Friday, June 29, 2007
Originally written for Agony Shorthand on April 22nd, 2003:
YOU TOO CAN LOVE LES FEMMES DE PARIS....As I've mentioned before, I've got a real affinity for overblown, loud, brassy, well-crafted 60s girl pop -- the kind with enormous hooks, screaming horns, and a saucy, coquettish playfulness that runs through your better US and UK girl groups & solo artists. But hands down, the queens of the 60s pop hop were the French -- specifically le femmes de Paris and the groovy-to-a-fault "ye ye girls". There is nothing quite like hearing LIZ BRADY's majestic and flat-out booming "Palladium" or CLAIRE DIXON's charm school central ball of fluff "On M'appelle Petit Bout De Chou" to wipe that smug I-only-listen-to-the-13th-Floor-Elevators pout off your beak. And while in the past few years there's been a slightly heightened awareness of these girls' existence, this stuff is still incredibly laborious to hunt down -- even the recent reissues. A tour of the web finds one very solid albeit un-updated site and a bunch of message board posts desperately pleading to all readers, "Please, where can I find this stuff?!??". I'm here to help, folks. These "teenie-bopper doyennes of the Coca-Cola bubble-gum pop culture" were huge in their native France during the rough period spanning 1965-68, when rock and pop continued exploding into smithereens to satisfy the mainstream, the hippies, the drug underground, and of course the teenage kids. I am under no illusion that this music was made for anyone but pre- and pubescent French girls, which in no way negates the craft and genius of these songs' arrangers, nor the power and bite of the songs themselves. The 60s french girls were a roll call of lush first names: VIOLAINE, JOCELYNE, CLOTHILDE, COSETTE, ARIANE, etc. CHANTEL KELLY (who's an absolute dead ringer for Audrey Tatou's Amelie in other pictures and was likely quite a perv-magnet in her day) and the aforementioned Claire Dixon are among the less coquettishly-monikered ye ye girls who have some of the most stomping hits. In the mid-90s the "ULTRA CHICKS" compilations started popping up in better North American record stores, and they continue to do so, with a 5th volume coming out in 2000 and a 6th appearing sometime last year. These are far and away the best starting points for this stuff, if you can even find them. I highly recommend Volumes #1-4, even the one called, um, "Baby Pop", and then the recent Volume #6, which continues the series' winning ways after a somewhat rotten Volume 5. Sprinkled in among these are a few non-French but still ripe international pop bombshells, from places with less mellifluous languages like Italy, Germany and Syria. I found the first 4 by e-mailing some record stores in Montreal until they surrendered the name of the guy who put them out (somewhere I'd read that he was a native). Damn if I didn't misplace that email address through. However, another fantastic series is called "SWINGING MADEMOISELLE", which overlaps a little with Ultra Chicks but might have the higher batting average song for song. These two LPs were put out by Sasha Monet records in France, and when I contacted the guy or gal that runs the label in search of the first volume, he/she told me it was sold out but that they'd gladly make me CD-Rs of both volumes, with a ton of extra tracks plopped on the end of each. I paid a pittance -- something like $12 US, which included shipping -- for both. Contact the label here and see if magic can strike twice. There are a couple of lesser series out there as well -- "FEMMES DE PARIS" have beautiful digipack sleeves but rely way too much on covers of British and American hits en Francais to be of much listening pleasure -- unless EILEEN trying to out-Nancy NANCY SINATRA on "Ces Bottes Sout Faites Pour Marcher" sounds like a good time. Likewise, "SIXTIES GIRLS" have some terrific sleeves, and up the ante by including entire 4-song EPs, but then you get the crap songs as well. Better to sit back and let the programming wizards of "Ultra Chicks" and "Swinging Mademoiselle" take the reigns for you. Hopefully should you decide to dip a toe in this stuff you do so with an appreciation not so much of the KITSCH involved (lame) but of the song craft itself. I'd rank the best of this stuff up against any American 1965-68 summer AM radio hit you care to mention.
Postscript – what’s changed since the thing above was written is the very existence and now-ubiquity of terrific mp3 blogs, several of which actually specialize in ye ye. Check BLOW-UP DOLL, SPIKED CANDY and YE YE LAND – just remember that Detailed Twang still picks the finest songs.
