Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jean Claude Vannier

Jean Claude Vannier is probably best known for arranging Histoire de Melody Nelson for Serge Gainsbourg. He worked with most of the other big names in French Pop of the early 70's from Polnareff to Hallyday.

However, he also put out some interesting solo records and soundtrack work, the most revered probably being his 1973 album "L’enfant assassin des mouches,” a concept record of sorts. All in all, I think it's an OK album. It certainly has some peaks, but it can be dull in parts. Luckily, the Youtube clip above features some of the better music of the album, performed live for a Yves Saint Laurant fashion show from 1973.

This clip has made the rounds on the internet, but it's certainly worth posting again. Also, thought I'd bump my recent Eddy Mitchell post.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ce soir c'est ma fête pt. II

Yes, Kiss and Tell's annual French pop night is here again! Last year was a blast, Melody Nelson played some great stuff, and I got to play Luc Cousineau for a dancefloor... This year I am going to bring everything from Ye Ye to Quebecois disco, with a few stops inbetween. I promise to play Le Rap a Mad Dog...
For those who can't read the fine print, it's Thursday March 19 at Coco 66 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Ce soir c'est ma fête- Les Sound Track

Les Soundtracks are probably best known for their track "STP", which was featured on one of the Freak Out Total comps. They were a garage band from
Trois-Rivières, Quebec. They only put out 2 45's, this is the A-side of their first one. All in all, it may be the weakest of their 4 sides, but hey, it fits the theme... Oh, and it's a cover of "Birthday" by the Beatles.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Eddy Mitchell

< A reader recently pointed out to me that I had no Eddy Mitchell posts, so I thought I would remedy that fact. Eddy Mitchell is a perfect candidate for this blog, in that no one under the age of 50 listens to him. Like Johnny Hallyday and Dick Rivers, his shtick is that of a Francosized crooning Elvis, complete with generic fake Anglo name.

Out of the above three, Eddy's persona may be the most interesting. Besides an enduring Chuck Berry fetish, he is not as "rock" as Hallyday or Rivers, which is to say unlike them he doesn't seem to have been affected much by the sounds of Swinging England. As far as I know, he doesn't have any Mod covers; no versions of Kinks, Troggs, or Animals songs. His steez is probably closest to Tom Jones, with his earnest erzatz "Soul" singing. He even went as far as to record in Memphis with the Stax-Volt session players.

Sadly, even the best session men in the world (from Paris to London to Memphis and back) could not do much with Eddy's intestinal bellow. After his soul period, Eddy eventually settled into a Kenny Rogers lite country period, much like Hallyday. He recently put out an LP on NYC based
Sunnyside Records that is a lot better than it should be. He covers Hank Williams and Eddie Cochran and features guest appearances from both Johnny Hallyday and Little Richard. The years have added a pleasant smokiness to Eddy's voice that tempers his delivery slightly.

That said, like a lot of the more mainstream artists I profile, Eddy has a few gems. He has a trunkload of soul covers like Sunny, Tighten Up, Hold On I'm Coming, Hard to Handle, Superstition, and Spinning Wheel. But, rather than focus on his covers (most of the good ones are on the album
"7 Colts Pour Schmoll" which I believe is getting a vinyl rerelease soon), I'd like to present an original track.

First of all, I like Moi, Sans Toi, because even a monolingual moron like myself can understand the title. Tres Droll. I think this is basically leftover material from Eddy's London and Memphis LP, a split LP with one side recorded at Muscle Shoals (note: Muscle Shoals is in Alabama and is about 150 miles from Memphis, but he did book Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns on the session if that counts...) and the other with London sidemen like Big Jim Sullivan and Vic Flick.

Moi, Sans Toi is recorded with these same London sidemen and they are consummate pros. These are many of the same players who recorded Histoire de Melody Nelson with Gainsbourg. In all honesty, their side on the split LP is more impressive than the American one, which feels a little bogged down. Anyways, on Moi, Sans Toi, they cook up an effective funky groove, reminiscent of European "Library" records. Over this backdrop, Eddy sounds good; sincere and theatrical at the same time. It's a solid record and I am a real sucker for the change at the chorus.

Eddy Mitchell- Toi, Sans Moi