Saturday, 31 October 2009

Quelle Horreur!

I promised my friends Nick and Jane a French Hallowe'en CD for their party, so I thought I might as well post it here. There are a few Yé-Yé classics and some truly freaky oddities guaranteed to give you the heebie-jeebies*.

1. Stella - Si vous connaissez quelque-chose de pire qu'un vampire, parlez m'en toujours, ça pourra peut-être me faire sourire
2. Serge Gainsbourg - Docteur Jekyll Et Monsieur Hyde
3. Christine Pilzer - Dracula
4. Les Maledictus Sound - Kriminal Theme
5. Evariste - Connais-Tu I'animal Qui Inventa Le Calcul Integral
6. France Gall - Frankenstein
7. Jany L. - Mon Joli Vampire
8. Gérard Manset - Animal on est mal
9. Les Maledictus Sound - Monster Cocktail
10. Nicole Paquin - Mon Mari C'est Frankenstein
11. Brigitte Bardot - Le Diable Est Anglais
12. Stereo Total - Film D'Horreur

[*I'm pretty sure I picked up a few of the tracks on other blogs over the last few years, so hopefully they won't mind me re-posting]

L’amour à trois

Some of you may have been lucky enough to see the sublimely chaotic Stereo Total at The Luminaire in London town on Thursday. If you did, you will also have been unlucky enough to witness my brief cameo during their set...

It certainly wasn't a planned appearance... And it was mighty strange being on a stage with nothing to do, so I grabbed Françoise's drum sticks and banged along Stray Cats-style on a bar stool. Then I accidentally hit her on the hand (oops), then all of a sudden I was the filling in a Brezel/Françoise mock-gang-bang sandwich.

Thankfully there doesn't yet appear to be any footage on t'internet, but this will give you a bit of an idea of how it was (awkward!?!)

If you go to the special 'superhits' section of the Stereo Total website you can download the song.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Bandwidth limit exceeded again

Hmmm. It would appear we have exceeded the bandwidth limit on at least one of our file hosting spaces again - that's at least 3 months in a row!

I'm looking into alternative hosting spaces, but in the meantime it might be nice if some of you lovely people who enjoy downloading the mp3 files could find the time to leave a comment. Just a few words would do, so I don't feel quite so much like I'm simply whispering into the void.

Love and Electronics

ps You should all make sure you watch the BBC4 documentary Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany
(60 mins, available on the iPlayer until 1st November)
Documentary which looks at how a radical generation of musicians created a new German musical identity out of the cultural ruins of war.

Between 1968 and 1977 bands like Neu!, Can, Faust and Kraftwerk would look beyond western rock and roll to create some of the most original and uncompromising music ever heard. They shared one common goal - a forward-looking desire to transcend Germany's gruesome past - but that didn't stop the music press in war-obsessed Britain from calling them Krautrock.
Additional viewing: Kraftwerk: Minimum-Maximum (60 mins, available until 30th October), which hopefully will not be just footage of them standing dummy-like behind laptops as the image suggests.
Compilation of live performances by the godfathers of electronic music, Kraftwerk. Filmed during the Teutonic foursome's 2004 world tour and featuring some of their most notable tracks, including Autobahn, Radioactivity and Trans Europe Express.

Friday, 23 October 2009

L'Amour Electronique et le Chat Fantastique

Come to L'Amour Electronique this Saturday!

ps I heard this for the first time on the wireless the other day and now I am a smitten kitten.
>>>Takako Minekawa's Fantastic Cat = Japanese electro-pop JOY!

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Great Bleep Forward

You know that woman wailing operatically on the theme tune to Star Trek? Well it is not a woman. It is the Ondes Martenot.

Yes, more homework: This time it's 6Music's 4-part history of Electronic Music The Great Bleep Forward (2004)

Episode 1 (30 mins, available until 25 Oct) explores the history of electronic music, from the early pioneers to the birth of punk and the bloated retreat of prog in 1977.

I wish it had paid a lot more attention to the early instrument makers, rather than dismissing them as a bunch of egomaniacs for naming the instruments after themselves (they had no other points of reference, what else could they have called them?)

Episode 2 (30 mins, available until 27 Oct) covers the emergence of bands with synths during and post-punk. Apparently OMD used to just stick their synths under their arms and get on the train to gigs (They obviously never had an Arp Omni - 19.5kg and built like a tank!). We hear from nearly all the late 70's/early 80's synth bands and their daily struggle with temperamental analogue technology. Oh, and the arrival of the DX-7.

