Merci à Gaétan Nael for pointing me to the MySpace-site of electro-trio Dessous Chics. This young French band (from Rennes and Paris) make joyful popmusic that can be best described as the outcome if Lio had fronted Depeche Mode in the mid-eighties. The girlie voice of 24-year old Mme Hollywood (who e-mailed me that she makes an excellent chocolate cake, which is a talent I wish I had) is sooo sexy. Apart from the demo-songs on their MySpace-site, Dessous Chics have only one song out on a compilation - I sure hope that debut album will be ready (and signed to a nice label, Bella Union for instance, or Rabid) soon.
Biba Binoche is the daughtor of Paris-based sax-player Charles Binoche. Yes, she's related to actress Juliette Binoche, and was discovered by none other than the legendary Barclay-labelboss Eddie Barclay. She debuted in 2003 with a firm cover of a Mylene Farmer-song. And then the balloon was popped: Biba's real name is Betty Owczarek, a blonde bombshell whose claim to fame was spending a lot of time in the first Belgian edition of Big Brother. She didn't win, but became a small celebrity, making a single, posing naked and divorcing her first husband. She even was a contestant at the Eurovision Songcontest. In 2003 she re-invented herself as Biba Binoche, and made and album called Initials BB that sported four covers. The album itself is soso (I'm not into this europop-trance-thing), but her version of Serge's Je suis venu te dire que je m'en vais is okay. Which gives me the opportunity to post all other versions of the song that I have. I always found it remarkable that no other version re-did the crying girl-scene at the end. Do you know of more Je suis venu-covers?
See Jane Birkni sing Je suis venue te dire here. See Serge sing Je suis venu te direhere. (merci Bibi)
Nothing works better to get in a good mood real fast then to put on some happy yé-yé music. Like Pussy Cat's Ba Ba Ba...Boof from 1966. Evelyne Courtois (Pussy's real name) adopted her stage name from the Tom Jones-song What's New Pussycat. She was part of all female group Les Petites Souris, a group that split after just one album. Japanese foursome Les Cappuccino did a nice cover of Ba Ba Ba...Boof on their album Ultra Kitsch (de Luxe) Vol. 1, from 2003. Les Cappuccino, from Kobe, play mod jazz: lots of covers (by Booker T and the MG's, for instance) but also self-penned songs. Click on the site-link to see them in action too. Pussy Cat - Ba Ba Ba...Boof Les Cappuccino - Ba Ba Ba...Boof
No more summer in les Pays-Bas, the rain and wind make it feel like fall these days. Still, I continue with my summersongs-cycle. Voilà L'Été is a song by Les Negresses Vertes, an eclectic troupe that first appeared around 1988 and that played a mix of flamenco, chanson, Arab music and polka. Eye-catcher was singer Helno, the spitting image of Belgian counterpart Arno Hintjens. I saw The Green Female Negroes live around 1990, and Helno made a big impression on me. Zobi La Mouche, Voilà L'Été, Oran, they were good on record, but live the songs really bloomed. Helno looked like he woke up in a ditch, downed a bottle of whiskey before the show and crawled on stage - and probably had too. I remember him asking to the roaring crowd: "Parlez-vous Français?" We all cheered, and he responded: "Moi aussi!". Unfortunately, Helno o.d.'d in 1993. The other members continued, but with less succes outside France. In 1996, the band guest-starred on Jane Birkins Versions Jane album, a sort of prequel to Arabesque, with re-arranged songs by Serge. The track Jane and LNV did together was La Gadoue, made famous by Petula Clark.
The Rhume EP is a taster for the upcoming Austine album, a record that I'm looking forward too very, very much. Last year I discovered the tender singing fille, via her first EP La Tendresse. The five songs on Rhume are in the same vein: a beautiful voix triste and a lonely acoustic guitar - she counts Brel, Brassens, Beatles and Bob Dylan as her influences. She doesn't sound melancholic all the time: Au Soleil is a very nice aftersun-beachsong. On Austine's MySpace-site there are two more songs: go and hear Le Trouble (not on the EP). Austine - Au Soleil Austine - Leitmotiv
Talking about albums I'm looking forward too: here's more news on the Charlotte Gainsbourg-album. Record is done, release date (in Holland) is August 28. Apart from Air, collaborators were Jarvis Cocker and The Divine Comedy´s Neil Hannon. Producer was Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck & Travis). Stringarrangements were made by David Campbell (Beck's daddy).