Play or Download ANOUK – “Jimmy Est Parti”
Play or Download CHRISTINE PILZER – “Champs Elysees”
Play or Download PUSSY CAT – “Les Temps Ont Change”
Thursday, June 28, 2007
The band were from El Sobrante, CA – I town I actually called home in the early 70s as an exceptionally young man (4 years old to be exact). Later, members went on to the bands YO and EL SOB. I have only heard the song I’m posting for you today, and it’s fantastic. It came out several years ago on an out-of-print compilation called HOMEWORK #5. It’s from 1982, and it exists in a time of rampant experimentation within standard rock and roll forms. It might sound pretty pedestrian to you, but I hear elements of WIRE and THE MINUTEMEN, as well as a tuff & arty presaging of what we later called “college rock” as made popular by acts like R.E.M.. Great track. Anyone know what the others sound like?
Play or Download XMAS EVE – “My House” (from 1982 single)
Monday, June 25, 2007
CHEAP TIME – “Spoiled Brat” 7”EP
Simple, snotty, RED CROSS-inspired rasp punk. Similar in style & spirit to early 90s Texas doofus-punks THE INHALANTS. Album coming soon on In The Red.
THE LAMPS – “Fred Astaire” 7”EP
Hands down best thing I’ve heard from LA distorto-garage kingpins THE LAMPS, debut LP included. Mud-caked primitive shit rock with bleary-eyed depresso vibe to spare.
GEISHA GIRLS – “In The Monotone / Last Touch” 45
Panicky angular 80s rock in the MISSION OF BURMA style, with a dose of Middle Class-ish barked vocals as well. In fact “Last Touch” was lifted straight off of the second Middle Class single, showing some serious class and taste. Not half bad!
CHEVEU – “My Answer Is Yes! / Lola Langusta” 45
(45 is the one pictured above) I remember the A-side from CHEVEU’s wild but star-crossed show last month here in San Francisco, when they essentially fried a P.A. with overloaded analog synth & static-chop guitar. They were outstanding, even though they kept profusely apologizing for almost destroying an entire club’s equipment. No problem! B-side’s the real winner here, a strange slide-guitar country skiffle with electro-drumbeat. Perhaps recorded in the South of France circa ’71 with Mick, Keith, Gram Parsons, and Gary Numan?
TYVEK / CYGNUS split 45
TYVEK are a big recent favorite around this house (you gotta hear “Fast Metabolism”!); I bought this one off the band the same night as the Cheveu show. Their untitled side is a spookhouse dirge, a ’79-style UK-influenced echo-laden weirdo. Cool. CYGNUS are like that, but a comparatively formless, tuneless, dark and impenetrable charnel house of horrors. Decent single, I can think of better ones even in this list.
JUNIOR MAKHNO – “The Theater Of The Macabre” 7”EP
Strange and pleasingly ill-fitting mash of distorted horror rap, electronic tweedling, screams, monster sounds, and manipulations of all sorts. Mostly instrumental, and heavy in every sense of the word. Kindred spirits of the aforementioned CHEVEU for sure.
THE TOUCHED – “Funeral Dress” 7”EP
Loads of chaos, feedback and lo-fidelity cheap punk thrills. Fans of THE LEWD and other alcoholiday-taking, trackmarks-up-the-arms gutter-punk bands will find the spirit dutifully kept here.
TOUCH-ME-NOTS - “Cool Enough For California” / GRAVE BLANKETS “Foreward” split 45
The TOUCH-ME-NOTS jog outside of their comfort zone for a relative ballad, a hooky pop song delivered in their southern fried rockabilly tear-it-up style. GRAVE BLANKETS present a live, loud, distorted blues. Very middling.
TOUCH-ME-NOTS / RED ROCKETS split 7”EP
“Life Of Crime” (no, not that one) is easily in the Touch-Me-Nots’ top five so far, a bouncy, one-take scorcher with a swaggering NY DOLLS feel to it. “This Kind of Music” is nearly as hot, with vocals multi-tracked and echoing off of every surface. RED ROCKETS are standard-issue, government cheese bar punk.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Play or Download TEENGENERATE – “Out of Sight”
Play or Download TEENGENERATE – “Pushin’ Me Around”
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I’m picking a representative smattering of five songs from her catalog for ya. Two are from a heavy psych/folk CD she put out with a backing band called The Supposed (“All The Leaves Are Gone"); one is from her second-ever homemade CD-R (“Little Life") – she has about a half-dozen of those, and you can order some of them right here; one is from her fantastic CD from 2005 “Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You” ; and one was a freebie cover song of THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS, whom Foster has collaborated with) on a comp that came with THE BELIEVER literary magazine. All are superlative. If you like this, there’s a lot, lot more to delve into.
