As I’ve written before, La Bottine Souriante has the distinction of being the first Quebec band I ever saw perform live, and I said a great deal about them on this post over here. Most of what I had to say there still stands, with some notable exceptions.
First and foremost, as of this writing, La Bottine’s discography has become available for digital purchase on both iTunes and Amazon’s MP3 store! So if you’re a US fan of Quebec music like me, your chances of finding a La Bottine album have now improved considerably.
Which of course brings me to the question of what album should you get? The answer to that’s going to depend on what era of La Bottine you want to investigate, since they seem to come in four overall eras to their sound. I tend to break La Bottine down into “Yves Lambert era” and “Eric Beaudry era”, both of which have their massive appeal to me.
Yves’ Lambert’s era is classic La Bottine, and saw the rise of their mighty, mighty horn section. M. Lambert’s era also saw such seriously impressive musicians as André Marchand and Michel Bordeleau being in the lineup. This era is well worth your time, and if you want to sample it, I’d highly recommend La Mistrine as a studio album at the height of the band’s power in that era. Or, En spectacle for a marvelous live performance. Especially the opening “Ouverture” track, which features what’s kind of the canonical La Bottine tune–Sheepskin and Beeswax, one of the ones I’m trying to learn. I LOVE how they fire this one up, with the rumble out of the bass, then layering in the feet and the melody, until at last the horns start punching in with syncopated goddamn glory and oh, it’s wonderful.
The Eric Beaudry era kicked in with the album J’ai jamais tant ri, and at least as of that album, La Bottine also had Pierre-Luc Dupuis singing a lot of the lead, as well as André Brunet’s fiddle firepower and occasional lead singing as well. All three of these boys have gone on to form De Temps Antan, of course–so that particular La Bottine album rather sounds like “De Temps Antan plus a horn section”. This is not a bad thing!
If you want to get an idea of what La Bottine sounded like as of that album, check out this YouTube fan vid. It’s somebody’s almost entire vid of a La Bottine concert, in which you get to see Eric, André, and Pierre-Luc all rocking it the HELL up. There’s a jumbotron. There’s crowdsurfing. It’s AWESOME.
Now, I tend to prefer classic La Bottine over current, but that said, Eric Beaudry IS right up at the top of the list of Quebec musicians for whom I want pretty much every note they ever recorded (he’s fighting it out with Olivier Demers for the top spot on that list!). As I’ve also mentioned before, any band with a Beaudry in it gets my immediate and undivided attention. M. Beaudry’s vocals are splendid, and he is an amazing bouzouki player. In fact, musically speaking, he is my current favorite bouzouki player, and I do not say this lightly–as anyone who knows I’ve been fangirling Alan Doyle for the last 13 years knows! So his contributions to La Bottine are not to be underestimated in the slightest.
So if you go with Beaudry-era La Bottine, get their most recent release, Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée. I have a full review of this album right over here. I am madly, madly I tell you, in love with “Au rang d’aimer”. I’m trying to learn that one on the guitar. And yes, it’s one of the tracks M. Beaudry sings lead on. You may now show me your lack of surprise faces, Internets. 😉
Also, I’ll add that if you want to track what happened to other members of La Bottine who are no longer in the band, the aforementioned Yves Lambert is still doing music, and he’s got excellent albums available here. Michel Bordeleau and André Marchand are both now in Les Charbonniers de l’Enfer, deploying their massive vocal talent, and they’re also doing double duty as two of the members of Les Mononcles, where they’re doing instruments as well as vocals.