Françoise Hardy – Le Danger (1996)

FrontCover1Francoise Hardy is mostly known as a pop chanteuse with mild rock influences. It comes as something of a shock, then, to stick this into the CD player and hear her backed by assertive, guitar-oriented modern rock arrangements. Hardy’s delivery hasn’t changed much; it’s still a mixture of fetching sensuality and composed reserve. What has changed is the music, with its emphasis upon gutsy guitar textures that sound influenced by ’90s alternative rock–a bit of grungetone here, some Brit-pop energy there, some rootsy slide work (on “Ici Ou La?”) in the mold of Ry Cooder. Many middle-aged pop singers move from gritty rock to lighthearted MOR. Hardy, unusually, seems determined to move in exactly the opposite direction. It’s not as good as, or very similar to, the charming sentimental pop of her youth. Yet it’s not at all embarrassing, with a couple of tunes (“Dix Heures En Ete” and “Contre-Jour”) that would have definite hit potential, in the best sense of the word, were they sung in English. Whatever you think, one would be hard-pressed to name other rock singers in their early fifties, from France or anywhere else, that managed to sound unassumingly contemporary in the mid-’90s. (by Richie Unterberger)

TheYoungHardyThe young Françoise Hardy in the Sixties

Françoise Hardy’s 1996 album “Le danger” could be one of her best. Its overall feel is a mix of rock, blues, and pop. The band is excellent, the arrangements are superb, and above all, FH’s poetic lyrics are moving and thought-provoking. The album’s sound is varied without losing consistency, the tunes ranging from rocking to slow. “Le danger” is a smart album that is by turns sad, joyful, droll, and moving. Françoise Hardy’s taste is always impeccable, and it is no wonder that such icons as Bob Dylan and the Stones respected her talent (many of the sounds on “Le danger” almost seem to prefigure Dylan’s latest masterpiece, “Love and Theft”).
There are no losers on this disc, but highlights include the album’s opener, “Mode d’emploi”, a rocking tune with a catchy guitar hook and chorus. Track 2, “Les Madeleines,” is also a winner with wonderful orchestration and even a line in English (in Françoise’s charming accent). Perhaps the best track on the album is “Un peu d’eau”, an atmospheric tune that also happens to be one of FH’s favorite compositions. “L’obscur objet” and the optimistic “Tout va bien” are standouts as well.
Extensive knowledge of French is not needed to enjoy these tunes. Françoise Hardy’s voice sounds better than it ever has. (by an amazon customer)

Tray1Personnel:
François Bodin (guitar, slide guitar)
Rodolphe Burger (guitar)
Jean-Noël Chaleat (piano)
Françoise Hardy (vocals, guitar)
Volker Janssen (piano)
Alain Lubrano (guitar, slide guitar)
Sylvain Luc (guitar)
Pascal Mulot (bass)
Vincent Pierins (bass)
Dave Ruffy (drums)
Doudou Wiess (drums)

Booklet01ATracklist:
01. Mode d’Emploi (Hardy/Lubrano) 3.49
02. Les Madeleines (Hardy/Lubrano) 3.58
03. La Beauté du Diable (Burger/Hardy) 3.52
04. L’ Obscur Objet (Hardy/Lubrano) 3.51
05. Un Peu d’Eau (Chaleat/Hardy) 4.36
06. Zero Partout (Hardy/Lubrano) 4,10
07. Le Danger (Hardy/Lubrano) 3.32
08. Dix Heures en Été (Burger/Hardy) 4.04
09. Tout Va Bien (Hardy/Lubrano) 4.02
10. Contre-Jour (Burger/Hardy) 3.40
11. Ici Ou Lá? (Hardy/Lubrano) 4.10
12. Á Sa Merci (Hardy/Lubrano) 3.50
13. Regarde-Toi (Chaleat/Hardy) 1.56

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VA – Très Chic – French Cool From Paris To The Côte d’Azur (2013)

FrontCover1Retro French music is very much in vogue on this side of the Channel and Union Square have sought to capitalise on this by releasing this most entertaining overview of 1950s and 1960s French music. While any two CD compilation can only ever hope to scratch the surface and more in-depth anthologies are required to be fully comprehensive, for the neophyte this actually serves it’s purpose well of introducing the listener to a whole raft of musicians. The music is neatly divided up between male crooners, Left bank existentialist singers, women singers and jazzier influences that includes both instrumentalists from famous French new wave film soundtracks, or French jazzers. Among the crooners, Yves Montand deserves to be heard by an anglophone audience and his interpretations of the music of Prévert are near definitive. Here he delivers the smooth sounding ‘C’est si bon’. Talking of smooth operators, Sacha Distel takes some beating and it may come as a surprise to non-French readers to learn that he was a very accomplished jazz guitarist before becoming a singer. Arguably his most famous song is showcased here, ‘Scoubidoo’. Henri Salvador gained international recognition late in his career, but this early jazz scat, ‘C’est le be bop’, is an indication of what was to follow. While Charles Aznavour is best known in the UK for ‘She’, his late 1950s and early 1960s sides were full of emotion and jazzy orchestrations and ‘Je me voyais, déjà’ is typical of his output from the era. For more left-field sounds, this compilation deserves great credit for including some of the following singers. Bobby Lapointe came to prominence as a subversive singer who made a brief appearance in François Truffaut’s ‘Shoot the pianist’ film. Here ‘Framboise’ is boisterous, fast-paced and a delight from start to finish.

