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4.0 out of 5 stars
La Vache Qui Pleure
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2005
Prior to this I only knew the McGarrigle sisters' first album, and as that was made way back in the 70s I was surprised to find out that a new album was being released on Munich Records (by the way, check out the excellent - but completely different - Baptist Generals and Johnny Dowd on the same label).
I was a bit worried that they might have gone off the boil. I needn't have been. This is a lovely, relaxing album with a nice organic feel, especially when the accordion comes out. The McGarrigles manage the difficult trick of creating a distinctive sound of their own, but at the same time this is music that is easy on the ears and would not shock a more conservative listener. The harmonies are the best example of this - unusual voices singing timeless tunes. And if your French is up to it, the lyrics are wonderful.
So why 4 stars rather than 5? The album is very good, but it's not a classic. A few of the songs are a little forgettable, even a couple of months in, and the overall effect of the album is more to create a general mood than to produce startling moments. There are at least two exceptions, though - the first and last songs (and maybe another in the title track). 'Petite annonce amoureuse' creates a real buoyancy with its discreetly driving drums and glorious chorus. 'La complainte du phoque en Alaska', once it hits its chorus, has the prettiest tune of the lot, carrying tragicomic reflections on the pathos of servitude as seen through the eyes of an Alaskan seal mourning the departure of its mate to go and work in an American circus. It's these two songs that keep drawing me back to listen to the album; put it on from start to finish, then you get some good stuff bookended by two magical moments.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 21 January 2006
This could be regarded as the follow up to “The McGarrigle Hour” (their last one, 1998), or “Matapedia” (their last studio album, 1996) or “The French Record” (their last one which was all in French, 1992). Whatever, a new one by les McGarrigles is toujours a reason for bunting and the release of doves. Kate and Anna are chanteuses, musiciennes et auteures-compositeures de réputation internationale, se sont mérité les éloges de la critique et du grand public partout où elles ont passé, que ce soit en Amérique du Nord, en Europe ou en Extrême Orient. Okay, that’s enough of that.
We have grown up together, them and me. Never glamour-pusses, even in 1976 when their essential debut was issued (don’t have it? stop reading this and buy immediately!), K & A are now grey-haired and grandmotherly. The back cover photo is so blurred and they look so glum it looks like the one the kidnappers released to prove they’re still alive. C’mon K & A, you’re grey, I’m grey, it’s okay! Their voices are similarly now being recorded kinda blurry too, which is to say that only rarely does an individual voice step forward, on this album it’s practically all multilayered harmony – no bad thing, but a trifle samey.
Since their first two albums, which were masterpieces, all McGarrigle albums have been patchy. The good ones had some really bad stuff and the bad ones had a couple of gems. “La Vache Qui Pleure” is, even after many listens, hard to place. The accordions, violins and acoustical guitars and the drenching female harmony are all in place, but nothing has really grabbed me – or should I say only the two bad ones have, a French version of “Little Boxes” and a French AND an English version of “Ah! Sunflower” which curiously isn’t credited to William Blake. (Blake fans should refer instead to Van Morrison’s setting of Blake in “Let the Slave”). Perhaps this album suffers from the compositional uncertainties of “Matapedia” (some of whose songs seemed deeply inconsequential, or I was missing points all over the place) but – well, it’s in French.
So two and a half cheers only.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This is a beautiful and engaging collection which keeps growing on you. It is generally of slow pace (to go with their increasing years? Grow old disgracefully girls!) All the pieces are in French, with Ah Tournesol appearing in English also.
The collaboration with Phillipe Tatartcheff has worked beautifully. The album offers all we have come to expect of the sympathetic and captivating vocals of Kate & Anna. The vocals are complimented but undominated by the acoustic and electronic instrumentation giving a "traditional" to a new album.
The music goes well with Laughing Cow cheese and biscuits and a good bottle of French red wine.
My favorite album of the year so far and a must buy!
Perhaps they might like to record a love-song I have written which has a Kajun feel to it? It needs a good viola and vocals.
And is it not high time the McGarrigles re-visited Sheffield (to a better venue than last time). They are much missed here!
A bientot,
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on 26 April 2011
The McGarrigle sisters' music is one of the enduring good memories of the time I studied and lived in Canada in the early eighties. At the time Complainte de Ste Catherine was especially popular and upon my return to Belgium in 1986 it became a big hit on Flemish radio as well.

I found this CD in a sale many years later and I love it. I especially like La vache qui pleure and La complainte du phoque en Alaska. They are so refreshing and funny and there is a serious message, too. I don't know why people complain that the McGarrigle songs are dreary at times. They talk of the pain of life as country music always does, but always with a large dose of humour. It is this mixture that is so fetching, it is also very North American, I think.

Does anyone understand what the song Hurle le vent is about? I can't for the life of me understand it. Why does the husband die?

I am very sad about Kate's passing and only heard of it just now, but she's up there teaching the angels how to sing, I'm sure. She has had a long and productive life and that is what we all hope for.

When are Anna and Co coming to Belgium?

Melanie S
Strombeek-Bever, capital of the world
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2005
Their debut album remains sublime. Their last French-language recording was charming and the more recent 'McGarrigle Hour' was cracking.
This one is disappointing.
I've learned not to expect consistency or rationality from the sisters but this collection is simply below par.
The singing and musicianship still sends a tingle down the spine - it's the songs that are the problem. There's simply nothing on a par with 'Heart like a wheel'; 'Mendocino'; 'Love is' or 'Going back to Harlan' and 'Love over and over'.
K&A have many talents - but quality control is not their strong point (as anyone who's seen 'em live must admit!). They need either a strong producer to make them shape up or the discipline of the marketplace where judges like Maria Muldaur or Emmylou Harris can distinguish between the marvellous and the mundane when determining which songs to cover.
I'll keep faith in their musical journey and continue to buy their recordings - but, if you want to get into the McGarrigles, this is NOT the place to start.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2005
This album is definitely the best McGarrigle album music-wise, perhaps because their voices are now a little less effective (particularly on Le Bambocheur, the only poor song here). However, there are many beautiful harmonies between the sisters, particularly in Ce Matin, one of their most beautiful songs since Mendocino, and Dans le Silence. The pace of the album is not quick, but the lyrics are much more upbeat than the melancholy Heartbeats and Matapedia, and the faster tracks - Petite Annonce Amoureuse and La Vache Qui Pleure are witty, touching and catchy. Tant le Monde and Rose Blanche are both powerful tracks - the latter certainly reminds one of the earlier French Record. Ah Tournesol/Ah Sunflower are both musically and vocally beautiful, though the melody is a touch less imaginative than usual. However, both are great interpretations of Blake's poem. This album has a lot to offer, and stands up well to repeat listenings - the French is also pretty easy to understand, which always makes listening more enjoyable.
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on 1 September 2014
sadly no more with kate departed, lovely to listen to but as with most cd's you rarely find every song to you like.!
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