It's my first post of the new year and, though late to the game, I wanted to share my favourite music from last year. 2016 was a notoriously terrible year (not that this year is exactly peachy so far!), but thankfully the same can't be said of the music that came out last year. It was, to quote Lisa Simpson's insensitive future fiancé, like a flower that grew out of a pot of dirt. I feel spoiled by the amount and variety of quality music I've been enjoying from last year's offerings. There are the gorgeous vintage European pop sounds of The Yearning and Lia Pamina, the visionary retrofuturism of Adrian Younge, the moving, classic songwriting of Big Smoke, the raw garage rock of The Mystery Lights, some fresh takes on dream pop, and many outings in psychedelic-influenced, experimental pop. Some of these albums have quickly become all-time favourites, not just favourites of the year. Below is a playlist of songs from my most-loved releases of 2016, including albums, singles and EPs, in no particular order. A list of my top eleven albums (I could not narrow it down to ten!) of the year – again, in no specific order – follows it.
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- Britta Phillips - Daydream (Luck Or Magic)
- Big Smoke - Honey, I (Time Is Golden)
- Margo Price - Hands Of Time (Midwest Farmer's Daughter)
- Kadhja Bonet - Fairweather Friend (The Visitor)
- The Yearning - When I Lost You (Evening Souvenirs)
- Le Super Homard - Maple Key (Maple Key)
- Gloria - Show Me Your Trail (Gloria In Excelsis Stereo)
- Lake Ruth - Helium (Actual Entity)
- Adrian Younge Presents Venice Dawn - Ready To Love (Something About April II)
- Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - A Wonderful Seed (Until The Hunter)
- Julia Jacklin - Pool Party (Don't Let The Kids Win)
Name your price download.
- Beverly - Victoria (The Blue Swell)
- Nice As Fuck - Door (Nice As Fuck)
- The Limiñanas - Dahlia Rouge (Malamore)
- The Mystery Lights - Follow Me Home (The Mystery Lights)
- Gaye Su Akyol - Eski tüfek (Hologram İmparatorluğu)
- La Femme - Le vide est ton nouveau prénom (Mystère)
- Lia Pamina - Créeme (Love Is Enough)
- Cat's Eyes - Everything Moves Towards the Sun (Treasure House)
- Innerspace Orchestra - One Way Glass (One Way Glass single)
- Whyte Horses - Peach Tree Street (Pop Or Not)
- Charlie Hilton - Pony (Palana)
- Prudence Rees-Lee - Fair Witness (Fair Witness single)
- Olympia - Smoke Signals (Self Talk)
- Juniore - Panique (Panique single)
- September Girls - Quicksand (Age Of Indignation)
- Heron Oblivion - Your Hollows (Heron Oblivion)
- Delphine Dora - Alpha centauri (Le Fruit de mes songes)
- Morgan Delt - Sun Powers (Phase Zero)
- Charles Bradley - Ain't Gonna Give It Up (Changes)
- The Honey Pot - Almost Exactly Beautiful (Inside The Whale)
- Beautify Junkyards - Constant Flux (Other Voices 08 single)
- Lush - Lost Boy (Blind Spot EP)
- Exploded View - Stand Your Ground (Exploded View)
- Bat For Lashes - In God's House (The Bride)
- Adrian Younge presents The Electronique Void - Black Noise (Black Noise)
- TOY - Dream Orchestrator (Clear Shot)
- Jarvis Cocker - Theme From "Likely Stories" (Likely Stories EP)
- The Galaxy Electric - Nightmares (Everything is Light and Sound)
- Jenny Hval - Female Vampire (Blood Bitch)
- Leonard Cohen - Traveling Light (You Want it Darker)
- John Cunningham - I Can Fly (Fell)
- Paul Kelly - Sonnet 73 (Seven Sonnets & A Song)
- The New Lines - Love and Cannibalism (Love and Cannibalism)
- Mild High Club - Homage (Skiptracing)
- COTE - London (London single)
- Samara Lubelski - What's Up Rider (The Gilded Raid)
Top 11 albums:
I was hoping to do a Christmas mix this year but haven't had a chance, so I thought I'd share one I made very last minute last year. It features Christmas-themed and seasonal yé-yé and rock songs from 1960s France and Québec.