Episode 3 (30 mins, available until 28 Oct) introduces sampling, from its roots in musique concrète, via the Mellotron (including the legendary cheesy-listening patches see below), through the Fairlight CMI, industrial sounds, record sampling, and drum machines (scourge of the drummer corps of the Musicians Union). And somehow completely omits any reference to the late 70's New York Hip Hop and Electro scene.

Episode 4 (30 mins, airs at midnight tonight 22-23 Oct, and will be available until 29 Oct) Here's what you can expect, a glimpse of what could be happening now from 2004:

In the final part of the series, Andrew Collins gives us a glimpse of the electronic future as it appeared to him in 2004. As electronic music reaches maturity, new artists are going back to the original synthesizers and mixing them with the most up to date technology to create new fusions. Computers rule the planet and music. You no longer need to be a musician to make music, you can be a programmer. Vintage instruments can be re-created on your laptop. Electronics have become sophisticated in the live environment with bands like radiohead sampling and replaying vocals during a live track. You can buy a software singer and guitarist for under £200 each. Have we finally created Kraftwerk's Man Machine?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

more homework

Another bit of prep-work for L'Amour Electronique this weekend:

Last Friday night BBC4 showed Synth Britannia
"Documentary following a generation of post-punk musicians who took the synthesiser from the experimental fringes to the centre of the pop stage.

In the late 1970s, small pockets of electronic artists including the Human League, Daniel Miller and Cabaret Voltaire were inspired by Kraftwerk and JG Ballard and dreamt of the sound of the future against the backdrop of bleak, high-rise Britain.

The crossover moment came in 1979 when Gary Numan's appearance on Top of the Pops with Tubeway Army's Are Friends Electric heralded the arrival of synthpop. Four lads from Basildon known as Depeche Mode would come to own the new sound whilst post-punk bands like Ultravox, Soft Cell, OMD and Yazoo took the synth out of the pages of the NME and onto the front page of Smash Hits.

By 1983, acts like Pet Shop Boys and New Order were showing that the future of electronic music would lie in dance music.

Contributors include Philip Oakey, Vince Clarke, Martin Gore, Bernard Sumner, Gary Numan and Neil Tennant."

[available on the iPlayer for 5 more days.]

I particularly enjoyed the footage of Walter-now-Wendy Carlos with a Moog modular system towering over him, and Daniel Miller in his analogue-nest showing off Kraftwerk's original Autobahn vocoder *drooooool*

ADDITIONAL VIEWING: Synth Britannia at The BBC

TIP: don't watch either of them with a pair of Synth-nerds like Verity and I, we'll only sit there going "That's not a MiniKorg 700s, it's a MiniKorg 700", and wondering why they didn't choose some better Roxy Music footage with more Eno synth-action.

SETLIST from 26 September 2009

We were joined by guest DJ Nick Hills (with a silent H) and his trusty box of seven-inch disques des années Sixties. Verity was busy finishing her PhD, and so there were just three.

Here’s the setlist, with our picks of the night, including TWO Kinks cover versions - one in French and one on Synths:

