The French Connection
Part Two of 'Pop à Paris' – a CD revue
Vol.2: À tout casser!
The model 'minet' guy pictured on the cover even looks so like a young skinnier Bertrand Burgalat, the head of today's #1 French Pop label, Tricatel. It's embarrassing! Was that on purpose? Pow!
Ronnie fires the record with his fuzzed-out version of the classic garage anthem "I can only give you everything' again" with totally different lyrics, this time a social commentary about the uselessness of studying while you can make more money singing "Chante."
The beauuutiful (oh, those eyes!) lady singer and part time actress Marie Laforêt gives us a cover of, again one of Dylan's, "I Want You," in the Marianne Faithful way, "D' être à vous (to be yours)." But one of the choicest cuts goes to the legendary Fleurs de Pavot (Marijuana Flowers!), who were first called Les Bourgeois de Calais during their early Beat period before a producer renamed them after the current flower-power trend. They are the ones frequently pictured as the typical fake hippie club scenesters in book essays on the sixties, without ever being identified--the latest being Rhino's "Psychedelic Trip" by Bisbort & Puterbaugh. (Check the photo on page 178!)
"Pourquoi l'amour à deux" (Why be two in love), is a superb organized dance beat number with Taxman guitar! Les Fizz is a typical girl-group done French style, singing lyrics to the instrumental "Super 4" by French Jazzman, Jacques Denjean (author of the classic "play Bach") "Un enfant," and not too wild.
Then, back comes the dreaded French MOR god singer Claude François, who sings lyrics by Gainsbourg in "Hip Hip Hip Hurrah," a nod to the hippy generation in the title, but the music is total Stax inspired Pop soul.
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Faring better Motown style is "N'hésites pas quand l'amour t'appelle" by swingin' chick Katty Line, which is a cover of the Supremes' "Back in my arms again" and still reminiscent of the 'Yéyé' years.
Next is the obligatory novelty number by a comedian or comic, in this case, American expatriate actor Eddy Constantine in his forever impersonation of CIA agent Lemmy Caution, with the jazzy "Hey, Mr. Caution."
Right after that follows a French version of the west-coast Sunshine Flower Pop like that of the Sunshine Company, Eternity's Children, or Love Exchange, and performed in the beautiful flowery baroque sounds of "Bonjour Mon Amour" (Hello my Love) by Gilles and his girlfriend, Dominique. (To have such gorgeous music in France really surprises me.)
Master composer, beatnick-poet-turned-pop-singer Michel Polnareff belts out untypically the ‘60s Punk rebel anthem, "Ne me marchez pas sur les pieds (Don't you step on my feet)" as follows. Then, his buddy, beat girl Elsa, sings also untypically a soulish tune in the ironic mode, "Dis pourquoi moi, dis-moi pourquoi moi, dis (Say, why me, tell me why)" with lyrics so typical (always a French forte!).
On the other hand, Alan Stivell, the celtic Bard from Britanny, before becoming the Spokesman in defense of Celt culture, sang naïvely about "Flower Power" in the classic Scott McKenzie Folk-Pop style. Luckily, the master of French Pop Chansons is back with a Sitar dance instrumental, "Psychasténie" (from the soundtrack of the cult French ‘60s Pop movie "Le Pacha" with one Jean Gabin, our own John Wayne). Don't forget Gainsbourg was also a top musician, Jazzman and arranger in his own right!
A loud fuzz intro opens one of the three French covers of Andy Williams' easy-listening classic tune, "Music To Watch Girls By," featured in this serie (the others are on Vol. 4 by Lucky Blondo and Vol. 5 by Jean-Paul Keller . . . have you heard Mr. Spock's version on his first solo LP?).
"Le jeu du téléphone" (phone games) by Natacha Snitkine, another true "swingin' mademoiselle" classic in it's own right!
Boby Lapointe is the typical French satirist "chansonnier" and well loved here, kind of a happy-go-lucky free thinker, fun lovin' anarchist who dabbles here with 'Yéyé' music, "L'idole et l'enfant" (the pop idol and the kid) . . . kind of a direct reference to Hemingway's "the Old Man and the Sea."
While Géraldine is another of those swingin' sistas, her cover of Sonny & Cher's "I'm Leaving It All Up to You," "Une fleur, un oiseau" is pure pop schmaltz; unlistenable unless you like summer romance variety sung by the Mediterrannean (how could they have dug up such a dog?!).
For once, the king of Rawk, Mister Johnny Hallyday, fares much better on a Micky & Tommy song, "À tout casser" (Break it all), a surprisingly cool heavy pop-psych rocker, the title theme of his '68 pop movie with Eddy Constantine!
Another MOR singer, Rika Zaraï (she released a fitness book just like Jane Fonda) delivers a cool upbeat number, "Une chanson pour mon amour," a cover of "Hands off Buddy." Then, another cool 'minet' Pop singer, the likes I've already told you about earlier, Gregory sings an adaptation of Traffic's "Hole in My Shoe" hit, "Un trou dans ma chaussure" faithfully enough. Sadly, Gregory died not too long ago. In the '80s he was best known for his duo with American girl expatriate Valli in his sole smash hit, "Chacun fait c'qui lui plait" (everybody does what pleases himself), a well-loved French rap precursor!
Swingin' mademoiselle Eileen also does a faithful cover of Nancy's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin’" in "Ces bottes sont faites pour marcher."
But, the real meat is the classic, funny, and slightly provocative tongue-in-cheek-drug-apology song, "La drogue" by top popsters Messieurs Richard de Bordeaux et Daniel Beretta. A real swinger of international class (already on "Wizzz!") from the soundtrack of the cult '68 Pop movie, "Le Temps Fou" (crazy times) also featuring Nino Ferrer and Nouvelle Vague JL. Godart heroin Juliet Berto!
That Stone gal returns with a song composed by future husband and duo singer Eric Charden, "L'antiquité," with music conducted by famous French arranger, Michel Colombier of "Messe pour le temps présent" fame.
This brings us to "Psyché rock," the classic electro-pop fuzz dance tune extract from that same mass by les Yper Sound (including the works of Pierry Henry, famous among hip-hop remix DJs!) for a close.
(Continued next month)