Marianne Dissard was so kind to send this very nice picture of herself, and also put a new song on her MySpace-site. This is an official song from her debut-album, with Joey 'Calexico' Burns on bass and guitar. Confusingly, it says on her site that the album is available on 7". That's a very short album, then. Anyways, Le Draps Sourds is a very sultry waltz, made for dusty roads and dirty sheets, that goes very well with Marianne's husky voice.
UPDATE: I emailed Marianne about the confusion on her album. Here's what she answered: "The 11 songs of the demo (three of which are on MySpace) are available for purchase not as a cd, but as a 7inch vinyl (with four songs) + a code to download all the 11 songs. These same demo songs, all 11 of them, are being re-recorded at the moment, in the studio, with Joey Burns and John Convertino and Naïm Amor. That cd, the "real thing", will be available i don't know when... when we find a label. A bit confusing, but i figured i would skip the cd stage for now with the demo songs, since these same songs (re-recorded) will be on a cd soon. That waltz you heard, though, is a preview (rough, unmixed, unfinished) of the upcoming album. So no date for the cd yet, no label, although there are some interests from some labels."
Longtime friend Erwin is à la recherche du temps inconnu:
Patient: "Doctor, everytime I hear the song ‘Voyage voyage’, I receive this sensation of being in a open pink jeep cruising Senegalese villages sporting classic ray ban specs…the next moment I find myself walking bare foot along the shores of Indochine, the sleeves of my oversized blue blazer are rolled up to the elbows. Then it’s dark, the ocean breeze plays with her big plastic earrings as shiny lips near mine, an orange streak of rouge across her cheek."
Tomorrow, the International Film Festival starts in Cannes. Most anticipated movie is The Da Vinci Code, the world premiere is at the festival. Cannes also has a reputation for starlets, and Barbara Carlotti wrote a very nice song about that reputation. "Faye Dunaway en bikini/Avec ton meilleur ami/Où sont donc passées les starlettes/Qui sont ces salopes en goguette/Le malheur sur la Côte d’Azur/C’est que jamais rien ne dure". What better way to celebrate the festival than with this song, that also features the sound of rolling waves? I should've features Barbara Carlotti earlier: in 2004 her auto-produced Chansons album was released (with some help by Bertrand Burgalat), that referred to Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Gainsbourg. This year, Les Lys Brisés was released, even better than the debut (some songs were re-recorded, like Cannes), with a beautiful, introspective atmosphere and that sulty voice of Barbara. Les Lys is a perfect album for quiet summernights. Barbara Carlotti - Cannes Barbara Carlotti - Les Lys Brisés Barbara Carlotti - Paris Plage
"She said: your nose is running baby. I said I'm sorry but it's not." If you recognise this word joke, you're probably Dutch and over 35. The line is from Hey Girl, a hitsong from 1978 by Dutch band Gruppo Sportivo. Gruppo was a fun band, they sang in a bad accent (but nobody cared) and had simple, but humourous lyrics. ReadDisco Really Made It, for instance. Gruppo's reign lasted until the eighties, thereafter frontman Hans Vandenburg started a solocareer and bands with funny names like Buddy Odor Stop and Ouwehans Dierenpark. In 2004, music journalists received an album with the title Topless 16, a take on the K-tel hitparade-compilations from the seventies. It was a mixed bag of songs, later it was revealed that this was the comeback of Gruppo Sportivo. The story was that the cover (with the topless girl) had hung above the teenage bed of Hans Vandenburg, but he lost the record and fantasized years later about the music on that record. One of the songs he recorded was called Côte D'Azur - Un Peu Dommage, a pastiche on sexy summersongs (think Gainsbourg) and highschool-French. Don't know who the girls are, but they sound very con-uhhh-vincing.