Devo – Patterns
David Bowie – Fashion
Roxy Music – The Thrill of it All
Les Roche Martin – Les Mains Dans Les Poches
France Gall – Baby Pop
Serge Gainsbourg – Le Poinçonneur des Lilas
Stereo Total – Cannibale
Large Number – The Number People
Chicks on Speed – Give Me Back My Man
Ladytron – Olivetti Jerk
Gillian Hills – Oublie
Stereo Total – Exakt Neutral
Monty – Que Me Reste-t-il
Silicon Teens – You Really Got Me
Petula Clark – Si, C’est Oui, C’est Oui
Japan – Quiet Life
Jean et Janet – Je T’aime Normal
Brigitte Bardot – Contact
Marie Laforêt (avec Gérard Klein) – Le Vin De L’été
Koko Von Napoo – Polly
Anna Karina – Rollergirl
Rokes – The Works of Bartholomew
Antoine – La Tramontana
Rokes – Siamo Sotto Il Sole
Michel Polnareff – La Mouche
Erick St Laurent – Eleonor Rigby
Les Compagnans de la Chanson – Le Sous-Marin Vert
Petula Clark – Un Jeune Homme Bien
Sylvie Vartan – De Ma Vie
Sylvie Vartan – Moi Je Danse
Claude François – Si Tu Veux Etre Heureux
Claude François – Comment Fais-tu?
France Gall – Laisse Tomber Les Filles
Brigitte Bardot – La Madrague
Chantal Goya – Mon Ange Gardien
Ria Bartok – J'y Pense Tout Bas
Sylvie Vartan – Irrésistiblement
Tom Tom Club – On, On, On, On (remix version)
Toni Basil – You Gotta Problem
A-Ha – We’re Looking For The Whales
The Associates – 18 Carat Love Affair
The Human League – Crow and A Baby
Soft Cell – Chips On My Shoulder
Isabelle – Amstramgram
Katsen – Let’s Build A City
Les Shades – Orage Mecanique
Jacques Brel – Jacky
Françoise Cactus – You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory
Ultravox – Vienna
Françoise Hardy – Non, Ce N’est Pas Un Rêve
Bertrand Burgalat & Robert Wyatt – This Summer Night
Die Dorau & Die Marinas – Fred Vom Jupiter
[we have no song data for Nick’s set]
Michèle Richard – Dou Da Dou
Alice Dona – Les Trois Couleurs De L'Amour
Brigitte Bardot – Le Soleil
Chantal Goya – La Pluie Du Ciel
Depeche Mode – Master and Servant
Euryhtmics – Love Is A Stranger
Tubeway Army – Are Friends Electric?
The Human League – Rock ‘n’ Roll
Stereo Total – Orange Mecanique
Jean-Michel Jarre – Oxygene pt.4
John Foxx – No One Driving
Jean-Claude Vannier - L’Enfant Au Royaume Des Mouches
Ronnie Bird – Chante
Bazooka – Dada Dodo (version instrumental)
Eileen – Ces Bottes Sont Faites Pour Marcher
Antoine – Les Élucubrations D’Antoine
Dave Rogers - theme from Cybernoid (Zx Spectrum 128K)
Serge Gainsbourg et Brigitte Bardot – Bonnie & Clyde
Françoise Hardy – Pourtant Tu M’aimes
Röyksopp feat. Robyn – The Girl and The Robot
Michèle et Ses Wouaps – Dam Dam
Datarock – Computer Camp Love
Dauerfisch – So Gut!
Buggles – Video Killed The Radio Star
Jean-Claude Vannier – Danse De L’Enfant Et Du Roi Des Mouches /
French language disques - Numbers
Delphine – La Fermature Éclair
Michel Polnareff – Qui a Tue Grand’maman
Sebastien Tellier – Divine
Denim – Romeo Jones Is In Love Again
Add N to (X) – Incinerator No.1
Stereo Total – Tu M’as Voulue
Chantal Kelly – Notre Prof D’Anglias
Stella – L’Idole Des Jaunes
Magnetic Fields – I Thought You Were My Boyfriend
Brezel Göring – Ich Bin So Süchtig
The Blue Minkies – You Make Me Blush
Luke Haines – Off My Rocker At The Art School Bop
Au Revoir Simone – Shadows
French Language disque – Thank You/Merci … Goodbye/Au Revoir

mp3 selection
Silicon Teens – You Really Got Me
[buy Silicon Teens: iTunes | Mute Records shop]
Petula Clark – Un Jeune Homme Bien
[buy Petula Clark:]
Denim – Romeo Jones Is In Love Again

[buy Denim: iTunes |]

Saturday, 17 October 2009


In preparation for this weeks L'Amour Electronique, you should all be listening to La Chanson de Serge: The Serge Gainsbourg Story which was aired on BBC Radio 2 last Wednesday. It will be on the iPlayer until 20th October (so there's a few days if you missed the first broadcast).

Malcolm Mclaren is your guide, and thankfully he leaves the self-aggrandisation for the last 15 minutes, where he assimilates various personal exploits/happenings-he's-taken-claim-for into the last few years of Serge's life (though on the whole I have to say I was quite impressed with Mclaren's French accent, save for a few clangers).

There are many, more insightful, anecdotes from people who worked with Serge, or have been influenced by his vast output, including Petula Clark, Jane Birkin, Francoise Hardy, Alan Hawkshaw, David Holmes, Mick Harvey, and Gainsbourg-biographer Sylvie Simmons.

So go and listen to it, before it's too late.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

l’histoire de Bonnie and Clyde

In homage to Brigitte Bardot who celebrated her 75th birthday last Monday, we bring you l’histoire de BONNIE AND CLYDE.

The year was 1967, Serge Gainsbourg had landed the job of writing and directing a few musical numbers for Le Bardot Show. A working relationship very quickly developed into a series of steamy romantic liaisons, much to the chagrin of every other Frenchman opening his copy of France Soir to see paprazzi snaps of their divine B.B. arm-in-arm with her frog prince, whom she nicknamed “gueule d’amour” or “love face”.

Their courtship didn’t all run smoothly for the louche, chain-smoking Serge, though: After a disastrous early-date, Bardot sent him packing, and requested that, by way of penance, he write her “the most beautiful love song you can imagine”.

