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



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