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All Music Guide:
Considered the French equivalent of Genesis due to their heavy theatrical version of progressive rock, Ange released 14 albums from the '70s to the mid-'80s. The group was led by vocalists Christian and Francis Decamps and included guitarist Jean-Michel Brezovar, bassist Daniel Haas, and drummer Gerard Jelsch. Though Caricatures was the group's first album, the double LP In Concert was compiled from live shows before Ange recorded in the studio. In 1973, La Cimetiere des Arlequins became the band's best-selling album, earning gold status in France.
Ange was initially influenced by Genesis and King Crimson, and its music was quite theatrical and poetic. Its first success in France was the cover of a Jacques Brel song, Ces gens-là, on its second album Le Cimetière des Arlequins. The band provided its first concert on January 30, 1970 at the cultural center "La Pépinière", in Belfort, France. It performed 110 concerts in England from 1973 to 1976, opening for Genesis at the Reading Festival in England, on August 26, 1973, fronting some 30.000 listeners.
One of the reasons for which the band was unable to break through into the British market was because they sang in French. Ange eventually released an English-speaking version of its fifth album Par les fils de Mandrin (By the sons of Mandrin), which was hard to find and sold poorly, although this version has since been made available on CD. Unfortunately, after three albums, the quality of creation had started to decrease, and Par les fils de Mandrin was probably not a good choice to try to break into the British market. Au delà du délire, third album, could be the band's best effort and is recommended as the one to listen to as a starter, for newcomers to the Ange progressive phenomenon.
Following Par les fils de Mandrin and the excellent live double album Tome VI, the band issued a mellotron one, Guet-apens, and then had a change of direction into a more rock-oriented colour, although various progressive reformations occurred over the years, e.g. for the 1992 album Les larmes du Dalaï-Lama. Sponsored by the French radio RTL, Ange relentlessly toured till the end of 1977, welcoming an average of 5,000 to 6,000 listeners per show. During its first years (generally regarded as the best ones), the other three members of the band were Jean-Michel Brézovar on guitar and flute, Gérard Jelsch on drums, and Daniel Haas on bass (and acoustic guitar). In 1995, Ange played its announced farewell tour.
Christian Décamps released a few albums as "Christian Décamps et Fils" ("Christian Décamps and Son"), before taking over the name "Ange" in 1999, and is backed by his band for his solo albums. The new lineup has issued several albums from La voiture à eau in 1999, performed on 2006 edition of NEARfest and is still on the road in 2013.
Francis Décamps and Jean-Michel Brézovar have also released solo albums.
The keyboard sounds of the '70s-era band, while reminiscent of a mellotron, were in fact generated from a Viscount organ through a modded Hammond reverb. However, an actual mellotron was played on the album Guet-Apens in 1978.