- Alice Dona - Le Noël des copains (France, 1964)
- Jacques Dutronc - La Fille du Père Noël (France, 1966)
- Les Frères Flamingo - C'est Noël dans notre village (Québec)
- Les Milady's - Les Anges dans nos campagnes (Québec, 1967)
- Les Bel Canto - Le Père Noël a pris un coup (Québec, 1967)
- Les Loups - Cette étoile (Québec, 1965)
- Cathie Arel - En rêvant à Noël (France, 1962)
- Richard Anthony - Dis moi pourquoi Noël (France, 1961)
- Guy Boucher - Neige à gogo (Québec, 1965)
- Christie Laume - L'Adorable Femmes des neiges (France, 1967)
- Michèle Richard - Cloches d'argent (Québec, 1965)
- Les Intimes - Nous allons nous amuser (Québec, 1965)
- Les Baronets - Cet hiver je n'aurai plus froid (Québec, 1965)
- Les Roche Martin - Il est temps de penser à la neige (France, 1967)
- Christophe - Noël (France, 1965)
- Delphine Desyeux - L'hiver (France, 1967)
- France Gall - Chasse-neige (France, 1971)
- Les Chantels - La Fée des étoiles (Québec, 1966)
In case you were wondering, "dans le vent" (literally, "in the wind") is a term that was used in France at the time to denote something was hip, trendy, in fashion. A source I have from 1967 says the term came about as an equivalent to the English "up to date", which other terms like "avant-garde" and "à la page" didn't quite convey. If you've seen any sixties French youth magazines from the time like Salut les copains or Mademoiselle age tendre, you'll see the phrase plastered all over its pages, in article headings and advertisements. I'm not sure exactly when it started but it was around by 1963 and had really taken off by 1964. The Beatles film A Hard Day's Night was released as 4 garçons dans le vent in France and Quatre gars dans le vent in Québec – essentially, "Four hip guys".
An eleventh-hour discovery in the RTS archives as I was about to publish the last entry, this video was too good a find to tack onto the end of that post as an afterthought. It's a terrific 1966 Swiss television special starring Jacques Dutronc entitled Rendez-vous au bowling. This is the year the 23-year-old Dutronc launched his singing career and became an instant megastar in France, topping the charts with his first single 'Et moi et moi et moi' and selling over a million copies of his debut album. Here, Dutronc is as charismatic and dapper as ever as he performs some of the best tracks from his first album, like 'La Compapade', 'La Fille du Père Noël' and 'Les Playboys', and shows off his comedic skills in skits between songs. Most of the performances are lip-synced but Dutronc and his backing band, including Alain Chamfort on organ, do a dynamic live rendition of 'Les Cactus'.
A welcome surprise was the appearance of yé-yé girl Pussy Cat performing 'Ce n'est pas une vie', her cover of the Small Faces' 'Sha-La-La-La-Lee'. Born Evelyne Courtois, Pussy Cat is a very interesting figure in the 1960s French pop scene. A songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, she founded the only all-female band of the decade, Les Petites Souris, before going onto a solo career where she recorded some excellent, mostly Anglocentric covers, and later some self-penned material.
When the credits rolled, I noticed the name of another of the era's most fascinating girls, Stella, who wrote biting satires of the yé-yé scene. I was bummed that she was missing from this video, but luckily found her in another clip from the show:
- Eva - Moon River (1974)
- Eddie Lee Mattison - El río de la luna (1972)
A joyous, uptempo pair of covers of the Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer classic, 'Moon River'. Eddie Lee Mattison's version is a pop reggae take (similar to Greyhound's version, as someone at 45cat notes) sung in Spanish, which I've ripped from the vinyl single.
Eva's funk cover comes from a CD reissue of her 1974 self-titled album. Born Eva Correia José Maria, Eva was usually known as Evinha. At just seven years old, she formed the vocal group Trio Esperança with her brother and sister. The trio, whose recordings mostly fit the Jovem Guarda style, scored a number of hits throughout the sixties. Evinha left them in 1968 and went onto a successful solo career. The group continued without her – replacing her with another sister – until the 90s, when she rejoined them.
Links: Evinha on AllMusic.
Spiked Candy kicked off with a France Gall video and a Quebecoise France Gall cover, so for old times' sake, I thought I'd start again the same way:
This is a clip from an episode of a music show called Au risque de vous plaire which originally aired on the 10th of January, 1969. The episode, directed by Jean-Christophe Averty, is creative and colourful, making the most of the relatively new colour format. They've gone a bit nuts with the technique of using graphics to frame the footage, with fun results like those seen here. (The video may take a few moments to load).
