First there was the highly effective-but-annoying dance track C'est beau la bourgeoisie by Discobitch, a huge hit in France. The annoying part of the song is now parodized by one Helmut Fritz. Ça m'enerve!
Tribute-albums work two ways: it gives the tributers a chance to give their view on the source, while the listener can get interested in the tributee. I've heard some songs by Nino Ferrer, but apart from Le Sud and Agatha, I'm a newbie when it comes to his legacy. A bunch of Canadian artists are paying their respects on the album Allo Nino, and do that very handsomely. Marie Pierre Arthur's version of La Maison près de la fontaine is in fact absolutely gorgeous. Other FS-faves on this album are Mara Tremblay and Catherine Major. Also very good is Monsieur Mono's version of C'est Irrepable. Will check out those originals - what's a good album to start with Nino? Are there best and worse periods? Marie Pierre Arthur - La Maison près de la fontaine Catherine Major - La Rua Madureira
Call 'm sweet nothings: the meaningless hummings, almost babylike noises singers sometimes make instead of singing actual words. It might be to imitate an instrument, it might be filler. It's what the compilation Dou da dou is all about, featuring mostly songs with titles like Dou da dou, Zoïzoï and Hum! Hum! Those three examples are posted here, together with the liner notes: Michèle Richard - Dou da dou. Daughter of the French Canadian musician Ti-Blanc Richard, singer, TV hostess, actress Michèle Richard started taking ballet and piano classes at the age of four. By the age of sixteen, she had already appeared in more than 450 TV shows. Hers would then be one of the most impressive careers in the Canadian pop music industry. with the release of over 70 singles and 30 albums. Virtually unknown on this side of the Atlantic, she sang Dou da dou in 1970. A splendid song with a killer melody, it was taken from the original soundtrack of the movie L'explosion, and had been penned by Henri Salvador. France Gall - ZoïZoï A meager footnote in France Gall's extensive career, happening right after her productive collaboration with Serge Gainsbourg and just before the new start with Michel Berger would provide. Zoïzoï was released in 1970 and has, amazingly, never met the slightest succes. It remains however the most sought-after recording in France Gall's discography: this extremely rare single now generally commands over 200 euros among collectors. Françoise - Hum! Hum! Françoise Deldick (pictured) started her career as an actress in the late fifties, and played in numerous films, including Le President, La Derobade and Le Bar du telephone. She made the headlines by climbing the stairs of the Cannes Festival of 1960...riding a horse. Alongside her acting career, she recorded half a dozen singles in the sixties. Released in 1968, the very sexy Hum! Hum! is a cover from Mickey & Sylvia's 1957 Love is strange.
Call it rock mestizo, call it streetcorner ska, call it a giant mashup of styles: Babylon Circus is a band that defies any category, yet has something for everyone. They made a bunch of albums, have a big following in France, and played/will play festivals and venues all over Europe this summer. On theire new album La Belle Etoile they have a guestsinger, Brazilian born Karina Zeviani. She sang with Thievery Corporation, Nouvelle Vague and Caetano Veloso. Marions-nous au soleil should be played to death this summer, if not on radio, then certainly by you. Babylon Circus & Karina Zeviani - Marions-nous au soleil
A German singer in love with the French language, a deliciously off-key southern girl and a song about men in catalogues. This is a roundup of three (fairly) recent albums that I received, released autoproduit, or diy. All by artists that were featured here before.
Hektor is kind of a household name on Filles Sourires. We enjoyed Carine Péralba's girly voice before, for instance in a great Trenet-cover, and ofcourse they participated in the first Christmas Project. Pas assez bien pour toi is their second album, again filled with sugarcoated synthipop - beware of the little sharp pieces though.
