Misty Lights

On their previous albums, French string quartet Quatuor Ebène interpreted works by Brahms, Haydn, Debussy, or Fauré. On their new one, they explore their favorite pop stuff like The Beatles’ Come Together, the surf classic Misirlou or Jobim’s Corcovado – a technically brilliant, at times too brainy record which takes ensemble music to quite boring places like Uncle Neil’s Streets of Philadelphia which don’t get hotter if you view them through virtuosos’ glasses. Among the four guest vocalists is French actress Fanny Ardant, doing a calmly intense and intriguing version of James Shelton’s too-seldom covered 1950 classic Lilac Wine. A perfect song for the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Fanny Ardant – Lilac Wine

Vincent Delerm – Fanny Ardant et moi

Bubbling under: Salomé Leclerc

There were some pretty cool debuts last year like Lafille, ZAZ and Brune to just mention some. Others filles like Élodie Frégé, Cécile Hercule or Babet ‘simply’ consolidated their position as certified filles fragile. Let’s just hope that next year will bring us at least the same high quality in French music as this last year did.
One release with high expectations that is already announced by herself for 2011, is the debut from yet another darkhaired beauty, 23 years old from Canada: Salomé Leclerc.
Unlike others who prefer the intimacy of a studio, Salomé played a lot of festivals (among which FrancoFolies) and clubs the past few years to discover her own style just by playing her songs over and over again for live audiences.
Together with her music director Philippe B., former frontman for Gwenwed and guitarist for Pierre Lapointe, she is now working on her debut. In this interview she isn’t sure yet of the direction in which her debut will move, but according to her MySpace and YouTube, we may expect quite some exciting and sultry moments of joy. Think Marie Daguerre, think Cat Power, think Geneviève Toupin, think Salomé. Don’t let us wait too long!

Happy New Year Y’all!

Salomé Leclerc @ MySpace
Salomé Leclerc @ YouTube

(ps: even more exciting releases next year? Let us know in the comments!)

Joseph Gainsbourg (Better late than never)

Christmas 2010 did already pass, I know, Christmas A Go Go already shut its door for this year, but luckily there’s always room for some Serge Gainsbourg paraphernalia here at FS.

In 1965 a television show started at ORTF in France called Dim Dam Dom, which stood for Dimanche, Dames and D(h)ommes. The show ran for six years until 1970 and intended to be informative and humoristic with musical intermezzi. It was presented by girls like Françoise Hardy, Mireille Darc, Nathalie Delon, France Gall, Marie Laforêt and Sheila.
In 1966 Dim Dam Dom made ‘Noël à Vaugirard’, a rather bizarre Christmas abattoir edition with a talking cow and donkey, singing nuns and Serge Gainsbourg as Joseph and Chantal Goya as Mary. Other appearances came from Guy Marchand, Sylvie Vartan and Jacques Dutronc.

Enjoy 17 minutes of Christmas strangeness here!

UPDATE: FS-reader Jan Willem recognised the music in the beginning of this movie, turns out it’s the ultra-cool Gil Evans:
Gil Evans – Where Flamingos Fly

Nolwenn Leroy

Blackhaired Bretonne Nolwenn Leroy made two Lara Fabian-ish albums (example) after she won tv-talenthunt Star Ac in 2001, which is probably why I wasn’t interested in her music (her pictures were a different story). Last year, she made an interesting concept album about Alice’s Cheshire Cat (video). Though I failed to post about that one, her most recent cd sure is FS-material. Partly. For Bretonne is an ode to her home county (she was born near Brest), and features covers by folksters Alan Stivell and Tri Yann. So if you’re allergic to pennywhistles, steer clear. But she also covered Brest by Miossec, and a rendition of ye olde English standard Greensleeves (no clue what that is doing on an album about Bretagne). Christophe Miossec even wrote a new, very good song for Nolwenn, called Je Ne Serai Jamais Ta Parisienne. Hehe.

Nolwenn Leroy – Je ne serai jamais ta parisienne
Nolwenn Leroy – Le cheshire cat

J’aime on You

On the b-side of her strange 1975 post-yé-yé folk schlager Refais-le-me-le (comme à Ibiza) – Let’s Do It (Like We Did on Ibiza) in English –, unknown French lolita pop bird Minouche Sterling invented the famous chord progression that was stolen the same year by Shirley & Company for their worldwide smash hit Shame, Shame, Shame.

