Friday, February 29, 2008

MAURICE & THE CLICHES - C'est La Vie



Vancouver, Canada's Maurice & the Cliches had one minor hit in 1982 with the spoken-word new wave gem Soft Core, but the band is quite obscure today, even among the genre's enthusiasts. I probably would have never found out about them had it not been for randomly buying a copy of their second LP, C'est La Vie, after seeing the cover in a record store and going with my gut that it would be good.

Fortunately, my gut was right. C'est La Vie is a great record that I can best describe as a fusion of theatrical new wave, sardonic punk and energetic power pop. Album opener Soft Core is indeed a classic and probably the catchiest number, but C'est La Vie has many highlights. It's All Talk, Reach for the Top, Beautiful Girls and Social Casualties are quirky, energetic power pop with instant hooks. Working Girls and Skyline are dramatic slow songs that add a change of pace and showcase the versatility of lead vocalist Maurice DePas. Unschuld is a dark post-punk instrumental. The title track is a punky new wave workout that sputters along with an aggressive, multi-language vocal until coming to an intentional abrupt stop.

Apparently, Maurice & the Cliches gathered a pretty dedicated following during their heyday, as stated on their official site:

M&TC became favorites on the thriving Vancouver alternative music scene. Even in these early days there always an element of the unexpected at their shows, many of which became elaborate events incorporating multi media, theatrical sets, props and actors. They also made frequent cameo appearances as themselves in the ongoing avant-garde theatre production, “the West End”, a live weekly improvisational soap opera.

After touring the USA and Canada in support of C'est La Vie, the band moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and recorded a third album - which was never released - before splitting in 1987. They recently released a collection of greatest hits and unreleased material titled Flogging a Dead Horse. It is available for download on CD Baby and itunes, or in CD form through the official Maurice & the Cliches site.

Neither of the band's proper albums has been released on CD. Below is my vinyl rip of the excellent C'est La Vie LP. Don't forget to support Maurice and co. and check out Flogging a Dead Horse!

Maurice & the Cliches - "C'est La Vie" (1982)

Track listing:
1 - Soft Core
2 - It's All Talk
3 - Reach for the Top
4 - Working Girls
5 - Unschuld
6 - Social Casualties
7 - Beautiful Girls
8 - Dead Reckoning
9 - Skyline
10 - C'est La Vie


MAURICE AND THE CLICHES LINEUP:
- Maurice DePas - vocals
- Jay Johnson - drums
- Gary Westlake - guitar
- Paul Wilson-Brown - keyboards
- Barry Muir - bass

WEB LINKS:
- Maurice & the Cliches official site
- Maurice & the Cliches on MySpace
- Soft Core (audio only) on Youtube
- Maurice & the Cliches on RateYourMusic

6 comments:

jay bundy johnson said...

Nice review of this album; it was an exciting time in Vancouver and the Cliches were a large part of the excitement.

Pointed Sticks, Modernettes, DOA and the Young Canadians are the only groups any one outside of the city seem to remember.

Maurice pissed off a lot of his friends and fans when he fired his rhythm section and headed for Seattle (then L.A.) but we were all a little ambitious and star struck back then.

One of the people most burned was a filmmaker Micheal Rossatti who pulled some major strings to produce a video for "Soft Core" (shot on 35 mm film!). The video was scheduled to debut on a hip Vancouver TV show (this was pre MTV) but Maurice was negotiating with Warner Bros records to wiggle out of his contract with RMS records and his lawyer buddy told him it would be a mistake to release the video before the wiggling was over.

Needless to say Rossatti was furious as he had set this video up as his entry into the newly developing field of music videos and the TV show (who had been promoting the video debut for weeks) declared that Maurice would be blacklisted.

Oh well, it all seems rather silly now.

One last note about the Cliches; they were entwined with another obscure power pop group called "The Bonus Boys". At various times all the members of the Bonus Boys held a spot in the Cliches. The Bonus Boys released two 45 singles (one of them financed by defeating the Modernettes in a Battle of the Bands 1979). Check them out on myspace!

Thanks for the memories!

Franko6677 said...

Jay, thanks so much for sharing your memories about this band. It is great to find out more about them, but it's too bad some of that weirdness took place and got in the way of great music. I will have to check out the Bonus Boys.

Stephen Vesecky said...

I love Maurice and Cliches. They used to play Soft Core on Live 105 in the late 80s.

Stephen Vesecky said...

I love Maurice and the Cliches. They used to play "Soft Core" on Live 105 in SF in the late 80s. Then in the 90s, I found this record at a cool record shop in New York. I was raving to the cashier about how they were classics of modern rock. He was pretty nonplussed.

Stephen Vesecky said...

I love Maurice and the Cliches. They used to play "Soft Core" on Live 105 in SF in the late 80s. Then in the 90s, I found this record at a cool record shop in New York. I was raving to the cashier about how they were classics of modern rock. He was pretty nonplussed.

Dr. kold_kadavr_flatliner, MD, the sub/dude said...

Just a savvy lil' witty ditty
on why we ROTE the song:

Faith, hope, and love -
the greatest of these is love:
jump into faith...
and you'll see with love.
Doesn’t matter if you don’t believe
(what I write);
God believes in you.
God. Bless. You.