Leo Arnaud and Orchestra- Carnival in Rio

Back to South America, here we are with this album.  I bought it because it was cheap at a dollar.  The cover makes this look like clown shoes (no pun intended.)  So I held on to this since the end of 2015 without listening to it because it looked like a real hokey album. As a side note, the painting on the cover was done by John Morris (1920-1991), the premier painter of clowns of that period.

What a mistake.  This album, released by Liberty Records in 1956, was just breath taking.  Great instrumentation in a Brazilian style.  I was taken aback by almost all the songs in this record.  Again, it is a great piece of work. The conductor/ arranger on this record was Leo Arnaud.  Born in Lyon, France in 1904.  He immigrated to America and worked for MGM between 1931 and 1966, working on a slew of movies.  He is probably most famous for “The Bugler’s Dream” which is used in the US during Olympic Games broadcasts. He passed in 1991 at age 86.

According to the back of the record, Arnaud served a term as the temporary conductor of the Rio de Janerio and San Paulo Symphony Orchestras.  I imagine it is during thus tenure that Arnaud learned the songs on this record.  There is a slew of Brazilian flavored tunes on this which are arranged in a style complementary to their home country. I liked about every song on this record and could easily post any song as a sample.

But I had to whittle down my list and compromised with three cuts.  First the fast paced “Expressinho”.  Second, my favorite song on the record, the aptly named “Russian Roulette” which borrows phrases from the old classic “The Volga Boatmen” while staying Brazilian in nature. Finally, I went with “Taco” because it is a bit silly.

Top Rated Album.  Just goes to show you should not judge a record by its cover.

Michel Legrand- I Love Paris

Merry Christmas.  Here I am with an excellent album from one of my favorites.  This was in a  box of records I got from a friend of mine.  On a personal level, as I am writing this three days before Christmas, I am getting back to keeping these a bit more current.  Do not get me wrong.  I enjoyed doing these posts in advance.  However, it is a bit hard to keep up on current trends when I am writing about things that happened three months ago.

If you have been reading this blog, you may be saying, what gives?  Haven’t you posted this album before?  Well yes, in a way.  I posted the New I Love Paris earlier this year.  Well, I was under the impression that this was the first work, although it is on the Columbia’s budget label Harmony.  However, upon listing, the songs sound very similar.  Well, since I am writing this three days before Christmas, I really do not want to put much effort into this. 

Plus it is Christmas and I have other ventures to get on to.  So if you want to learn more about this, I would suggest finding out via Google. You can also read the original post I did on the New album.  There is a back story there and I am just to tired to go any further.  It is interesting to note that Legrand originally did this album as a quick money maker and  arranged/conducted it on the fly.  His result was a masterpiece.

Link to earlier Post

For a sample, I went with “Paris Canaille” and one of my favorites, “Autumn Leaves”.

Top Rated Album.  Merry  Christmas

 

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.

Vicky Autier- Vive Paris!

DSCN5261 (800x782)This was most likely $1.60.  On my quest to find French female singers, I came across this.  A-1622163-1279227046.jpeg

I was not able to find out much about Vicky Autier and quite frankly, I was not as eager to do much more than the basic fact checking.  I am assuming she is French.  Besides singing in Paris, at the time of this record, she was pulling regular gigs in New York and London.  She also sings in English, Spanish, and Italian on occasion.  She made three records that I know of for Capitol and was also signed to MCA.  She did a flury of singles and EP’s in France.  And that is where the story ends.  My money is on being dead now.

This was released in 1960 under the Capitol Of The World T series.  The songs are fifties style night club types.  While not the Ye-Ye of the 60’s that I like, it is still not bad.  Songs I liked include “Monte-Carlo”, “Va Mon Ami”, “Mon Oncle”, and the odd “Ballad Irlandaise”, a song about a British solider serving in Ireland, a strange subject to be tackled by the French. Anyway, the arrangements are swank and Autier’s voice is pretty good.DSCN5262 (800x770)Nifty Blog with covers from the Capitol Of The World Series

For a sample, I went with “Adieu Tristesse” (Good Bye Sadness).  117687900

Satisfactory record.

Les Baxter- I Could Have Danced All Night

DSCN4830 (800x797)This was all of one dollar.  This would be the second Les Baxter album I have posted.  Unbeknownst to me when I bought this, this is a Pickwick album, which in general, I hate.  However, it is based on previously released material and not the imitation material Pickwick is kind of known for.MI0002749948

Copies of this record go for anywhere between $3 and $15.  The record itself is in pretty good condition.  The cover is decent enough as well.

