Brigitte Bardot is 80

Wonderful-BB-brigitte-bardot-18654561-548-650Brigitte Bardot, who celebrates her 80th birthday tomorrow, was in her heyday a fine popular singer. She made some good records between 1962 and 1970, and was offered songs by top writers. She had been a screen actress for several years before she first recorded at the age of 28. Her acting experience ensured that lip-synching on camera and making good pop videos was no problem for her, and she could fully match Sylvie Vartan and France Gall when she wanted.

A good example of this talent is BB doing the twist with ‘L’Appareil à sous’ (1963):

Bardot’s greatest collaboration was with the writing duo Jean-Max Rivière and Gérard Bourgeois, who later gave Françoise Hardy two of her best-loved sixties songs, ‘Rendez-vous d’automne’ and ‘L’Amitié’. Here is BB performing their ‘C’est rigolo’, carefully-choreographed for TV

In 1967, for the film ‘A Coeur joie’ in which she starred, she recorded the beautiful ‘A la fin de l’été’, (also written by Rivière and Bourgeois) played against an autumn beach scene in the film.

Serge Gainsbourg, taken with the film ‘Bonny and Clyde’ wrote a French song about the story for himself and BB and produced this stylish video in 1968.

If that today looks very much of its time, BB’s recording of Marcel Zanini’s ‘Tu veux ou tu veux pas’ is as refreshing today as when it came out in 1970.

And it has taken until today to be matched, by the modern pop seductress Elodie Frégé in 2013.

But of all her songs, Brigitte Bardot deserves to be remembered forever for ‘La Madrague’. Une madrague is a fishing net used in the Mediterranean to catch tuna, and she bought her famous seaside house at Saint-Tropez of that name in 1958. This perfect light song was written for her and her house by Jean-Max Rivière and Gérard Bourgeois in 1963. Here is BB on TV in the 60s, and in a video filmed at ‘La Madrague’ in 1968.

The English translation here (over a somewhat distorted photo of BB) shows how ‘La Madrague’ succeeds as a classic by its simplicity.

And ‘La Madrague’ perhaps more than any other Bardot song gave us something else. When she first came to our attention in 2009, and was asked what past singers she had learned from, Béatrice Martin (Coeur de Pirate) said that she was influenced by Brigitte Bardot and Françoise Hardy; and interestingly more by BB than by Françoise. This puzzled those who did not know of BB’s recordings. But listening to ‘La Madrague’ it all becomes clear. The light, high voice of Bardot seems a prototype of Béatrice’s, and one can imagine how she realised that she could do what BB had done, and take it so much further because she could add her own writing and piano skills to her unique voice. ‘La Madrague’ is Coeur de Pirate in embryo.

God created woman, as the 1956 film that made Bardot’s name tells us, but Brigitte Bardot’s own voice and singing style was a major inspiration to Béatrice Martin. BB created CdP. Now that is a legacy.

Liesbeth List

‘Ik dans dus ik besta’ is a Dutch translation of ‘Je dans donc je suis’, a song written by André Popp for Brigitte Bardot. She had a hit with it in 1964, this cover by List is from her debut-album from 1966. I recently came across this version, and thanks to Sylvester and Paul, I can post it here. Liesbeth List, for the uninitiated, is Holland’s most respect chansonniere. She made her tv-debut in 1964, duetting with Gainsbourg. Later, she recorded several chansons in French and translated versions. Songs by Barouh, Gainsbourg and most famously, Jacques Brel. I had the distinct pleasure to meet her at the presentation of the Filles Fragiles #2 compilation, that features a Gainsbourg-cover by her.
This Bardot-cover was never released on cd, oddly enough.

Liesbeth List – Ik dans dus ik besta
Brigitte Bardot – Je danse donc je suis

Allez Vanessa!

Vanessa Contenay-QuinonesNo extensive introduction on Vanessa Contenay-Quinones here at FS anymore. Regular visitors already know the cool seduction on high heels with the beautiful, sultry voice and misty eyes for a while now. Her 60’s influenced French popmusic was already around here a few times. Same goes for the music of her band Vanessa and the O’s (about to release a new album soon too, the site stated), but we never had a topic on her first band Espiritu, with whom she recorded two albums from 1993 to 1997. The best was then yet to come.
Inbetween 2008 and 2010 Vanessa recorded several tracks for her project called Allez Pop! Some of them ended up on compilation albums like Filles Fragiles 2 and Musique Fantastique, one track (Bon Bon Bon) even made it to the OST of the action-comedy Killers with Ashton Kutcher, Tom Selleck and Katherine Heigl. So it was about time to put all the recordings together and release Allez Pop! A superb idea. The tracks are seductive, fresh, quirky and tributary of course to Gainsbourg and Bardot, Dutronc and Hardy to name but a few. An unpretentious candy with attitude. Highly recommended.

And for those who might start thinking that Vanessa can’t do any wrong… just wait and see her with a bizarre performance as Vanessa St. James in collaboration with Lou Reed (!) on a weird kinda dance version of Velvet Undergrounds ‘Sunday Morning’. Not even a sin of her youth, as this Italian show (starts at 02.30) is from 2004. But some can’t do wrong, right?

Vanessa Contenay-Quinones – Odyssée
(see the video)

Peau Douce

All-too-short perfume spot, but eyecandy all the way, plus the right bedroom sound.

Cathy Claret

Blonde, beautiful, Brigitte Bardot-lookalike, born in Nimes, relocated to Spain and some sort of icon since the 80s when her records were released by Les disques du Crépuscule – meet Cathy Claret. The last time we’ve heard from her was three years ago, all of a sudden there’s a new single. Chocolat is partly in French, partly in Spanish and sung deliciously off-key with that unresistable Lolita-voice of hers. The other track on this single is a rap (!) in Spanish, and so godawful that I promise to post it if this blog ever calls it quits, to scare you all off. Can’t figure out if a new album is in the works as well, but I guess there is. Let’s pray it includes a lot of songs like this one.

Cathy Claret – Chocolat

Lady Palavas

Guestpost! Natasha Oh-La-La on Lady Palavas:

After months of delay, Lady Palavas’ second album ‘Les Grandes Vacances’, released on 14 April 2010 made it to my Amsterdam doorstep the very same day, thanks to nice bass player, Francis Miche. Not only did feel privileged, but I also discovered that my name was in the liner notes!
Lady Palavas from Montpellier, France are very sixties influenced in their choice of song material, look and instrumentation, yet very modern and groovy. Songs like ‘Agent Secret’ on their first album and now ‘Casino Royale’ (my favourite, but then I’m a James Bond fan) show a progression, while ‘Le charme anglais’ (‘English charm’) has this Carnaby Street, tweed quality to it. Then there’s Katia Plachez’s Brigitte Bardot like dresses and quirky voice along with some Burt Bacharach trumpet, organ solos and fuzzy guitars to enjoy with your cocktail. The CD comes with a very catchy song and video ‘Le piège du télésiège’ (‘The trap of the ski lift’), which evokes James Bond going off to Gstaad to go skiing even though the video was shot in the summer. To remind us it’s 2010 and not 1966, the song “Je, Myspace et moi” (‘Me, Myspace and I’), is obviously a huge tongue in cheek critique of the famous music site and about being ‘the world’s bellybutton’ as French actress Jeanne Moreau would sing.
My wish list for album number three would be some remixes and a few more harder numbers (the DJ in me talking), but hey, one thing at a time. I love Lady Palavas’ humour, which is why I keep buying their albums.

Lady Palavas – Le piège du télésiège
Lady Palavas – Casino Royale