Ian & Sylvia- Four Strong Winds

Being that good Canadian that I am, I totally snagged this for a dollar.

Ian and Sylvia (who were on my blog when I was between jobs and had the time to write books on the subject) really broke thru the Canada and US market with this album, the couple’s 2nd, brought to you by those folk stalwarts at Vanguard Records.  Man, that is one long run on sentence. Released in 1964, the title track, composed by  Ian Tyson, also was a major hit both in Canada and among the folk world.

Perhaps I should state more but you can look at the earlier post for more information.  As far as this album went, I felt there was a large influence of American traditional music on it.  The album features guitar from John Herald.  I am so close to finishing up this month, this is really where we are going to leave it.  If you want to learn more, Google it.

For samples, I went with the French ” V la L’Bon Vent” as well as “The Royal Canal” which was the basis from Brendan Behan’s ‘Auld Triangle” which has been on this blog several times.

Top Rated Record.  One more post and this month is done.

Ambrose Thibodeaux-More Authentic Acadian French Music

Ok.  I messed up the math on this.  I thought it was $5 with discount but in reality it turns out it was $5.60.  My bad.  Probably should re-adjust the threshold for inflation.

Acadian music is the basis of Cajun music which has been blended with creole to form zydeco.  This style was rooted from the ballads of the French Canadians who settled to North America from France in the 17th and 18th centuries and were forcefully migrated from Eastern Canada to Louisiana during the Great Expulsion of 1755-1764.  I could fill this post up about the rich history of all this or touch on the fact that my late grandma had Acadian roots but it is Monday and am just not in the mood today to take this any further.  Google it if you want to learn more.  For the sake of this record I will over simplify: Acadian music = Cajun music. 

Ambrose Thibodeaux, born in 1903, learned to play accordion at age 15 and was playing dances by 17.  After putting it aside from the married/farmer life, he picked it back up in the 60’s during what was a revival of French Cajun music.  During this time, he played festivals, appeared on radio and tv, won awards, and even traveled to France.  The most notable appearance, according to what scant information I could pull up, was his work on the Revon Reed Radio show out of Eunice, LA.  He performed on Saturday mornings for the good part of five years.  Thibodeaux past away in 1995 .  I am not sure when but he did get inducted into the Cajun Music Hall of Fame (again in Eunice).  His bio on this site is where I pulled most of this info from.

Link to Cajun Music Hall Of Fame

This album, released by La Louisianne Records, in 1966?, features traditional Cajun French songs as well as original compositions by Thibodeux.  Pretty good music and very authentic and representative of the genre.  Thibodeux’s accordion is backed up by the violin of Leon Doucet, the guitar of Nelson Bergeron, the bass of Jack LeBlanc, the occasional vocals of Gervis Quibodeaux, and the triangle of Elmer Thibodeaux.  Not sure if that is a relation of not.

There were a bunch of songs I liked, but in the end, I went with “Two-Step De Musician” simply because it had vocals.

Good little record.  Satisfactory. I probably did want to add more to the post but the time constraints of pulling together next months records and working on two musical acts while pulling down a nine to five have led to this brevity.

Yvette Horner- Les Plus Grandes Valses Musettes D’Yvette Horner

This is another record I bought at the swap meet in Amsterdam when I went last November.  It was one euro.  When I posted the other dutch albums I bought back in January, I had a spot conversion but I am too lazy to go back to see what it was. If I knew the subject was red headed, I might not have elected to go with back to back red hairs, two days in a row.  Oh well, this has been typed so here we go. 

Yvette Horner, is a French accordionist/ pianist which meant I had to translate French Wikipedia for this info.  Born in Tarbes in 1922, she won the Accordion World Cup in 1948, becoming the first female to do so.  

According to this translation, she has played over 2,000 concerts, as well as released over 150 records with cumulative sales of 30 million. She has collaborated with musicians from the world of jazz, country, and electronica among others.

From what I can tell, she is of no relation to the German instrument manufacturer, Horner, of whose accordion she has in the cover photo.  From what I can tell, she currently lives in a retirement home in Paris.

This record, which was a dutch release, on EMI.  This might have come out in 1986 or perhaps may have been a re-release of an older record.  I am not sure and did not want to spend more than 4 minutes to find out.  What I do know is this is a pretty decent collection of polka flavored accordion in a Parisian style.  The title translates to the grandest waltzes and that is what this is.  Pretty good stuff accordion-wise, Horner did have a pretty tremendous talent.  

