Canada’s disco scene was fronted in Montreal as much as it was in Toronto, full of world beats set to a danceable rhythm. When sisters Heather and Mary Lou Gauthier and Judi Richards decided that singing backup for various local groups wasn’t cutting it, they formed their own trio in 1975 called Toulouse.
They were signed by Steve Grossman at Magique Records, and were teamed up with producer/songwriter Peter Alves. With him helping write the material, they released their self-titled debut album in the fall of 1976. Although no singles were released, the album as a whole was a hit with the francophone dance market, warranting an English re-release of the album to cater to the rest of Canada and hopefully break out in the US. While they were in the studio, management teamed them up with another French group called Boule Noire, who together released POTION MAGIQUE, half one group and half the other. Tracks from their catalogue also began appearing on numerous K-Tel specials, helping the band get name recognition.
By this point Laurie Zimmerman had replaced the recently departed Mary Lou Gauthier. The revised version of Toulouse’s debut album was called EXPORT, released in ’77 with totally revamped lyrics, written largely by Richards while at Muscle Shoals Sound in Sheffield, Alabama. The lead single, “It Always Happens This Way” (“C’est toujours à recommencer”) was an instant hit in Quebec, and although it only contained two lines in English, it managed to crack Canada’s top 40 dance chart, and peaked at #29 in Toronto while also getting some airplay south of the border. “APB” (which made the American top 40 and #1 in several markets across Canada), “Funkysation,” and “What Would My Mama Say” followed it into the charts while the ladies rode the disco train. This trio of singles made Toulouse the first French Canadian group to have substantial airplay in the American disco market.
By the time TAXI POUR UNE NUIT BLANCHE was in the stores in the spring of 1978, Yves Lapierre was the new producer. Five singles found their way to the charts over the next year, starting with the instrumental “Lindbergh II,” followed by “Prends-moi Je Veux T’aimer,” “Don’t Play With My Heart,” “Je N’ai Jamais Pense,” and “Comme La Lumiere.” A series of mini-tours ensued, following which Heather Gauthier was gone and was replaced by Liette Lomez.
With the band now on CBS Records, Lapierre was brought back for DANGEROUS LADIES in 1980. For the first time the album featured a joint-writing process, but with everyone else leaving the disco train, only “Je N’ai Jamais Pense” and “Rock My Love” found their way to single, though both were re-worked a few times over as 7″ extended mixes for the clubs.
They recorded their final studio album a year later, and although TROIS DIMENSIONS attempted to bridge the gap between disco and ’80s pop, the singles “11 AM ‘n Rainin’,” “Tendre Doux,” and the duet with Robert Charlebois called “Que c’est, quest c’est?” all missed the mark. They carried on the scene for a few years doing special appearances and backing up other artists in the studio, making their final appearance together in 1985. Present and past members joined the one-off project called Foundation Quebec-Afrique, Quebec’s counterpart to their English counterpart Northern Lights’ African relief effort, recording the song “Les yeux de la faim” (“Eyes of the famine”).
Unidisc compiled enough predominantly English material for the BEST OF TOULOUSE album in 1993, including instrumental versions of “What Would My Mama Say” and “It Always Happens This Way.”