Saturday, April 12, 2008

Johnny Hallyday Pt. III

So, after doing two posts on him, I have decided to get Johnny Hallyday out of my system once and for all by doing a Johnny Hallyday mix. It spans about 10 years, from the early 60's to the eraly 70's, with the bulk of it coming from 1966-69. Hallyday's recording career spans from 1960 to today, so I am sure I am missing plenty. I am most curious about his early 70's stuff, I bet he's got some glam rock gems I don't know about.

Hallyday has a strange presence in the world, as he is an icon in France, yet he is unknown in the English speaking countries that birthed the rock and roll lifestyle he based his career on. As this excellent article on Hallyday notes, can you REALLY be a "rock star" if in the US or the UK no one has even heard of you?

I recently read an article about a type of Japanese cooking called "yoshoku", which consists of Western dishes like spaghetti or hamburgers made over into Japanese food. "Spaghetti
Napolitan" is cooked spaghetti rinsed in cold water, then stir-fried with vegetables in ketchup. Yoshoku has evolved into a major part of Japanese diets and is considered a sort of comfort food with Yoshoku dishes making up the bulk of the menus at Japan’s biggest family restaurants, like Denny’s. As the article states: Until the economic boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s, yoshoku was the only version of Western food known to many Japanese. Ingredients to make authentic French or Italian dishes were simply unavailable. Before expressions like “pasta” and “al dente” became known in Japan, there was only Napolitan spaghetti or “spaghetti with meat sauce.” Johnny Hallyday is sort of like Yoshoku.

“Probably this thing called ‘yoshoku’ is difficult to grasp from a foreigner’s perspective,” said Tatsuya Yokokawa, an executive at Shiseido Parlor. “If it’s not traditional Japanese cuisine, and it’s neither French nor Italian, they’re thinking, What is it? And so they’re unlikely to give it a try.”

Johnny is neither American soul music or British rock and roll, yet neither is he Jacques Brel. Instead he's American and England put thru a French prism.
Johnny takes all these foreign things and makes them comfortably French. Look at the picture of him with Sarkozy, they are two peas in a pod; the American rock star and the American politician (or is it the American biker and the American businessman?). Just as no American politician would vacation in New Hampshire, very few American rock stars are as cartoonish as a Hallyday.

And just as ketchup flavored rice would disgust your average American fast food consumer, Johnny Hallyday confuses your average English speaking rock fan. The key is not to expect Johnny to make US rock and roll and enjoy him for what he is. As a singer, he ranges from quite good to very terrible; a gaseous bellowing caricature of the concept of "soulful expression". As Hallyday's longtime guitarist Mick Jones (later of Foreigner) relates in a 1994 interview:
"At one point, Johnny decided he wanted to do a soul album. So I went over to the States to record the backing tracks with Otis Redding's band, to which Johnny would later add his vocals. When Otis heard that Johnny was covering some of his songs, he flew to Paris and sat in on the sessions. That was unbelievable, hilarious! Otis would look at me and say, 'How we gonna help this guy get some soul?' "

The backbone of the band for most of this material is Jones and Tommy Brown, two English musicians who were the core members of the Blackbirds (Hallyday's band from the mid 60's until the early 70's, sometimes spelled "Blackburds"). As well as playing guitar and drums respectively, they handled many of the arrangements. Other British musicians played on Hallyday's records, such as Jimmy Page on "Psychadelic" and "A Tout Casser" and the Small Faces and Peter Frampton on his
"Rivière... Ouvre ton Lit" LP. The most overtly Small Faces track on there is "Amen", where Hallyday even apes Steve Marriot's vibrato laden singing style. It is by far Hallyday's best LP. Besides that, he has ALOT of cover songs that may seem pointless to an English speaker, as they are invariably inferior to the original. However, I did my best to pick the better ones and believe it or not, this mix is over 70 minutes long. Enjoy.

les bras en croix
c'est mon imagination (just my imagination)

le penticier (house of the rising sun)

le jeu que tu joues (with a girl like you)

je crois qu'il me rend fou (such a fool for you)

promenade dans la foret du brabant

les coups (uptight) (live)

mal (hush)

je suis seul (what is soul) (live)

absolument hyde park (blackbirds only)


voyage au pas des vivants

je n'ai besoin de personne

a tout casser

riviere... ourve ton lit (live)

hey joe


cheval d'acier

je te veux

a tout casser (live)

le feu

son amour pour un jeu (strange shadows)

l'amour d'ete (love me tender)


Friday, April 4, 2008

Madeliene Chartrand

Just back from Montreal with a pile of records, so hopefully I will update a bit more often in the coming months... (my long threatened Dick Rivers post may at last come to fruition) but, for now yet another quick youtube post.

"Ani Kuni" by Madeleine Chartrand is probably best known for being on the ridiculously excellent "Freak Out Total" compilation, assembled by Satan Belanger. As far as I know, it's the exception to the rule on that compilation; a genuine pop hit (in Quebec) amongst a pile of super rare orchestrated psych gems.

The song itself is based on a Native American (or First Nation as they say up north) song, adapted and given a heavy rock treatment by Tony Roman. The arrangement features electric sitar prominently, a riff on the nature of "Indian" perhaps? HOW META! It's from 1973 and features heavy, plodding glam rock drums in the vein of Gary Glitter, et all. Check it...

I am guessing that is the back of Tony Roman's head at the begining. The video itself is bare bones, Madeleine looking pretty foxy in a vaguely offensive "Indian" get up... Oddly enough, I can't find much background information about her. I know she was a Tony Roman discovery and I have one duet 45 she recorded with Georges Thurston after he left 25eme Regiment, but before he started Boule Noir. One side is sort of twee pop, but the other is nice sort of country rock hybrid called "Prenons Notre Temps." The song is an adaption of a song written by Roger Greenway and Roger Cook, but I am not sure what the original is. Again, the song itself is nothing special,and basically only of any interest whatsoever if you either know of Georges Thurston and Madeleine Chartrand's other work. So, "Ani Kuni" for the dabblers and this one for the nerds...

Prenons Notre Temps-Madeleine Chartrand and Georges Thurston