Sure, you’re right: I made that one up. The producers of Minouche’s unperceived 7“ probably thought that no one would ever play the b-side; it’s one of the most shameless (and funny) rip-offs in French pop history. In fact, Shame, Shame, Shame – written by Sugarhill Records founder and too seldom sung soul/ disco/ rap pioneer Sylvia Robinson and released by the lesser known Linda & The Funky Boys almost simultaneously with Shirley – was one of the first international breakthrough disco/ dance hits, and everybody tried to cash in on the success. In France, television personality Christian Morin did an instrumental version featuring his quite mangy sounding clarinet, while jack-of-all-trades Henri Salvador unleashed a flea bag of a cover version including the rabid replacement of „Shame“ through „J’aime“ – genius! The worst cover was surely done by German 50s overbite idol Peter Kraus – a funk-goes-boof-tah must-have provided by FS confidant Roy Black with the well-meant advice: „Buckle your seat-belt before playing.“

Minouche Sterling – Non mais des fois

Shirley & Company – Shame, Shame, Shame

Linda & The Funky Boys – Shame, Shame, Shame

Henri Salvador – J’aime tes g’noux

Christian Morin – Shame, Shame, Shame

Peter Kraus – Shame, Shame, Shame


There’s more to the Shame, Shame, Shame story. Soul singer Donnie Elbert recorded a cover of Love is Strange in 1974. He then claimed songwriting credits of Shame, Shame, Shame, saying that his vocals were replaced by those of Shirley Goodman & Jesus Alvarez. The case got real muddy when Shirley & Company followed up S, S, S with Cry, Cry, Cry: same groove, different lyrics. But those lyrics were very similar to Donnie Elbert’s You’re Gonna Cry When I’m Gone, also from 1974. The squabble was never resolved. But wait – there’s also George McCrae’s Rock Your Baby, featuring the licks extraordinaire of guitarist Jerome Smith, one of the unsung heroes of the era. Set to the s(h)ame groove. And he was definitely the first to use it. And he got a nod from John Lennon, who based his Whatever gets you thru the night on, you guessed it, that irresistable groove.

Donnie Elbert – You’re gonna cry when I’m gone
Donnie Elbert – Love is strange
Shirley & Company – Cry, Cry, Cry
George McCrae – Rock your baby
John Lennon – Whatever gets you thru the night

Of course, Shame, Shame, Shame was (like Love is Strange) covered many times. See model Izabella Scorupco’s version here, and see Cher & Tina Turner here.

FS Rerun: Bringing Sexy Back

This one appeared on FS in October 2008 for the first time. More about Sylvia Robinson here.

In the so-called 1972 porn classic Deep Throat, a notably sleazoid threesome featuring Dolly Sharp, Jack Byron and Jack Birch is scored with a delirious funk/ soul track titled Love is Strange. The original version was recorded in 1957 by r&b duo Mickey & Sylvia – i.e. Mickey Baker, the hottest session guitarist of his time, who eventually bought a ticket to France and never came back, and Sylvia Robinson, who at least went temporarily to the Paris of her mind.

In 1973, she recorded a cover of Serge & Jane’s Je t’aime, released on the aptly named Vibration label, transferring Gainsbourg’s spirit to the sultry mood of Spanish language moanings. Her partner in cooing was salsa singer Ralfi Pagan, who provided the Latin lover feel, while Sylvia seemed to practice for her smash hit of the same year, Pillow Talk, a premier bedroom anthem foreshadowing Donna Summer’s disco orgasms. In short: Soul Je t’aime wasn’t perfect, but a sexy mother of a song.

Jack Birch, the stud from „Deep Throat“, became father of Hollywood  star Thora Birch („American Beauty“). Ralfi Pagan was murdered during a tour in Colombia, while Sylvia founded Sugarhill Records in the early 80s, becoming the mastermind behind seminal pre-hiphop outings like the Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight: She even played bass on the recording.

Mickey Baker – Parisian Holiday

Mickey & Sylvia – Love is Strange

Deep Throat version of „Love is Strange“

Sylvia Robinson & Ralfi Pagan – Soul Je t’aime

Sylvia Robinson – Pillow Talk

Joyeux Noel (1969 Slight Return)

Today, you buy the New Yorker, GQ, or Entertainment Weekly, but once upon a time, you had those poptastic magazines in which you found great stories by, let’s say, Romain Gary, Henry Miller, Alain Robbe-Grillet, or William Faulkner alongside with cool, though not too glossy shots of the most beautiful women of the world – of course naked, but nobody called it sexist then. Those were the Seventies, and actually, I once worked for LUI, cranking out literary reviews in my small bureau until my senior editor showed up in the evening to take me to those risqué parties on the second floor where I met some of the gals from the photo sessions … and, knowing that they were doing their job exclusively for the advancement of culture, they listened to us breathlessly while we were quoting from Verlaine and Mallarmé poems. Just a few years earlier, in December 1969, LUI even had had Jane on the cover, today still a perfect pic for Boxing Day. And while you’re watching, you might even be in for a little sermon by Cardinal Katerine.

Katerine – Jesus Christ Mon Amour

Rosi Golan

Rosi Golan is an Israeli singer who made a pretty album in 2008, in a Zooey Deschanel/Ingrid Michaelson-style. Sweet ‘n sunny songs with a 60s influence, very easy on the ears. One song had a few French lines. For this commercial for Stella Artois, she sang a French version of Twelve Days of Christmas. You can download it for free (no catch) HERE.