That reminds me.  I probably picked this album to reminisce of how I used to play accordion and how I do not do that anymore.  When I did though, I did have the idea to do “Popcorn” on the instrument.  Well, apparently Horner beat me to that.

Well,  there is not much to add to that.  So here is the sample, “Gigolette”.

Good album. Satisfactory.

Jacques Brel- Le Formidable Jacques Brel

This was $5. I like French records from the 60’s in general, plus I like a lot of Jacques Brel’s songs that have been translated into English (“Seasons in the Sun” for example).  That made this purchase pretty simple, even at the high price. This record was previously owned by one Janis Childs, whose 7 digit phone number on the back reminds me of a simpler time in this town.

Brel, born in Brussels in 1929, was a singer/songwriter/actor/director who cast a large influence not only over the French speaking world, but over Europe as well. He was a giant in the French world of Chanson music.

His songs, theatrical an introspective in nature, were also translated into English and covered by some of the biggest stars this side of the Atlantic including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Nina Simone, John Denver, and perhaps most famously, Rod McKuen.

If you Google pictures of Brel, you will find a whole lot of pictures him smoking.  It should come to no surprise that he developed a tumor in his lungs.  The majority of the 70’s were spent in ill health.  He also spent a vast majoirty of his time sailing.  Despite being quite sick for some time and being told his time was short,  Brel lived more years than planned, finally succumbing to complications due to lung cancer in 1978.  He was 49.

Offical Web Page

This record, released on Vanguard in 1967 was the US version of Brel’s ninth album, Jacques Brel 67, released on Barclay Label.  Backed by Francois Rauber conducting and arranging, this album contains 10 songs written or co written by Brel.  Pretty good numbers.  Interestingly enough, Brel retired from the stage the year this album was released. He would release 4 albums thereafter.

For a sample, I went with “Le Cheval” which translates into horse.

Good album,  Satisfactory.

Mireille Mathieu- Fidelement Votre

When I was putting together records for this Anniversary month, I noticed I had no French female singers in the lineup.  Well , this omission could not stand so here is a frequent visitor to this blog, Mirelle Mathieu.  This record was $3.

As is the case with many French female singers who put out great swinging music in the 60’s, later output is generally less appealing and a reflection of musical tastes at that time as well as general aging. Frances Gall’s records of the 1980’s come to mind for me.   This record, released by Phillips in 1978, reflects a more adult contemporary sound for better or for worse.  I mean, one can’t make young, hip records forever.

This record is decent enough but obviously not among my favorite eras of the genre.  A decent collection of slower adult songs done in French with the inclusion of “A Blue Bayou”.

For a sample, I went with “Un peu de bleu” or “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” which was an earlier hit for Crystal Gayle.

Eh,  there are better Mathieu albums on this blog.  I have not gone meh this month so here is the first.



Michel Legrand- The New I Love Paris

So, yes, due to this blog’s two year anniversary, we are doing Sunday blogs.  I am trying to use Sunday for records that have a special place in this blog’s history, and this one is a fine choice.  It features songs that have been mainstays of this site as well as an artist who I have sung the praises of.  Also, this was a steal at $1.

The pervy looking French dude on the cover is Michel Legrand (born in Courbevoie, France in 1932). He is a prolific French writer, composer, arranger and conductor.  With his work on over 200 film and TV scores, including his Oscar winning “Windmills of You Mind” for the Thomas Crown Affair, I regularly point our Legrand’s work on two of my favorite French movies. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Girls of Rochefort.  I have posted Umbrellas on this blog.  Still looking for a copy of Rochefort.  Anyway, Legrand is still alive today.

Legrand burst on American radar with his version of the Cole Porter standard “I Love Paris” in 1954.  This 1959 is an updated release of songs associated with the City of Lights.  All the big titles are on here.  The album features some vibrant and interesting arrangements.   The songs are wonderfully constructed, imaginatively executed, and overall, carried out beautifully.  One complaint, however, the songs on each side segue into each other so there are no breaks.  It does makes for a dreamy sequence, not unlike Legrand’s film work.  However, it does make it hard to isolate tracks for samples.

