Soleil Hi-Fi

Bloody Jack
2 April 2010, 8:07 pm
Filed under: 60s French Pop,French Music,French TV,Gainsbourg

I’ve always liked this song and I like this lip sync TV spot for it if only for the drag queen.

Hier et Demain
2 April 2010, 6:36 pm
Filed under: 60s French Pop,Cinema,Culture,French Music,Gainsbourg

Hier et demain 45 tour

Original Decca single

This is a rare recording, in fact the only CD version I know of it is on the Mister Melody — Les Interpretes De Serge Gainsbourg compilation.

Here is Marianne Faithful singing Hier et Demain written by Serge Gainsbourg from the film Anna.

Baby Wolf Teeth
2 July 2009, 10:00 pm
Filed under: 60s French Pop,Culture,French Music

One of the challenges I face in making the documentary is illustrating the pleasure derived from the lyrics of French Pop songs. For years my DJ focus was on enjoyable music that didn’t require a comprehension of the language since my audience primarily didn’t know French. As I got better at speaking and understanding the language a new depth of enjoyment opened-up. Some artists have both great lyrics and great music. Gainsbourg for starters. Here’s a little title theme ditty he wrote for a television program called Dents de lait, dents de loup.

(Notice that the cameraman doesn’t quite know who to focus on!)

Dents de lait… aired on January 11, 1967 and is a sort of French American Bandstand except that it was a one time deal with only a single episode. The line-up is jaw dropping – Gainsbourg, France Gall, Françoise Hardy, Eddy Mitchel, Clo-Clo, Sylvie Vartan, The Zombies (actually playing their instruments! almost everyone else lip synchs), The Walker Brothers, a high Marianne Faithful, and a few more Euro pop stars. It was hosted by Annick Beauchamps and Le President Rosko who was an American who made a career DJing on pirate radio (they actually were on a boat on the English Channel broadcasting from “international waters” to the mainland) before he came to Radio Luxembourg and did a show for a French audience.

Here are the lyrics:

France: Dents de lait
Serge: Dents de loup
France: Dents de lait
Serge: Dents de loup
Toi, tu n’es qu’un bébé
Rien qu’un bébé loup
Tu as des dents de lait
Pas des dents de loup
France: Oui je suis un bébé
Rien qu’un bébé loup
Oui, j’ai des dents de lait
Des dents de lait de loup

The term dents de lait (milk teeth) means baby teeth and dents de loup means wolf teeth. So the lyric goes “You, you’re only a baby; nothing but a baby wolf. You have the baby teeth; not the teeth of a wolf.” To which France Gall responds “Yes, I have the baby teeth;I’m nothing but a baby wolf; Yes, I have the baby teeth; the baby teeth of a wolf!”

It’s cute, simple,  emblematic of the time and makes more sense in French than in English.

It’s never been released in any form whatsoever, but here is an MP3 nonetheless.

Dents de lait, dents de loup – (France Gall et Serge Gainsbourg)

Jacques Lanzmann 1927 – 2006
23 June 2006, 7:17 pm
Filed under: 60s French Pop,French Music

Writer and songsmith Jacques Lanzmann died on Wednesday in Paris. The silent partner to the persona of Jacques Dutronc, Lanzmann was responsible for the lyrics to all of Dutronc’s songs from the 60s including “Et moi, et moi, et moi,” “Le cactus,” and “Il est 5 heure Paris s’éveille.” Songs that are deeply ingrained in the French psyche. The kids may not know who sang or wrote “Le cactus” but they sure know the words.

Lanzmann was working as an editor for Daniel Filipacchi, the owner of Salut les copains! magazine, on his French version of Playboy called Lui. Filipacchi suggested to Vogue Records Artistic Director Jacques Wolfsohn (always on the look-out for that new, potential hit tune) that perhaps Lanzmann could write some songs for the label. Dutronc was Wolfsohn’s assistant at the time. The idea was to put some songs together for a new, unknown pop star. Dutronc put a few demos together from Lanzmann’s lyrics and Wolfsohn liked them so much he decided to release them with Dutronc as the singer. French pop history was made!

