Under the radar (10)

Serge Gainsbourg’s L’Homme à tête de chou is the underrated masterpiece in his catalogue, lesser known then ‘Melody Nelson’ but certainly not a lesser album. Just before he died, Alain Bashung worked on a ballet about the man with the cauliflower head. The videos for the ballet look interesting, the album was a bit of a letdown to be honest. Yet this is a great video for Bashung’s version of Variations sur Marilou. What I didn’t know, is that Serge-soundalike Rodolphe Burger recorded a live tribute of ‘Tête de chou’ in 2006. With help from Mick Harvey, Jacques Higelin and Fred Poulet. Last year, a registration popped up on Bandcamp, featuring extra tracks like a duet with Jane Birkin. I can’t believe it’s not Serge singing there.

Also on Bandcamp, an album by the British jazz band Les Effrontés. It says release-date February 4 2012, but you can stream and download it already. The band started out as a Jacques Brel coverband, with Paris-born Tiffany Schellenberg on vocals. They do two Gainsbourg-covers, the best is Black Trombone. The song, one of my favourite SG-tunes, gets a tango make-over that really works.

Rodolphe Burger & Jane Birkin – Dépression au Dessus du Jardin (See the original version by Cathérine Deneuve, and this version by Serge himself)

Les Effrontés – Black Trombone
(See Serge’s original here)

Under the Radar (9): Guillotines & Spadassins

No French girls this time unfortunately, but France does have a very vivid garage rock scene, with a lot of 60’s influence. And that is what we like here as well, so in this “under the Radar” time for two releases by French Bands without female singers.
Les Guillotines, from the Parisian suburbs,  released a single in 2011. They are said to be a garage rock band, but one of the rougher kind. B-side track L’absinthe”, remind me of French punk-bands form the eighties (Think Les Olivensteins). The a-side (“L’Aube”) has a bit more 60’s vibe, so that is the one I picked for now.

Les Guillotines – L’Aube

Les Spadassins come from Rennes and released their second vinyl-EP in December 2011. It looks very retro at least (covers like this make me greedy!). Some bandmembers used to play in Les Dadds which I say perform live some years ago. Two songs in English, and two in French on this EP. It reminds me of British Beat, combined with French Yé-yé and a little bit of soul. Of course we choose for one of the two French songs, the soulful “L’Effet que ça fait”. Enjoy the soulful organ!

Les Spadassins – L’Effet que ça fait

Under the Radar (8): Liz Cherhal

Well not quite actually because Sylvester put her on his Yearlist, but Liz Cherhal’s album remained under the radar this year. But I guess, being Jeanne Cherhal’s sister she is used to it.. (go here for a rare video of the two siters together).

In 2010 she worked together with boyfriend Alexis HK on a children’s project : “Ronchonchon et Compagnie”, and in 2011 there finally was a new album of her own: “Il est arrivé quelque chose“.
Some of the songs on this album we already knew for her earlier EP, but that was from 2008 already, so it was high time to come with something new. And as we hoped for, on Il est arrivé quelque chose” she brings us the things she excels in: accordion, humour and well written songs.
In one of Sylvester’s favourites, you can hear all that:

Liz CherhalQuand Je Regarde La Mer

Under the Radar (7): Albrecht Mayer

In Woody Allen’s latest movie Midnight in Paris, Marion Cotillard’s supersexy character claims that she wants to live in the Belle Époque, France’s Impressionist L’Age d’Or before World War I. On his recent album Bonjour Paris, German oboist Albrecht Mayer revisits those tranquil boulevards of Claude Debussy – who thought that the term Impressionism was invented by imbecile critics –, Jean Français, Vincent d’Indy, or Reynaldo Hahn (see pic), lover of Marcel Proust and probably the hero of his unfinished novel Jean Santeuil. À Chloris, mélodie sur un poème de Théophile de Viau, originally composed for voice and piano, is arranged for solo oboe on Mayer’s album, now sounding like a Baroque remembrance – a fine lyrical finale for Mayer’s album, the piece was actually written in 1913, when the Beautiful Era already had been swept away by history.

Albrecht Mayer – À Chloris

Covers Deluxe: All in the Family

Calypso singer Sir Lancelot, role model of Harry Belafonte, wrote the reggae/ ska classic Shame and Scandal in the Family for Jacques Tourneur’s horror b-movie I Walked with a Zombie in 1943 – see here. Later the song was covered by Lance Percival, Peter Tosh, Kingston Trio, Trini Lopez, The Stylistics, The Blues Busters, or British ska popsters Madness, among others. Sacha Distel and Les Surfs recorded French lingo adaptations, as well as Les Gammas whose 1965 version sounds like a tourist warning not to mess around with firewater in the Carribean, including a delirious Hammond organ and a considerably cheezoid trumpet.

Merci à Monsieur Roy B.

Les Gammas – Scandale dans le famille

Carmen Maria Vega

Gone are the long locks, away with the jolly atmosphere, Carmen Maria Vega now looks like an extra from the Rocky Horror show. Quite a change for the gipsyfied pop-star (call her the female Thomas Dutronc), who now adds beats to her music. Her sophomore album will be released later this year, last year a 4-track EP was up on iTunes for a few weeks. Then it was gone. You can’t (well, I can’t) listen on her site anymore. But at FS, we have our ways of getting the good stuff. On that EP are two modern sounding popsongs – Sans Rien strays into Yelle-territory. Plus a slow blues and a track Zaz could’ve sung. The curiousity for that second album just got bigger.

Carmen Maria Vega – Sans rien