4 By The Baronets – The Vee-Jay Sessions 1965 – Past Daily Weekend Soundbooth: Lost Album Edition

Les Baronets - Big plans, but a Bankruptcy Court had bigger ones.

Les Baronets – Big plans, but a Bankruptcy Court had bigger ones.

 

4 by The Baronets – from the Unissued Vee-Jay album – Recorded March 13, 1965

The well-known and very popular Quebec vocal group Les Baronets (featuring future Celine Dion husband Renè Angèlil) were looking to expand their horizons. It was 1965 and the group had already gotten a sizable Canadian following with their covers of British Invasion hits and had been around for some time. They attracted the attention of veteran New York producer Al Kasha, who in turn attracted the attention of Bob Crewe, who was already a well-known fixture in the business with The Four Seasons. Crewe persuaded their label-at-the-time Vee-Jay to sign the band, in the hopes of scoring a repeat hit, as they had with The 4 Seasons (and, to a certain degree The Beatles, who they had lost months earlier).

With Crewe’s team; Bob Gaudio and producer Al Kasha, they proceeded to record an album’s worth of material in March of 1965. All the songs were in English, something the group hadn’t done up to this point, but it was necessary in order to get an American audience. Once the album was completed, the first single was selected (That’s The Way Love Happens b/w Mine All Mine). The album bore a strong resemblance to the style of The 4 Seasons – but with the production team, and many of the session musicians the same ones who also gave the world Big Girls Don’t Cry and Sherry, it was no wonder Les (now The) Baronets were in line to follow their footsteps.

But things went very-very wrong. The single didn’t get past the promo-copy stage before it was learned Vee-Jay had filed for bankruptcy and all the masters, all the material waiting to be released were seized and held by the Court to satisfy creditors. It effectively killed the release of the album, and put Vee-Jay right out of business – from being one of the most successful independent record labels in the world, with one of the most prestigious catalogs, to virtually disappearing overnight.

And where that left The Baronets was back to square one and back in Quebec. The album was never released – the single is a rarity, as only some 500 copies (or less) were pressed, and the experience was best left forgotten about.

Until tonight. Here are 4 tracks from that lost and unreleased album in the original stereo mix – which is still in the vault of whoever now owns the Vee-Jay Masters, waiting for a reissue to come along.

No doubt, aside from Mine All Mine (the single b-side), which you may have heard, the rest you probably haven’t heard at all. So, this might be the first time in 50 years you get a chance to hear what one of the biggest groups in Quebec were sounding like, as they attempted to crash the American market. Sad story, but an all-too familiar one. Such is the nature of the music business.

Enjoy.

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16 Responses

  1. I am SPEECHLESS! Wow!
    I played their US 45 on my radio show but never imagined there would be more in the Vee-Jay vaults. Thank you so much for this find!

    • gordonskene says:

      Yes, the entire album is in English and there were plans, but the bankruptcy stepped in and everything stopped. Since the assets of Vee-Jay are in several different hands, it’s hard to say if the album will ever be released, but you never know.

      • Jean Beaulne says:

        This is Jean Beaulne I am the one of the Baronets, I am the one in the picture. I would like to talk to you by phone because I am not a computer savvy. I would be a pleasure to talk to you. It is such a great souvenir for me. You can send me a phone number by e-mal sos we can communicate.

      • gordonskene says:

        Delighted to hear from you – I just sent you an e-mail with my phone number. Best, Gordon

  2. Marc Michaud says:

    Wowwwwwww that version of Mine All Mine sounds really much better than the US single version. Those other songs are amazing too. Thank you for those archives. Hope something will be released soon .

  3. I host a weekly radio show about Quebec’s music scene from the 50-60-70’s and would be delighted to share this on the air. I’m currently in touch with many rock historians from Quebec and even a Baronet! I would be VERY interrested to know what else by Les Baronets was on the mastertape and if you’d be interrested to share the unissued recordings (before Angelil pulls the plug). Regards,

    • gordonskene says:

      Why would he pull the plug?

      • Well.. he can sometimes be very protective. 😉 But, as I mentionned, I’m in touch with other fellow Baronet Jean Beaulne and fowarded him your post. I’m pretty he’ll be thrilled! I’m currently working on many Quebec reissues. If there’s indeed an album full in the Vee-Jay, please email me. These lost recordings need to be heard. Thanks.

      • gordonskene says:

        I sent you an e-mail earlier today – you should have gotten it by now. Let me know if you haven’t and I will send it again.

  4. Marc Michaud says:

    I really appreciate that discovery. I think this Vee-Jay single of The Baronets is one of the best of that band. 500 copies pressed !!! For the promo copy ? How many pressed for the stock copy ? Thank You for the informations. Marc

    • gordonskene says:

      I suspect it may have been more like 100. I don’t think any stock copies were pressed.

      • Marc Michaud says:

        Hi, Yes, stock copies exists. I have a real stock copy here in my personal collection of Mine All Mine (Vee-Jay black rainbow label with oval logo). If you want a pictures, I can send you if you want it…

      • Marc Michaud says:

        oops, it’s a black rainbow label with BRACKET logo

      • gordonskene says:

        Sadly, there is very little paperwork (as well as masters), otherwise I would double check and let you know how many copies were pressed. I do know the stampers are gone.

      • Marc Michaud says:

        Thanks for all those informations ! I can send you a pictures of the stock copy if you want it for archives…

    • Jean Beaulne says:

      Hello Marc. Je suis Jean Beaulne , un des Baronets, Je suis tres surpris de savoir que ce 45 tours existe, j’aimerais que tu communiques avec moi, pour qu’on puissent se parler au telephone . Je te laisse mon e-mail et on pourras se communiquer. Merci
      Jean