ratings abound. To an AOR fanatic, this can be deciphered as a promising sign in most cases.

'Egna' received the lowest average rating of all Ange discs on a certain flagship prog site, which got my AOR blood racing in anticipation.

The Songs

A whirlwind of hi tech greets the listener on opening track 'C'est Après Coup Que Ça Fait Mal', almost like a polyrhythm balanced precariously on the back of a running giraffe. The hook, however, is pure AOR and repeats through most of the song. No sign of electric guitar until after a brief slinky jazz interlude, at which point the tempo starts to make more percussive sense in an AOR context and the moment Serge Cuenot's guitar comes in, the planets align for one of those perfect AOR moments. After a confusing start, typical French flair and all, the end result is very convincing hi tech AOR that screams 1986. Possibly a little like Cheap Trick's misunderstood hi tech bits on their 'Doctor' album.

'Fais Pas La Gueule' is less frenetic, more concerned with flowing melodiy of an almost ethereal nature. Ange uses a beloved AOR rhythm device here, shifting the rhythm back and forth between half tempo and midtempo simply by the subtle change in power on the snare beat and more or less prominent bass. There are moments of real AOR power on display, the interplay between the hovering vocals and synth touches on the chorus teleporting Saga into the comparison chamber again. The intensity increases markedly toward song's end, getting the listener quite fired up while never letting the train veer off the tracks. French roasted AOR coffee, can I please have some more?

'Revoir Les Sorcières De Salem' ensures there is plenty more, that opening hook sounding like chiming bells, some drama building through the verses until the dam wall breaks for a heavenly AOR chorus - all surging Lukather fuelled guitars, power drumming and a classy vocal attack. An opening triple threat I have come to cherish in the last weeks, great beginning to the album.

Next up it's ballad time as 'Les Dessins Animès' winds the momentum right down, nothing truly remarkable but enough class on offer for a pass mark.

'Coeur De Paille Couer De Pierre' is more to my liking, another ballad but some power and intent working into the song structure, another strong melody and a chorus easy on the ear in that 80's Styx kind of setting.

'Le Dernier Romantique' is quite the guitar injected rocker, insistent midtempo AOR with a strong hook in place, cheeky synth touches sketching in those hard to reach corners for that Eloy meets Omega experience. I especially enjoyed how the chorus thickens up for extra power as the track heads for the runway, great use of AOR contrast seeming to be a theme running through the Ange approach. Classy stuff to be sure.

'Le Cul Qui Jazze' inhabits a space all it's own. Blasting off with spoken word and all manner of strange sound effects, a two minute pomp rock extravaganza follows, rich synth hooks and churning, buzzing guitar support to rival the best of what BJH gave us in the 80's. At this point a complete left turn sees an Aerosmith styled fierce boogie workout ensue, sprinkled with jazz interludes here and there, rough house vocals from Decamps and more than enough melody factor. This is pretty intoxicating and has become one of my most played tracks in recent times.

Closing track 'Tout Comme Dans Un Livre' delivers a majestic ending, a ballad that sees Ange fuse a symphony of guitar power with dreamy, almost hovering vocal arrangements. As we established earlier, Ange tracks tend to get more powerful in the second half (unlike the Springboks). This one is no exception, soaring over AOR terrain the longer it goes on. Best served with French Roast.

In Summary

It wasn't that long ago I was convinced that only music from North America and the UK was of much importance in the realm of 70's and 80's AOR.

It's been very rewarding to find that AOR is truly international, and has delivered legendary bands from less heralded territories, sometimes working in languages other than English.

It took Bow Wow, Omega, FSB, Dragon, and Ange etc, for broadening my compass and enriching my collection. Never forgetting Eric, who has championed such music for a while now, long may it continue.

Back to 'Egna', only eight tracks but so much class, unending hooks and AOR choruses that get into your bloodstream. It's not easy to find on hard copy, but worth the search for the more adventurous AOR fan. Hell, make that any AOR fan.

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