Françoise/ Serge

Actually, I like Depardieu’s slightly sleazoid version from Quand j’étais chanteur best, but Françoise’s voice could turn even a Gainsbourg song into an anthem of innocence.

Elizabeth Shepherd

1974’s Pourquoi tu vis (Porque te vas) by Jeannette is one of the touchstones of doll-fronted pop – it was covered and sampled many times. Canadian jazz-pianist (she plays Wurlitzer, Rhodes and ‘tuned mixing bowls and muted pestle’ as well) Elizabeth Shepherd adds her version to the list, and it’s a good one. Shepherd’s known for her fierce, funky tracks and her hoarse voice. The fact that Elizabeth was pregnant during the recording of her fourth album ‘Rewind’ adds to the charm. ‘The fears and anticipation surrounding imminent motherhood were largely impetus to make this record’, she writes in the liner notes. ‘Rewind’ is covers album. Shepherd: ‘I chose to do songs that I have learned and loved and grown with over the years.’ Songs by Cole Porter (Love for Sale), Cannonball Adderley (Sack of Woe), Kurt Weill (Lonely House) and two chansons; the aforementioned Pourquoi tu vis and a Les Amoureux des bancs publics by Brassens. A very big plus of/on this album are the phat basslines by Ross MacIntyre. One of the three bassists on this album, but he’s the one who really adds to the songs.

Elizabeth Shepherd – Pourquoi tu vis

This song is also added to my New French Pop 2012 playlist on Spotify.

Baptiste Trotignon, Melody Gardot

Mashing-up Brel’s Ne Me Quitte Pas and Gainsbourg’s La Javanaise, it can be done, and it sounds great. French jazz pianist Baptiste Trotignon expertly ties these well-known chansons together on his new album. Ne Me Quitte Pas starts gentle, then Baptiste gets mental. Or desperate – just like NMQP. Then, he finishes in a melancholy mood, that fits La Javanaise, after all a song that’s about a love affair that lasts just one song. It all sounds very left bank. Serge and Jacques knew each other well, and toured together. I’m reading the English translation of Gilles Verlant’s indispensible Gainsbourg-biography, in which he tells stories of Brel charming every girl in the little town he, Serge and a small troupe of variety-artists passed through, with Serge taking note(s).
Trotignon covered Gainsbourg before, together with Aldo Romano he mashed-up Valse de Melody and Je t’aime… Mon non plus. On his new album, Song Song Song, Trotignon has another FS-regular as a guestvocalist. Melody Gardot is breezes (or should I say, breathes) through Mon fantôme. Nice.

Baptiste Trotignon – Ne Me Quitte Pas/La Javanaise
Baptiste Trotignon & Melody Gardot – Mon fantôme

Sunglasses After Dark

Super deep bass voice, platinum blonde hair and eyes behind black shades: No, that’s not a character from a Pulp Fiction spin-off. It’s German schlock phenomenon Heino, who sold about 5000 million albums nationwide, fusing Volkslied soul and clap-along Schlager melodies to a kind of post-Wehrmacht barbecue party hits, telling stories of blooming gentian, compliant Polish girls and the next hardcore drinking binge. In 1975, the singing baker and pastry chef did a stunning version of Charles Trenet’s all-time classic La Mer, including a stupefying string arrangement and an unforgettable girl chorus. Before extended listening, it makes sense to recall the title of Heino’s autobiography: And They Love Me Though.

Heino – Das Meer

Lizzy & the Orca

And the flow of great artists from Montréal/Québec keeps on flowing. Lizzy & the Orca are fronted by Lysanne Picard, who has a pretty doodle-blog as well, who plays ukelele, guitar and cello. Partner in crime is Sébastien Ménard (glockenspiel, electric guitar). They play folk-tinged pop, with some country added. I really dig that steel guitar in Le Manteau Rouge. Their new EP is released, you can check their songs in French and English here. See Lysanne play an acoustic version here.

