Nico Gomez and His Orchestra- Fiesta Braziliana 2

Here is another record that I bought last November when I was in Amsterdam.  It was one Euro. At the time of this writing, I am having a fierce internal debate as to whether I should go back to Amsterdam this year for vacation.  God knows I need it.  Money is tight though.  Well, I am sure by the time you read this, I will have already made up my mind as to if I am going or not.  

This record comes from one Joseph van het Groenewoud, born in Amsterdam in 1925 and resettled in Belgium in 1947.  He was active in the 1950’s thru the 1970’s, mostly in latin flavored jazz.  He recorded a slew of records under the alias Nico Gomez as well as a couple under Peter Loland.  He would pass in 1992 but his son, Raymond, became a famous Belgian musician in his own right.

This record by its title, would imply that this is Brazilian music.  I tend to disagree. The titles and the music would imply more of a Mexican sound.  Perhaps there is not much differentiation in styles when you are in Europe, but in this hemisphere, it is pretty noticeable.  But overall, it is still a good little album. 

For a sample, I went with “La Bamba” which is a Mexican standard.

Decent record.  I was hoping for something more Brazilian in nature, but the price is still right for the music. Satisfactory.

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.

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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.

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Soeur Sourire- The Singing Nun

DSCN4630 (800x794)This was $3.00.  I had seen it in the used racks for some time before I finally bit. Not sure why the day I bought it was that day.  I also did not know the back story.deckers singing_nun

The Singing Nun, aka Soeur Sourire or Sister Smile, aka Sister Luc-Gabrielle, aka. Jeanne Deckers was born in Brussels in 1933. At a young age, she showed an interest in both music and being a nun.  She would join the   Missionary Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Fichermont in 1959.  During her time in the convent, she would write, arrange, and perform her own songs which were well received by her fellow sisters as well as visitors.  she was encouraged by her superiors to record an album, which she did for Phillips in 1961.  This is that album.  The single, “Dominique” became a Top Ten hit all over the world, hitting #1 on the US Billboard charts. The album would sell nearly $2 million copies and her life was made into a movie, The Singing Nun starring Debbie Reynolds, although Decker would call the film complete fiction .  953932

This is the part where the cheesey VH1 Behind the Music clichés kick in.  Deckers did not see much gain from her new found fame as Phillips took in a big chunk of the money while her convent got the rest.  A second album did not do as well.  Furthermore, Deckers felt censored by her superiors, only being allowed to write happy songs and the like.  A greater rift between her and the Catholic Church caused her to leave the convent in 1966.  A song she wrote a year later, a pro-contraception song called “Glory Be to God for the Golden Pill” did not help the matter.  Also, the fact that she could not record under her previous monikers hindered what was left of her career.  Deckers_and_Pecher_at_Annie_s_school

There was some bright spots later in life, however.  She enjoyed a brief but successful period in the 70’s.  Also, despite maintaining a simple and mostly chaste existence outside the convent, fell in love and entered a relationship with her roommate, Anne Pecher, who would start a center for autistic children. But just as things seemed to be improving, bad luck struck again.  The Belgium government informed Deckers that she owed $63,000 in back taxes from her first album although she never saw a cent.  The convent denied any responsibility for this debt and as a result, the autism center was forced to close.  Unable to pull herself out of this hole, Decker and Pecher killed themselves by taking an overdose of pills and alcohol in 1985.  As per their wishes, they are buried together in the Cheremont Cemetery in Wavre, Walloon Brabant, where they died.28711907

As stated above, this was Decker’s first and most successful album.  It is  collection of songs accompanied by acoustic guitar. Some songs have a scant female chorus to them. The songs are mostly religious but all are upbeat. The simplicity of the arrangement puts the focus on Decker.  The songs are all song in French.  There are a lot of good moments on this album, including “Dominque”, “Soeur Adele”, a ballad about her guitar, and “Fleur de Cactus”  all stand out.DSCN4632 (800x795)

The album included a illustrated story of Soeur Sourire, a lyric sheet with English translations, and a pouch where watercolors of the convent apparently used to be.DSCN4631 (800x716)

For a sample, I decided to go with the big hit single, “Dominique”.jeanine-deckers_getty-hero-

A simple and satisfactory album.