Well I finally got round to buying myself a copy of Made In France: France Gall's Baby Pop - that CD I was getting all hot under the collar about a couple of months ago.
Now, all the publicity blurb for the release has been just a teenie weenie bit mis-leading: Perhaps making out that all the tracks are Gainsbourg-penned (to be honest if I'd just looked a little more closely at the tracklisting, I could have told myself that nope Serge certainly didn't write all of those for Mademoiselle Gall). But that's not to say it ain't all good!
The running order is ace, they’ve clearly approached it like a good mix tape: with injections of stomping exuberance lifting the pace whenever the subtler slowies and mid-tempo compositions lull you off into dreamland. Particular treats for me are the pure joy of Cet Air Là followed by the ever-so-slightly sinister Attends Ou Va-T’en; the heavy strings of Tu N’As Pas Le Droit; the harpsichord pop of Le Temps De La Rentrée; the woozy exotica of Chanson Indienne and Nefertiti; oh, and you get all the more “well-known” hits, from the galloping Poupée De Cire, Poupée De Son to the bad trip woes of Teenie Weenie Boppie and of course the salacious double entendres of Les Sucettes (if you don’t know about Les Sucettes, watch this video…)
Just a few minor gripes from this happy listener:
- The sleeve notes are a bit shonky - terribly written and rather pedestrian: you won't learn much more than you can find out on wikipedia! Which is a shame, because RPM have, in the past, put together some very fine inlays with fanatically scribed liner notes.
- There is one Serge song missing from this era that would have made a lot of people very happy. Admittedly it was never officially released but why, oh why couldn’t they have got hold of the tapes of the Gall and Gainsbourg duet Dents De Lait, Dents De Loup?
- There is also a glaring spelling mistake in the tracklisting: "Nous Nous Sommes Pas Des Anges", anyone?
I’m probably picking too many holes in what is essentially a damn fine compilation that manages to strike the fine balance of working as a perfect introduction to France Gall's classic 60s yé-yé material, AND also has enough obscurities to give an old hack like me, who has all the obvious stuff, a few treats too!
My current fave is the title track Made In France: a subtle little tête-à-tête pitching all the good things that come from England (David Bailey, Mary Quant, the jerk, Radio Caroline, mini skirts, long hair, Julie Christie and, er, Shetland ponies) against all the good things made in France (Gauloises, pétanque, the Eiffel Tower, Maurice Chevalier, Camembert, Beaujolais, Pastis…). The romp concludes with what would appear to be an ahead-of-its-time argument about who made the tunnel under the English Channel/La Manche: “No, made in England” they chorus; “No. Made. In. France!” stomps an incorrigible little miss Gall, and you suspect the French won that bout.
France Gall fans should stay tuned for some ripped vinyl treats coming very soon...