Le Tour #5

Though Thomas Bohnet, compilation svengali behind the Le Tour collections, lives in my old ’hood and still only a few kilometres away, we have never met. That may have to do with tastes. Le Tour volumes 1-4 were competently anthologized, but there always was some diminutive irritation factor. Now, with Le Tour #5, I figured it out. The assortment contains impressive and appealing stuff, like Féfé’s Clichés, Biolay’s Padam, or a minor track by FS faves Mickey 3D, but some songs here, despite being French, would easily qualify for Munich’s famous Oktoberfest: The opener, La Crise by L’Homme Parle, features German boof-tah at its very grooviest social-democratic street festival feel, and the As de Trèfle and Babylon Circus tracks are surely great, if … well, if you’re into Stimmungsmusik of this kind. I’m more into Mélanie Pain, also on Thomas’ compilation. Kind of a French Schlager as well, but a more sexy one.

Mélanie Pain – Ignore-Moi


Babet Maistre, aka Babou Calou, made on of this summer’s prettiest songs. Now, when Fall is on it’s way, her second solo-album is released. It feels like the summer’s heat is still in the grooves of the album – pretty, upbeat songs with folky influences, subtle violin (of course, Babet plays the strings in Dionysos) and a few male collaboraters. Edouard Baer, Andy Maistre, Mathias Malzieu and everyone’s favourite gravel-throat, Arthur H(igelin). Love their duets. Piano Monstre is a great album that has you longing for an indian summer. Talking about great albums, summer is definitely over in France, outstanding albums are being released. Elodie Frégé’s (more on her later), Bertrand Belin, Marie-Amélie… Hope I’ll find the time to keep you updated on all the goodies.

Babet & Arthur H – Ciel de soie

Youn Sun Nah

On her brand new seventh album Same Girl, South Korean jazz singer Youn Sun Nah covers Rodgers/ Hammerstein, Randy Newman, Metallica, and My Name is Carnival by Jackson C. Frank, the legendary white bluesman with the saddest life story you might ever read. She also interpretes La chanson d’Hélène, originally written by Philippe Sarde and Jean-Loup Dabadie for the movie Les choses de la vie, and does a remarkable job. A daring one as well, since it’s surely impossible to capture the magic Romy Schneider created with her vocals forty years ago. The male talking part, done by Michel Piccoli on the original recording, went to French romancier, musicien and plasticien Roland Brival, whose last, quite intriguing album Vol de Nuit could be described as kind of a missing link between Arthur H. and a 50s St. Germain jazz nightclub.

Youn Sun Nah/ Roland Brival – La chanson d’Hélène

Romy Schneider/ Michel Piccoli – La chanson d’Hélène


FS reader Teyo d’Unux brought a sweet English language version of the chanson to our attention, the Dreammakers’ Helen’s Song. And since he labeled it a perfect tune for autumn:

Dreammakers – Helen’s Song

Francoiz Breut – La chanson d’Hélène
Berry – La chanson d’Hélène
Get Well Soon – La chanson d’Hélène
Marina Celeste – La chanson d’Hélène


The second Catherine starts singing, you’ll know why I’m posting about Belgian trio Mièle. Her voice is like cutting through a big, soft, pastel-coloured, supersweet birthdaycake. The band is part of the tres sympathique Humty Dumpty Records (they also house Françoiz Breut), they just released their second album. Music-wise, they’re like the Walloon cousins of Peppermoon (more on that trio later this week), but a little rougher on the edges. Find out more here.

Mièle – Chateaux de sable

Serge’s Swimsuit Selection

Les filles n’ont aucun degout? Serge caresse tendresse style, when smoking was still allowed in the bar of his favorite … erm, sauna.

FS Dans Le Cinéma: Éric Demarsan

L’armée des ombres, filmed in 1969, was Jean-Pierre Melville’s gloomy and highly gripping account of the Résistance featuring Lino Ventura (see right) in one of his finest roles – a sombre, sober movie with one of the most hopeless endings in French cinema history. The film was scored by the relatively unknown Éric Demarsan who also wrote the music for the TV series Belle et Sébastien (which obviously quite impressed some British folk popsters), and Melville’s bleak caper movie Le cercle rouge. Demarsan’s intricately crafted, highly accomplished bande originale for L’armée des ombres culminates in his Thème de Gerbier, evolving from a painfully melancholic piano melody into a heartbreakingly beautiful landscape of the French soul.

