Le Groove Socialiste de Monsieur Krug

Before ex-GDR superstar actor and chanteur Manfred Krug performed ultimately dreadful versions of old swing standards in Germany’s never-ending Tatort crime show, he was nothing less than the greatest soul man between Rostock and Karl-Marx-Stadt. With Ein Hauch von Frühling (1973) he transformed East German record label Amiga into Erich Honecker’s Motown for some serious moments. The éminence grise behind him was pianist and band leader Günther Fischer, who composed and arranged those intricate funky grooves that were tailor-made for Krug’s seemingly feeble tenor voice. Inbetween they explored some other genres, as on 74’s Greens, an international song collection featuring a sweeping version of Jean Lenoir’s all-time classic Parlez moi d’amour, originally penned for Lucienne Boyer in 1930.

Manfred Krug – Parlez moi d’amour

Extra: Sexy background singers and fat horn arrangements refine Krug’s 1973 socialist soul classic Komm und spiel mit mir (Come and Play With Me). Six years later, already in West Germany then, he fused melancholy and irony perfectly in Früh war der Tag erwacht (Dawn Arrived Early That Day) – the tune’s mood reminiscent of the late Dutch filmmuziek genius Rogier van Otterloo.

Manfred Krug – Komm und spiel mit mir
Manfred Krug – Früh war der Tag erwacht

Bâtard Pop XXII: Beat Serge

Jolie mash-up of Jacko’s Beat It and SG’s Comic Strip by the prolific DJ ComaR who already contributed to the superb Je Deteste Serge compilation in 2010. Two tunes obviously made for each other.

Covers Deluxe: Hush

This is not a Ritchie Blackmore tune. Hush was written by Joe South for Billy Joe Royal in 1967, and only the following year Deep Purple recorded the song that became quite a huge hit in the US. Gallic cover king Johnny Hallyday recorded a quite lame French version a few months later, while Montréal-based yé-yé chanteuse Jenny Rock transformed the harmless psych/ bluespop song with the pushy organ into a sexy rollercoaster ride, fast, breathless, and highly energetic – a nice example that some songs simply work better with female vocals. No surprise that Jenny, born Jeannine de Bellefeuille, had opened for the Rolling Stones in Montréal on 4/23/65. If legend is true, Keith threw Mick a pitiful look before telling him: „Dude, eat your heart out.“

Billy Joe Royal – Hush
Deep Purple – Hush

Johnny Hallyday – Mal
Jenny Rock – Mal

Extra: Beginning with bébé pop tunes like Fume ta cigarette in 1963, Jenny Rock later did dozens of French language adaptations of US hits, among them the rousing Seul (cover of The Shirelles’ Boys) with an almost Janis Joplin-like performance at the song’s end and the cute Au Go Go (cover of Cool Jerk by The Capitols).

Jenny Rock – Fume ta cigarette
Jenny Rock – Seul
Jenny Rock – Au Go Go

Under the radar (12) an even dozen

Guestpost! David B. on his new French love.

Anna Flori-Lamour from Paris put out her first album, “Je Ne M’excuse Pas”, last June. Aside from her myspace site, there is not a lot of information on Anna, but it’s always nice to find another pretty blonde chanteuse. “Réveillez moi en septembre”, has a driving beat, Anna singing in a clear alto, with accompaniment suggestive of the early ’70’s (think Jefferson Airplane). The title track is similar in style: here’s a video. Anna varies her rhythms and styles from song to song, making it easy to play the album straight through without feeling saturated. “Toutouche Pipi” and “Valse Punk” remind me a bit of La Grande Sophie.

Anna’s not signed to a label, but happily it didn’t stop her from putting out this album.

Anna Flori-Lamour – Reveillez-moi en Septembre

A Fille Named Tomcat

That girl obviously has the same idiosyncratic hairdresser as my cousin in Sachsen-Anhalt. After running away to Ibiza at age 15 to romance mythic schlock producer Michel Cretu – sadly to no avail -, Anett Ecklebe a.k.a. Toni Kater (Tomcat in German) had some minor hits in Germany before taking a sabbatical for almost six years. Her brand new album Sie fiel vom Himmel – She Fell From the Sky – features the same voice that is still irresistibly thin and girlish, telling a few more stories from the boudoir of a young woman turning 35 soon. Highlight of the album is the French language track América, a duet with producer Rudolf Moser, also drummer of noise entrepreneurs Einstürzende Neubauten – an amiable one, sounding like Benjamin dreaming of Chiara with Emmanuelle’s hand in his lap.

Toni Kater – América

Frànçois and The Narcoleptics

In 2003, Frànçois Marry moved from the French west coast to Bristol where he played trumpet for bands like Movietone or Camera Obscura. Now signed to Domino Records (Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys) with his fourth album E Volo Love – caution: palindrome –, he beguiles the English Roses with a nonstop soft boy mixture somewhere between Belle & Sebastian, Paul Simon and a dazed Dominique A, opening with Les Plus Beaux, doubtless a nice 5:00 a.m. starter. Alas, the other cuddle tunes never manage to wake you up. The somnolent reviewer of British Q magazine gave Frànçois 4 stars out of 5. Actually, it’s more like un et demi étoiles when you already had your morning espresso.

Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains – Les Plus Beaux
Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains – Azrou Tune

Under the Radar (11): Cristina Branco

When a literary heavyweight and Nobel Prize candidate like António Lobo Antunes writes lyrics for you, you’re playing Pop’s pantheon. On her 11th album Fado/ Tango (also released as Não Ha Só Tangos em Paris, for whatever reasons), Portuguese fadista Cristina Branco fuses the solemn Fado heritage of predecessors like Amália Rodrigues with Tango’s seductiveness, also frenchifying her spectrum with a fine cover version of Brel’s Les Désespérés, and a jaunty musical setting of L’Invitation au Voyage from Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. High in the charts in Portugal last spring, this one found far too few listeners in the rest of the world. Bandoneons rule!

Cristina Branco – Les Désespérés
Cristina Branco – L’Invitation au Voyage

심규선 (Lucia)

A tip from a fellow ‘zuchtmeisjes’ (or fille sourire) fan Cor Hospes, this video by Korean singer Lucia. No idea what she’s singing about, no clue if there’s an album (I could only find a single and a few guestspots) and ok, not everything is as breezy as this one. But this one’s great. The only K-Pop I know sounds like this, so Lucia is quite a difference.

Juliette Gréco & Melody Gardot

The everlasting Mme Gréco (b. 1927) is back, with another album. Featuring younger stars, like Marc Lavoine, Féfé and blonde Jersey girl Melody Gardot. Together they sing Sous les ponts de Paris, a standard dating back to 1914. Ponts, or bridges, are the recurring theme on Ça ce traverse et c’est beau, with covers and new songs. Like fellow living chanson legend Charles Aznavour, her voice isn’t what it used to be – Gréco talks or growls more than she sings. Yet, she’s still standing. One has to bow.

Juliette Gréco & Melody Gardot – Sous les ponts de Paris