Ocean


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1974-78)

- Noel Alberola -- bass, backing vocals

- Robert Belmonte (RIP 2004) -- vocals

- Georges Bodossian -- lead guitar, backing vocals

- Barnard Leroy -- drums, percussion

 

  line up 2 (1978-79

- Noel Alberola -- bass, backing vocals

- Robert Belmonte (RIP 2004) -- vocals

- Georges Bodossian -- lead guitar, backing vocals

NEW - Jean Pierre Guichard -- drums, percussion (replaced

   Bernard Leroy)

 

  line up 3 (1979-83)

- Noel Alberola -- bass, backing vocals

- Robert Belmonte (RIP 2004) -- vocals

- Georges Bodossian -- lead guitar, backing vocals

NEW - Alain Gouillard -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Jean Pierre Guichard)

 

  line up 4 (1983)

- Noel Alberola -- bass, backing vocals

- Robert Belmonte (RIP 2004) -- vocals

NEW - Fraid Medjane -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Alain Gouillard)

NEW - Benny Sloyan -- lead guitar (replaced Georges Bodossian --

  lead guitar  backing vocals)

 

  line up 5 (2009-)

- Georges Bodossian -- lead guitar, backing vocals

NEW - Marcel Chiaruttini -- bass (replaced Noel Alberola)

- Alain Gouillard -- drums, percussion 

NEW - Stef Rob -- vocals (replaced Robert Belmonte)

 

 

 

- Angel (Jean Pierre Guichard)

- Aspic (Noel Alberola and Bernard Leroy)

- Be Well (Georges Bodossia)

- Black Moon (Noel Alberoia and Bernard Leroy)

- Blues Power (Georges Bodossia)

- Nino Ferrer (Bernard Leroy)

- Saga (Georges Bodossia)

- Special Edition (Alain Gouillard)

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Ocean

Company: Barclay

Catalog: BA 242 200 182
Year:
 1981

Country/State: Paris, France

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: French pressing; includes original lyric inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 3517

Price: $15.00

 

Given most of us simply don't associate French bands with the heavy metal genre, at least unintentionally this may be one of the funniest albums in my record collection.  The fact of the matter is I bought this album thinkingbassist Noel Alberola, singer Robert Belmonte, lead guitarist Georges Bodossian and drummer Alain Gouillard were going to provide me with 40 minutes of wanky progressive/jazz-rock fusion (not sure what I was thinking since the cover photo had all four of them scowling in leather jackets and black tee shirts).  Instead I was rewarded with an album that sounded like Def Leppard gone Francophile.  Now before anyone goes off on me, let me mention that I'm a big Def Leppard fan so the comparison was meant as a compliment rather than a slam.  (The real irony is that these guys actually did start off with progressive leanings.  In fact band founder Bodossian picked the name as a tribute to Yes (e.g. "Tales from the Topographic Oceans")).

 

So I'll readily admit that French heavy metal isn't an area I know a great deal about.  I can tell you Ocean's been around since the mid-1970s recording at least four studio albums up through the early1980s when they seem to have called it quits.  As far as I can tell, 1981's "Ocean" was their final studio release, though there have been various reunions and reformations, along with a lengthy list of posthumous live and 'greatest hits' compilations out there.

 

In spite of the fact all of the songs are performed in French (interestingly their 1976 debut "God's Clown" featured English lyrics), this album had a very Anglo feel.  Part of the reason may stem from the fact it was recorded in London with English producers Mike Shiply and Nigel Green.  Regardless, listening to band originals like 'A Force de Gueler!', 'Qu'on Me Laisse Le Temps' and 'Berceuse' you got the distinct impression that Belmonte and company spent a sizeable amount of their spare time worshipping at the altars of seminal New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWBHM) acts like AC/DC (who they opened for during a 1981 European tour) and Def Leppard, with a bit of Chinn-Chapman power-pop moves thrown in to up the commercial ante (think along the lines of Sweet).  (For what it's worth, a disproportional number of reviews of their debut album bring up comparisons to Led Zeppelin, but my ears don't get it.)  Powered by Belmonte's shrieking voice (which reminds me of Def Leppard's Joe Elliot), these guys managed to generate quite a bit of energy; usually even managing to overcome the language gap (yeah, it would have been interesting to know whether French rockers cover the same lyrical territory staked out by their English and American contemporaries - cars, lifestyle excesses, girls, the hardships of a rock star lifestyle, girls and girls ...).  There wasn't anything particularly original to be found across these eight tracks and the French lyrics certainly won't be for everyone, but to my ears it was actually interesting and enjoyable.

