Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ladies et Gentlemen!

Hello flower girls and beat boys.

I have been in the depths of a very busy summer, helping my boyfriend put together a smashing music festival and traveling as a merchandise-bearer with dear friends Rasputina on their whirlwind summer tour.

So please, forgive me for not updating this blog more regularly (it's been a month--egads!!).


Today, I give some much deserved time to the boys of 1960's Paris pop music. Yes, these dashing men often shared the spotlight in sultry duets with foxy French femmes fatales, but they had some of their own terrific music going on as well.

First, some duets.

In the coveted and rare musical "Anna", broadcast on French television in 1967--and written by Serge Gainsbourg--the absurdly sexy Jean-Claude Brialy plays Serge, a photographer who pines for a mysterious woman(played by Anna Karina, the smokin' muse of Jean-Luc Godard) after she accidently infiltrates one of his fashion shoots. Sadly, she has her glasses off when her picture is taken, which cause a Clark Kent-like effect of Brialy not recognizing her when she wears them, even as he desperately posts her picture all over Paris.

Strange, trippy dance numbers and weird sci-fi tributes ensue. The movie loses track of it's plot about halfway through, but who cares? We get to see Anna Karina dance around with no pants on!

One of the most lovely duets in the film takes place between the characters of Anna and Serge. "Ne Dis Rien" is a fantastic number, filled with longing and heartbreak. Their voices (Anna's-- breathy and sexy, Jean-Claudes-- masculine and forward) compliment each other perfectly, making for a delightfully romantic tune. Clip below.

Ye-ye girl Sylvie Vartan owed many of her songs to French pop singer Frankie Jordan (born Claude Benzaquen). Jordan took an easy, swingin' approach to his music, emanating the laid-back American style of approaching pop music during the sixties(hence his alias). He innocently sings back and forth with Sylvie in the fun, lighthearted duet "J'aime Ta Facon De Faire." Find the teeny-bopper delight here, and rock out.

France Gall, another ye-ye singer, was part of many notoriously naughty duets. Case-in-point; her televised duet with Serge Gainsbourg on 1965's "Les Sucettes", a song that was obviously about more than liking to suck on lollipops.

Here's a rough translation for your amusement:

Annie likes lollipops,
Aniseed lollipops
Annie's aniseed lollipops
Give her kisses
An aniseed taste.
And when the barley sugar,
Perfumed with aniseed,
Slides down Annie's throat
She is in paradise.
For a few pennies
Gets her aniseed lollipops.
They have the color of her eyes,
The color of happy days.
Annie likes lollipops,
Aniseed lollipops
Annie's aniseed lollipops
Give her kisses
An aniseed taste.
When on her tongue
Just a small stick remains,
She jumps to her feet
And returns to the drugstore.
For a few pennies
Gets her aniseed lollipops.
They have the color of her eyes,
The color of happy days.
When the barley sugar,
Perfumed with aniseed,
Slides down Annie's throat
She is in paradise.

Are you blushing yet???

France claims she never knew anything about the innuendo, which makes her sexual innocence all the more alluring. In yet another Serge Gainsbourg-penned tune, she duets with the much-older French film actor Maurice Biraud in the song "La Petite". The song is about an older man having a "close" relationship with his friend's young daughter. He says that she is "still a little girl" but she insists to him that she is "all grown up". See the delightfully creepy video below:

Lastly, an opportunity for French fellows to have their moment in the spotlight. The compilation Gentlemen de Paris does a stellar job of letting these boys shine.

It's currently out of print in the States, but I have it here for your pleasure. Plenty of sexy swinging French sixties boys. O la la!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I DO Believe in Fairies (and wolves and witches and sheep and magic horses)!!!

Fairy Tales, Folklore, and Nursery Rhymes!

Yes, my little foundlings, that is the theme of today's entry. For you listening pleasure, I come bearing poppy and psychedelic songs from somewhere beyond the nursery, ranging in emotion from cute and carefree to haunting and transcendental.


The Sham-ettes-(Hey There) Big Bad Wolf

The Sham-ettes were the creation of pop musician Sam the Sham. They were a novelty act who not only backed up Sam during his live revue, but sang their own songs. They released a few (mostly unsuccessful) singles of their own, including this one, a cheeky response to the popular single "Hey There Little Red Riding Hood".