Hektor - Les filles des magazines See video for Cherry here. Fouxi is the moniker of a German gal from Munich who spent a year in France, fell in love with the language and decided that it would fit her music perfectly. I've posted the beautiful Le Hawaii interieur before, on her recently released album Les Fleurs de Fouxi there are more great songs. She channels tristesse through triphop, writes good, easily understood lyrics and on the song posted here, gets help from the Munich Philharmoniker. Great news: none other than Françoise Hardy will sing a song on her new album that was written by Fouxi! Fouxi - La pluie sans parapluie
Cecile Phi gets songwriting help from this guy, who also cowrote the very funny Mes hommes sur catalogue. It's a song about getting very aroused by men in underwear, posing for catalogues like Trois Suisses (or Wehkamp, or JC Penney). I've posted Botoxez-moi before, the title track to her handsomely packaged new album. Cecile Phi - Mes hommes sur catalogue
Recently, a couple of nice reissues/compilations came out, featuring music for films with Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg's first album and 'the most swinging and most danceable 60's cuts' by Sylvie Vartan. Although her name is big on the cover, Bardot is nowhere to be heard on the three cd's with filmmusic. I bought Love is my profession/Un Parisienne. The female voice you hear on the tracks for the movie Une Parisienne (1957) is from Christiane Legrand. If you're into romantic, loungy orchestral fifties music, you're in for a treat. Take Mambo Bardot, played by Ray Ventura & his Orchestra for the movie And God Created Woman - BB is hipswaying out of your speakers. Also present: Sacha Distel. Six songs are included, the lovely Brigitte speaks volumes of their relation. There's no pressing reason to buy Songs on page one: this features Serge's first EP Du chant a l'une, not featuring the bonus-tracks on the regular cd-issue (here). There's an unremarkable radio-recording from Serge, two SG-songs by Jean Claude Pascal, and six by Michele Arnaud. For albums by the latter you have to look a little harder, but aren't that rare. What's nice though, is the fifties atmosphere of all songs, with jazzy and latin touches. Although there's suicide and murder in Serge's lyrics, it's far from the double entrendres that were about to come. Sylvie Vartan gave an interview to the compiler of Irresistiblement, which makes the liner notes that more interesting. As an introduction to the early work of France's pop princess, this works very well. The inclusion of four English sides is also good fun. Ray Ventura - Mambo Bardot Sacha Distel - Brigitte Serge Gainsbourg - Ronsard 58 Michele Arnaud - Ronsard 58 Sylvie Vartan - Cette Lettre là Sylvie Vartan - One more day
Sexy and unassuming, slinky cool and seductive, velvety with just the right amount of quirk. Juste Quelqu’un de Bien by Enzo Enzo is one of the most played songs in my iPod and definitely the most played francophone one. It inspired me to learn French more than Carla Bruni’s whimsical whisperings and, throughout three semesters of college French, I listened to it religiously, each time capturing a bit more of the message. Yes, Enzo, I would love to offer you that mariage téchnicolor. The song is pure chanson, but what makes it special and distinctive is its faster pace and the interplay between the xylophone and piano, coupled with the urgent tone of the base. For 4 minutes and 8 seconds Enzo Enzo grips you effortlessly and doesn’t let you go, softly hypnotizing you with her unpretentious plea – she just wants someone, anyone, with a good heart.
This has been sitting in my email box for too long, but as a tribute to the recently deceased 70s porn icon Marilyn Chambers (pictured), it's about time I introduce you to Charlotte & Magon. A boy/girl duo (she's French, he's from Israel) make the most exquisite softfocus, plushy shagcarpet music. Everything turns into brown and orange whenever Charlotte sings, and that's meant as a compliment. Serge and Jane are a good reference, so are Air, Pierre Bachelet and even Minnie Riperton. It's retro, but brand new. 'We compose our music in the bedroom', they say, 'thinking of the sea'. I bet they are. Although some songs have a French title, Charlotte doesn't sing in French. Alas. Hope she will. Soon.
A blonde fragile singing babe backed by gritty guitars - I'm all for it. France de Griessen is such a gal. Out of the blue this part Belgian, part Dutch singer emailed me a couple of tracks from her autoproduit cd (that you can buy here). What Lee Hazlewood was to Nancy Sinatra, Elliott Murphy is to France. He says about her: 'She surely has a style all her own although there are shades of Marianne Faithful, Courtney Love and ... Johnny Thunders lurking in her shadows. I think if Little Red Riding Hood was a sweet punk rock 'n roller with a basket full of charming songs she'd be called France de Griessen.' Hear hear, mr Murphy! He sings a duet with France, that you can hear here. I'm posting another good song. Welcome to our lives, France. Oh, and if you're wondering where those Courtney Love comparisons come from, see this. France de Griessen - Petit Coeur
Lo Polidoro is a French girl living in London, La Juliette is a song from her latest album Le carrousel des Jours. There’s a nice and dreamy quality to Polidoro’s music that comes to the fore on this song. The singer has such a nice and sweet voice that she sounds positively angelic. This song sounds languid and reflective, it’s like she’s singing to herself, but we can hear her. The melody is just lovely and her sound harkens back to better days that maybe never existed, like the sixties when bittersweet songs were on the radio all the time. She seemingly invents an imagined time in this song and it’s wonderful to listen to. The words concern the routines of older woman, who might be missing the days when she was younger. The songs a bit melancholy, but that’s a hardly complaint when it appears in this beautiful and engaging context. Her albums are for sale via her site, and cdbaby.
