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:
The song is the brilliantly and verbosely titled 'Si vous connaissez quelque chose de pire qu'un vampire, parlez m'en toujours, ça pourra peut-être me faire sourire', which translates to 'If you know of something worse than a vampire, always tell me about it, it might make me smile'. (You can find a translation of the lyrics here). Stella also briefly shows up in a comic sketch at the end of another clip, where Genevan beat group The Gentlemen (aka The Wild Gentlemen) perform 'Gilly Gilly':
Links: RFI – Jacques Dutronc biography, The Guardian – Cult Heroes: Jacques Dutronc - the epitome of 60s pop chic, ChaChaCharming – Stella interview by Pink Frankenstein, Ready Steady Girls – Pussy Cat.