Francois Hardy- Magic Horse

This track is taken from Francois' little-publicized (and very hard to find) 1970 English-language album 1-9-7-0, released only in Italy. A dreamy, floaty, oh-so-seventies song about riding on a magic horse "higher, higher, higher in the sky!"

Sylvie Vartan-Si Je Chante

This song uses a melody originally composed by Mozart, but most of us know it as the familiar tune of "Mary Had A Little Lamb" The lyrics do not translate into the well-known nursery rhyme, but rather a woeful heartbreak song. My French is only so-so, but from what I can tell, the song is about singing for one person, after being separated for 15 years, but being forgotten, and shedding tears. The song's upbeat, dancy feel, however, nearly conceals the lovesick lyrics.

The Continental Co-Ets-Medley of Junk

This surf ditty by the undeniably badass 1960's all-female band is a mash-up of familiar tunes,(including the "Mary Had a Little Lamb" melody used by Sylvie) with shimmy-worthy guitar licks and sweet little drum solos.


Shift the mood from fun pop music to the more dramatic side of fairy tales with two songs from Josephine Foster(formally of the delectable psych-folk duo Born Heller)'s appropriately titled album, A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.

Foster's 2006 record is comprised of songs originally composed by Bach, Schubert and others, which she sings the German Lieder tradition. Each track is overshadowed with dark, haunting electric guitar. This is a far cry from Mary's lamb.

An Die Musik starts off almost tranquil, and climaxes with a scary, frenzied electric guitar over the gentle acoustic music and Foster's evocative vocals.
Auf Einer Burg is sweeping, somber, and dare I say...epic! I recommend headphones.

P.S. For one more fairy-tale villan, look for a copy of Yoko Ono's 2007 album Yes, I'm A Witch (a guest-star loaded record in which she breathed new life into some of her best songs) in the comments section. Peaches' re-working of Kiss Kiss is nothing but dance party fun, and Revelations, with Cat Power guesting, is an especially beautiful track.

Until next time, enjoy the music--- and please continue to use your imaginations!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hippie Hippie Hippie!

I love airy psych and folk music just as much as I love shaking it to ye-ye and freakbeat. With this entry, I encourage everyone to embrace their inner hippie, with some music that is appropriate for a dance freakout, and some that's a perfect companion while you make daisy chains in a field of flowers (or just lie on the couch in your tiny apartment smoking a joint).

For the latter, a dose of the Welsh folk band Galwad y Mynydd is all you need.

I don't speak Welsh, but their self-titled album doesn't require it. As a band who chose to separate themselves from the mainstream, protest-laden folk music of the early 70's and create their own form of folk, their music matters more than the words (and it doesn't hurt that Welsh is an ancient, beautiful and (to me) a mysterious language). So go ahead. Put on this record, place some flowers in your hair, and spin in circles with your arms outstretched. You won't regret it.

Get more upbeat and rock it to some freakbeat with these hippie-inspired tunes by France Gall, Daniela, and Pat Harris and the Blackjacks.

Pat(about whom I have never been able to find much info) and Daniela (a German ye-ye pop singer with roots in Serbia)both do excellent versions of the classic song Hippy Hippy Shake
Find Daniela's version (ripped from vinyl)here and Pat's version here

Top it off with French ye-ye queen France Gall's German-language Hippie Hippie Hippie and you've got yourself a swingin' hippie dance party.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ye-Ye gets covered

So the other day I was trolling around the interwebs and came across this perplexing Japanese cover of my favorite song by the great Sylvie Vartan: La Plus Belle Pour Aller Danser by the singer Hitomi:

Online Videos by

As much as I love the Japanese, and can't deny the pleasure of the excessive pop and glitter of the video, I much prefer Sylvie's version:

This doesn't mean, however, that I'm ready to throw modern interpretations of Ye-Ye music out the window. Au contraire, my dears.

Mareva Galanter shines as an example of a fresh approach to ye-ye music. On her 2006 album, cleverly entitled Ukeyeye, the former beauty queen tackles ye-ye giants Francoise Hardy, and Stella, among others. She does it flawlessly, while maintaining a modern pop music sensibility.

I must admit, her cover of Stella's Pourquoi Pas Moi rivals the original version

Lovely lovely lovely.

****PS. Look for a collection of Sylvie's EPs and singles (1964-68) that includes La Plus Belle Pour Aller Danser in the comments section. Happy listening.