Natasha-la-la gets all sunny when she hears Mitsou. Read her guest-post:
Back in 1988, I was into anything that was German and loud. My trendy Avenue Saint-Laurent loft in Montréal was temporarily storing hundreds of LPs that belonged to an industrial music record shop. When the street was closed off to traffic in the summer for street parties, Mitsou could be heard blaring at 8:30 a.m. on Saturdays through megaphone speakers, with one about three metres from my bedroom window. Mitsou’s first single, Bye Bye Mon Cowboy in 1988, became a major hit throughout Canada, a very rare feat for a francophone artist, since anything French was largely ignored by the rest of Canada, never mind the United States. Back then, female pop in Québec was led by local asexual Céline Dion, who was struggling with Berlitz English language courses in order to make it south of the border. When Mitsou’s first album El mundo came out - Mitsou was just 17 years ols -the media quickly dismissed her as all tits (‘Titsou’, we used to call her) and no talent. Although her singing was mediocre, she wasn’t a one-hit wonder: she racked up awards in Québec and in the rest of Canada. Mitsou’s pedigree was also impeccable: her grandfather was Gratien Gélinas, one of the most important French Canadian playwrights and actors in history. A few years later, Mitsou enjoyed English Canadian and US censorship for her video Dis-moi, dis-moi because she was nude - and so was everybody else. This was just a few months after the Anglo-Saxon world had censured Madonna’s Justify My Love. As usual, Québec’s French video channel Musique Plus had much less of a problem airing these videos. I met Mitsou years later during the summer working at a fashion show in Montreal as a sound technician and she was very nice.
Ysengrin contributed a nice piece on her fave summersong:
It was 1986 and the summer term was dragging on. We were all wearing washed out denim and bubblegum-smelling gel (why that did not melt in the heat is beyond me) in our permed hair. Our ‘technology’ teacher was cooler than most and left the radio on while we were assembling metal parts together. I can’t remember what we were supposedly making for our end of year project, but I can sing along to Niagara'sL’amour à la plage so I didn’t go to school for nothing, look:
Ce soir j'irai danser le mambo Au Royal Casino Sous les lambris rococo La pluie viendra me faire oublier Tu me feras rêver Comme les chansons d'été C'est l'amour à la plage Et mes yeux dans tes yeux Baisers et coquillages Avec toi et l'eau bleue !
Niagara turned into something of a phenomenon in France that summer. And the one after that. I avidly read interviews of singer Muriel Moreno in OK! magazine and was prompted to emulate her skincare routine. (Really, all you’ll ever need is a thick layer of moisturizer before going to bed!) Muriel Moreno and her lioness’ mane, Muriel Moreno and her fiery red hair and her equally fiery personality. And then there was Religion (1990) and La vérité(1992); harder and darker that L’amour à la plage, it definitely wasn’t summer anymore. I didn’t care, I’d dyed my hair purple and listened to the Virgin Prunes by then. Muriel Moreno is now enjoying a ‘discreet’ career in electro-hip-hop-pop. I wonder if her skincare routine has paid off. I bet she’s still fiery, though.
Don't know 'bout your hometown, but over here in AMS the weather's mighty fine. When the sun's out, I long to hear shiny songs. When I think of French summersongs (even it's only spring), thoughts wander back to the holidays in France I spent with my parents in the eighties. We were in all corners of L'Hexagone, and on the way there by car we were listening to radiostations like Antenne 2 Europe 1. It seemed like they were always playing the same songs. Like A Bailar Calypso (1987) by Elli Medeiros, and Marcia Baila (1984) by Les Rita Mitsouko. Spanish titles yes, but French songs. It took me some time to figure out who these girls were, and some more for I realised that LRM was a band, not a singer (Catherine Ringer is the female voice of LRM). And I was not the only one: I remember listening to a Dutch radiostation a few years back, where the dj was telling a similar story on going on holiday with his parents and hearing Marcia Baila on the radio, and years later trying to figure out what the song was. He recalled phoning a friend about it, humming the tune, and asking this friend if he knew what it was. The friend fell silent, and finally said: you know what, that is the song I'm dying to figure out for years. I even called you about it! Thanks for ruining my day!!