Les’ Webpage

This album is a collection of Baxter’s songs from what I am guessing was his 50’s material with Capital Records.  Baxter, a prolific composer and arranger, is one of the three founding fathers of exotica, but his influence goes beyond the genre.  The majority of these songs on this album, I would state do not fall into the exotica realm.  They are however, arranged in a beautiful manner.  DSCN4831 (800x787)

This album was released in 1966.  It contains many good songs including the title track, “Exodus”, “I Concentrate on You”, and “April in Portugal”.  Also included is the track that started the exotica movement, “Quiet Village”. All the songs off this album are good but theses, along with the sample, are what stuck out to me.

For a sample, I went with the French standard, “La Vie En Rose”, which I feel is done wonderfully by Baxter.quote-any-good-music-must-be-an-innovation-les-baxter-2-9-0955

Satisfactory album.

 

Claudine Longet- The Look of Love

DSCN2471This was one dollar.  I like the French chicks but prefer them to sing in French. Also, I spent less than ten minutes on today’s post.Claudine-Longet-05-GQ_03May13_getty_bThis is the third Claudine Longet album I have posted on this site.  Not sure why I favor her, but here we go.  It has been hard finding French chicks in general for under $5.  I am particularly proud of the first post I did on her.  I think it was one of my more informative posts.  Besides that and the second post, there is not much more I can say about Longet personally or professionally.

Link to the First Donkey Show Post

This was Longet’s second album.  Released in 1967, it reached # 33 on the Billboard charts.  It is an easy listening mix of pop and bossa nova, heavily influenced by the Brazilian music at the time.  It also contains two Beatle compositions and one Bacharach/ David tune.  Decent album if you are into that kind of thing.DSCN2472

I went back and forth between Bacharach’s “Look of Love” which she does well and the McCartney tune “When I’m Sixty Four”.  I felt she did a decent version of that as well.  After some thought , I flipped a coin and got tails.  So here is a waify version of “When I’m Sixty Four”.  Note that this came out pretty close to the original version’s release.

maxresdefaultI was going to make a bad joke about shooting the messenger here, but decided to go ahead and give this a satisfactory rating.  I would say it is among the better of her work.

Patachou- La Belle Epoque/ Sings the Songs of Aristide Bruant

DSCN2391This was $2.00. Seemed interesting enough.  At the time, I was hard pressed to find records by French chicks.  For the most part, I still am, especially under $5.00.bruant

Aristide Bruant was a singer, songwriter, nightclub owner, and an embodiment of the Paris/ Montmartre night life of the 1900’s. Born into a respectful family with good roots in 1851, he became one of the centers of the Bohemian scene. Known for a quick wit, stinging insults, and being rude to customers (a rude Frenchman? Who would have thunk it?), his songs reflected the seedy underbelly of the Paris streets. He would die in 1924. He is probably best known today by the art work of Toulouse Lautrec, who captured him in his trademark black hat and red muffler.

bruant_03

 

Bruant’s Wiki Page

Henriette Ragon, better known as Patachou, has a different story.  Born in Paris in 1918, she worked a variety of odd jobs until 1948, when she and her husband took over a Montmartre cabaret.  She began to sing in the bistro and as she began to  gain fame, critics called her Patachou, which was the name of the cabaret.  I do not know is she invented this or not but she used to cut the neckties off of customers who would not join in the singing. Based on her cabaret success, records, acting gigs, and awards would follow.  She died this year at the ripe old age of 96.24956176

The songs on this album are ok. I would probably like them better if I knew the words. Very Moulin Rouge-esque, they reflect the gritty subject matter such as thieves, pimps, whores, and underdogs of the streets. This style of realistic song is known as Chanson realiste.  Bruant is generally credited as the father of this style.  In turn, Patachou is a fine singer with roots in Montmartre style. She does a good job with this material. Oddly enough, the Chanson realiste genre is mostly female driven. Highlights include “La Binette”, “A Grenelle”, “La Belle-soeur a Eloi”,and “Nini Peau d’chien”.

DSCN2392

For samples, I went with two songs. “Aux Frais de la Princesse” was a song written during Bruant’s failed campaign for public office. It is a biting commentary on government officials of the day. The official in the song wants to live like a king at the public’s expense but needs more money to do so. That is why the official will vote himself a raise of 6,000 francs. Kind of sounds familiar today. The other song is “Rue St Vincent” It is about a poor girl named Rose who was beautiful and smelled of roses. After working in the snow, she met Jules who was nice to her. They made love near the old cemetery. However, Jules was a pimp and asked Rose to go with other men. When she refused, Jules stabbed her to death. The gravediggers remarked how small and white she was. This was typical of the songs Bruant performed in the nightclubs.

Satisfactory record.