“Music is life itself. What would this world be without good music? No matter what kind it is.” – Louis Armstrong.
Sage words from the great Satchmo himself, music is the most life affirming thing there is, it can console you when you are sad and lift you up to the heavens when you are happy, it compliments your moods and makes the world a better place to live in.
French musician Franck Carducci creates music that puts a huge smile on your face, it rocks and it rolls with passion, intensity and not a little humour and The Franck Carducci Band are one of the most incredible propositions in a live setting.
I got to know Franck from his second album, the fantastic Torn Apart, and have been eagerly awaiting the follow up for a few years now.
Finally, here is The Answer and I have been privileged to have this release as my musical companion for quite a while now so do feel I am duly qualified to give my impressions
The CD contains six tracks along with four bonus cuts and sets a fire up your derriere from the first song to the last…
The album opens with Franck in his classic rock persona on the lengthy (Love is) The Answer, like Led Zeppelin got lost in the studio and gatecrashed a Yes recording session. Eight minutes of swirling Hammond organ and mellotron from Olivier Castan combined with some dextrous guitar playing and even some Didgeridoo (yes you read that right!) to leave you with a big slice of pomp and circumstance done in the inimitable way that only Franck can do.
Slave To Rock and Roll is a fantastic hard rock track that puts a huge grin on your face, Christophe Obadia and Steve Marsala trading funky riffs around that ever so cool Hammond sound with Franck’s great vocals aided and abetted by Mary Reynaud’s silken backing. Everything is held together by the powerhouse drumming of Antonino Reina and the wonderful bass from the master himself, throw in a superb solo and it’s damn near perfect.
You, dear listener, then get treated to two songs that can only be described as progressive rock but prog rock that has that particular Carducci tinge to it. Superstar is as 70’s prog as they come, wondrous stories being weaved before your very eyes with Mary’s silken vocals adding an almost elfin feel to things. Wistful and yet with a knowing look as it opens up into something much more compelling and dynamic, an absolute aural treat. The After Effect is much more direct and vibrant, a ying to the previous track’s yang if you like, and feels like a hell for leather, breakneck ride at times (a hugely enjoyable one though!). I get the distinct feeling that the band are having an absolute blast while making this album, the energy and vitality are palpable.
A beautiful piano led composition, The Game of Life lets everyone take a breather after the brilliantly hectic start. Richard Vecchi‘s ivory tinkling and the elegant trumpet playing of Thierry Seneau add to the composed vocal performance that Franck delivers to give a song that oozes class and style.
This album is sounding like Franck has taken Led Zeppelin and Gentle Giant and thrown a bit of Genesis and Jimi Hendrix in the mix too and that is rubber stamped by the brilliant Asylum, a fantastic eleven minutes of progressive rock, hard rock, funk and soul that rocks like a b*tch from beginning to end with the excellent Jimmy Pallagrosi (drums) and Fabrice Dutour (guitar) adding their undoubted chops to the mix. It seriously doesn’t get better than this!
The four bonus track add to the already impressive six songs that make up the main body of this release. The Road to Nowhere is an acoustic sing-along that will undoubtedly become a live favourite and Beautiful Night is a wistful, nostalgic tune that will see the lighters (or mobile phones) come out at live shows. The album then closes out with radio cuts of the first two tracks that end everything rather nicely.
The Answer leaves a huge grin on my face, a highly enjoyable cornucopia of musical delights taking you on an amazing journey through 70’s progressive rock, hard rock, funk and pure rock and roll. Containing some utter Carducci gems, this album just keeps getting better and better with every listen and is by far Franck’s most cohesive and impressive work yet.
Music was always intended to be heard live, that’s how it started. There were no recording devices when the first minstrels and troubadours travelled far and wide singing their stories of incredible deeds and perhaps slightly embellishing them. It was passed by word of mouth and would be centuries before waxed discs, vinyl records, compact discs and digital files were even thought of.
Therefore, to me, live music is music in its natural form and the energy of a live gig has to felt to be believed. I suppose the next best thing to being there is to watch a good quality recording of that concert or show and I think that is why live DVDs and Blu-rays are as popular as they are nowadays.
I saw The Franck Carducci Band live at the Masquerade Festival last December and they were fantastic, a live experience like no other in fact and I’d had chats with Franck about him releasing a live DVD which finally came to fruition with the ‘Tearing The Tour Apart’ live DVD that was released towards the end of 2016 and which Franck graciously gave me a copy to review.
