Puzzle - Helena (1977)17 juin 2015
Helena is a tremendous addition to the great and very exclusive list of top-class French folk-rock albums with a strong Anglo-Saxon influence and songs sung in English. The list where you can find bands such as Dandelion, Les Temps Heureux, Warlus or Yves, Serge & Victor. In the French area, it is actually one of the most exciting discoveries of the last ten years. More surprising is the fact that Puzzle, was already known (and only known) for Himalaya, their other album, also released on Le Kiosque d'Orphée a few years later, in 1981. But there was really nothing about this one (which is the best), not a single mention on the internet, until it was recently unearthed by my dear friend, Quentin Orléan; almost forty years later after it was recorded - from September 1976 to June 1977, between the Paris suburbs and Finistère. The spread over space and time may be the cause of the heterogeneousness of the album. Most of the songs are in English, but some are in French. Some are rock-minded (Texas Land, Deli-Rance - an evocative instrumental lasting beyond seven minutes, with runaway guitar riffs eerily rolling along with voice over and demonic laugh inclusions), others more dreamy (Isn't It Ollie, Small Birds), some between both (Run to Run), some difficult to classify, some weaker than others. But ultimately, this works.
In the mid 70s, Puzzle was a band full of ideas, in search of its identity, an identity that will be found with Himalaya, which has a more unified, progressive sound, but Helena, despite all its flaws really managed to pull off this pell-mell mix in style and makes it the most endearing. Great find, Quentin !
Run to Run
Isn't It Ollie