 

"Ocean" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Aristo   (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte) - 3:14   rating: *** stars

Opening up with some funky Alberola bass moves (yes, I'll save it again - funky), 'Aristo' quickly morphed into a more conventional slice of NWBHM.  This was one of the songs where Belmonte's voice reminded me of Def Leppard's Joe Elliot.  Yeah, his sometimes shrill moves won't appeal to everyone, but I got a kick out him.

2.) A Force de Gueler!   (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte - Alain Gouillard - Jean-Marie Moreau) - 3:52     rating: **** stars

Judging by tracks like 'A Force de Gueler!' guitarist Georges Bodossian was the band's secret weapon.  Built around an insidiously catchy lead guitar (and one of the album's stand out guitar solos), Belmonte was allowed to vamp his way through four minutes of top notch early-'80s rock.   This one would have sounded great on FM radio.

3.) Attention Controle   (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte - Georges Bodossian - Alain Gouillard - Jean-Marie Moreau) - 4:10     rating: **** stars

'Attention Controle' slowed things down a touch with Belmonte showing off an unexpected bit of moderation (well at least momentarily).  When the band hit the title track refrain all subtlety was lost.  Another standout performance.    

4.) Qu'on Me Laisse Le Temps   (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte - Georges Bodossian - Alain Gouillard - Jacques Taulette) - 5:19   rating: **** stars

'Qu'on Me Laisse Le Temps' was another track that had commercial potential. Built on some nifty Alberola bass work, the track stretched things out, seemingly borrowing a bit of U2-styled anthemic guitar while even managing to nod to their earlier progressive roots.  For anyone interested, YouTube has the band seemingly lip synching the track on a French television program: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KH3Owp5gTZ8      

 

(side 2)
1.) Rock 'n' Roll  (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte) - 2:56   rating: **** stars

Anytime I hear the words 'Rock 'n' Roll' sung with a French accent it brings a smile to my face an that's the case with this one !!!   One of rock's most mindless and enjoyable choruses and Bodossian cuts lose with a killer lead solo.   Here's another YouTube link: http://80sfrenchmetal.blogspot.com/2006/05/ocan-rock-n-roll-video-clip-1981_27.html    

2.) Berceuse  (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte) - 4:14   rating: **** stars

'Berceuse' found the band pulling a page out of the AC/DC book of metal-meets-top-40 moves.  A wonderful slice of slinky metal, the song also showcased the band's knack for catchy backing vocals.     

3.) Louise  (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte - Alain Gouillard - Jean-Marie Moreau) - 4:14     rating: **** stars

Given the title and the fact it was tapped as a single, I was expecting 'Louise' to be the album's token power ballad ...   wrong.  It's a pile driver rocker that seems to basically repeat the phrase 'Tu m'rends fou Louise' which I think basically translates along the lines 'you drive me crazy Louise.  Another YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f36aFiA7Z8Q&feature=related  The song was tapped as a French single:

- 1981's 'Louise' b/w 'Berceuse' (Barclay catalog number 100.170)  

4.) Degage  (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte - Georges Bodossian - Jean-Marie Moreau) - 3:00      rating: ** stars

The album's least impressive track, 'Degage' was another competent, but ultimately slightly anonymous rocker - best part of it was the title chorus (which I think translated along the lines of 'clear'). 

 

 

No, it isn't an album I'd pull out everyday (nor is "Back In Black"), but song-for-song this one was a pleasant surprise going a long way to showing a French band could hang with their better known Anglo competitors.  May have to start looking for those other Ocean albums ....

 

Opening for Iron Maiden on the European leg of an international tour, the band was offered an opportunity to tour the States, but the lack of finances and the absence of English material ultimately killed the opportunity.  Frustrated the business side of affairs Bodossian and Gouillard called it quits in 1982,  They were briefly replaced by Benny Sloyan and Farid Medjane with the band formally calling it quits in 1984.

 

I've never been able to dig up the details, but lead singer Belmonte seemingly died of a heart attack, or brain aneurysm in March 2004.

 

In 2009 Bodossian and Gouillard decided to give it another shot, reactivating the Ocean nameplate with the addition of bassist Marcel Chiaruttini and singer Stef Rab.

 

 

Interestingly "Ocean" was re-issued in 2000 by the Axe Killer label with four bonus live tracks:

 

1.) Qu'Est-Ce Que Tu Dis (Live)   (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte - Georges Bodossian - Alain Gouillard - Jacques Taulette)

2.) Je Suis Mort de Rire (Live)

3.) On Se Rock de Moi( Live)

4.) Dégage (Live)   (Noel Alberola - Robert Belmonte - Georges Bodossian - Jean-Marie Moreau)

 

 

 

 

 

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