Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jacques Duvall, In the Ginza

According to the book my mom got me about the history of the French language (which, in and of itself is hilarious, as I DO NOT SPEAK FRENCH...), in France, the Quebecois accent is often mistaken for a Belgian accent. I relate this amusing anecdote as a way to luring my faithful Quebecois readers into learning about a song sung in English (an exception I have previously only made for Michel Pagliaro).

According to the liner notes of the compilation these songs are from, they were "chosen by a jury of 31 personalities from the music world of Belgium's French Community."
In fact, the record was made with the assistance of the General Commission for International Relations of the French Community of Belgium. Their insidious stratedy must have worked, as I found this record at a store in NYC and now have a fairly high opinion of French speaking Belgians (including their unofficial worldwide ambassador, Jean Claude Van Damme).

My favorite song on the record is "Casual Feelings" by In the Ginza. It's an amazing track, an arty post-punk attempt at pop with tinges of electro. The opening horns recall stuff like Konk; a skronky approach to the classic disco horn line. The geeks who stood in the corner at high school dances attempt to make a dance song. I can't tell if the drums are programmed or triggered. The snare clapping sound is definitely digital, but the overall feel of the drum is human, like a guy beating a kit, not programming a machine.

Anyways, the song has a very special vibe to it, like if "Enter the Groove' by Madonna was recorded in an art gallery in Bruselles in 1984 by European punks who just got sent a package of Washington DC Go-Go records in the mail. The chorus melody is catchy and epic, without being overblown. The last record of this sort that got me this juiced was when
DJ Gilles LeGuen played me the Chandra 12" in 2004 (pay attention bloggy come laters...)

In the Ginza were a French speaking group (just not FRENCH SINGING) from Brussels. I guess they were not well known in Belgium or otherwise, as I can't find much of anything about them.
The bass player has his own web page, but only mentions them in passing and and in a somewhat dismissive manner.

However our second subject, Jacques Duvall, has plenty of info online... Has his own web page and myspace and everything... Apparently he co-wrote Belgium's entry into the 2009 Eurovision song contest. He has put out three solo records, but only one during the 80's, as far as I can tell. His track on the Bruxelles Rock comp is not nearly as arty as Into the Ginza, it's way more of a straight ahead white funk/rock workout. If this record had some out 3 years later, it would have sounded like INXS. However, the groove is nice and Jacques pulls off a credible white man funk vocal.

He recently recorded a fairly interesting cover of Leonard (born in Montreal) Cohen's "I'm Your Man" as part of a duet album with Elisa Point. Well, she sings it (and without changing the sex of the protanganist... well, golly what will they think of next?), but anytime someone takes a song from Leonard's Casio period and records it with real instruments, it makes me happy.

Casual Feelings- In the Ginza
Belle et Rebelle- Jacques Duvall