It’s always exciting these days to hear deep records from your home (Quebec French music) on an international mix or compilation.
Just a few weeks ago, I was quite surprised to find out long time London collector and DJ Mark ‘Good Vibes’ Taylor (La Homage/Reference Point) selected a track called Flash in a recent broadcast for Andy Pye’s Balearic Social radio show.
It’s a cut from 1979 by a singer-songwriter called Robert Leroux that brings together elements of AOR and boogie disco, with just the right kind of groove. An overlooked uplifting gem, loose yet fully structured. Like Gilles Rivard, who’s songs have gotten some new exposure over the last few years, Leroux was a popular voice during the 80’s in Quebec’s musical landscape but slowly vanished from the scene, battling with cancer and unfortunately passing away ten years ago. His first album, simply called Leroux, is a smooth set that draws inspiration from the fading disco era, going into classic rock, blue-eyed soul, even mid-tempo funk on some productions. Uneven overall, it’s still a record worth revisiting for several aspects.
Guitarist Jean-Marie Benoît was involved in the writing process, also collaborating in the late 70’s with the likes of Diane Tell, Dwight Druick and playing a significant role on Rivard’s album En couleurs. Jimmy Tanaka is another key arranger of that era, certainly adding a slickness to Leroux’s style. In a sense, these are musicians responsible for bridging the gap between the popular American Westcoast style of those years and a soulful Quebec AOR fusion sound. Leroux went on to play a leading role in the popular Québécois rock opera Starmania, even Unidisc put out a compilation of his hits simply called 79-84. While Entre musiciens and 1254 New-York were standouts, Flash is still is finest achievement.