Tous dans l'meme Bateau
(A&M, 1976)

The French-speaking population of Ontario, Canada, has always struggled to survive. In the 1970s it faced double jeopardy as Quebec appeared poised for independence. With Quebec asserting itself culturally, a group of Franco-Ontarians decided to develop their own distinct identity.

In Sudbury, a bilingual hard-rock mining town four hours north of Toronto, young people started doing theatre and music in French. The group CANO (short for Cooperative des Artistes de Nouvel-Ontario) eventually recorded a series of albums, of which this was the first.

Tous Dans l'Meme Bateau was a folk-pop effort all about Franco-Ontarian identity. A strong debut, its eight songs were presented in a variety of styles. Rachel Paiement, with her crystal-clear voice, takes the lead on three. Her brother Andre Paiement also sings, as does Marcel Aymar.

Unfortunately, the band fell victim to the '70s penchant for nine-minute songs, particularly Aymar. Both "Baie Sainte Marie" and "Viens Nous Voir" would have been amply fleshed out after five minutes. The same can be said for Andre Paiement's "En Plein Hiver."

Otherwise the songs are crisp and neat, with jazzy hints, particularly Rachel's lovely treatment of the Suzie Beauchemin tunes: the evocative "Les Rues d'Ottawa" and the country-ish "Pluie Estivale." Andre's "Le Vieux Mederic" is perhaps the strongest piece overall; its soaring lead guitar stands in contrast to the song's main character's bafflement at the modern age.

While a few arrangements now sound dated, Rachel Paiement's voice, Wasyl Kohut's violin and David C. Burt's electric guitar stand out, as does Andre's lyric writing. The record promised more good things to come, and more was delivered on their superb follow-up, Au Nord de Notre Vie , released in 1977.

Unfortunately, the tragic early death of two key members, Andre Paiement in 1978 and Wasyl Kohut in 1980, ultimately ended a promising run for this band, after a dubious later venture into English-language commercial pop.

- Rambles
written by David Cox
published 7 May 2005

[ hit CANO's website ]

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