Malicorne – Same (1977)

FrontCover1Malicorne are a French folk and electric folk band formed in September 197 by Gabriel Yacoub, Marie Yacoub (now Marie Sauvet), Hughes de Courson and Laurent Vercambre. They flourished in the 1970s, broke up three times in the 1980s but re-formed twice in the early 2010s and are currently touring and working on a new studio album.

Gabriel Yacoub and Marie Yacoub formed Malicorne on 5 September 1973 (naming it after the town of Malicorne in north-western France, famous for its porcelain and faience). For two years, Gabriel had been a member of Alan Stivell’s band, playing folk-rock based on Breton music. He sang and played acoustic guitar, banjo and dulcimer with Stivell, appearing on his 1972 À l’Olympia breakthrough (live) album and his 1973 Chemins de Terre (studio) album, before leaving at the end of Summer 1973 to form his own band, intending to popularise French music the way Stivell had popularised Breton music. Since several of their albums are called simply Malicorne it had become the custom to refer to them by number, even though no number appears on the cover at all.

Released in October 1974, Malicorne 1 consisted of the four founder members, that is the Yacoubs, Hughes de Courson and Laurent Vercambre. The combination of electric guitar, violin, dulcimer, bouzouki and female vocalist immediately brings to mind Steeleye Span, their English equivalent, thus placing them squarely in the electric folk genre. These four musicians were, between them, masters of twelve instruments. Their first four albums (one album released each Fall from 1974 to 1977) consisted of mostly traditional French folk songs, with, per album, one or two songs written by Gabriel Yacoub, one or two instrumentals and a few music and lyrics borrowed from some Canadian versions of the songs and instrumentals. Again like Steeleye Span, they occasionally sang group harmonies a cappella. On Malicorne 4, they were lastingly joined by a fifth member, Olivier Zdrzalik, on bass, percussion and vocals. The exuberant art-work on the album sleeves, featuring elves and dragons, makes them collectors pieces.

Malicorne1976Gabriel Yacoub + Hughes de Courson, live 1976

L’Extraordinaire Tour de France d’Adélard Rousseau, dit Nivernais la Clef des Cœurs, Compagnon Charpentier du Devoir (1978) was very much a concept album, concerning a guild craftsman’s travels around France, with an implied spiritual exploration. It is perhaps the most exciting of their albums, with some gothic and prog-rock elements in the music. Like their next album Le Bestiaire, it consists mostly of songs by Gabriel, with a few by Zdrzalik and de Courson. The range of sounds of these albums is huge. Their appeal goes beyond the French-speaking world, and still gives them a dedicated following, but most of the albums are only sporadically in print. Some sections are clearly classical music, but electronic wizardry and bagpipes also appear.

The size of the band grew to seven members, including at one point, Brian Gulland from the English group Gryphon. Their commercial success enticed them into pure pop. Balançoire En Feu (1981) was a disappointment to many. They disbanded in early 1982 at the end of the album supporting tour. In February 1986, his record company convinced Gabriel Yacoub to record a new album under the name Malicorne, thus reactivating the band including new members. Les Cathédrales de L’Industrie (1986) began with an epic folk-rock track. One of the other tracks, “Big Science 1-2-3” is in the style of Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson or Gary Numan. About a year after the album release, the band embarked on a 2-year extensive tour to support the new album, starting on 10 July 1987 at Les Francofolies de La Rochelle Festival, France and ending on 22 July 1989 in Saint-Gouéno, Brittany, France at the Festival des Tertres, France – a final show that would become the last Malicorne show for the twenty-one following years. Indeed, Malicorne disbanded at the end of the tour. (by wikipedia)

Malicorne 4 is an album by Malicorne. It is sometimes called “Nous sommes chanteurs de sornettes” because the album is called “Malicorne” and that is the first track. For the first time electronic effects and synthesisers are heard on a few tracks. The final track in particular is a slightly crazy assemblage of medieval and modern instruments. “Daniel mon fils” is either a translation of the English folk song “Lord Randal”, or the French equivalent of it (by wikipedia)

Another superb album by one of the best folk groups from France  …


Hughes de Courson (vocals, flute, keyboards, elka, synthesiser, crumhorn, percussion, glockenspiel)
Laurent Vercambre (vocals, violin, cello, viola, guitar, mandolin, mandolin-cello, keyboards, vocals)
Gabriel Yacoub (vocals, guitar, mandolin-cello, banjo)
Marie Yacoub (vocals, hurdy-gurdy, epinette des Vosges)
Olivier Zdrzalik (vocals, bass, elka, percussion).


01. Nous sommes chanteurs de sornettes/gavotte (G.Yacoub/Traditional) 2.41
02, Couché tard, levé matin (G.Yacoub/Traditional) 3.53
03. Daniel, mon fils (G.Yacoub) 2.42
04. Le déserteur/Le congé (G.Yacoub/Zdrzalik/Traditional) 5.18
05. La blanche biche (Traditional) 6.30
06. Bacchu-ber (Traditional) 1.57
07. Le jardinier de couvent (Traditional) 9.02
08. Misère (Traditional) 2.26
09. La fiancée du timbalier (Hugo/Traditional) 5.52
10. Ma chanson est dite (Traditional) 0.28