Let’s face it: this French 60s lark is a bit of a niche market, so it’s always good news when a new compilation is unleashed for us fanatics to gobble up (especially when this particular fanatic only has 4 of the 14 tracks). What’s even better is that it has the Girls in the Garage seal of approval, and even more better-er are the rumours it was compiled by the elusive Sasha Monett, who gave us the essential Swinging Mademoiselle volumes 1 and 2. Yes, this latest G.i.t.G. could easily have been titled Swinging Mademoiselle volume 3. 11 years later and we finally have a formidable follow-up: tripleplusgood as we used to say in 1984.
Copies haven’t landed in the UK yet, but mine’s on its way from France – “14 charming French swinging ladies” on clear blue vinyl *drools*. Luckily I have a secret source who has sent me a preview mp3 version, here’s a blow-by-blow account:
1. Les Chéries - Mai qui que quoi donc où (1967)
Typical femme pop: identical twins with sassy blonde pixie-cuts, add some cheesy Hammond, treble-y guitar jangle, a bit of brass, and that loose, bubbling French bass-style with a rapidly-descending scale every few bars, speed it up towards the end, and we’re on our way…
2. Evy - Une question qui se pose (1965)
This definitely pricked my ears up: Evy’s raunchy cover of ‘Questions I Can’t Answer’ by Joe Meek’s golden boy Heinz. I do love those RGM productions but this has got a hell of a lot more balls to it!
3. Tonia - Un petit rien (1966)
Who is Tonia? I have no idea. Belgian you say? All I know is she’s got those cute France Gall vocal-stylings down pat and some cool echo on her voice when she hits the refrain. There’s a very pleasant booming reverb sound to this whole recording, and my motto is: you can never have too much reverb!
4. Les Princesses - Oh! dis-moi (1966)
Ooh! Fuzz bass and, what I like to call, the Sesame Street 3-chord piano rhythm (see also Liz Brady’s ‘Bas Les Pattes’). Les Princesses were a girl group from French Guyana – dig those Rhythm & Blues.
5. Annie Markan - Raconte-moi (1966)
Annie was the ‘A’ in Les Gam’s, she went solo and gave us some soulful songs that, apparently, didn’t make her a star. This one reminds me of some of Petula Clark’s French releases. Which is a good thing.
6. Pascale & Suzie - Les rendez-vous Menier (1966)
Can you really sell chocolate bars with a garage-y dance-floor shaker like this? Menier seemed to think so: according to the sleeve notes it was released as a promotional record for their chocolate bars. Thankfully Pascal & Suzie (the ‘S’ in Les Gam’s) make it sound more like they’re going to the hip new beat-club in Paris. You must have heard of Le Menier. No?
7. Caroline - Mister a gogo (1967)
I ask myself: Do I really need a French version of David Bowie’s ‘The Laughing Gnome’? Probably not, it’s fun, but I’ve already found myself skipping onto side 2. It’s a strange inlcusion, especially as it was included as a bonus track on the CD version of SM vol 2. What could have been worse, though, would have been a French version of one of Bowie’s mime skits. I’ll let you think about that while you turn the record over…
1. Christie Laume - Chic voilà le soleil (1968)
Yay! One of Christie’s only 16 songs that hasn’t already been comp’ed, I can’t think why, ‘cause this is ace! A really wonky pop number, hooked around a brilliantly odd piano and glockenspiel(?) motif, that shows off her “unique” singing style at it’s best.
2. Katty Line - Un petit peu d'amour (1969)
Katty Line covers Aussie mods The Easybeats: Maximum R&B en Français!
3. Jany L. - Le restaurant Chinois (1968)
I first heard about this rare mademoiselle on the superlative, but sadly defunct, Spiked Candy blog. I don’t think I’m alone in wondering why this has never found its way onto any French compilations until now. Our Jany likes eating in the Chinese restaurant because she get to use chopsticks instead of a fork. There’s a song in there somewhere: a driving, beat-style belter of a song with some deliciously clichéd oriental motifs on the xylophone. Casual racism? Perhaps they were more innocent times in 1968.
4. Marjorie Noël - Au temps des princes charmants (1967)
I swear this is a cover. No idea what, but it sounds very familiar. Marjorie looks too young to be doing grown up songs like this, but she holds herself well. The result: A big production with vibraphones, horns, a motown beat, and a vocal that stays just on the right side of sickly.
5. Clothilde - Le Boa (1967)
Every French yé-yé comp needs a Clothilde song, so here we are: another fantastique piece of everything-and-the-kitchen-sink production from the ace Germinal Tenas - baroque-fuzz-pop perfection.
6. Charlotte Walters - Fleurs de pavots bleus (1969)
A freaky-psychedelic slow burner, full of faux-Eastern mystique. Is this really what Les Fleurs de Pavots listen to when they’re down? Or is it just a sly, hippy-drippy piss-take?
7. Kathy - Ma moto (1973)
Another one to add to the ‘Girl on a Motorcycle’ genre (see BB’s ‘Harley Davidson’ and Dani’s ‘La Fille à la Moto’). A bit of a late-comer, but a welcome addition: early-70’s road-worthy rhythm and blues with some sexy Jean-Claude Vannier-style strings and breathy backing vocals. Oh and the sound of motorbikes revving up and roaring off into the horizon.
I think we deserve to hear a couple of songs after all that:
[Girls in the Garage volume 12 is released on Saperlipopette in Europe and Dionysus Records in the US. You can order it direct from them or from bompstore.com | clearspot.nl | shinybeast.nl]