Inlet01APreceding the 1960s starlettes by a decade, Juliette Gréco possesses a deep, throaty voice that was ideally suited to interpreting Gainsbourg and Prévert and ‘Si tu t’imagines’ is just one of her vast repertoire and a fine example at that. Léo Ferré is the current French president’s favourite singer and the melodic ‘A Saint Germain des Prés’ is an early illustration of Ferré’s beautiful voice. He would later become famous for his lengthy literary raps and he was very much an anti-establishment figure. Barbara may be less known outside France, but has few equals in France as a singer-songwriter and ‘Dis quand reviendras-tu?’ is a fine example of her pared down sound. Jacques Brel needs little introduction, but for those as yet unaware ‘La valse à mille temps’ shifts gear as only Brel knows how and he is an all-time great of the French language. Last, but by no means least, Serge Gainsbourg is nothing less than a national treasure, but interestingly for those who are familiar with his later psychedelic period, here the focus is on his jazz period. Both ‘Intoxicated man’ and ‘Requiem pour un twister’ are superior examples of his early period that stand the test of time. A trio of French women singers includes the obligatory Françoise Hardy and her seminal ‘Tous les garcons et les filles’, another Truffaut sound track song by Jeanne Moreau, ‘Le Tourbillon’, featured in the delightful ‘Jules et Jim’ film and a melancholic sounding Brigitte Bardot on ‘Sidonie’.

Inlet02AJazz musicians featured include Miles Davis and his stunning contribution to Louis Malle’s ‘Lift to the Scaffold’ film and pianist Martial Solal and the terrific soundtrack to Jean-Luc Godard’s seminal ‘A bout de souffle’/’Breathless’. Noteworthy are two other pieces, the Latin-jazz influenced ‘No hay problema’ by Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers and a vocal number by Claude Nougaro. This French singer deserves a compilation of his own for an English-speaking audience, such is the richness of his 1960s jazz and 1970s Brazilian flavoured songs. A final mention should be made for France’s answer to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, les Double Six who deliver a stunning version of one of Art Blakey’s staple tunes ‘Moanin’. All in all a musical experience that is truly a ‘joie de vivre’! (by Tim Stenhouse)

BackCover1
Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Françoise Hardy: Le temps de l’amour (Dutronc/Salvet/Morisse) 2.23
02. Serge Gainsbourg: Requiem pour un twisteur (Gainsbourg) 2.37
03. Jeanne Moreau: Le tourbillon (Bassiak/Delerue) 2.03
04. Les Double Six: Rat Race (Jones/Perrin) 2.35
05. Claude Nougaro: Le cinéma (Legrand/Nougaro) 2.56
06. Sacha Distel: Brigitte (Brousolle/Distel) 2.17
07. Magali Noël: Alhambra-Rock (Goraguer/Vian) 2.35
08. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers: No hay problema (Marray) 4.33
09. Charles Aznavour: Je m’voyais déjà (Aznavour) 3.22
10. Claude Nougaro: Les Don Juan (Legrand/Nougaro) 3.17
11. Léo Ferré: À Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Ferré) 3.01
12. Michel Legrand: Blues chez le bougnat (Legrand) 2.08
13. Charles Trenet: Que reste-t-il de nos amours? (Trenet/Chauliac) 3.10
14. Henri Salvador: C’est le be bop (Vian/Dieval) 2.05
15. Sacha Distel: Marina (Reardon/Distel) 4.11
16. Mouloudji: Comme un p’tit coquelicot (Grasso/Valery) 3.43
17. Anna Karina: Chanson d’Angela (Legrand/Godard) 2.23
18. Boby Lapointe: Framboise (Lapointe) 2.39
19. Catherine Sauvage: Black Trombone (Gainsbourg) 2.29
20. Corinne Marchand: La joueuse (Varda/Legrand) 1.52

CD 2:
01. Claude Nougaro: Le jazz et la java (Datin/Nougaro) 2.24
02. Françoise Hardy: Tous les garçons et les filles (Hardy/Samyn) 3.05
03. Serge Gainsbourg: Intoxicated Man (Gainsbourg) 2.35
04. Line Renaud: Sexe (Gaste) 3.32
05. Jacqueline Dano: Chanson de Lola (Varda/Legrand) 2.12
06. Jacques Brel: La valse à mille temps (Brel) 3.48
07. Martial Solal: New York Herald Tribune (Solal) 1.26
08. Les Double Six: Moanin’ (Timmons) 3.09
09. Magali Noël: Strip-Rock (Goraguer/Vian) 2.16
10. Boris Vian: Je suis snob (Walter/Vian) 2.49
11. Brigitte Bardot: Sidonie (Cros/Spanos/Riviere) 2.52
12. Barbara: Dis quand reviendras tu? (Barbara) 2.52
13. Juliette Gréco: Si tu t’imagines (Queneau) 2.42
14. Yves Montand: C’est si bon (Homez/Betti) 2.33
15. Henry Cording: Vas t’faire cuire un oeuf man (Sinclair/Mike) 2.51
16. Sacha Distel: Scoubidou (Teze/Distel) 3.00
17. Gilbert Becaud: Me-que-me-que (Becaus/Aznavour) 2.27
18. The Miles Davis Ensemble: Générique (nuit sur Les Champs-Élysées) (Davis) 2.53
19. Brigitte Fontaine & Areski: Il pleut sur la gare (Areski/Faintaine) 1.47
20. Valérie Lagrange: Si ma chanson pouvait (Lagrange) 5.25

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