Speaking of which, I decided to highlight three of the songs I post on a normal basis on this blog.  First off, we have the combination of “I Love Paris” with “Mademoiselle de Paris”.  Second, we have “La Vie en Rose” with “Under Paris Skies”. I could write more about these but today, I will let the music speak for itself.

Great record.  Top billing.

Earl Grant- It’s So Good

Black History Month is going on all month long with this effort from a lesser known artist, Earl Grant.  I got this for a dollar.  At the time, I had seen a bunch of Grant records floating around the used record bins.  Not sure why I bit on this one. Quite possibly the track list.

Earl Grant was a pianist/ organist’ singer from Idebel, Oklahoma.  Born in 1931, he also played trumpet and drums before settling on keyboards.  While stationed in the Army in Fort Bliss, Grant performed to supplement his income.  After his discharge, he move out West to California when he was signed by Decca.  He released over 20 records.  His biggest hit was a cover of the standard “Ebb Tide”.

His husky voice led comparisons to Nat King Cole, most notably when Grant sung the theme to the 1959 film, Imitation of Life.  Rumors also floated around that Grant was Cole’s brother.  Regardless, Grant had compiled an impressive career when he was killed in a car crash in 1970.  He was 39.  Given the high amount of his records I run across in the used bins, I am assuming he was popular with older white people.

This album was released in 1967, towards the end of Grant’s career.  The obvious theme of this record in France as many of the songs are either French (“C’est Si Bon” and Comme CI, Comme Ca” or about Paris (“Under Paris Skies”, “The Song From Moulin Rouge”, and “I Love Paris”).  

This is the only record I have from Grant but I was greatly impressed by it. I felt the keyboards were flashy when they needed to be and restrained at the proper moments. Both his works with piano as well as organ are impressive. Comparisons to Lenny Dee as well as Martin Denny to an extent are very apt.    I also really liked Grant’s vocal style.  Finally the song selection as well as the arrangements were very good.  Overall, I thought this was a great album and am now curious to here more of Grant’s works. From this effort, it is obvious he was a great talent.

For a sample, I was torn by many different directions, but ultimately decided that the arrangement of “Under Paris Skies” is just too good not to post.  I also really liked “Beyond the Sea”.  I felt this was a good version as well.  Got to throw it back to Bioshock when ever I can.

As I said before, I really liked this album.  Top rated for me.

Mireille Mathieu- The Sweet Souvenirs of Mireille Mathieu

It seems like I end up posting a lot of Mireille Mathieu records on this site.  She seems to be the only female French singer who sold a lot of records in the States and as a result, the only one I find on a regular basis in the used record lots. I like French female singers of the 60’s in general and am totally open to posting someone other than Mathieu but until I find some, well this is what we get.  I think I got a discount on this which put it at $2.40.

Whilst in Amsterdam on vacation last month, I was dismayed to find out two of my favorite hang outs changed.  The first one, Bar Regular and Jack off Vijzelstraat completely redid their inside.  It looked like a European version of Bar Rescue refurnished their place.  

The new inside

The old bar view from the old smoking room.

No more smoking room and while I was there, there were no middle aged female bartenders.  This used to be a big draw for me.  Well, I am sure they are raking in the bug bucks now but I miss the bar maid who looked like your grandma if your grandma liked getting you drunk.

The second place, The Kandinsky on Zoutsteeg, nestled between Nieuwendijk and Damrak, was also sadly altered.  I had been going there every year since I started going to Amsterdam.  The same bartender from 2012 and 2014 was there.  She told me the Dutch equivalent of the Fire Marshall made them change their set up.  I mean it looks nice and all but I like the old red set up.  The new set up is grey and it just is not the same.  I can’t fault them too much for changing though.

As fas as this album goes, this was a German release from 1968.  Simular albums were released in France, the US, and Canada.  Mathieu is backed by orchestras led by Les Reed, Christian Gaubert, and Paul Mauriat, who also serves as the album’s musical director. I want to say this is a compilation album of various singles, soundtracks, and other releases.  It contains such soundtrack work as “Les Bicyclettes de Belsize” and “Sweet Souvenirs of Stefan”.  Overall, it is a pretty decent album.  I seem to throw that word around a lot lately, decent, that is.

For a sample, I went with the track I liked the most.  I am not sure I knew this track was on the album when I got it as my French is pretty bad, but here is Bert Kaempfert’s “Tu M’as Donne La Vie”.  I did not realize what I had until I heard the haunting melody of the song. Enoch Light did a version which was sampled by The Avalanches for “Frontier Psychologist”.  They also sampled Wayne and Shuster quite heavily as well.

