Project: Yéyé Girl Comps
When I first discovered music blogs, part of the pleasure for me was how each blog post would serve as a tribute to a song the blog author was in love with. They'd write a thoughtful blurb that you'd keep in mind while digesting this exciting song from a newfound artist. Even those that are sparser on written content could still serve up songs one at a time in a way that let you absorb them as a connoisseur, their blog serving as an evolving playlist of songs that would complement and draw out qualities in each song, enhancing your appreciation of the music.
Hearing one song at a time means that you heartily absorb all its charms, while it also acts as a tease, leaving you wanting more and likely to seek out more. Collecting things legitimately from all the artists you discover on your fave blogs doesn't have to break the bank - it just takes some diligence and resourcefulness to find bargains. Sales, second-hand music, indie labels that sell CDS/vinyl for dirt cheap, Emusic and of course - insisting your friends and family refer to your Amazon wishlist before every birthday and Christmas. Besides, it's always fun to have a long wish list of things, and to look forward to getting your very own copy of some delicious album, even if you know it won't be for some time. Things that are out of print are readily found on Soulseek and other sharing networks, and it's still part of the fun to track music down this way. This is why I always enjoyed the mp3 blog as something to steer you in a certain direction, not some holy hand you have to rely on to dole out the goods.*
Because I love reading and being a (mostly) single-song blog, and because I know French 60s comps are easily found on peer networks, I've never been tempted to share any French 60s comps in their entirety before. But now I'm launching Project: YéYé Girl Comps, where I'm going to post everything from two classic series of comps with the blessing of the compilers behind them. First up is Swinging Mademoiselle.
So why now? A few reasons. In my last post I mentioned that it's a minor issue for me that comps don't get credit on a lot of blogs as the source of what's being shared. It's not absolutely de rigeur - some know that posting the song alone will inspire curiosity in the reader who'll find out more of his/her own accord. But there are times - like when a reader's questions of 'where do you find this amazing stuff?', 'can you rip the b-side too?', etc. go unanswered - that I think the compilers of these superb volumes deserve a little credit.
After all, they're responsible for getting some incredible forgotten music heard all around the world. Am I likely to stumble across a Clothilde EP in an Australian fleamarket? Not a chance! We're so lucky these lovers of all the weird, wacky wonderful yé-yé, freakbeat and assorted unusual pop sung by utterly charismatic, often anonymous French 60s girls had a burning desire to share their finds with the public. Otherwise, 1960s French pop and rock may only have been known as a scene characterised by weaker rehashes of English-language hits, and we might not know the depth of imagination, experimentation, humour and genius that was regularly going into making pop music in France back then. And some of us may never have developed a crippling Ebay addiction ... oh well, I can live with that. Sure, we later got legitimate releases like Femmes De Paris and Pop A Paris, but I think credit has to go to the earlier bootlegs for showing there was a taste for this music out there and kicking off a boom of French 60s comps. Plus I think the original bootlegs are the most fun, with the best collection of songs.
A large portion of material from these comps ends up posted on blogs - either on a single blog, or among several - without acknowledgement of its source. That means that not only do the compilers not get the credit they deserve, a lot of readers don't know exactly what to seek out in order to find more. I also realise now, from the enthusiastic reception blog posts get on here and elsewhere for songs I thought were not that hard to come by, that not everyone has mastered the skill of milking P2P for out-of-print comps, or has a friend who can make them a copy. So what I want to do is not only make sure that everyone interested in this genre of music gets to listen to these seminal comps, but to present the collections as a whole, so the entire mix can be heard in its original form. Hopefully that will create an appreciation that someone put these wonderful mixes together. The songs are strong on their own, but there's definitely an art to the careful selection and placement of songs. It's what makes these compilations great.
There's another reason: there is so, so much more out there to share beyond what has been comped. So far I've found 60s French pop to be a seemingly endless goldmine. Because I can't usually afford the records by artists that have been popularised by these legendary comps - like Ms Jacqueline Taieb, for example - I often take a chance on something I've never heard of, like Jany L. Sure I might nab the occasional dud (there are plenty of ordinary songs that can fool you with groovy covers), but I still marvel at the oodles of quality unknown cuts I come across. The best are as great as what you'll find on these beloved comps. Not always, as the earlier comps really did include the most extraordinary stuff, but there are still many enjoyable, exciting songs out there. That includes more songs by the compiled artists as well as ones by total unknowns.
