“Le Grand Rouge”, the album that made me love … the bourrée

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Return to the land, political ecology, regionalist movements: one of the effects of May 68 was to push a generation to come to terms with the countryside. It is on this soil that the folk revival is born. From Paris, in 1969, with the folk club Le Bourdon; from Lyon, with La Chanterelle, created in 1972, bands of apprentice musicologists began to survey the villages, collecting the dances and songs that oral tradition still conveys as best they could.

The wind is blowing from the United States, Brittany has taken the leadership, Alan Stivell is already a star and, in 1973, Gabriel Yacoub, who has accompanied him for two years on the guitar, gathered a band of musicians (including the violinist by Stivell, René Wermeer, and his other guitarist, Daniel Le Bras who will become Dan Ar Bras) for a major record: musical preamble of the future Malicorne, Pierre of Grenoble indeed makes the link between traditional music and the sounds of rock. Malicorne: nine albums, 2 million copies sold. Folk within the reach of the masses.

In Lyon, in the first row of La Chanterelle (created by Jean Blanchard who runs it with his group, La Bamboche), we find the same fifteen people every Tuesday evening. Here, it’s a different story, we don’t give a damn about arrangements, flourishes, folk (we don’t yet say, like today, “traditional music”) is first and foremost a political act, a mode of action. which goes through balls, meetings, violin making, the fact of seizing popular instruments in the process of disappearing: the hurdy-gurdy, the cabrette, the Vosges spruce … So inevitably, ends up forming a group that takes the name of an old Berry: Le Grand Rouge.

On the front lines of struggles

« I made love to a brunette / It remains to be seen if I will have it / Yes I will have it whatever it costs me / Although her parents don’t disgust me / Long live the wine, long live love. ” At the beginning, there are fifteen, then eight, and finally four, who end up signing an album in 1976 with no other title than their name. Mazurka, polka, stuffed with simple arrangements, and songs from companions of the Tour de France, prisoners or lovers, without frills.

Libertarians, the four Lyonnais play in militant parties, on the battle front, against the Creys-Malville nuclear power station (Isère), when Malicorne is on television: the antithesis. Not that they hate each other (the Grand Rouge’s second album, in 1979, Cross country, will be published on Hexagone, Malicorne’s label), it’s just the other side of folk, the other bet, less paying – they will sell less than 10,000 albums – but quickly cult. At the time, Claude Villers regularly played their songs on his program “Marche ou rêve”, on France Inter.

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