Good album.  Satisfactory. Hopefully I can get some time this weekend to get a bit more caught up on the blog posts.


Plastic Bertrand- Ca Plane Pour Moi

dscn5351This was $3.00 at a record show.  I had to get it.  You know how it is when you see a one hit wonder and then wonder to yourself, I wonder what his other songs sounded like? Well, that is the impetus behind buying this record.af7fb01ee30443f8995af6aed8d534a1

You say you don’t know who Plastic Bertrand was? Nor do you recognize his big hit “Ca Plane Pour Moi”?  Sure you do.  The french song has been used in countless soundtracks and montages. It has also been covered extensively as well as bastardize into the US version “Jet Boy”. Incidentally, the song’s title translates to “The Life’s for Me” but in conversational French, means things are going well for me.

The credited artist behind the song, which an international hit in 1978, was Roger Allen Francois Jouret, otherwise known as Plastic Bertrand.  Born in Brussels in 1954, the artist played in various rock and roll bands before this hit.  However, and this is where this story gets strange, the song writer of the tune was a Belgian singer and producer named Lou Deprijck, who was already pretty successful in the Belgian Pop Scene.  In all actuality, it was Deprijck who not only sang this song, but on all of the first four Plastic Bertrand albums.  So take that, Milli Vanilli.  The two actually went to court over this in 2010 and a court expert verified that the voice was indeed Deprijck’s.  Bertrand later admitted as much after the court ruled against him. Or at least that is how I understand events.  It all got kind of confusing.

Jouret and Deprijck
Jouret and Deprijck

Plastic Bertrand’s Webpage

This album, released in the same year as the single, 1978, was the enity known as Plastic Bertrand’s first album.  Released here in the US under Sire Records, I am unsure how well it sold here in the US.  Regardless, it is a collection of French sung New Wave music which all kind of sounds the same.  That is not a bad thing when the music is catchy.  Maybe perhaps as it is it Belgian, it is a bit better than the strange take the French have on Rock and Roll.


For a sample, I went with the cover of the Small Faces’ “Sha La La La Lee” because it is ridiculous.  I mean I like it and it is very New Wave, but it is kind of funny at the same time. Below is the original so you can compare material.

Satisfactory enough record.  I learned something interesting about the artist while doing this post and I got to hear what his other songs sounded like.


Paul Mauriat- Blooming Hits

dscn5298-800x772This was 80 cents.  At the time, I kept seeing this record over and over in the used record bins.  I guess I still see it from time to time.  After I while, I break down and bite at the repeat offenders.  The inclusion of “Penny Lane” also probably influenced the decision to buy.

© http://paul-mauriat.com
© http://paul-mauriat.com

Paul Mauriat was a French orchestra leader, born in Marseille in 1925.  Starting in music young, he began recording in 1957.  He recorded what looks like at least 100 albums.  His big hit was 1968’s “L’Amour Est Blue (Love Is Blue)”.  It was a #1 hit single in the US for 5 weeks. As of this writing, he is the only French performer to score the #1 spot in the US.  Mauriat would die in 2006 at age 81.

A more in depth Biography from his web site.

This album was released in late 1967 by Philips.  I am guessing it was a vehicle to promote the hit single discussed above.  Despite being a prolific composer, the songs on this album are all covers of pop tunes.  The album does showcase Mauriat’s arranging skills as he brings out the colors of each song.

There a a bunch of decent moments.  Highlights include not only the hit single, but “Adieu A La Nuit”, “Inch Allah”, “This Is My Song”, and “Mama”.  The rest of the songs, sadly, are a bit too corny for my liking.dscn5299-800x786

For a sample, I wanted to go with “Penny Lane” when I bought this.  Normally, I really like rock/pop songs that are translated into orchestrated works.  However, songs such as “Penny Lane” that are already heavily orchestrated kind of fall flat.  I mean, not a whole lot is added.  So I went with the hit single “L’Amour Est Blue”.  Sonny and Cher’s “Mama” was up for serious contention as well.paul-mauriat-1968

Overall meh for me.  Maybe because it is Tuesday. Maybe because the corny moments can not save the good parts, which I should note that I really do like.