Friday, 3 August 2012

Re-imagining The Beatles #4 - La Seine

Apologies for the long absence. If any of you out there enjoy what you read and hear on this blog, then please post a comment or register as a follower, if only to motivate me to continue ridiculing / fawning over my record collection for you. To quote Bruce Dickinson, "Scream for me Long Beach!"

And so, without further ado, the latest in a series of must-hear Beatles cover songs.

In 1976, La Seine released their Like The River album to little fanfare. They must have been mad (In Seine perhaps?) to adopt such a seemingly random and un-Rock 'n' Roll name, but the LP's title and cover art suggest that someone in the band was a serious Francophile and river fetishist.

The grainy band portrait on the rear cover hints at a group flirting with Shelf-Stacker-approved facial hair and there may well  be a hint of beret on the shadowy figure on the far right of the picture (I think we've found our Francophile!). No wonder I was drawn to this LP when I liberated it from the grubby racks at the much-missed Cheapo Cheapo Records!

But what can I tell you about the band? Precious little to be honest, but post-La Seine it would appear that Tom Seufert (vocals/guitar) wrote for Ringo Starr, Glen Frey and Trevor Rabin, and is currently creative director/executive producer for a boutique record company, Visual Music.

Steve Hague (keyboards) went on to play with New Wave / Powerpop band Jules & The Polar Bears before becoming the producer of choice for virtually every British pop act in possession of a synthesizer: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Pet Shop Boys, Communards, New Order, Erasure etc., etc. He's also found time to produce albums for Pretenders, P.I.L., and Peter Gabriel. Hague's online biographies all fail to mention his one-time membership of La Seine, but he is most definitely guilty as charged. Oddly, it is Tom Seufert who produces Like The River, not Hague.

Bass player Don Whaley's credits include stints recording with Bert Jansch and Ian Matthews.

Tris Imboden (drums) has occupied Chicago's drumstool for the past couple of decades and worked extensively as a session musician, having made his mark with such luminaries as Crosby, Stills & Nash, Steve Vai, Firefall, Kenny Loggins, Roger Daltrey and Richard Marx.

Background vocalist Mark Creamer's pipes graced Billy Joel's Piano Man and Bob Seger's Like A Rock. He's also worked as a session guitarist and latterly as a studio engineer.

These impressive CVs would suggest that Like The  River must be a lost classic. Well, not quite, but it certainly has its moments: You've Let Me Down; You Turn Me Around; Union Strong Arm Men and I Want To Believe In You all occupy a Tycoon / Le Roux musical neighbourhood, but they are forced to brush shoulders with the Hawaiian guitar of Come To The Island, the faux Stevie Wonder keyboard squelches of Dance, Like You Do At Home, the buccaneer impersonations on It's A Pirate's Life and the cod-Latino Tango All Night, all of which have their charms and are skilfully played, but sabotage any chance the album has of creating a consistent and coherent mood. And then there's the cover of the Beatles' I'm Down which is very enjoyable despite the fact that, perversely, the band sounds so bloody cheerful. Couldn't they have made some attempt to sound pissed off? The backing vocalists singing "I'm Down" sound like they've just won the lottery for crying out loud! A decent album with some great performances, pristine vocal harmonies and top musicianship throughout. Trawl the car boot sales for your copy.

 For those shadowy 'taches!...


  1. Can this album/cd still be bought

    1. I'm pretty sure it never made it to CD, but there are a few copies of the vinyl LP available on ebay.