While flipping through my collection of vintage French magazines the other day, I came across an interesting little segment in the October 1966 issue of Salut les copains, France's enormously popular and influential youth music magazine that launched in 1962 to complement the radio show of the same name. It features Françoise Hardy sharing her ten current favourite songs, as part of a running segment where popular music stars were asked to create their own 'hit parade'.
Hardy's tastes encompassed a variety of popular genres of the time, from the easy listening of Frank Sinatra and Petula Clark to the garage rock of Syndicate of Sound and The Troggs, whose 'Wild Thing' she calls "breathtaking". Most of the picks here are from the USA and UK, as was more fashionable by that time than homegrown music. Hardy, though, was no bandwagon jumper and had long been a fan of Anglo-American sounds. She often had the chance to hear new British music when she ducked across the channel to record an album or play some venues, and she mentions buying Syndicate of Sound's 'Little Girl' in London and seeing Dusty Springfield perform 'Goin' Back' on Ready Steady Go! A couple of her fellow Gallic singer-songwriters are represented here in Michel Polnareff ("She could have cited any other of Michel's songs, she loves them all equally"), and Antoine, who had debuted nearly a year earlier and transformed the local scene.
I've playlisted her choices so you can immerse yourself in what the wonderful Ms Hardy was grooving to 50 years ago:
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:
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!
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).
This blog has gained many new readers since I first posted my Spiked Candy Canes mixes in 2005, so I thought I'd share them again for anyone who missed out the first time around. Hopefully they'll give you an idea of the abundance of lesser-known but fun, interesting, weird or sometimes beautiful Christmas songs that are out there, and maybe introduce you to some artists you haven't heard before. If you're looking for more info and links to purchase anything that's still in print, have a look through the December 2005 and the December 2006 archives.
'The Coldest Night Of The Year' can be found on the Vashti Bunyan comp Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind: Singles and Demos 1964-1967. I can't find a Twice As Much CD still in print that the song appears on, but if you know otherwise, please leave a comment. - Spiked Candy
Twice as much were a folk-rock duo signed to Immediate Records in 1966. Despite getting 'the big push' by Andrew Loog Oldham, commercial success remained elusive, although their songwriting skills have found a better reception in Northern Soul and girl group circles. Ironically, their finest hour as performers comes from the pens of the mighty Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill. Vashti Bunyan, meanwhile, needs no introduction from me, in the light of her current (and to me, slightly bewildering) hipness among new folk fashionistas.
This is one of those records to play to friends and watch their faces light up. Adopting a similar call and response theme to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" but replacing its knowing wink-wink-nudge-nudge kitsch with a beautifully understated subtext of barely restrained teenage libido, "The Coldest Night of the Year" comes topped off with a gently cajoling melody and, yes, those all-important sleighbells. The boys forlornly plead with Vashti out of sending them home into the North Wind, and instead 'letting a cuddle appear'. And when you hear Vashti's final, breathless, assent to temptation, it's all you can do not to cheer.
Before I bring you Part Deux of Swinging Mademoiselle, I'm going to briefly interrupt with my Halloween special, to ensure these tasty, eerie delights reach your goodie bags in time. We certainly can't miss Halloween! After all, Spiked Candy owes its name to those scary tales of unsuspecting trick-or-treaters receiving a dose of deadly poison in their sweet treats. Apparently these are nothing more than tales: "The number of kids confirmed to have been critically injured by spiked Halloween candy is ... zero" (The Halloween Scare). So while thankfully the grisly act of spiking candy is only a myth, fear not: Spiked Candy, the blog, is very real. Don't believe me? Blast these spook-themed tunes until your ears tingle, just to be sure. Ladies first:
Once again a huge thank you to Carl for sending this one my way! 'Mon joli vampire' is the B-side to 'Herald Tribune', posted here. This seems to be it for all the Jany L. songs ever released, so now you have the complete ultra-rare set! It's in a similar vein to her other tracks, with her rather sensuous voice offset by sweet, tinkly instrumentation. Listen to that catchy toy piano riff that owes more than a little to the Velvet Underground's 'Sunday Morning'.
Also in the waaay-too-cute-to-be-at-all-scary category:
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
- Tue, Nov 21 2006
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