I love Canadian girl Claire Lepage's take on France Gall's 1964 single, 'Le Premier Chagrin d'amour', which has lyrics by France's father, Robert Gall, and music by Claude Henri-Vic. In her slowed-down, more grown-up-sounding version, the 'first heartbreak' of the title sounds like it's about something that had more at stake than France Gall's lost teen love. Claire's version comes two year later, in 1966, which is a little unusual as international covers tended to appear soon after the original.
I've also made a playlist* of France Gall covers - 30 of them!
The clip above is a fab girls-with-guitars sequence from the 1967 Greek musical comedy Oi thalassies oi hadres (Οι θαλασσιές οι χάντρες, "The Blue Beads"). A group of men have been lured to the modern club Crazy Girls, hearing rock refrains drifting into their own club, situated nearby in the Plaka, where they play traditional bazouki music. Sitting in on the rehearsal of the house band, the men appreciatively gawk at lead singer Mary, played by Zoe Laskari (Ζωή Λάσκαρη), who cuts a stunning figure in her red sweater and gorgeous knee-high red boots. Toward the end of the clip, we see the band perform to a packed, groovy dancefloor that night. Mary will soon fall for one of the bazouki players, setting up a theme of modern versus traditional values and how a traditional place handles the influence of modernity.
The entire movie can be watched here. Though it has no English subtitles, you may still find it enjoyable, as I did. It can be vaguely followed, particularly at the beginning when the American character says quite a few basic pieces of dialogue in English. The musical numbers alone, especially the gloriously choreographed fantasy sequences, are worth watching it for. 'Crazy Girl' is the only rock song, but the more traditional music is beautiful.
That said, I do hope to see a subtitled version one day, because the film has more to offer than being a light romp with optional dialogue. Greek blog Zalmoxis discusses viewing the film with a fresh perspective after reading an academic article by Michael Kokkoni which credits Oi thalassies oi hadres as representing an important turning point in Greek cinema. It was an unusually high quality production for the time, no easy feat considering the film industry faced "indifference from the state [and] heavy taxation".
Until I watched the video above and the Zoe Kouroukli clips posted in the last entry (all originally posted by balubashake), I thought Zoe Kouroukli and Zoe Laskari were the same person and was about to print Laskari's life story as Kouroukli's. You see, Laskari was also born Zoe Kouroukli, and between attempting to read poorly translated Greek and coming across sites understandably confusing the two women, I came to the wrong conclusion. The excellent Vangelis Movements site, for example, has a page on Zoe Kouroukli which states singer Kouroukli competed for Greece in Miss Universe in 1959, which was actually Laskari. Another article mentions Laskari in a blurb on Zoe & The Stormies, and with auto-translators not providing any clarity, I guessed the name was mentioned as an alias or stage name.
I'm sure if Emily Post had foreseen to write etiquette guidelines for music bloggers, having a Christmas post as one's latest entry as we begin, *gulp*, May would be considered a dreadful faux pas. Once again, I've found myself on an unintended hiatus from blogging, and I'm hoping to get back to posting regularly. For now at least, it's time for my blog to cease to be the virtual equivalent of a home strewn with tattered decorations and a sad Christmas tree wilting away months after 'twas the season.
Recently, I picked up an excellent CD compilation called Greek Beat Greats, released by Gyro Records. This is definitely not a CD to judge by its cover: the artwork alone, with a polite-looking combo hovering in the sky over a generic picture of the Acropolis, would make me fear I'm in for something supremely dodgy, akin to what I'd find in my parents' vast collection of 70s Greek "easy"-listening records. Thankfully, that's not the case. Instead, it's packed with 29 fun, melodic, upbeat tracks from the 60s Greek garage scene. Greek Beat Greats is Vol. 4 in a Gyro's Wildworld series (Vols 1, 2 and 3 featured 60s garage from around the world, Japan and Italy respectively).
The entire CD is worth getting your hands on, but I was particularly excited by a surprising find in the form of the very last track. 'Let's Shake, Baby'* by Zoe & The Stormies is an English-language cover of France Gall's 'Laisse tomber les filles'. A Greek 60s cover of 'Laisse tomber les filles' in English! Who knew?! (Just the one mention of it online is at Garage Hangover - one that, likely due to the misspelling, escaped even my prided Google super-skills at first).
out of print
- February 19 2017
- February 2 2017
- December 24 2016
- December 23 2016
- November 25 2016
- November 19 2016
- November 11 2016
- October 29 2016
- October 7 2016
- September 1 2016
- August 29 2016
- July 30 2016
- July 19 2016
- July 14 2016
- Wed, Jun 15 2016
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