He came crawling back the next day, bleary-eyed, a Gitane between his lips and a glint in his eye. A sleepless night had yielded not one, but two, love songs: Bonnie and Clyde, and Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus.

Gainsbourg based the lyrics to Bonnie and Clyde on The Story of Bonnie and Clyde (The Trail's End)
 a poem written by (the real) Bonnie Parker.

Gainsbourg and Bardot duetted as the heroes/villains, having apparently hi-jacked Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway’s wardrobe from the film of the same name (released in August 1967).

Mise en scène: a dingy hideout; Serge skulks furtively in the shadows, with a shoulder-holster and a cigarette; Bardot smolders, all panda-eyed in beret, maxi-jupe and bobbed wig, a tommy-gun perched on her knee.

Serge & Brigitte = Bonnie and Clyde (lyrics: once-removed, costumes: twice-removed)

Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot – Bonnie and Clyde
[buy Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot: iTunes |]

Mick Harvey recorded an English version of Bonnie & Clyde with Anita Lane in 1995, for his album Intoxicated Man (Songs of Serge Gainsbourg sung in English). Together with Alan Chamberlain he translated the lyrics from Serge’s French words, taking it one step further away from Bonnie Parker’s original poem. Anita Lane’s vocal is more sultry than Bardot’s deadpan delivery, and they even manage to nail the sounds-like-someone-punching-a-baboon-in-a-cage cuíca sound.

Mick Harvey & Anita Lane = Bonnie and Clyde (lyrics: twice-removed)

Mick Harvey with Anita Lane – Bonnie & Clyde
[buy Mick Harvey: iTunes |]

Also released in 1995: Luna made two French language versions of the song. These are more direct cover-versions of the Bardot-Gainsbourg duet, with frontman Dean Wareham as Clyde Barrow and Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier guesting as a slightly-softer-in-delivery-than-Bardot Bonnie Parker. The Clyde Barrow version matches the original for pace and it seems they even got someone to do a valiant impersonation of a monkey being tickled for the cuíca sounds (not sure if they got credited in the liner notes, mind). The Bonnie Parker version is more languid and pensive, with some shimmering wah-guitar - Bonnie & Clyde stripped bare, if you will. Both songs were re-mastered for the Best of Luna album in 2006 - the Bonnie Parker version fared particularly badly, losing a lot of the atmosphere and claustrophobia of this earlier mix.

Dean Wareham & Lætitia Sadier = Bonnie and Clyde (lyrics: once-removed)

Luna – Bonnie & Clyde (Clyde Barrow version)
Luna – Bonnie & Clyde (Bonnie Parker version)
[buy Luna: iTunes |]

And in 1998, Baby Birkin made a sugary lo-fi pop album of English versions of French language songs from les années sixties. It was called Classée X, and it was produced by Russell Senior who’d just jumped from the good-ship Pulp.

The vinyl version included a fun extended romp through Francis Lai’s instrumental St. Tropez (which was released on the 1968 album Brigitte Bardot Show or Special Bardot. Confusingly it was not featured in the TV special of the same name and year), which UK readers may remember from the low-rent opening credits of Eurotrash. The Baby Birkins had penned some witty anecdotal lyrics about holiday romance on a French exchange trip – “He said dansez-vous? I said askez-vous?”

The CD release of Classée X was missing the Eurotrash, in favour of a not-so-fun meander through the underworld of B. Parker and C. Barrow. Taking a nod from Luna’s wah-tinged Bonnie Parker version: Baby Birkin slow-burned it and layed on a really rather sinister whispered confessional, quoted directly from the original poem by Bonnie Parker.

Baby Birkin = Bonnie (not Clyde) (lyrics: direct-from-source)

Baby Birkin – Bonnie & Clyde
[buy Baby Birkin:]

And there’s more:
MC Solaar sampled his fellow Frenchman on Nouveau Western
According to wikipedia Belinda Carlisle covered it, along with Contact (another song Gainsbourg penned for the ’68 Bardot Show), on her 2007 French language album VoilaYouTube it if you must
And even Kylie isn’t immune to a bit of dirty ol’ Serge – she sampled it on her track Sensitized

Time for a personal anecdote:
Verity and I were drifting through the streets of the Île Saint-Louis, when she, with her bobbed hair and beret, caught the attention of some Parisian road-menders: “Bonneeee Parr-keuuurrrrrrrr” they called after us (in a very non-threatening way, I hasten to add). It is interesting to note that in Glasgow everyone thought she was French: “Ooh La La!

Having spent a good few hours compiling and researching this post, I note that Filles Sourires did something similar back in 2006, and managed to collect a far more definitive set of versions too – you can read that post here. Then come back and shoot me down.