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Les Mersey's - Les Mersey's
 

Les Mersey's - Les Mersey's

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Title:  Les Mersey's
Company: DSP International
Catalog: INT-417
Year: 1969
Country/State: Montreal, Canada
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: minor ring wear; small cutout hole bottom right corner

These guys were apparently originally known as The Blue Men and had a repertoire that was heavily influenced Mersybeat; hence the 1964 decision to change the band name to Les Merseys.  

Like most groups, the band (lead guitarist Normand Alepin, rhythm guitarist Francoise Begin, bassist Alain Jodoin and drummer Richard Tate) got their start playing local dances and parties. Having added bassist Georges Marchand to the line-up thereby freeing Jodoin to focus on vocals, their initial break came in 1965 when the Quebec-based Passe-Temps label recruited them as a studio band to provide back-up for other label acts.   They quickly were given a chance to record on their own, releasing a string of seven singles for three labels over the next two years. Among the 14 sides were quite a few Francophile covers of Beatles tracks including ''Je L'ai Perdu Cette Fille' ('You're Gonna Lose That Girl'), 'Soldat De Bois' (With a Little Help From My Friends'), and 'Jolie Rita' ('Lovely Rita').

- 1966's 'Je L'ai Perdu Cette Fille' b/w 'C'est Le Seul Mot Que Tu M'as Dis' (Premiere catalog number PRE 819)
- 1966's 'Personne Ne Peut T'aimer' b/w 'T'en Fait Pas Jacques' (Premiere catalog number PRE 825)
- 1966's 'C'est Jeune' b/w 'Comment Peux Tu Me Quitter' (Teledisc catalog number TD 38)
- 1967's 'Si Tu M'aimes' b/w 'Je Suis Las' (Teledisc catalog number TD 48)
- 1968's 'Soldat De Bois' b/w ''Petite Maman' (DSP catalog number DSP 8607)
- 1968's 'Jolie Rita' b/w 'Ta Mere Ne Sais Pas' (DSP catalog number DSP 8622)
- 1968's 'Viens Plus Pres De Moi' b/w 'Mexico' (DSP catalog number DSP 8631)

In 1969 DCP International finally agreed to release an album. "Les Merseys" was produced by former Les Chancelliers singer/bassist Michel Pagliaro. Offering up a mixture of popular hits (Argent, Beatles) and original material, musically the album wasn't a major change from their earlier catalog, though the inclusion of a couple of English language tracks ('Ticket To Ride' and 'Everytime I See Her') certainly set them apart from much of their Quebec-based competition which refused to sing in English. To be honest, material such as 'Hello', 'the bubble-gummish 'Mickey Le Bandit' and the instrumental 'Gentlemen' was probably too pop and commercial for most garage and psych fans. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable. There's also something fascinating about hearing a well known song such as Johnny Nash's 'Hold Me' redone with French lyrics ('Elles se Moquent de Moi'). Probably due to the fact my French is quite limited, I'll readily admit that the isolated English-lyric tracks like the rocker 'Everytime I See Her' and 'They Would'nt (sic) Let Me In' provided the highlights to my ears. Their slowed down Beatles cover was also pretty cool, while the heavily accented 'Baby You Got Me' offered up a great slice of high energy rock.. 

- Slowed down and given a slinky, organ and fuzz guitar arrangement their cover of 'Ticket To Ride' was surprisingly cool. This is what The Association would have sounded like had they had a great drummer and the desire to record more rock oriented material. rating: **** stars
- Hum, 'Hello' was a country-flavored number made even stranger with the French lyrics. To this day it remains weird every time I hear it. rating: * stars
- 'Everytime I See Her' was a first-rate, garage-tinged rocker that should have given them a major radio hit. With a nifty, jittery organ melody this was easily as good as anything The Monkees and other chart toppers released during that timeframe. rating: **** stars
- Ever heard French bubblegum pop? Well if you haven't I'd suggest checking out 'Mickey Le Bandit'. Imagine Joey Levine singing something in French and you'll have a feel for this one. rating: *** stars
- Falling somewhere in between the soundtrack for a toothpaste commercial something you would have heard played a a Jewish wedding, 'Gentlemen' was one strange instrumental. rating: ** stars
- I've always liked Johnny Nash which made it interesting to hear the Francophile version of 'Stir It Up' which somehow got translated as - 'Elles se Moquent de Moi'. rating: ** stars
- Opening up with some nice Normand Alepin fuzz guitar, 'Baby You Got Me' took a weird turn with a deep throaty vocal that reminded me of Kermit the Frog choking on his own phlegm. rating: ** stars
- Sporting an instantly engaging folk-rock melody that The Byrds would have been happy to appropriate, 'Tu es la Plue Jolie' (which I think translates roughly to 'You're So Beautiful') was probably the album's most commercial offering. rating: **** stars
- You certainly had to give them kudos for having good taste in the covers department. Add to that, covering a Zombies tune took some gumption. While their version of 'She's Not There' didn't stray too far from the original and wasn't about to make your forget the original, it was still fun to hear. rating: *** stars
- The aptly titled 'Intermission' was a short instrumental number - basically skat singing over a background of percussion and acoustic guitars. Pleasant and totally forgettable. rating: ** stars
- A nice acoustic ballad marred a touch by the accented vocal, 'They Would'nt (sic) Let Me In' has always reminded me of an early Al Stewart song. rating: *** stars
- 'Petite Fille' was another pretty acoustic ballad with more than a little Beatles influence in the melody and vocals. Very nice. rating: **** stars
- In spite of the title, the instrumental 'Freak Out' really wasn't that experimental or strange. Sure. compared to the rest of the collection it was hard edged and the last couple of seconds actually had a touch of lysergic influence, but for the most part it was about as freaky as a Booker T. & the M.G.s track. rating: *** stars

Elsewhere the album was tapped for a pair of singles:

- 1968's 'Elle Se Moquent De Moi' b/w 'Tu Es La Plus Jolie' (DSP catalog number DSP 8640)
- 1969's 'Hello' b/w 'Tu es la Plue Jolie' (Action catalog number AN-7201)

"Les Mersey's" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Ticket To Ride (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) -2.) Hello (Francoise Begin - Richard Tate - Alain Jodoin) - 
3.) Everytime I See Her (Alain Jodoin - Richard Tate) - 
4.) Mickey Le Bandit (Alain Jodoin - Richard Tate) - 
5.) Gentlemen (instrumental) (Francoise Begin) - 
6.) Elles se Moquent de Moi (Johnny Nash - Francoise Begin) - 

(side 2)
1.) Baby You Got Me (Alain Jodoin) -
2.) Tu es la Plue Jolie (Kim - Francoise Begin) - 
3.) She's Not There (Rod Argent) - 
4.) Intermission (instrumental) (Les Merseys) - 
5.) They Would'nt (sic) Let Me In (Francoise Begin - Richard Tate - Alain Jodoin) - 
6.) Petite Fille (Francoise Begin - Richard Tate - Alain Jodoin) - 
7.) Freak Out (instrumental) (Normand Alepin - Francoise Begin) - 

With a couple of personnel changes the band continued to record isolated singles through 1970:

- 1969's 'Meme' b/w 'L'amour et la Pax' (DSP catalog number DSP 8669)

At that point the band called it quits with late inning lead singer Louis Saint-Antoine and drummer Tate reappearing as members of La Revolution Francois.
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