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Haze - C'est La Vie/The Ember CD (album) cover





3.11 | 8 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars The first load of Haze

Formed in 1978 by brothers Paul and Chris McMahon, Haze released their first full-length album in 1984 entitled C'est La Vie. Originally released on vinyl LP, this album was re-mastered and reissued on CD in 1996. The CD version also features all four tracks from a 1985 EP called The Ember. A further difference between the original album and the CD reissue is that the two sides of the LP have been reversed for the reissue. The CD thus opens with the heavy Mirage. The band has since stated that the intention behind the reversal of the two sides for the CD was to re-emphasise the progressive side of the band's sound since back then in the early 80's they felt the pressure to disguise their Prog-ambitions by putting their least progressive tracks up front.

The present album features a nice mix of Heavy Prog, Psychedelic Rock, Blues Rock, and straightforward Hard Rock with a slight occasional Pop Rock touch as well. The Neo-Prog tag they have acquired can be a bit misleading. The acoustic and folky side of the band had yet to develop at this point and there are no instruments over and above guitars, keyboards, drums, and bass. One could say that Haze had yet to find their own distinctive style and identity when they recorded this album, but there was indeed already a lot of promise.

What one notices immediately while listening to this debut album is the inadequate sound quality. It is sadly not very well recorded and this initially distracts from a set of overall good songs. A few of these early songs have become fan favourites and remain in the band's live set until the present day. The Hum, Mirage, and The Load are excellent progressive songs and Don't Leave Me Here and Fallen Leaves are nice ballads. Most of the songs from this album later appeared on live albums and in my opinion the live versions on the 10th, 20th, and 30th Anniversary Shows albums are generally improvements over these original studio versions. One song from C'est La Vie and the title track of The Ember EP were also later re-recorded for the first World Turtle album (which was Haze minus drummer Paul Chisnell) in 1994. Even those later studio versions are preferable over the originals.

To sum up. There is a lot of potential evident on this album, but it is sadly not realized quite as well as it could have been. As such, C'est La Vie is a slightly immature but still very promising debut album by a great band. Good, but not the optimal place to start.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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