Éric Demarsan – Thème de Gerbier

FS Exclusive: Zaz Meets Serge

About two weeks ago, we already posted a live version of Zaz’s splendid Piaf cover Dans la rue here. Since she with the husky voice is a dedicated Gainsbourg aficionado as well, she also played a sparse, and highly intense manouche-style version of Serge’s Ces petits riens during the same gig, backed by bassist Mathieu Verlot and guitarist Guillaume Juhel. You will find this cover neither on her recent no. 1 album nor anywhere on the net. The song was recorded during an intimate live performance at MDR radio station, Halle, Germany, with an audience of ten (!) handpicked and damn lucky guests.

Zaz – Ces petits riens (live)

Ces petits riens, written in 1964, may not be among the most popular Gainsbourg chansons, but has been covered by several high-class artists. Serge’s own version, using a typewriter as rhythm instrument, is surely the coolest; he’s on the Deneuve version as well. Here’s both, along with a bunch of other adaptations, including Carla’s English language version … and Guuz might have a few other ones up his sleeve.

Serge Gainsbourg – Ces petits riens

Catherine Deneuve – Ces petits riens

Christiane Canavese – Ces petits riens

Pierre-Alain Goualch – Ces petits riens

Jane Birkin – Ces petits riens

Stacey Kent – Ces petits riens

Zizi Jeanmaire – Ces petits riens

Angélique Kidjo – Ces petits riens

Francoise Hardy – Ces petits riens

Carla Bruni – Those Little Things

Don Nino – Ces petits riens

Elina Duni – Ces petits riens

Natacha Atlas

Combining traditional Arabic and African elements with Disco, Drum ’n Bass, and Hindi Pop, Belgium-born singer Natacha Atlas features as one of the premières divas of the cha’abi moderne, a term she invented herself to describe her style. Natacha cooperated with colleagues such as Peter Gabriel, Nigel Kennedy, and Jean-Michel Jarre, but if those names aren’t really your cup of tea, also with British enfant terrible Jah Wobble or French world music entrepreneurs Les Négresses Vertes. She explains the concept of her brand new, tenth album here – last not least, Mounqaliba (In a State of Reversal) stars Le cor, le vent, a fine after-hours piece with wistful accordion, and La nuit est sur la ville, a lightly orient-ified cover version of Francoise Hardy’s 1964 ballad.

Natacha Atlas – Le cor, le vent

Natacha Atlas – La nuit est sur la ville

On her 1998 album Gedida, Natacha already covered another Hardy chanson, the widely popular Mon amie la rose, transferring Hardy’s Gallic teenage melancholy to the dancefloor of Arabian Nights.

Natacha Atlas – Mon amie la rose (Radio Mix)

Fabienne Delsol

Guestpost! FransS on Fabienne:

“She’s exactly your ‘thing, right?” With that sentence Guuzbourg tried to convince me to write a guest post  on Fabienne Delsol’s new album On my mind. And yes, I have to agree, I love the girly retro sixties jangling sound of Fabienne and her colleagues like April March and Holly Golightly. The big plus: Fabienne  is really French.

Born in Limoges, Fabienne left for the UK around 1995 to become the singer of The Bristols, one of the many UK garage bands of that period. With that band she released two albums before going solo in 2003. As a solo singer she released two albums No Time For Sorrows (2003) and Between You And Me (2007). Both albums were filled with songs in French and English (but with a lovely French accent that gives French singers in English that certain “je ne sais quoi”). Sweet lovely songs that directly reminds you of early British Sixties music (organs!, guitars! melodies!)  and authentic French yé-yé.

On her new album Fabienne Delsol sounds a bit different. Still English and French songs, still a lovely authentic sixties sound, but it is like she moved in time from 1965/66 to 1968/69. Some more psychedelic sounds in the music,  more melancholy in the lyrics. It is all a bit darker, or maybe better a bit more mature. This isn’t a France Gall anymore you could fool with Les Succettes, this is a young woman who already had her share. When her earlier albums were spring and summer albums, with this one Fabienne Delsol has arrived in the autumn. And given the weather outside, On my mind deserves a lot of playing time in the coming months.

Fabienne Delsol – Pas adieu