Canadian actor Stephane Lucas recorded an album with Gainsbourg covers, with the help of Julie Salvador, Patsy Gallant, Melanie Renaud and writer Nelly Arcan (pictured), who's first novel was called Putain. It's a mixed bag, with gentle versions and wild interpretations. The idea to have two girls sing Je t'aime has been done before, and better, but the effect never fails. Lucas did a nice mix of best-known songs like La Chanson de Prevert and L'Anamour, but the best version is of the fairly unknown song Un petit garçon nommé Charlie Brown.
Miss Meteores is the highly anticipated (by me, anyway) album by southern belle Olivia Ruiz. Her third album, featuring some collaborations. You can call miss Ruiz easily the hardest working gal in French showbiz, she's collaborating with a lot of people, from Cali to Dionysos, she made a live album, a dvd, a Spanish language album, worked with her brother, went to Africa, AND made a new album, all in the past two years. She might have discovered the secret of putting 25 hours in a day. Anyhoo, first single Elle Panique gave the impression that Olivia left the folky influences for some more electronic feel, but no. Miss Meteores is (after a quick listen) again a folksy affair, with lots of ukelele and brass. With added electronic effects, yes. Some songs are in English, there's a guestspot by Lonely Drifter Karen and by her daddy Didier Blanc. So far, I didn't hear a bad song. If you liked her last album, you'll love this one. Olivia Ruiz - Belle a en crever EXTRA: Oxmo Puccino & Olivia Ruiz - Sur la route d'Amsterdam (more on Oxmo Puccino here)
I recently bumped into a fresh cover of Comment te dire adieu by Danish duo String Swing, and I received a brilliant version for my upcoming GainsNord tribute compilation. All the right reasons to post the original version by Françoise, and some weird covers that were made through the years. In various languages, from English to Finnish, to Russian to Japanese. Here's a bunch, enjoy! If you have more, please email me: guuzbourg(a)gmail.com This is the last post for this week, for me & mrs Guuzbourg are going to visit Madrid, to see this guy.
UPDATE: turns out this is NOT a Gainsbourg original, but a translation. The first version was sung by Vera Lynn Margaret Whiting, Gainsbourg translated and re-arranged it for Françoise. Anyone who whas that Margaret Whiting version? ADDED: Belle & Sebastian, Walter Wanderley, DeSavoya Combo, Le3 Early version: Vera Lynn - It hurts to say goodbye
Versions that I'd love to have: Jane Birkin & Françoise Hardy - Comment lui dire adieu (video) What a great version: video Ani-Frid Lyngstad (Frida from Abba!) with a cool version in Swedish: video Ingeborga Dapkunaite & Alexander Zhulin - Comment te dire (Russian version)(video)
While we're on the subject of odd sounding bands (like Holden, below), try on La Patere Rose for size. A three-piece, fronted by bubblegumgirl Fanny Bloom, who take their inspiration from anybody between Beck and Brel. That means kaleidoscopic pop tunes, with girly squeeks, serious melancholic piano and rockin' electronics. Like Holden, they can completely change the atmosphere in a song, but keep their lollipop charm. Untitled debut album is just out, and was released by the same label as Coeur de Pirate. La Patere Rose - Les Deux Bonnes Soeurs See the video for single Pacemaker here.
This year kicked off with two new tracks by Holden (see?), but we had to wait until now to hear the full new album. Those first tracks showed that Holden took kind of new direction, more towards Stereolab-territory. Could be the influece of producer Atom/Uwe Schmidt, who likes to add weird sounds and arrangements too. Haven't heard Fantomatisme that good, but one can say that Armelle (still one of the most soothing voices in France) and Mocke/Dominique like to play with the listener. Songs take odd exits, change completely in atmosphere (and then go back) - it's like they deliberately cross out a beautiful picture, just for fun. It works, sometimes, but it's a risk. I think the guys @ Rockfort agree: here. Holden - Ou sont vos bras, monsieur