Friday, April 30, 2010

Jenny Rock

Jenny Rock is probably the most famous of the Quebecois Ye Ye singers. She starting recording in 1963, but made her name in 1965, when she had multiple hit singles on the charts and was named Best Female Ye Ye Singer at the Festival du Disc award show in Montreal, as well as Discovery of the Year at the Gala de Artists ( a more general entertainment show, as opposed to the music based Festival du Disc).

1965 was her breakthrough year. In addition to her awards, she also opened for the Rolling Stones in Montreal in April of 1965. At that time her repertoire consisted of a mix of covers and originals. For a female singer, Jenny definitely focused on the rawer and more energetic side of things, covering songs like "Johnny B. Goode" and "Walking the Dog." For a Quebecois girl just out of her teens, she had a great feel for R&B, sounding more raw and natural than her French counterpart Sylvie Vartan.

She also had a playful pop side, as evidenced by the following Scopitone clip of her frugging and posing in earnest to her hit "Douliou douliou Saint-Tropez":

In the later part of the 60's, she veered towards more of a rock direction, covering many of Johnny Hallyday's covers of English songs. She covered Johnny's version of "Black is Black" by Los Bravos and her version of Deep Purple's "Hush", is a cover of Hallyday's version, "Mal", albeit much faster, funkier, and wilder:

However, the Jenny Rock material I decided to focus on is the album "Jenny 67" on the Apex label. It's basically her soul album, with prominent horn arrangements and covers of "Cool Jerk" and "Land of 1,000 dances". This album also features a couple attempts to break into the Anglo market, with a cover of "Come A Little Bit Closer", recorded in New York City.

At this time, United Artists was reportedly interested in signing her, but I guess they got cold feet. I can understand why; how much of a market is there for a white, French speaking soul singer? Honestly, she really pulls this material off well, and not just on the upbeat stuff. She handles the deep, slow stuff as well. "Seul" is a cover of "Boys" by the Shirelles and "A Go Go" is a cover of "Cool Jerk" by the Capitols (a song also revived by beloved Boston new wave group Human Sexual Response in the early 80's...)

The entire record is quite good, I just picked these two tracks as a decent representation of the LP as a whole. Incidentally, Jenny is still performing and still doing her old favorites:

Jenny Rock- Seul

Jenny Rock- Go Go