The live DVD was recorded at the Climax Club Legend in November 2015 and features tracks from Franck’s first two albums ‘Oddity’ (2011) and ‘Torn Apart’ (2015).
Pop the DVD in your player and the title menu appears asking you to choose 5.1 sound, stereo sound or pick a track. I got straight in with stereo and the visuals begin, instantly recognisable as being the work of Olivier and introducing the Franck Carducci Band – Franck Carducci (bass, 12 string guitar, vocals), Christophe Obadia (electric guitar, bass pedals, didgeridoo, vocals), Olivier Castan (keyboards, vocals), Mathieu Spaeter (6 and 12 string guitars, vocals), Mary Reynaud (rainstick, tambourine, vocals) and special guest Jimmy Pallagrosi (drums).
The fantastic entertainment begins with an utterly stunning version of the crowd favourite Torn Apart. Franck has always stated his appreciation of the visual art form and you are plunged straight into brilliant musical theatre with a stunning light show and incredible music. The camera work is exemplary and you really feel as if you’ve been transported right into the concert, especially with the close ups of each musician. The high energy blues/rock work out of the track comes across perfectly, you feel the fierce passion of the guitar solos and the funky edge to Olivier’s keyboards and Jimmy Pallagrosi is a modern day version of Animal from The Muppets. The appreciative crowd soak it all and give some serious applause. The elfin-like Mary Reynaud makes her first appearance on the edgey and thoughtful Closer To Irreversible and you can feel the heartfelt pathos and fervent melancholy blues coming across, once again, these musicians really know how to put on a show and this is one that has been honed into a well oiled machine but also one that never loses that required passion you want from a great live performance. Feel the guitar literally weep and the keyboards bleed sincerity as the notes literally leap from the screen and leave you transfixed. The thespian feel continues with the wonderfully melodramatic prog-fest that is Artificial Paradises. With the tense and dramtic keyboard playing of Olivier being central to the opening, the camera focused on his intense expression, you are drawn into the scene completely. The scene opens up with Franck and Mary the focus of attention. This is one song where inhibitions are left at home, a wonderfully thrilling and vivid display of musical excellence and portrayal by the singers. Almost like a three act play, you are caught on every note and nuance when the camera closes in on each performer.
Let’s change the intensity and ramp it up with the schizophrenic heavy rock of Mr Hyde & Dr. Jekyll, a real throwback to the excesses of the late 1970’s. A really energetic rock out that is as infectious as it is utterly enjoyable. You really want to be there in font of the stage headbanging and rocking away to the ferocious guitar work and Franck’s great frontman performance. Franck introduces Articifial Love as ‘something more psychedelic’ and he’s not wrong. The music, performance and light show is all a little tripped out and drags you willingly into the mood. Mary and Franck are quite transfixing front of stage as they deliver their psychotropic performance, I’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, it really is musical theatre and, to me, is how this music is at its best. At this point things get a bit more interesting with Mathieu and Olivier giving a really spaced out guitar and keyboard combo before Mary and Christophe ultimately blow your mind with a duel didgeridoo display that is as theatric as anything that has gone before and actually made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, quite spooky and eerie actually. Next we have what can only be described as ‘Star Wars with swords’, the Achilles Sword Fight where Olivier and Christophe do (choreographed battle) to a soundtrack not too dissimilar from The Imperial March all bathed in an ominously ghostly red glow. This segues immediately into another leviathan prog track Achilles. An engrossing opening perfectly captured by the camera as Franck gets his twin necked bass out to play. The quality on this DVD is excellent, both in sound and picture, the close ups are sharply in focus and there is a smooth transition between shots, no jerking or jumping around. There’s a Genesis feel to the song both in the music and the vocal delivery and this is more a music performance than a theatrical one this time, just focus on the excellence of the performers and the blazing guitar solo from Mathieu Spaeter, music at its purest and played with skill and aplomb.
