«69» of the Baba Scholae is a major album of the year 1969. It is a cult disc that never disappoints - quite the reverse, when, like me, you can listen to it in the very best conditions after decades of obscurity. Some legendary records lose their power once they are revealed and it becomes obvious that the fantasy of the music lover exceeded the realities of the work.
This is not the case here: Jean-Yves Labat de Rossi, John Arthur Holbrook and their friends conceived a classic work worthy to be ranked with the Rock masterpieces of the period. But today - all nostalgia put aside - is the Baba Scholae album still as meaningful as it ever was? Unlike some other discs reminiscent of the famous "Madeleine de Proust" the album of Jean-Yves, John, Jules, Steve, Alan and Woody far surpasses even those very appealing legendary names of the 60's such as the Marquee, the Speak Easy, Zanzibar Productions and the Rock'n'roll Circus.
This album that you can (at last!) hold in your excited hands takes us by surprise because it still affects us, here and now, as pristine as ever. The 21st century listener is perhaps even more capable of understanding this project than his 20th century counterpart because he can rely both on hindsight and 40 years of musical productions which his glorious predecessor could not enjoy. Terms such as "rock psyche" or "progressif impose too many limits to apprehend this Anglo-French opus. Jean-Yves Labat de Rossi and his "partners in crime" were far too young, proud and ambitious ever to want to imitate the groups of the late 60's who nevertheless brought out "instant classics" with disconcerting ease.
Baba Scholae is a stubborn entity that aimed at going forward to explore new territories with a freshness that prevented them from falling into the pitfalls of the ironic post modern pastiche that weights down many contemporary discs. "If it does not exist, it must be invented" such seemed to be the watchword of Baba Scholae which could rely on the recklessness of the young that allows progress to be made without following established tracks. Pioneers are not conscious of being so and allow themselves to make creations which their successors would never dare to imagine once the "tables of the law" of rock had been set in stone.
In this sense, without knowing it, Baba Scholae enters into the family of artists and cross current groups who, even if they are inspired by their environment and their times, are not their prisoners. Some names?: Frank Zappa, Devo, Brian Eno and the Flaming Lips, are explorers who, in their own way, like "the Enterprise" of Star Trek, have all sampled worlds where man had never previously set foot. Some proofs?: 1984-Melancolia Street is a folk song stamped with Saudade that would not be amiss amongst the present day renewals of this musical style.
Half Day could have been a title of Gorky's Zigotic Mynci with its accents of the school of Canterbury revisited. Kaleidoscope is a timeless pop song, perverse in its structure, that would make the galaxy of artists of the Elephant 6 collective such as Olivia Tremor Control green with envy. Keep it "rythmique", with its mixture of folklore and hypnotic playful pop, is worthy of the great moments of post-rock.
I must stop here - or I could go on for hours, but I am sure you have grasped the gist of my remarks. Like the greatest uncut diamonds in the history of rock, Baba Scholae "69" is an exceptional record which could remain buried for several generations without losing its lustre. Let us meet in 2050 when I have no doubt that the musicologists and critics of the future will reach the same conclusion.
by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe, July 2012
1.1984 - Melancolia Street - 8.40
2. Half Day - 4.03
3. Will Meant Ciment - 2.10
4. Julius - 2.14
5. La Chasse Au Serpent A La Flute - 1.55
6. Go Down Sunset - 2.31
7. Telegram - 0.31
8. Song My (My Lai) - 3.29
9. Kaleidoscope - 2.02
10.Keep Rythmique - 4.04
11.Just Like George - 1.01
12.White Bird - 3.53
13.She's An Indian In Minor - 2.13
14.Song For A New Connection - 2.58
15.L'oeil Du Maitre - 4.44
16.1984 - Melancolia Street - 11.24
Lyrics and Music for all songs Labat de Rossi, Holbrook, Vigh, Baytis, Jones, Woodbine, Piat.
*Steve Baylis - Drums
*John Arthur Holbrook - Lead Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
*Alan Jones - Bass
*Jean-Yves Labat De Rossi - Flutes, Saxophone, Bombard, Keyboards, Vocals
*Jules Vigh - Guitar, Melotro
*Woody Woodbine - Lead Vocals