The first remixed album: Beau Dommage “in your face”
This is the album that launched one of the greatest Quebec groups in history, in 1974. Nearly 50 years later, the Beau Dommage disc, and its successes Le Picbois, Chinatown, Ginette and others December 23, deserves a new sound treatment designed by mixer Ghyslain Luc Lavigne. “From now on, he will have this version that can stand the test of time, time permitting,” says Michel Rivard.
We had an appointment this week with four members of Beau Dommage in a downtown studio. From the first seconds, we could see the complicity and the affection that Marie Michèle Desrosiers, Michel Rivard, Pierre Huet and Réal Desrosiers still have for each other.
The four also found with pleasure the « young » Ghyslain Luc Lavigne to whom we had entrusted the mixing and remastering of Nice pity. “I was six years old when this album was released, mentions the sound engineer. I knew the tunes because my parents listened to it. »
Lavigne had already been working for 20 years with Michel Rivard on his personal projects when the latter gave him a phone call in January 2020. “He asked me if I wanted to remix Beau Dommage’s first album, says the mixer. I think I hung up! »
In fact, the remix project came from Universal Music, which owns the rights to the album. When the company contacted Michel Rivard, he replied that it would be interesting to dust off the original tracks.
After months of work, Ghyslain Luc Lavigne sent the result to the members of Beau Dommage. “I was nervous! he acknowledges. I was happy with the result. But I said to myself: suddenly they don’t like it. »
The response was unanimous. Everyone loved the new sound treatment of the disc. “It was exactly what we expected,” said Réal Desrosiers. It was the same product, but improved. »
“I hate comparisons with the Beatles, but when you listen to their remixed albums, everything is in your face, everything is crispy, says Michel Rivard. You hear the vocals and the guitars separately. You have more audiophile “fun”. That was the goal. »
Listening to the album again, the members of Beau Dommage immediately plunged back into this effervescent era of the 1970s. Real Desrosiers.
“No one had a studio at home,” says Michel Rivard. It was something at the time. Going to the studio was an event. »
The reunion is over
Even though they were at the start of their career, the musicians knew they had good songs in their hands. “We loved our tunes. I think we liked the sound we produced, says Michel Rivard. But we had no idea of the commercial significance of the case. We expected to join people our age who had lived in Montreal. We had no idea that anyone in Dolbeau would be interested in that. »
The success of this first album was undeniable with more than 300,000 copies sold. The musicians followed up with three other albums in three years, before separating in 1978. After various returns in the 1990s and 2000s, can we expect other reunions on stage for Beau Dommage?
“You can hope but there won’t be! laughs Réal Desrosiers.
« It’s been a thoughtful group decision for several years, » adds Michel Rivard. I think we gave. We had a great tour. We made events, we made a great album that nobody expected anymore. We did our after-sales service well. […] Even getting everyone together is made difficult, for all sorts of reasons. People just have to get used to the fact that there won’t be any more pictures of the whole gang together. »
- Beau Dommage’s remixed album is available in various formats.
10 facts about the first album
- In the 1970s, going to the studio « was an event, a promotion », according to Michel Rivard. Still “quite green”, the young members of Beau Dommage were only going to spend two weeks in the studio to record their first album, and two or three days to mix it.
- Beau Dommage recorded at Studio Tempo, the same place where Harmonium had recorded its first album a few months before. The group also shared the same director: Michel Lachance.
- Several songs are about Montreal. “We weren’t reacting against Vigneault and Leclerc,” said Rivard. But we thought it was time to enhance our environment, and not just the river and the mountains. »
- Once the album was completed, Beau Dommage was rejected by all the record companies. Only one company will agree to sign them: Capitol Records-EMI, whose main offices are in Toronto! However, it is an employee of Montreal, Pierre Bubord, who is behind this signature.
- Even if he had the flair to sign Beau Dommage, Pierre Bubord was wrong on another aspect. He wanted the band to put his 20+ minute prog rock style song on their debut album. An incident in Bois-des-Filion! « We must have told him that we might be better off releasing our little short songs first, » says Rivard.
- When choosing the songs to put on the album, the group hesitated between Guardian Angel and The blues of the metropolis. The musicians will decide to keep the latter for their second album. As for Guardian Angel, it is the « forgotten song » of the first disc, because it has never been successful on the radio. “It’s a very beautiful song, but it’s weird! acknowledges Marie Michèle Desrosiers.
- Obviously not knowing that the group would be so successful, Robert Léger had naively put his real address, 6760 Saint-Vallier, in the words of All palms. Still to this day, the inhabitants of this dwelling receive a letter addressed to Beau Dommage two or three times a year, mentions Pierre Huet.
- The group knew that its success went beyond the Montreal region when it went to perform at the Polyvalente de Roberval. « There were people waiting for us outside and running next to our minibus, » Rivard recalls. « Most cities, we had a show at 7 p.m. and another at 10 p.m. because all the tickets were sold out, » says Réal Desrosiers.
- Extremely rare fact: almost all the songs on the album were successful on the radio. The songs were on the air so much that one of the band’s agents had to call the radio stations to tell them to play them less! “The radios weren’t formatted at the time and if the presenter decided that his favorite song was Ginette, he played it! says Rivard.
- The members of Beau Dommage have never considered December 23 like a Christmas song, even if the title is now a holiday classic. “It’s more of an evocation of holiday memories,” says Rivard. It plays a lot at Christmas, to be sure, in the same way that nationalist songs play more often around Midsummer and traditional music plays on New Year’s Day. But it was never considered a Christmas song. »