New Benjamin Biolay album

Benjamin Biolay released an album with Charles Trenet covers, including a duet with Vanessa Paradis (in J’ai ta main). This is the first single:

Faux French Fellas

amourettesThe masterminds behind Les Chauds Lapins are New York’s Meg Reichardt and Kurt Hoffman who formerly worked with indie celebs They Might Be Giants or the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The songs of chanson genius Charles Trenet – »our quintessential art-pop guy« – inspired them to found their very own rive gauche French music hall of mirrors, echoing the surrealist wit of the 20s and 30s. Their 2011 album Amourettes features the funny, cheeky and irresistibly swingin’ Je t’aime, a vocal version of Django Reinhardt’s Swing ’39 with lyrics by the unforgotten Jacques Larue. If you’re looking for the missing link between faux French fellas Pink Martini and Nous Non Plus, this is it – a folie du jour to boot, and certainly a most sexy one.

Les Chauds Lapins – Je t’aime

The Blithe Spirit of Charles Trenet

chtren»Without him, we all would have become accounting clerks«, Jacques Brel once said about Charles Trenet, the godfather of French song who invented modern chanson with his stunning blend of surrealism, nostalgia, buoyancy and joie de vivre. Born exactly 100 years ago, on May 18, 1913, the so-called Fou chantant first pursued a career as a writer: In his early novel Dodo Manières his alter ego feels downright enchanted while listening to Louis Armstrong’s Hobo You Can’t Ride This Train, and jazz was what made him turn to song. Portrayed by Jean Cocteau as an angel on a famous poster, Trenet wrote about 850 songs, among them superb stuff like Je chante, J’ai ta main, Y’a d’la joie, Que reste-t-il des nos amours, Douce France, La route enchantée, of course La mer, and the magnificent L’âme des poètes, a simple, soft-spoken discourse about poets, poetry and immortality.

Charles Trenet – L’âme des poètes

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

Spoiler Alert

Don’t watch this one if you haven’t seen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy so far. Or do. However, the brilliant end montage of Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of the famous John le Carré novel features the full-length version of La Mer by … Julio Iglesias, catapulting the Spanish schmaltz yodeler right into the realm of Supercoolio. One that goes directly to the head.

FS Rerun: Le Grand Jeudi

Gimme a board, messieurs. Pour les grandes vagues et les surfer garcons (et filles), here’s a twangy big-ninth-version of Charles Trenet’s „La Mer“ by Psycho Tiki entrepreneurs The Aquamarines, and the probably most liquid version of Serge’s & Jane’s „Je t’aime (moi non plus)“ ever heard, performed by Berlin’s number one surf guitarist and lounge expert Kahuna Kawentzmann – the German „Kawentzmann“ translates as a rogue wave you shouldn’t even try on a Big Wednesday, got my drift, kids? Wet name choice, and even your girlfriend may get instantly … okay, forget about that. Both tracks from the stunning compilation „Beyond the Sea – The Surf Instrumental Bands of the World Fearlessly Expand Their Repertoire“. For now: Wahini!

Aquamarines – Beyond the Sea
Kahuna Kawentzmann – Je t’aime

Extra: The original “La Mer” plus a few cover versions, including Cliff Richard en francais, Kevin Kline’s fine cover from the movie “French Kiss”, and a very charming mid-60s bubblegum adaptation by Francoise Hardy.

Charles Trenet – La Mer
Cliff Richard – La Mer
Dalida – La Mer
Django Reinhardt – La Mer
Francoise Hardy – La Mer
Kevin Kline – La Mer
Bobby Darin – Beyond the Sea
Helen Shapiro – Beyond the Sea
The Three Suns – Beyond the Sea

FS Vintage: Luiz Bonfá Meets Charles Trénet

Let’s take a trip to Rio on this late Monday night. Luiz Bonfá isn’t exactly a household name, but in the 50s and 60s, he played guitar for and with Joao Gilberto, Sergio Mendes, Stan Getz, George Benson, and Frank Sinatra, and wrote Almost in Love for Elvis. In 1956, he collaborated with pianiste extraordinaire Ed(uardo) Lincoln on Noite e Dia, which contains a most easygoing and highly artistic instrumental version of Charles Trénet’s 1942 classic Que reste-t’il de nos amours. My friend Matthias knows the lyrics by heart. A perfect way to attract them filles.

Luiz Bonfá/ Ed Lincoln – Que reste-t’il de nos amours

Charles Trenet – Que reste-t’il de nos amours

Elvis – Almost in Love

Bonus: Bonfá’s biggest own composition was the bossa classic Manha de Carnaval, a favorite (not only) among French songbirds:

Marina Celeste – Manha de Carnaval

Keren Ann – Manha de Carnaval

Sylvia Telles – Manha de Carnaval

Joanie Summers w/ Laurindo Almeida – Manha de Carnaval

Claudine Longet – Manha de Carnaval

Ulrich T. Does Charles T.

Even the good old Deutsche Grammophon label – once home of Herbert von Karajan, Daniel Barenboim, or Claudio Abbado – doesn’t offer the same quality choice anymore. Meanwhile, they have broadened their product range a bit: Recently they signed Ulrich Tukur, German tv cop for Europe’s probably worst crime show Tatort and a grandmaster of the overacting art, and produced his song album Mezzanotte, which contains a lovely duet with 90-years-old German movie legend Margot Hielscher, an unscrupulous raping of Friedrich Hollaender’s wonderful and immortal Illusions, and even two French numbers, one of which is a stiff and stilted carnival version of Charles Trenet’s nonchalantly charming 1939 chanson Le soleil et la lune. And history is repeating: In 1940, German troops did to France what Tukur is doing to Trenet in 2010.

Ulrich Tukur – Le soleil et la lune