On May 18, the 2006 Eurovision Contest will be held in Athens, Greece. I haven't heard the French entry yet (by Virginie Pouchain), but it's supposed to be a fairly traditional ballad. Nowadays, the songcontest is considered high-camp, mostly watched by gays (in Holland anyway).Finland is sending a blackmetal cartoon metal-band - go figure. Back in the day, some great songs won, like France Gall's Poupée de Cire, or I Treni di Tozeur by Alice & Battiato. In 1991, France had the best entry ever: Le Dernier Qui á Parlé by Amina. This hypnotizing ballad reminded me at the time of Sapho (not the Greek goddess poet, but the French-Moroccan singer): the same mix of modern Western pop and North-african melancholy. What a great voice. Amina became second, she had the same amount of points as Norway's Sweden's Carola, but lost because the latter had more douze points-votes. Dommage.
Yes, Kylie Minogue sang in French. Even way before she met current flame, French actor Olivier Martinez - when I hear his name, I'll always think of Nicolas from Air, who in an interview with me said about him (while talking about Kylie): "I hate him. Í Háte Hím! How can she fall for such an idiot?!" As you probably know, Kylie is now recovering from breastcancer. Don't know if she has any ideas about her 'comeback', but she should consider singing some more in French, for this version of one of her best songs (from 1994's Kylie Minogue, her first dance-album) certainly sounds great. Even better: a steaming French duet with her sister, Dannii.
I recently stumbled upon Mockba, the 2005-released album by Jean-Louis Murat. A singer/songwriter who has a nice penchant for filles sourires (he was featured on this blog before). He made a very sexy album with Jennifer Charles of Elysian Fields, and on earlier albums he worked with Camille and Armelle Pioline. Camille returns for Moscou, together they do a giddy countrysong. Another duet is with Carla Bruni - a great song that only heightens the anticipation for a new Bruni-solo cd.
One of the first songs I posted on this blog, was by Dorval. A twosome, formed by shadowman/songwriter Laurent Manganas and singer Pascale Baehrel. After Biolay-produced Les Choses de la Vie (2003), nothing was heard from Dorval. Lo and behold, last month Celle Que Vous Croyez was released. Biolay has been replaced by two guys from trio Diving with Andy, the atmosphere of melancholy, heartbreak and fought-back tears was kept. The production, lots of strings, brass, piano and acoustic guitars, is balanced and beautiful, very complimentary to Pascale's uncertain voice. Alas, the songs aren't as balanced - great songs stand next to rather dull ones (take the aptly titled Une Vie Monotone, for instance). On their site, Dorval cite the first Goldfrapp-album (waaaay different than the electropop Alison makes today) and the last Blonde Redhead-cd as influences. Could be, but Gainsbourg and soundtrackcomposers like Sautet and Sarde are close by as well. First single Celle Que Vous Croyez is a sister-song to Hardy's Comment te dire adieu.
'Exclusive to Limited Edition Vinyl EP' it says on the cover, and yes, it is omitted from the Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited-cd: Nina Persson & Nathan Larson's coverversion of Serge Gainsbourg's Sorry Angel, re-titled Angel's Fall. Slow, brooding, but not much better than Franz Ferdinand & Jane Birkin's version of the same song that did land on the Gainsbourg-tribute. Still, if you want your collection of Serge-interpretations complete, you have to hear it. Yes, Nina is best known as frontwoman of The Cardigans, Nathan is her husband and former member of rockband Shudder to Think. If this Nathan is the same guy (I bet he is), he's currently part of Hot One.
FS-regular Gryphon combined Michel Legrand (mentioned in the Nana Mouskouri-post below) and Project Cinema, with a posting about Françoise Dorléac. Or is it?
Ever heard of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort? That was a 1967 movie by Jacques Demy, music provided by Michel Legrand. In fact, it's a musical romantic comedy featuring Catherine Deneuve in one of her cutest performances on screen (and God knows there have been quite a lot of cute performances...). It also features Françoise Dorléac (on the right of the picture, with dark hair), who happened to be Catherines older sister in real life and twin sister in the movie; she tragically died in a car crash some time later. There's a lot of singing in the movie, BUT... with the exception of Danielle Darrieux, it's not the actors actual singing voice; instead some professional singers were hired and the actors were miming (Catherine's voice is Anne Germain, Françoise's voice is Claude Parent - never heard of them after that, I must admit). Here's two songs from the movie: the famous La chanson des jumelles , second a song mimed by Catherine, De Delphine à Lancien complaining about her actual lover, whom she will dump later on....