Play or Download JOSEPHINE FOSTER & THE SUPPOSED – “Well-Heeled Men” (from 2004 “All The Leaves Are Gone” CD)
Play or Download JOSEPHINE FOSTER – “The Golden Window” (from June 2005 compilation CD included with “The Believer” magazine)
Play or Download JOSEPHINE FOSTER – “There Are Eyes Above” (from 2005 “Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You” CD)
Play or Download JOSEPHINE FOSTER – “Francie’s Song” (from 2001 “Little Life” CD-R)
Play or Download JOSEPHINE FOSTER & THE SUPPOSED – “
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
(Note, 7/2/07 – Drake not only confirmed this for us, but sent the photograph you see here as proof. It replaces the one we had up previously).
I saw the band one time only, at an all-day free festival/alcoholiday of Trigon Records acts in
Play or Download THIRSTY BRATS – “White Ghetto” (from 1988 compilation “Gimme The Keys”)
Monday, June 18, 2007
Play or Download THE ETTES – “Reputation” (from “Shake The Dust” CD)
Friday, June 15, 2007
If you ask me, the best pre-1980 Australian punk rock ever recorded was NOT necessarily by the SAINTS. nor the PSYCHO SURGEONS, nor the LEFTOVERS, nor RADIO BIRDMAN -- but by X. The Australian X, of course. The past decade has seen them garner some deserved attention, mostly for the low-profile Amphetamine Reptile reissue of their raw, spastic debut LP "X-Aspirations" (also known by some as simply "Aspirations"). I think they actually topped that monster with their amazing earliest recordings, though: the three tracks "Home Is Where The Floor Is", "Hate City" and "TV Cabaret Roll" that were posthumously cobbled together on the Aberrant Records' "Why March When You Can Riot?" compilation. If these tracks had been put out as a 45, you'd be seeing it on numerous "best punk records of all time" lists, certainly on mine (note: these were put out on a 45 a couple years ago on a US label, now out of print, I'm afraid). We're talking barreling, steamrolling punk rock, but minus the "snotty" vibe and the over-the-top antics that mark some other richly heralded Aussie punk of the era. Not particularly well recorded, mind, but you never cared about that much, right? About the closest equivalent I can think of would be a kindly
Or you can download them right here and put them on your own CD.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
In 1990 I was in a band with a fella who saw the band in
Play or Download SONIC’S RENDEZVOUS BAND – “Sweet Nuthin’” (from posthumous split LP with Destroy All Monsters)
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
TYVEK – “Fast Metabolism” download CD
CHEATER SLICKS – “Walk Into The Sea” LP
“REPORT FROM THE COUNTRY” 60s/70s country music comps from Derek Bostrom
THE BAD TRIPS – “The Bad Trips” LP
OPAL – “Early Recordings Volume 2” fake CD
THOMAS FUNCTION – “The Insignificants” EP
MESSTHETICS #103 – CD
Monday, June 11, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
RED RED RED honestly sound like they were coughed from a rough night of coupling between ’81 BLACK FLAG (with Dez on vocals) and
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
CLASSIC SOPHOMORE SLUMPS
Masterpiece debut album/Disappointing Follow Up
TELEVISION – “Marquee Moon” / “Adventure”
THE GUN CLUB – “Fire Of Love” / “
THE DREAM SYNDICATE – “The Days of Wine and Roses” / “The Medicine Show”
COME – “Eleven: Eleven” / “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
GIBSON BROS – “Big Pine Boogie” / “Dedicated Fool”
CIRCLE JERKS – “Group Sex” / “Wild In The Streets”
PINK FLOYD – “Piper At The Gates of Dawn” / “A Saucerful of Secrets”
UNION CARBIDE PRODUCTIONS – “In The Air Tonight” / “Financially Dissatisfied, Philosophically Trying”
THE GORDONS – “The Gordons” / “Volume Two"
ROYAL TRUX - "Royal Trux" / "Twin Infinitives"
BUZZCOCKS - "Another Music In a Different Kitchen" / "Love Bites"
BANDS THAT BEAT THE SLUMP & EVEN TOPPED THEMSELVES
Debut Album/Superior Follow Up
BIG STAR – “#1 Record / “
THE STOOGES – “The Stooges” / “Funhouse”
NEIL YOUNG – “Neil Young” / “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere”
DINOSAUR (JR.) – “Dinosaur” / “You’re Living All Over Me”
LAZY COWGIRLS – “Lazy Cowgirls” / “Tapping The Source"
SUPERCHARGER – “Supercharger” / “Goes Way Out!"
CHEATER SLICKS - "On Your Knees" / "Whiskey"
Friday, June 01, 2007
I’ve written in many other places about the legendary 1981 one-camera Target Video of THE FLESH EATERS during the “A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die” era, but this is the first evidence I’ve seen of it on the web. I haven’t watched the video itself in at least seventeen years. Here’s a snippet from it – kudos to Classics2DVDdotcom to bringing it to the people.