Though most of us know him as the writer of witty lyrics he also wrote dozens of novels. Being born in the 20s he was significantly older than the baby boom generation he was writing songs for. As such, his lyrics are cynical and parody many of the attitudes of the 60s generation. One of my favorites, “Mini, mini, mini”, has the singer lamenting the diminishing culture around him – mini-skirts, mini-mok (a small jeep/car), Minnie Mouse and the minister. Just in that example I think you can get a sense of the word play that made him so brilliant. It doesn’t always translat, but in this case it works well.

One thing that sets Dutronc apart from the yé-yé breatheren is the biting lyrics that mocked the youth culture of the time. It’s definitely worth the effort to have someone who speaks better French than you to go over the songs, the puns and jeu de mot (“word play”) are phenominal.

Make no mistake, Jacques Dutronc was definitely made-up of two Jacques.

Au revoir Mssr. Lanzmann

8 March 2006, 5:47 pm
Filed under: 60s French Pop,French Music

Sorry I have been away!

Françoise Hardy is one of my favorite artitsts. Way back when, in the early days of the internet, I had a website dedicated to her. I do believe it was the first Françoise Hardy site on the net, though Warren Gilbert over at All Over The World (a great site) disputes that claim.

Regardless, Françoise was the first female Frenchie that I got into. I was working at KALX 90.7 FM, in Berkeley, CA and we had a bunch of her American releases in the library. (The 4-Corners and Reprise records). Remember the days when you could go into a used record store and actually find a Françoise Hardy record for less than ten bucks?! Sadly those days are gone. One of the records that I found in such a situation is one of my favorites of hers – Alone.

Released in England as One-Nine-Seven-Zero, this 1970 album includes a few songs from Soleil which featured Micky Jones and Tommy Brown (Brits who worked with Johnny Hallyday and Jones went on to form the band Foreigner). It’s an Original Productions Asparagus Recording which was Françoise’s production company she formed when she broke from Vogue, as such, the music is much more to her liking.

The chain HMV in England reissued this stuff as The Françoise Hardy Collection but it is out of print. I have heard of German and Japanese CDs but haven’t been able to track them down. These are from my record.

Here are three tracks:

Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)

Song of Winter (Micky Jones – Tommy Brown)

In the Sky (Françoise Hardy – Pierre Tubbs

Je suis content, finally.
14 February 2006, 10:17 pm
Filed under: 60s French Pop,French Music

This is one of my favorite Dutronc tunes released in 1968. Great tune and from what I understand about the lyrics, great lyrics. The chorus goes something like “I am happy that it hasn’t happened to me yet” while he talks about having 12 kids and loosing ones teeth. Which on a quick observation and off the cuff would seem to epitomize the youth revolution.

But the reason that I am posting this is really because this version comes directly from the EP. It’s different than the one on my Dutronc CD box set. Listen in the background to the fuzz guitar grinding away incessantly. You don’t hear it that prominantly on the CD versions. Now I haven’t heard the Cactus collection, and Christian Eudeline told me that they went back and listened to the original EPs when they remastered it, so hopefully the version on that comp will correct the wrong. Or hopefully I will have the scoop.

Je suis content – Jacno Dutronc

14 February 2006, 9:06 pm
Filed under: 60s French Pop,French Music

Blow-Up Doll has a Clothilde MP3 for y’all. I volunteered to post some album art. So voila.
Here are the liner notes from Swinging Mademoiselle Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 on Clothilde:

Vol 1.
Here comes, without a doubt, my favorite French Female singer of the Swinging 60s! Of course, lets not forget the producer, Mr. Germinal Tenas. Germinal worked with Antoine et les Problemes and he later formed his own band, Chorus Reverendus. He enjoyed mixing traditional pop sounds with weird instruments like French Horn (check out “La queue du chat” on “Ills sont fous ces Gaulois” vol 2.) The result was a strange and splendid baroque pop and every one of the eight song Clothilde and Germinal did together are musts! Clothilde used to say that she was more into painting than music. I’m so frustrated she only had those 2 EPs. I want some more!

Vol 2.
Sasha could not do another volume without including another song from his fave babe. This is another example of Germinal Tenas’ genius when it comes to studio work. He’s the one who brought Clothilde in front of the microphones, because he thought she was the ideal performer for the material he had in mind. She was 19 & more interested in drawing than singing. She was specially scared by the idea of having to sing in front of an audience. We don’t know if it’s true but we heard that she killed herself in the early 709s after her husband left the family home? Sad indeed.

