Under the Radar 1: Céline Rudolph

„Summer rain in Paris, and the cool sound of Miles Davis“ – German chanteuse Céline Rudolph certainly is no literary virtuoso, but who cares for lyrics anyway? Her most recent album gathers 11 songs by the late Henri Salvador, kind of a Gallic Nat King Cole jack-of-all-trades who did all too many ditties for a fistful of Francs. Frau Rudolph catapults Salvador directly into the feelgood realm of her favorite women’s magazines, with the help of some Brazilian players who obviously think that Saudade is a new brand of fabric softener – registered trademark of the Snuggly Products Corporation, with guaranteed 14 days of fresh scent. Only my ill-mannered three-year-old nephew says it stinks.

Céline Rudolph – Wintergarten

The other side of soft, slightly funkified, from Henri Salvador’s Chante Vian album:

Henri Salvador – Ave Maria des pêcheurs

J’aime on You

On the b-side of her strange 1975 post-yé-yé folk schlager Refais-le-me-le (comme à Ibiza) – Let’s Do It (Like We Did on Ibiza) in English –, unknown French lolita pop bird Minouche Sterling invented the famous chord progression that was stolen the same year by Shirley & Company for their worldwide smash hit Shame, Shame, Shame.

Sure, you’re right: I made that one up. The producers of Minouche’s unperceived 7“ probably thought that no one would ever play the b-side; it’s one of the most shameless (and funny) rip-offs in French pop history. In fact, Shame, Shame, Shame – written by Sugarhill Records founder and too seldom sung soul/ disco/ rap pioneer Sylvia Robinson and released by the lesser known Linda & The Funky Boys almost simultaneously with Shirley – was one of the first international breakthrough disco/ dance hits, and everybody tried to cash in on the success. In France, television personality Christian Morin did an instrumental version featuring his quite mangy sounding clarinet, while jack-of-all-trades Henri Salvador unleashed a flea bag of a cover version including the rabid replacement of „Shame“ through „J’aime“ – genius! The worst cover was surely done by German 50s overbite idol Peter Kraus – a funk-goes-boof-tah must-have provided by FS confidant Roy Black with the well-meant advice: „Buckle your seat-belt before playing.“

Minouche Sterling – Non mais des fois

Shirley & Company – Shame, Shame, Shame

Linda & The Funky Boys – Shame, Shame, Shame

Henri Salvador – J’aime tes g’noux

Christian Morin – Shame, Shame, Shame

Peter Kraus – Shame, Shame, Shame


There’s more to the Shame, Shame, Shame story. Soul singer Donnie Elbert recorded a cover of Love is Strange in 1974. He then claimed songwriting credits of Shame, Shame, Shame, saying that his vocals were replaced by those of Shirley Goodman & Jesus Alvarez. The case got real muddy when Shirley & Company followed up S, S, S with Cry, Cry, Cry: same groove, different lyrics. But those lyrics were very similar to Donnie Elbert’s You’re Gonna Cry When I’m Gone, also from 1974. The squabble was never resolved. But wait – there’s also George McCrae’s Rock Your Baby, featuring the licks extraordinaire of guitarist Jerome Smith, one of the unsung heroes of the era. Set to the s(h)ame groove. And he was definitely the first to use it. And he got a nod from John Lennon, who based his Whatever gets you thru the night on, you guessed it, that irresistable groove.

Donnie Elbert – You’re gonna cry when I’m gone
Donnie Elbert – Love is strange
Shirley & Company – Cry, Cry, Cry
George McCrae – Rock your baby
John Lennon – Whatever gets you thru the night

Of course, Shame, Shame, Shame was (like Love is Strange) covered many times. See model Izabella Scorupco’s version here, and see Cher & Tina Turner here.