Louisville, Kentucky's "best kept secret" has a new album out, and a good bet is that nobody in Louisville (other than folks close to the band) knows a damn thing about it. That's a real shame, as once again French TV have unleashed another platter of invigorating progressive rock that mixes elements of Gentle Giant, Hatfield & the North, Frank Zappa, and some jazz, for an eclectic and challenging listen.
Made up of five lengthy tracks, Pardon Our French, has plenty of variety for the demanding listener. "Everything Works in Mexico" kicks things off in fine complex fashion, as intricate guitar, keyboards, and reeds weave in and out of each other while Latin rhythms offer up a nice ethnic flavor. "Sekala Dan Niskala" also has a similar style to it, although much richer as far as the percussion goes, with a raging electric guitar excursion at the end thanks to Chris Smith. Things get a little more serious on the moody "The Pardon Our French Medley", which starts out with some ominous keyboard sounds from Mike Sary, before turning into a whipping maelstrom of sax, clarinet, guitars, and keys. Again, the legendary Gentle Giant, as well as Goblin, come to mind here. Chris Smith's guitar work bears a striking similarity to Robert Fripp's at times, as evidenced on this cut especially. He shows off his talents on the violin & cello on the majestic "Tears of a Velvet Clown", a very classical sounding piece that also features multiple reeds, horns and intricate percussion. Imagine the "big-band" sounds on Zappa's Waka Jawaka or The Grand Wazoo and you sort of get an idea of what is going on here, although perhaps not quite as bombastic. The last tune might just be the most complex & rockin' one on the CD. It's titled "When the Ruff Tuff Creampuff's Take Over", a raging barn-burner that exemplifies what French TV is all about. Intense keyboard, sax, and guitar lines weave around each other while the intricate bass and drum work keep everything afloat. There are also some neat quiet moments that they throw in on this piece that let Jeff Gard show off some nimble cymbal work, but these moments are short lived before the band comes crashing back with a vengeance. Amazing stuff!
Another fine piece of work by French TV, one of the USA's most overlooked treasures. Lovers of intense & complex prog rock can do no wrong with seeking this out.
1) Everything Works in Mexico
2) Sekala Dan Nikala
3) The "Pardon Our French" Medley
4) Tears of a Velvet Clown
5) When the Ruff Tuff Creampuff's Take Over