Zylan

Zylan was a Canadian brass-rock-soul band from Halifax behind the 1973 Columbia album Rainbows Dreams & Fantasies. They also made a French-sung version, La Différence, for the Québécois market.

Members: Peter Fraser (keyboards), Donnie Hann (bass), Blaine Murphy (guitar), Helene Bolduc (vocals), Andy Davis (drums), Steve Annan (guitar), Dave Skinner (drums), Real Pelletier (vocals), Harold Tsistinas (saxophone), George Wilson (trumpet), Dave Miller (trumpet)


Background

Zylan stemmed from a partnership between trumpeter Dave Miller and singer Hélène Bolduc, a pair from Newcastle, a then-neighborhood in Miramichi, New Brunswick. They moved to Nova Scotia in search of musicians for a rock orchestra.

In Halifax, they assembled a rock band with guitarist Blaine Murphy, bassist Donnie Hann, drummer Andy Davis, keyboardist Peter Fraser, and male vocalist Réal Pelletier. Miller formed the brass section with trumpeter George Wilson and saxophonist Harold Tsistinas. For the next two years, the nine-piece Zylan gigged the Maritime Provinces with stops through Toronto, Quebec, and the Northeast US. In late 1972, they signed with Columbia Records.


Rainbows Dreams & Fantasies

Zylan released Rainbows Dreams & Fantasies in spring 1973 on Columbia. It features ten songs that range from galloping, brassy pop (“New Day,” “Rainbow Highway”) to R&B shuffles (“Been So Long,” “Get On Down”) with exercises in soul (“Darlin”’), blues-rock (“One Life”), and balladry (“Dreams and Fancies,” “No Need”).

Rainbows Dreams & Fantasies features songwriting contributions by singers Hélène Bolduc and Réal Pelletier and instrumentalists Peter Fraser, Harold Tsistinas, and Blaine Murphy. Hélène and Fraser co-wrote “Darlin'” and group-wrote “Back to the Country” with Murphy, who wrote the album’s  closing track, “Rainbow Highway.”

Pelletier composed “New Day” and co-wrote “No Need” with Hélène, who collaborated with Tsistinas on “Been So Long” and “Get On Down,” the latter with input by Murphy and tenth-wheel Ric Renaud, who added to Harold’s composition “One Life.” Rainbows Dreams also features songs supplied by Floyd King (“Back In Yesterday”) and the team of Edgar and Gordon Tweedy (“Dreams and Fancies”).

Hélène sings lead on four songs and harmonizes across both ballads and “One Life” with Réal, who sings lead on “New Day,” “Back In Yesterday,” and “Rainbow Highway.”

A1. “Darlin’” (3:31) slow-soul belter
A2. “New Day” (2:19) galloping brass
A3. “Been So Long” (2:53) R&B shuffle
A4. “Back to the Country” (2:11) flowing uptempo
A5. “Dreams and Fancies” (3:45) harmonized acoustic ballad
B1. “One Life” (4:10) hopping showcase for organ and guitar; instrumental apart from harmonized middle.
B2. “Back In Yesterday” (3:20)
B3. “No Need” (4:29) harmonized trumpet ballad
B4. “Get On Down” (2:49) R&B shuffle
B5. “Rainbow Highway” (2:37) brassy sprint

Sessions took place in Halifax at Audio Atlantic with Melodons bassist Al Feeney, who produced, arranged, and engineered Rainbows Dreams in sequence with titles for the AA-associated, Oshawa-based Audat label.

Columbia lifted “Darlin'” as a single (b/w “Back In Yesterday”).


La Différence

Zylan attracted Quebecois audiences, due in part to the bilingualism of Hélène and Réal, both fluent French speakers. To capitalize on this market, Columbia had Zylan re-record Rainbows Dreams & Fantasies in French. The second version, La Différence, appeared in late 1973 with altered lyrics.

A1. “Ma Promesse” (3:31)
A2. “Le Depart” (2:18)
A3. “Reflexion” (2:52)
A4. “De L’interieur” (2:11)
A5. “Mes Reves et Mes Songes” (3:47)
B1. “Heavy” (3:09)
B2. “Souvenirs” (3:21)
B3. “Par Toi” (3:29)
B4. “Le Changement” (2:48)
B5. “Vivre” (2:37)

Columbia replicated the earlier Zylan single with the French-sung counterparts: “Ma Promesse” (b/w “Souvenirs”).


Later Activity

Zylan performed in their big-band configuration through spring 1974. Guitarist Steve Annan gigged with the final non-brass lineup, which continued until that summer when the members drifted to other projects.

Hélène Bolduc joined Sun Machine, which morphed into the Sam Moon Band and cut the 1978 Solar Records single “Another Man.” She also joined the Dynamite Singers, who backed Cape Breton blues-rockers the Minglewood Band on their 1976 album. In 1982, she cut the Solar solo single “Tell Me You Lied” (b/w “Take It From Me”).

Dave Miller became an engineer and launched Inter-Media Services, a Halifax recording studio and namesake label.


Discography:

  • Rainbows Dreams & Fantasies (1973)
  • La Différence (1973)

Sources:

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