A Brief Tale Of Time brings a science fiction story to life and an allegorical tale of how life isn’t always greener on the other side (or in the future). A powerful central performance from Franck is the core to this track, proper progressive rock both in content and delivery. It’s a slow burner to begin with, wistful and dreamy with the lights down low and the shadowy musicians playing in the twilight, the skill and dexterity is the main focus here. Things get a bit more upbeat when Mary joins Franck at the front of the stage, a winsome musical journey which leaves a contemplative footnote as it wanders across your mind, the visuals enforcing this feeling. Some Wakeman-like keyboard ingenuity and finesse from Olivier ramps up the prog quotient even more and Franck’s edgy bass line joins the party as the stage is awash with a rainbow of light and you are treated to something that I’m sure even ELP would have been proud of. Add in the great little video (made entirely out of animated cartoon drawings by Olivier ‘Casoli’ Castan) and you couldn’t really ask for more. The last song (before encore) is The Last Oddity (from ‘Oddity’ funnily enough), another superb twelve minutes of progressive rock fused with Gallic flair. The musicians own the stage and Mary and Franck are the centre of attention with their earnest and fervent vocal performances. The camera wanders around the stage picking out the individual musicians in their reverie as this intricate and dreamlike song is played out before you. When the camera pans out to the audience you can see their rapt attention as they focus on every note and word. Christophe delivers a punky, truncated riff and the fuse is lit, get ready for the explosion! Off we go on a convoluted rock out, Mary’s waif like figure throwing herself around as things get altogether more funky and 70’s inspired, where’s my flares man??!! The atmosphere comes across as utterly electric as Franck decides to go for a wander off into the surprised audience, now where’s he gone? The trippy and psychedelic aura pervades all and leaves you wondering what illegal substance was slipped into your coffee as these musical artists deliver a completely demonstrative spectacle, the highlight being the four-armed guitar playing performed by Christophe and Mathieu, you’ve got to see it to believe it, pure theatre! The band move straight into a spine-tingling four minute sequence from Genesis’‘Supper’s Ready’, nostalgia for the fans deep at its heart with Franck, as animated as ever, delivering a great homage to Peter Gabriel and Mathieu delivering a superbly emotive guitar piece. Franck goes round doing the obligatory band introduction to the audience and things come to a close, or do they?
Well there’s always got to be an encore hasn’t there? The camera sweeps around the incredibly appreciative, lively and passionate audience who have lapped up everything laid before them and then back to the stage. Franck is stood there with his Mad Hatter’s top hat on and we are going to be treated to The Franck Carducci Band’s way out version of Alice in Wonderland, Alice’s Eerie Dream. This is pure musical theatrics at their most extreme, almost like a circus sideshow from the 1930’s, titillating and thoroughly enjoyable and you can’t take your eyes of it. It’s an absolute blast from start to finish with its blues-rock roots and vivid visuals. Mary arrives as a very provocative Alice indeed and gives a real sensuous feeling to proceedings. Just let yourself go with the flow and enjoy this fourteen minutes of unabashed entertainment, guitar solos fly by, Jimmy is as ebullient as ever behind the drums and you just know that everybody is enjoying themselves to the utmost. As the song and performance come to a close you know they have left nothing behind and given everything of themselves during this thrilling, engrossing and captivating show.
This is how music should be consumed, the high energy performances of all the musicians are utterly addictive and leave you wanting more. There’s a primal force at play here and it comes across in every word and note as if the artists are giving something of themselves to the audience. Skillfully filmed with a superb light show and stunning sound, ‘Tearing The Tour Apart’ is a musical tour-de-force and should be on anybody’s wish list!
And just to spice things up, Franck has told me that there will definitely be a Blu-ray release of this wonderful gig.
Seems like things have been very quiet lately with the Franck Carducci Band but Progradar has learned that they have been busy like bees, working on the production of a live DVD of the “Tearing The Tour Apart” tour.
The recording for this DVD was made during 2 concerts at Climax Club Legend at the end of 2015 and will feature special guest Jimmy Pallagrosi (Karnataka) behind the drums! There’s no news yet regarding any release date but, suffice to say, we will keep you updated!
The band have released a teaser for the forthcoming release:
I spoke to Franck himself about the making of the DVD and he told me this:
“It’s an absolute delight to be able to release a DVD of our live show. For me, the visual aspect have always been a full part of live music. That’s why acts like Genesis & Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Alice Cooper and of course Pink-Floyd have always been huge influences of mine. So a DVD was completely necessary to be able to share the full experience of our show and I do hope people will enjoy it!”
Franck Carducci has started a Crowd Funding Campaign for the new DVD, sign up at the link below: