Thursday, 30 August 2012

Ripping Vinyl - France Gall

I promised a France Gall vinyl rip, so here are 2 songs that were not included on the Made In France compilation, but date from the same era.

I warn you now, despite successive attempts at cleaning this record, the tracks are still rather crackly (hence my decision not to post the other 2 tracks which are both readily available on various FG compilations already). If any readers out there are any good at removing hiss and crackle from audio files, and fancy trying to clean them up, drop me a line and I'd be happy to share the masters.

Right, onto business!

Le Premier Chagrin D'Amour is a gentle number co-written by France's papa, with some easy-listening brass that Mr. Bacharach himself would have been proud of.  Okay, it's not her catchiest song, but it's not just vinyl-filler either.

On T'Avait Prévenue finds France crammed into the vocal booth with a gang of menacing sounding school-friends. Yep, we're back in altogether more yé-yé territory. I really can't understand why this hasn't appeared on any re-issues, its catchy, bouncy, jangly, cute, there's some tasty guitar licks, and Alain Goraguer is at the helm: surely all things that make a bonafide French 60s pop hit?

France Gall - Le Premier Chagrin D'Amour

France Gall - On T'Avait Prévenue

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Space is the place

I've been meaning to post this song for a couple of months, and with the news that one of the original astro-heroes Neil Armstrong died this week, it's given me half an excuse...

I think I probably first heard it at the ace Da Doo Ron Ron club, and I had to email Chris the DJ the next day to find out what the hell that French femme version of Peter Thomas' Space Patrol was. When I eventually tracked it down it was every bit as good as I remembered, even away from the sweaty fug and blistering noise of a tiny backroom club.

So enjoy Commando Spatial, and when you next look up at the moon give Neil a wink, as his family has requested...

Virginie Rodin - Commando Spatial
[you can now buy this on the Femmes De Paris edition speciale box set]

And here's the original Peter Thomas Sound Orchester version - a retro-futurist wet dream...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Made In France by France

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 - Made In France
[you can buy Made In France: France Gall's Baby Pop direct from RPM/Cherry Red, and at a very good price too!]

France Gall fans should stay tuned for some ripped vinyl treats coming very soon...

Friday, 24 August 2012

They are Add N To (X)

Quite a while ago, I was bemoaning the disappearance from YouTube of this short Channel 4 film about our fave analogue synth abusers Add N To (X).

Thanks to Romain on facebook for flagging it up...

Be quick and watch it, it could be taken down again by next week!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

A Sound British Adventure

If you're quick you might still get to listen to A Sound British Adventure, on the BBC Radio 4 iPlayer. Presented by Stewart Lee ("the only person the BBC could find, with a radio-friendly voice, who had actually been to a Stockhausen concert"), it focuses on the post-war years when a cottage industry of electronic musicians develped in Britain cobbling together sound-generating machines from army surplus radio gear, and producing electronic music that at the time was seen as throw-away, low-art, whilst their peers in Europe and the USA were regarded as exponents of high-art and funded accordingly.

Here's the programme synopsis:
Comedian Stewart Lee is passionate about electronic music and he take us on a remarkable musical journey. We discover how, after the Second World War, a small group of electronic pioneers began tinkering with their army surplus kit to create new sounds and music.
Tristram Cary started the first electronic music studio in Britain but, while France, Germany, Italy and the USA had lavishly funded research centres, British electronic music remained the preserve of boffins on a budget.

As the programme reveals, this make do and mend approach prevailed long after austerity Britain had given way to the swinging 60s, with Peter Zinovieff developing EMS synthesizers from a shed at the bottom of his garden in Putney. (Paul McCartney put on his wellies and took a look). Zinovieff is interviewed about his experiments in sound.

Unsurprisingly, the electronic community in Britain was a small, intimate group and joining Cary and Zinovieff was Daphne Oram, who devoted decades to developing a 'drawn sound' electronic composition system that never really quite worked.

Brian Hodgson tells us about 1960s experimental and electronic festivals, including The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave (1967) at which The Beatles' electronic piece Carnival Of Light had its only public airing. We shall also hear how the radiophonic workshop broke new musical ground with Dr. Who.

Experts in the history of electronic music, including author and musician Mark Ayers and Goldsmiths College lecturer in computer studies Dr. Michael Grierson give the boffins' view and Portishead's Adrian Utley explains why the early forays in electronics are still relevant today.
It's available on the BBC iPlayer until Tuesday morning >> LISTEN HERE

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

the Addict on the box

An abridged version of this advert may have caught yr eyes and ears on the telly lately: heavily influenced by Roger Vadim's Et Dieu... Créa La Femme, and with assorted Nouvelle Vague references thrown in (the Madison scene from Bande à Part, and Umbrellas of Cherbourg, anyone?), plus music by our fave Franco-German lo-fi/punk/rockabilly/8-bit/electronic pop/trash duo Stereo Total. Even for someone who finds the whole "perfume thing" over-rated, over-expensive, throat stinging and eye-watering, the Dior Addict advert is a visual and aural treat*

It's not the first time Stereo Total's I Love You, Ono has been used in an advert, and we hope that Plastics get a little cut of the royalties on each and every play, for it was they who wrote the song.

[If anyone out there has any music by Plastics, we would love to hear it - get in touch.]

*trust me, you absolutely will not see me heading for the nearest perfume counter.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Ripping Vinyl - April March

I can't believe it's been nearly 4 months since I posted that ace early 60s Tienou 45! But I have finally made myself a little time to get some more vinyl ripped, and now I just need to find the time to post it. So if you enjoy this one, please do leave a comment and it will certainly encourage me to post some more...

Today we have a rare and tasty treat from April March: a 10" clear vinyl ep Dans les yeux d'April March, with Bertrand Burgalat on production duties, released in 1999 on French label Tricatel (the first release from their 'Tricatel Club' series).

Track 1 is a sparkling synth/lounge pop re-working of Chantal Goya’s delectable Mon Ange Gardien. This is a slightly different mix to the version you may have heard on All's Fair In Love and Chick Factor, with cleaner production and a little lighter on the reverb and effects.

April March - Mon Ange Gardien

Glucide is a purely instrumental mix of the song Sugar (the opener on her Chrominance Decoder album). Removing April’s (occasionally too cloyingly) sweet vocal has allowed Monsieur Burgalat’s retro-futurist production sensibilities to shine. The result: a sinister 70s synth-funk workout.

April March - Glucide

And first on Face B is Magic Ass: A raw'n'gutsy freakbeat-y number, with a cool sitar breakdown and a chorus which seems to go “Cos Johnny’s is a magic… I can tell by the way she walks”. I like to think it’s a reference to Jane Birkin’s character in the taboo Gainsbourg-directed film Je T’aime, Moi Non Plus. Magic Ass indeed!

Whoever Johnny is, the song is ace and I defy you not to get up and get down to it!

April March - Magic Ass

The final track is another instrumental (this time a version of Mignonette, also from Chrominance Decoder), and it would seem Burgalat’s intention here was to give April her very own Brigitte Bardot Show-style dance workout. Dance, April, dance!

April March - Ningette

[Dans Les Yeux d'April March has long been deleted, but there are 2nd hand copies out there if you are willing to pay good money, see or]