Lizzy & the Orca – Le manteau rouge


The idea looks so simple: ask a bunch of songwriters to compose a song about every Parisian arrondissement, then have famous actresses, singers and filles sourires favourites sing those songs. A female ode to the eternal city… I wish I came up with the idea, but alas, it was Nicolas Boualami Gaubiac who deserves all credit.

The result is a project called “ElleSonParis”. And the result is as exciting as it sounds

The songwriters are big names like Alex Beaupain, Thomas Roussel, Philippe Bresson, La Grande Sophie and Alain Chamfort. And what about the line-up! We have Juliette Gréco (!), Jane Birkin (!) Charlotte Rampling and Hanna Schygulla on one side and Zaza Fournier, Adrienne Pauly, Agnès Jaoui, Elisa Tovati, Irène Jacob and more on the other.

“ElleSonParis” is a musical tour through the arrondissements of Paris. They pay tribute to the Paris’ neighborhoods, all with their different character and own history.
Some of the songs are a bit so-so (one is not better than the high school musical level, but I won’t tell your which one…), but in general it is very nice trip into the City of Light.

Jane Birkin sings a song for the 16th arrondissement. A sober song with some with piano (or is it a  harpsichord?) called “5, Avenue Marceau”. Just in case you wonder: that was the home address of.. Yves Saint Laurent. And Chez Régine? We’ve all been there, no?

Jane Birkin – 5, Avenue Marceau
Adrienne Pauly – Chez Régine

Hot for Teacher

If you’re a teacher of French living in Germany, this is your chance to grab a free copy of an excellent compilation here. FrancoMusiques 2012/13 is the sixth collaboration between the Institut Francais/ French Embassy in Berlin, the Bureau Export and German schoolbook publishers Cornelsen, and another well-done one, mirroring the spectrum of modern French pop in a quite remarkable way, featuring chanson, francophone reggae, hiphop, folk, manouche jazz even. Most artists and songs have been already featured at FS, with a few exceptions, among them rap aficionados 1995 who beam you right back to that smooth old school flow of the best parties, and Breton musician Matthieu Aschehoug, front man of his band Askehoug – think Serge doing a Bertrand Cantat song with Jon Lord and Ian Anderson, and you’re halfway on the right track. Askehoug are playing Le Sentier des Halles, 50 rue d’Aboukir, 75002 Paris tomorrow, Oct 10. Don’t miss that guy.

1995 – La Suite
Askehoug – Meuf et Mec

Mustang vs Gainsbourg

French neo-rockabilly trio recorded an EP with reprises of old tunes, songs by Brassens, Don Cavalli, Patrick Coutin and yes, our Serge. Most of the time, these cover-EPs consist of throwaway versions, recorded just for fun, material to keep the fans happy. Mustang Reprend is just that – the arrangement of Brassens’ Je me suis fait tout petit is fine, Coutin’s J’aime regarder les filles doesn’t have the bite of the original and Chez les Yé-Yé does swing ferociously, but lacks the contempt of Gainsbourg, your honour. Still, I’ve heard worse.

Mustang – Chez les yé-yé
Video of Serge’s original HERE

Bâtard Pop XXIII: Serge NTM

I’m aware it’s kind of a sacrilege here, but I always thought that Serge’s Je suis venu te dire is a fat bummer of a song. Now mash-up entrepreneur Tom Haggen – featured at FS already here – has provided the rough edge the tune always lacked, fusing Serge’s goodbye ditty with the vocals of 1995’s Come Again by Saint-Denis-based hip hoppers Suprême NTM, the abbreviation standing for Nique ta mère, French slang for a not too well-mannered MILF fornication. Haggen’s amalgam has class and style, and his blogsite is well worth checking out, including a wow blend of disco legends KC & The Sunshine Band and L.A. rapper Ke$ha. Video here, mp3 below, and shake yours as well.

Tom Haggen – Je suis venu te dire que je reviens
Tom Haggen – Shake Shake Shake!