No, I don't think she's goodlooking either. But Nana Mouskouri (or should I say Νάνας Μούσχουρη) díd sing a beautiful song by Serge. Mouskouri, best known I guess for the theme-song to the tv-series Mistral's Daughter, made an enormous string of albums, and is currently on her farewell tour. Not a minute too soon, that farewell-saying - I saw her a few weeks back on a Dutch tv-show, where she sang as offkey as a crow with throatcancer. Les Yeux Pour Pleures is taken from the 4-cd box Mister Melody, that features a whole bunch of Gainsbourg-covers and -written songs. I'm still waiting for Amazon.de to finally send me the box, but in the meantime here's that Nana song, and also from that box a nice yeye-style ditty by Bardot - which concludes by the way Project Cinema.
How many times can you tell the same joke? A question that popped up while listening to Bande á Part, the new album by Nouvelle Vague (out June 13). Just like on the first album, masterminds Olivier Libeaux and Marc Collin chose a string of new wave covers, re-arranged them as breezy, latin-tinged hammock-swingers and picked a few husky young (mostly French) females to sing the covers. Sounds like a great day job to me, and the bossanova-vibe from the first album has been replaced for a darker, gothic-voodoo-atmosphere, but it's basically still the same idea repackaged. And with copycats like Eldissa (who got bossanova on disco-hits) and the Bossa N' Stones-series (Bossa N' Marley, Jazz N' 80's, etc), it's hard to come up with something original. Sill, some of the repackinging came out nice (Echo's The Killing Moon, Buzzcocks' Ever Fallen in Love, Visage's Fade to Grey, sung by the pictured Marina and described by Collin as "a blind young girl singing in the corridors of the Parisian Metro, ignored by everyone"), but they should stop here. Or do a Smiths N' Bossa-tribute, closing with That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore.
Rock Fort is the name of a new show on London arts radio station Resonance FM, 104.4 FM. This Friday (May 5, 3.30pm to 4.30pm UK time) the show will be totally devoted to French female singers. Presenter David promised to mention this blog! Listen online here.
Guestpost-time again! Here's Natasha-la-la, with a post on Geneviève Grad:
At first glance Geneviève Grad seems to be just another blonde actress who "was a bit of a singer", as the French politely put it when singing is not someone’s strong suit. But unlike many other actresses who recorded songs despite their audible lack of talent, Grad actually has vibrato in her voice and stays on key. Born in Paris in 1944, she is best know for her role as Nicole Cruchot in movies such as the 1964 film Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez and a year later
Le Gendarme à New York, both starring French funny man, Louis de Funès playing her father, police officer Cruchot. Until 1982 Grad starred in about 15 films, including another ‘Gendarme’ film Le Gendarme se marie and has long retired from the spotlight.
Her claim to fame as a singer is no doubt the catchy twist number from the ‘Saint-Tropez’ film entitled Douliou Douliou Saint-Tropez, which was also notably covered by Québec yé-yé singer, Jenny Rock. For those of you who can’t find ‘douliou douliou’ in a French dictionary, it’s a bastardization of ‘do you do you’. In an interview, composer Raymond Lefèvre had this to say about the hit song: "We wrote this song before shooting the film because it was to be used as a playback number on the set. The rest of the music had to be composed during the summer, right in the middle of August. I had just bought a summer home in the country and I didn’t want to leave there. And then finding musicians in Paris in the middle of summer was next to impossible. Then the next year with Le Gendarme à New York, same problem: composing music in the middle of summer..."
As for the song Les garçons sont gentils from New York, it is as naïve as it gets. Feel free to sing along: "When I’m away far from my home, they do everything to please me, whether it’s John or Pierre, boys are nice to me." I’ll bet they are.
Last Friday, singers like Helena Noguerra, Anna Karina, Keren Ann and some bald guy were paying tribute to Serge Gainsbourg at the Printemps de Bourges-festival. FS-special reporter Jan Hiddink was there to report. His ears are still bleeding.