FS Rerun: Lai Going Lesbian

Clever stunt: When Les Chansons de Bilitis came out in 1894, Pierre Louys claimed to be the translator of those erotic verses written by an unknown ancient Greek poetess, and caused a literary sensation. Lesbianism was hot then, but eighty years later it became even hotter, when soft-focus lensman David Hamilton used the classic poetry touch as a camouflage to display loads of nubile skin in his „adaptation“ of the Bilitis poems that Louys had written himself, of course. Though the flick stars Patty D’Arbanville (see right) and other fragile b-cup maidens, the real star of the movie was Francis Lai’s soundtrack – the work of a true daydream believer, and surely among his finest hours.

Francis Lai – Promenade

Extra: It feels like we have posted Kahimi Karie’s version of Momus’s tender pervert classic David Hamilton a thousand times, so here’s the cover by Laila France, also a Momus protégé, from 1997.

Laila France – David Hamilton

Les Hommes Sauvages: Vive la Trance

Someone who writes a song about literary enfant terrible Jean Genet must be a friend of mine. Berlin-based guitarist Kristof Hahn actually is and did so for the brand-new, third album by Les Hommes Sauvages: „Vive la Trance“ alternates between brooding melancholy, heavy electrical storms, and impressionistic after-the-rain moments, a style Hahn and girlfriend Viola Limpet (vocals) have termed Rock’n’Roll Noir, embracing songs by Lee Hazlewood and John Cale along the way and making them completely their own. The album also features three French language originals, penned by Hahn and Gallic poet Eric LeMarechal, including the aforementioned hommage to Genet, and the serenely floating Au dessus de la ville, with a referential wink and a smile towards Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper.

If you happen to live in Albion, you can see Monsieur Hahn, who has also played with the likes of Alex Chilton or Chris Spedding, accompanying Michael Gira and post-punk-gods The Swans at various big venues in the next days. Plus: French/ German TV channel Arte shows the documentary Mein halbes Leben/ Ma demi-vie on Oct 29, 22.20 h (Germany) and 22:45 h (France), with a fine soundtrack by Hahn and Limpet.

Photo by Stephan Schmidt. The album can be ordered via the Hommes Sauvages website.

Les Hommes Sauvages – Jean Genet

Les Hommes Sauvages – Au dessus de la ville

Baba & Roody

Cheese time! Serge Gainsbourg once said (in an interview with Les Inrocks) that he took inspiration from ‘dirty songs for blackies’ for the immortal ‘Je t’aime… moi non plus’. A derogatory remark? No, if you know anything about Serge (he defended his all black band famously against raving mad war veterans when he was on tour promoting his reggae-fied version of the French national anthem) and the history of black music. Blues, for instance, has a long tradition of raunchy, sexual explicit songs. This compilation can enlighten you. If Baba and Roody were following that tradition, or Gainsbourgs guiding sexual light, I dunno. In fact, I don’t know anything about this French duo. They had a top 20 hit in the Netherlands in 1979 with the pant-and-growl-fest Hacka Tacka Music. They became legendary when the top of the girl singer (Roody, I guess) came down during a performance on TopPop, Holland’s own Top of the Pops. Here’s a clip of that, the money shot is right before the end. One can only guess if Italian singer Sabrina took inspiration from that moment.
The b-side of Hacka Tacka Music is a French version, called La Musique Exotique. Google couldn’t tell me if that was a hit in France. But is was co-written by Charles Level, who also wrote songs for Dalida, Chantal Kelly and Sacha Distel. Maybe follow-up Doctor, Doctor was a hit in France? You guessed it, it’s playing doctor set to reggae music. I’d love to hear that one. Once.

Baba & Roody – La musique exotique

Dutch funny man/pop-exploitationist Dingetje made this parody of Baba & Roody:
Dingetje & Co – Reggae met een rumboon
Weird-but-good Dutch rockband It Dockumer Lokaeltsje also covered Hacka Tacka Music:
It Dockumer Lokaeltsje – Hacka Tacka Music

FS Vintage: Luiz Bonfá Meets Charles Trénet

Let’s take a trip to Rio on this late Monday night. Luiz Bonfá isn’t exactly a household name, but in the 50s and 60s, he played guitar for and with Joao Gilberto, Sergio Mendes, Stan Getz, George Benson, and Frank Sinatra, and wrote Almost in Love for Elvis. In 1956, he collaborated with pianiste extraordinaire Ed(uardo) Lincoln on Noite e Dia, which contains a most easygoing and highly artistic instrumental version of Charles Trénet’s 1942 classic Que reste-t’il de nos amours. My friend Matthias knows the lyrics by heart. A perfect way to attract them filles.

Luiz Bonfá/ Ed Lincoln – Que reste-t’il de nos amours

Charles Trenet – Que reste-t’il de nos amours

Elvis – Almost in Love

Bonus: Bonfá’s biggest own composition was the bossa classic Manha de Carnaval, a favorite (not only) among French songbirds:

Marina Celeste – Manha de Carnaval

Keren Ann – Manha de Carnaval

Sylvia Telles – Manha de Carnaval

Joanie Summers w/ Laurindo Almeida – Manha de Carnaval

Claudine Longet – Manha de Carnaval

Jeanne Cherhal vs Arcade Fire

French fille Jeanne Cherhal leaves out the church organ of the original, but adds some haunting vocals to her version of Arcade Fire‘s My Body is a Cage (from their Neon Bible album). Translated to French, the song softens up. When you hear Win Butler from AF sing it, you immediatly know it’ll end in tears. This is never going to light up. But with the shift in tempo in Jeanne Cherhal’s cover, somehow there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Because I’m not that familiair with Arcade Fire, I missed this cover completely. So thanks to this blog for reminding me. See the video for Mon corps… here.

Jeanne Cherhal – Mon corps est une cage
Arcade Fire – My body is a cage

Viva la muerte! (Guestposts wanted)

Día de los muertos is coming up (November 2), a day I want to celebrate on this by posting your guestposts on the most beautiful, touching, gripping, sad or (why not) happy French song about death, mortality, cemeteries, pallbearers, funerals and whatnot. You can make your piece very personal, you can write a few sentences on what song you’d prefer on your own funeral. Old songs, new songs, I don’t as long as they’re in French. My mailbox is open (guuzbourg(a)gmail.com), I promise I will post ALL your contributions. Deadline is, of course, October 31st.

Bertrand Belin

Where Brassens meets Tindersticks. Or Divine Comedy. That’s how I would describe Hypernuit, the absolutely gorgeous album by Bertrand Belin. With his dandy looks (check out this beautiful acoustic session), his storytelling and that deep, bariton voice that was made for ‘sprechgesang‘ and those light country touches (think Calexico, think Tindersticks), it’s the album I’ve been playing to death the last weeks. So it’s about time I wrote about it. Hypernuit is Belin’s third album. Stories, mostly sad ones, observations, afterthoughts, that’s what he’s about. Also on Hypernuit, story goes he made up the lyrics on the spot. Turn on that taperecorder, I’ll just start singtalking. Together with the similar Le verger by Bastien Lallement, Hypernuit will make the rounds at FillesSourires HQ a lot more. Excellent music for a Fall. The female voice on Y en a-t-il is Ann Guillaume (also in the SK Session video). Earlier, he duetted with Oliva Ruiz, Barbara Carlotti and Delphine Volange.

See the video for the title track here. See him cover The Doors with Pauline Croze here.

Bertrand Belin – Y en a-t-il