In 1991, French prog band Eclat released their debut album Eclat De Vers. Their music was strongly influenced by Ange, one of the few well-known French progressive rock bands at the time. On their second and third album, you could still hear those influences, but with the release of Le Cri De La Terre (2002), the music moved to a musical style that we can file under jazz rock or fusion. However, the music is still enjoyable for everyone who likes progressive rock.
In 2003, I saw Eclat perform at the Progfarm Festival in The Netherlands. During this wonderful concert, the band had a saxophonist in their line-up, but to my surprise, he no longer participated as a band member during the recordings of their second live album Live Au Roucas. Well, to be honest I didn’t miss him at all. The musical style on this rather short album is about the same as on their latest studio album. We hear a couple of new songs though, but also songs taken from Le Cri De La Terre were on the set list. The opening track is Sawaka Song, one of the new pieces. It´ s a fine tune influenced by African rhythms and featuring a beautiful guitar solo by Alain Chiarazzo. The second song is new as well. Le Machine is up-tempo with some jazzy piano playing by Thierry Massé alongside another outstanding guitar solo. The next four tracks were all taken from the latest studio album. The mellow piece Mr Z contains music that could have been on any album made by Focus or Camel due to the Chiarazzo’s guitar sound. On the same track, you can also enjoy fine bass playing by Fred Schneider. The new and mellow track Toujours Courir sou nds as a Camel or Focus-song too. After a while, the piano takes over and the music moves in the direction of a jazz rock tune. Drummer Marco Fabri gets a solo spot on this track as well, followed by a great synthesizer solo. Then a sort of reggae rhythm takes over before Fred Schneider shows his talents on the bass for the second time.
However, the highlight on this album is Eclat’s classic song Circus, a definite choice on the set list of every Eclat concert. I like this track from their second album Eclat II very much. It’s the only track with vocals done by Jean-Marc Négre. Circus starts as a real circus tune, but as soon as Chiarazzo starts his amazing guitar solo, you know why I consider this song to be a highlight. Every time I hear this solo, I have to think of other great guitar solos like for instance the one Dave Gilmour played in Comfortably Numb. I wish I could have been one of the visitors on September 14 at the La Maison De Quartier in Roucas to witness this fantastic Eclat-concert!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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