Gabriel et Marie Yacoub - Pierre de Grenoble (1973)

A first glance at the rich and highly valuable discography of Gabriel Yacoub and his band Malicorne (a personal favourite of mine), arguably the most important group in the French folk revival of the 1970s. Strongly rooted in French oral traditions, Malicorne also managed to create a unique, clearly identifiable, innovative sound, and (in my opinion) all their albums (not only the ones now recognized as “classics”) are worth a listen. But let’s start from the beginning.

“Gabriel Yacoub, for all that he has done as a solo artist, is still best known and remembered for his pioneering work with the group Malicorne, who played electric folk music from France. But before Malicorne, Yyacoub and his wife Marie had already set out the beginnings of French folk-rock on their debut recording, Pierre de Grenoble. They came to the point of making this album after several years as musicians with Alan Stivell’s band, which was performing similar experiments with Breton music. Partly because of Yacoub’s exotic-sounding surname, and largely because of his link with Stivell, the misconception persists to this day that he is Breton, and that his move to French music in the early 1970s constituted a betrayal of his own heritage. in fact, he is not Breton but Parisian, and his unusual surname is due to Lebanese, not Celtic, ancestry.

By 1973, he and Marie had begun to feel the need to express their own ideas in their own language and musical idiom, and a new world opened to them. They became not only the primary interpreters of French traditional music, but also spokespeople for cultural intervention and the revival of folk music. Pierre de Grenoble is the result of the Yacoubs’ first foray into French traditional songs and music. They gathered around themselves a small cadre of instrumentalists to support Gabriel’s acoustic guitar, bouzouki, banjo and psaltery and Marie’s dulcimer and guitar. Most notable among Pierre de Grenoble’s sidemen is Dan ar Braz, the brilliant electric guitarist from Brittany who had played with the Yacoubs in Stivell’s band. […] The songs and tunes the Yacoubs chose for this record come from the oral traditions of the francophone areas of France. The songs include fine old ballads of knights and ladies as well as pastoral peasant love songs. The instrumentals are mostly rural dance tunes and airs. in other words, this is «folk music» in the classic sense. The mostly acoustic sound that would characterize early Malicorne albums was already in evidence on this lp, particularly in the use of crumhorns, psaltery and other renaissance instruments alongside of contemporary folk and rock instrumentation. The drone and wail of bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy, along with Yacoub’s drone-rich guitar playing, make most of the tracks dense and complex in sound. At many points, it is possible to believe that you’re hearing a «lost» album of Malicorne, particularly since such songs as Pierre de Grenoble and Le Prince d’Orange were featured in Malicorne’s live shows. All the tracks are excellent, and the album bears repeated listening very well.” (Steve Winick – Dirty Linen, n. 68, February/March 1997; you can find the full review and much more on Malicorne and Gabriel Yacoub’s music on Yacoub’s official page, available in French and English version).

More Malicorne albums to come, stay tuned! Meanwhile, you can find the first two releases of this great French band on Time Has Told Me.

Link in comments (that are always welcome)


Radu said...


darksun said...

Fantastic more please

Anonymous said...

Just a few words to congratulate you for the quality of your selections.Very nice Blog too!

Yvon (Paris)

Radu said...

Many thanx, Yvon! And that's my own hope too:)

More Malicorne in the next few days, stay tuned, Darksun!

themusicilike said...

thanks a lot for this fantastic album that I was unaware of!
greetings from Brazil!

Anonymous said...

incredible ! yacoub stuff !!! my favourite french folk singer (alongside with alan stivell)

arbor said...

Awesome! Thank you greatly for this I was not even aware it existed!

progfreak said...

another gem do you have any la bamboche or la chiffone?? cheers

L said...

This is one of their records that I have never heard. Aren't they [weren't they?] a remarkably original and talented group of musicians? I still recall the first piece I heard - an acappella tune - I'd never heard anything like it. Thanks for this. Glad the link is still active.

Bill.Bo said...

tahnk you for the presentation of this rare record - - from time to time its a must to visit your exquisite blog to find out about your highly aesthetic taste.

may your days be sunny : Bill Bo

Lenox said...

Hi - listening to Pierre de Grenoble on vinyl early on a monday morning... and just found your site. Glad to find a fellow Malicorne fan.
Un saludo, Lenox

Anonymous said...

love it, good post.

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