Made in France


Apropos of nothing I thought it about time we saluted our French chums with a selection of top tunes from that country.
So here they are…..

Let us start with Brigitte Fontaine, her background was in theatre, this early track , L’homme objet, is poppy in style, she later collaborated with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Areski Belkacem to produce some wilder, more avante garde material, as we shall see.

Next up comes Francoise Hardy with a song that’s more typical of 60s Francopop. Je Pense Lui. Tall, elegant and dressed by a leading French fashion house Francoise was the “face” for French pop. She also wrote much of her own material, a talented lady.

With the entrees out the way we come to Michel Polnareff, a cool dude, with La Poupée qui fait non. Michel earned his spurs busking on the streets of Paris and, in 1965, won a competition to record with Barclay records. Too cool for school he turned the offer down, preferring to maintain his couterculture credentials. This track was recorded in London and features 1/2 of Led Zeppelin on backing (Page and Jones).

France Gall began life as a typical “Yé-yé” girl, performing upbeat pop numbers are ballads about teenage heartbreak ( and lollipops, thanks to Serge Gainsbourg but we won’t go into that). This track, Made in France, is from her 1967 album 1968 (eh ?) and is a lighthearted look at the contrasting hipness of France and England at that time. The album was quite lightly psychedelic in tone, a step up from her earlier recordings.

Brigitte Fontaine again next, very different sound here on Le Goudron , she’s gone all weird on us.”Soldiers have left covered with confetti.
Time is a boat (and) the Earth is a cake.” Mysterious from the off with twangy, sitar like sounds and bonks.

Jacques Dutronc was a major star in the 1960s and 70s with a fairly “rocky” approach, by the time this song “Merde in France” was released , 1980s, his star was waning a bit but he could still perform out a ridiculous , rude 50s pastiche with aplomb. The lyrics, I’m told by my wife , who is fluent in French, are difficult to understand being a mixture of French slang, English and vulgar expressions. It’s fun though.

Finally, My Little Airport aren’t from France at all, they are from Hong Kong but I include their “How can you fall in love with a guy who doesn’t love Gainsbourg” because I like it a lot and it demonstrates just how influential French pop has been, even in Asia. In Japan, for example, the whole Shibuya-Kei genre draws heavily from French and Italian pop influences.

Finally, as an extra treat

8 thoughts on “Made in France

  1. Very enjoyable listen – even though I still don’t love Gainsbourg. All but one track were new to me. Must look up a few more Brigitte Fontaine songs.
    Surely though the phrase “apropos of nothing” should read “inspired by severin’s excellent choice of Francoise Hardy for his “Elastic Bands” H list”…………………

    • I,m not a huge fan of Gainsbourg as an artists either but I do admire his “dirty old man” persona and thoroughly reprehensible behaviour ( have you seen the “Whitney Houston” incident ?).
      I hadn’t noticed your Hardy nom consciously, perhaps it seeped into what’s left of my brain unbeknownst to me.

  2. Ubu: I think that the French language is the most beautiful in the world to listen to but I usually have no idea what they’re talking about, but then neither do I when listening to most African or South American music. I enjoyed EVERYTHING here, unqualified!
    I need to transfer this lot to my iTunes folder.

    • Well I’m glad you liked them. I don’t really care about what language a song is sung in, I can just about understand most French or German and a few English one’s too.
      After all awopbopaloobopawopbamboom is hardly Shakespearean English and yet the song is still a work of wonder.
      There are a lot of translated lyrics on the web these days, not always perfectly done but quite adequate usually.

  3. Hi Mr P ! ! ! love all the tracks, especially Made In France, which I really enjoyed, but I thought Mary Quant was an English designer not a French one ! ! !

    It is a really nice playlist and I am going to listen to them all again now ! ! !

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