Label: RCA Victor Canada International
Year of Release: 1967
If the Canadian band Les 409 are known for anything much at all outside their home nation (and possibly even the Quebec region) it's probably their single "They Say/ Born In Chicago", two fuzzy pieces of garage pop which are archived over on YouTube. The single is ranked up there with Nuggets-compiled fellow Canucks The Haunted's "125", and probably would get more plays by DJs in mod/ garage clubs if only copies of the damn record weren't so hard to come by.
Back when they formed in 1963 it's true to say that Les 409 were raw and bluesy, but eventually this slick recording slipped out. Carefully produced by Easy Listening legend (and enigma) Martin Martin, the A-side is a French translation of The Beatles single "Hello Goodbye". The instrumental arrangements are a very sympathetic facsimile of the original, but the vocals push harder and seem slightly more abrasive - and, regrettably, sometimes less in-tune - than the original. Like most Beatles covers, it takes few liberties and might be regarded as completely inessential if you ignore the fact that a French version of the Fab Four's most lyrically simple song is an entertainingly absurd idea.
Much better material is to be found on the flip. "Un Amour Complique" is a wonderfully rich piece of swinging orchestrated pop which is clearly more influenced by the sixties French pop scene than anything in the UK. Filled with beautiful flourishes and subtly addictive melodies, it sees both the band and Martin on top form, a far cry from their ballsy garage roots but still creating great music which is dramatic in an altogether different way.
If anyone knows what became of Les 409 please let me know. There's plenty of information about their period of activity online, but not much about what became of them all afterwards.