Another site mentioned that Germinal Tenas was actually film producer Christian Fechner but that information is wrong. Even though her music is post 1966, people call her ye-ye and if you use that as a general term, so be it. But Clothilde goes beyond the music of Sheila or Sylvie.

These covers are at 1/3 their size down below so download them to get the full size.

Danyel Gerard
28 January 2006, 4:25 pm
Filed under: 60s French Pop,French Music

Everyone knows Johnny Hallyday as the teen idol of French Pop. And a lot of you may also know what is considered to be the first Rock ‘n’ Roll song – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Mops.” But this song was not sung by teenagers and it was a parody as well. The title is actually a pun (a No-Prize to anyone who knows what the pun is.) The line-up was as follows – Vocals: Henry Cording (pun – Hen –recording, aka Henri Salvador), Music: Big Mike (Michel Legrand), Lyrics: Vernon Sullivan (Boris Vian! — note: merci Thibaut!). Richard Anthony can also be credited with the earliest Rock ‘n’ Roll but he was in his 20s when he started performing.

The first true teenage release was by Danyel Gerard, who released “D’ou viens-tu Billie Boy?” (Where Do You Come From Billie Boy) in 1958, lyrics based on lyrics by Boris Vian! It’s not a great rock ‘n’ roll tune and anyone who wants to argue that it is not rock ‘n’ roll I am more than happy to have that conversation/debate with you. But first you have to tell me how Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” is rock ‘n’ roll. In 1959, after on other EP, Gerard went off to his military service and when he returned he had some Black Socks, Savage Cats and Johnny Hallyday to contend with. He continued to record songs and write for the likes of Johnny, Sylvie, and others.

The fabulous Jean Bouchety is the orchestrator on the “Billie Boy” and the following EP. I have never seen the EP, only a picture and the thing that confuses me is that the first song listed on the cover is not “B.B.” but “When.” However, track listings on covers are never good things to go by. The first two EPs were on Chez Barclay and when he returned from service he was on Polydor. Later EPs were on disc A-Z (ah zed) the label of Lucien Morisse husband of Dalida (who Gerard wrote for) and head of Europe 1. As you can see, the French music industry is rather incestuous.
In the early 70s he had a hit with “Butterfly” but most of us know his whacked-out psychedelic funk tune “Sexologie” from that album because of its appearance on several compilations.

Here is “Billy Boy” and an un-re-released cut from his “America” EP (I am using “America” in my movie and thus didn’t include it.), a cover of “Sugar Shack” with the bizarre title of “Sugar Shake” which I find superior to the original. The French can get away with the cutesy thing sometims. On this EP he is accompanied by real “kids”, as opposed to old jazz musicians, Les Champions!

D’ou viens-tu Billie Boy? (slow)

Sugar Shake (surf- hully gully)

Chantal Kelly
26 January 2006, 5:17 pm
Filed under: 60s French Pop,French Music

One of the first French 45 EPs I ever purchased on eBay was this scrumptious wax of Chantal Kelly. Not only is it her first EP but en totale it is her best. Claude Bolling (who some people might know better from his collaborations with J.P. Rampal the flute player) was the producer/arranger on this and, as far as I can tell, all of Chantal’s EPs.

The songs were written by Chris Carol (Criscarol) who was an older varieté singer who penned for the likes of Piaf and Philippe Clay. The song Caribou was a bit of a hit and Chantal performed it on the TV program Discorama and a few other shows in early ’66. If it sells make more, and Chantal graced us with a total of 4 highly collectible (read “pricey”) EPs. Contrary to popular opinion, though there is a 12″ LP in her discography, it is only a collection of her EPs on into one album. Frenchies didn’t release LP records in the 60s. That’s why Melody Nelson was a big deal. (It wasn’t the first but it was the most significant.)
Cha Cha Charming has pretty much everything that there is to know about her (which isn’t much) and Bide & Musique has the album art for her second EP with the hard hitting semi-hit “Notre prof d’angais.”

Except for a song on an Ultra Chicks comp, Chantal’s ouvre has yet to be re-issued.

This track here is the charming 4th cut on the Caribou EP “Je n’ai que quinze ans” (“I’m only 15″).

Chantal Kelly – Je n’ai quinze ans