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.