I think everyone who loves yé-yé girls should have a copy of the comps I'm going to post as a starting point - they should be textbooks for students of the genre! So Professor Candy is here to help put copies in every deprived household! Once you have completed your required listening, it lets me set a challenge to myself and other bloggers: to start sharing stuff that not many have heard before and that are even harder to find. There is a wealth of criminally ignored and/or forgotten music waiting to be heard.
So on to the music that awaits your ears: Swinging Mademoiselle Vol. 1, released in 1999. Thank you kindly to Thierry for giving me his blessing to post these. Although these were unofficial releases so he can't give me official permission, I still wanted to make sure it would be OK to share something he worked hard to put together and that is essentially his creation. More about Thierry and Swinging Mademoiselle in my next post. For now, the tunes:
- Stella - L'Idole des jaunes
- Cosette - L'Idéalisation
- Liliane - Vivre comme dans les livres
- Christine Pilzer - Dracula
- Cédric and Cléo - Le jour se lèvera sur tu ça
- Delphine - Les Prisons de sa majesté
- Elizabeth - Je suis sublime
- Charlotte Leslie - Les filles c'est fait pour faire l'amour
- Berthe - Comment passer à la télé
- Cléo - Madame la terre (et ron et ron...)
- Pussycat - Les temps ont changé
- Stone - Fille ou garçon
- Elsa Leroy - Mieux vaut tard que jamais
- Clothilde - Saperlipopette
- Elsa - Ailleurs
- Françoise - Hum ! Hum !
- Berthe - Les Emberthements
- Stella - Si vous connaissez quelque-chose de pire qu'un vampire, parlez m'en toujours, ça pourra peut-être me faire sourire
- Stone - C'est ma vie
- Pussy Cat - Ce n'est pas un vie
- Cosette - Les Cheveux dans les yeux
- Delphine - La Fermeture Éclair
- Elizabeth - Madame Superman
- Clothilde - Fallait pas écraser la queue du chat
- Charlotte Leslie - Allez tu peux souffrir
- Christine Pilzer - Café crème
- Marie Laforêt - Marie douceur, Marie colère
- Sylvie Vartan - Donne moi ton amour
*Thanks to the reader that pointed out Francoise's 'Hum! Hum!' is faulty. A working version is now up.*
*And to the reader that pointed out the artist/title tags are reversed on the first few songs.*
Unfortunately I don't have a copy of the original vinyl, but I do have CD-R copies thanks to Thierry which include photocopied liner notes. Click each thumbnail to see the liner notes:
A note of caution: avoid the 2005 CD comp named Swinging Mademoiselles. It's obviously an attempt to capitalise on a familiar title and reputation. I'll never understand the impulse that says 'someone else thought of that; I'll take it!'. If not out of good conscience, at least for the embarrassment factor alone. One reviewer on Amazon even suggests they used the original Swinging Mademoiselle as a source for at least one song! Here's my cranky Amazon customer review of it:
Annoyingly, this brazenly rips off the title of the well-known - and much more lovingly compiled - Swinging Mademoiselle compilations. Everything about it is as unoriginal and careless as the borrowed title, from the songs attributed to the wrong artists to the generic, uninformative liner notes. Not to mention that every track is available on other compilations. A listless attempt to cash in on a trend and others' good taste and hard work.
Yes, the music itself is wonderful, but instead go for the superior Femmes De Paris and Pop A Paris compilations, or try to track down the original Swinging Mademoiselle or Ultra Chicks comps.
*Of course, vinyl share blogs are a different kettle of fish, where generous souls put in a great effort to rip their collections of rare vinyl goodies that chances are most of us will never stumble across. In these cases it's great they're the 'holy hand'. They're often the very first source of this music on the web, including P2P. I should note, after mentioning my distaste for plagiarism, quite a few vinyl share blogs copy do copy wiki entries to accompany the records they post, but I don't regard this the same way I regard plagiarism on song blogs. I'd still prefer them to clearly attribute, but at least it's clearer from the context they've included a large chunk of text they didn't write, which is different from cobbling together a few different sources and adding a few of your own words, presented in a way a visitor is right to expect they are reading the blogger's own personal commentary. Hey, I've been fooled before - and then deeply disappointed as both a reader and a fellow blogger. Besides which, with all the effort these vinyl share bloggers go to, they're clearly not about taking shortcuts and likely just include a Wiki bio as an added courtesy.