Pollen

Pollen was a Québécois symphonic-rock band that released a self-titled album in 1976 on Kébec-Disc. Frontman Jacques Tom Rivest reassembled the first lineup for his 1979 debut solo album.

Members: Jacques Tom Rivest (vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards), Richard Lemoyne (guitar, keyboards, bass), Serge Courchesne (drums, vibraphone, flute, bass, 1973-74), Claude Lemay (keyboards, flute, vibraphone, bass, vocals, 1973-76), Sylvain Coutu (drums, vibraphone, percussion, 1975-76)


Background

Pollen sprung from a partnership between Montréal multi-instrumentalists Jacques Tom Rivest and Richard Lemoyne. In 1972, they started as a duo and later welcomed drummer–percussionist Serge Courchesne, who recommended keyboardists Serge Locat and Claude “Mego” Lemay. Locat, who recently joined Harmonium, was unavailable for the new band, which launched as a four-piece with Lemay. They rehearsed in a shared house and noticed a nearby jar of flower pollen, hence their name.

Pollen made their live debut in 1973 at Cégep Maisonneuve (Collège de Maisonneuve). They developed advanced concert visuals and lighting with artist Jacques Lamarche. In 1975, Courchesne quit just before their scheduled support slots with Gentle Giant on the Quebec wing of the UK band’s Free Hand tour. The three remaining members (Rivest, Lemoyne, Lemay) each doubled on percussion for the Giant dates at Stade de Trois-Rivieres (Aug. 18, with Raôul Duguay) and Colisee (8/21).> They were third-billed (but absent) for Giant’s Aug. 30 with Weather Report at Autostade, a short-lived Victoriatown automotive stadium built for Expo 67.

In late 1975, Pollen hired drummer Sylvian Coutu and filled Montréal’s progressive hotspots (Cinéma Outremont, L’Évêché, Café Campus). They linked with Kébec-Disc, a folk and pop label recently established by Robert Charlebois’ producer, Guy Latraverse.


The Album

Pollen released their self-titled album in the spring of 1976 on Kébec-Disc.

The sides are subtitled Face Solaire (Solar Face) and Face Lunaire (Lunar Face). Each features three group-composed originals with lyrics by lead vocalist Jacques Rivest and outside collaborator Roger Magnan. Associate musician Raôul Duguay co-penned the lyrics on Face Lunaire.

On Pollen, Rivest and lead guitarist Richard Lemoyne (both acoustic guitarists) share bass and keyboard roles with flutist Claude Lemay, who splits vibraphone with drummer Sylvain Coutu.

Face Solaire
A1. “Vieux Corps de Vie D’Ange” (7:11)
A2. “Étoile” (6:24)
A3. “L’Indien” (4:50)

Face Lunaire
B1. “Tout’L Temps” (3:26)
B2. “Vivre la Mort” (5:28)
B3. “La Femme Ailée” (10:30)

Sessions occurred at Studio Marguerite, the recording site of 1977–78 albums by Eternite and Claude Léveillée. The engineer on all three projects, Claude Demers, had prior credits with Dionysos and Moonquake.

Pollen’s visual director, Jacques Lamarche, created the album’s cyan|cerise chrome illustration, which shows an alien aflight with a winged headpiece amid rotors, spheres, beams, and diamonds. The blue|white back cover, by one Claudel Huet, presents an alternate Pollen logo (glass letters with a maple-leaf underbar) to Lamarche’s curved dagger letters (glass-egg enclosed).

Pollen greeted the album’s release on a double-bill with Caravan at the Grand Théâtre de Québec. They continued on the local circuit through late autumn.


Jacques Tom Rivest

Jacques Tom Rivest released his self-titled debut solo album in 1979 on CBS.

He’s backed by the original Pollen lineup with drummer Serge Courchesne, who triples on flute and French horn. Claude Lemay plays Hammond organ and Moog synthesizers. Rivest plays 12-string electric guitar and shares additional instruments (acoustic guitar, piano) with electric lead player Richard Lemoyne, who adds sitar. Solstice bassist Daniel Mathieu anchors the arrangements.

Rivest sole-composed everything apart from “Clown D’un Soir,” co-written by one Lynda Polychuck.

A1. “Dimanche” (2:10)
A2. “La Langue De Son Pays” (5:48)
A3. “Voyage Au Tibet” (7:20)
A4. “Clown D’un Soir” (3:40)
B1. “Messager Du Temps” (3:43)
B2. “Toujours Plus Haut” (3:47)
B3. “La Nuit” (4:54)
B4. “Trouver Ma Liberté” (4:13)
B5. “Laisse Toé Donc Aller” (3:20)

Pollen soundman Claude Demers engineered Jacques Tom Rivest with assistant Réal Leblanc, who also worked on recent titles by Conventum, L’ Engoulevent, and Maneige. Producer Roland Parisien conceived the graphic art with Melvyn Mallet, also credited on the 1976 fourth album by Mahogany Rush. The front-cover photographer, Luc Sanche, earned another credit on the 1981 debut album by Leyden Zar.


Later Activity

As Tom Rivest, Rivest released a self-titled second album in 1981 on Signe Du Lion. He also played guitar and piano on Lautrec, the 1981 comeback album by Sixties chanson singer and acrobat Donald Lautrec. In 1984, Rivest made an electronic–ambient album, Voyage Dans L’Univers. He later supplied songs for Québécois pop singer Joe Bocan, including her 1989 hit “Les Femmes Voilées.”

Sylvain Coutu played on 1978–79 albums by Jacques Blais and Brégent. In the Eighties, he did stints with The Box and jazz-funksters UZEB.

Claude Lemay played on Eighties albums by Richard Séguin, Maneige, Louise Portal, and (with Richard Lemoyne) singers Fabienne Thibeault and Claude Dubois. In 1996, Lemay surfaced as a keyboardist in Celine Dion’s backing band.


Discography:


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