Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sex, drugs & Yé-yé

Sheila - "Bang-Bang"

Sheila -"Le Reve"

Sheila-"Ne Raccroche Pas" (Don't Hang Up)

When I was in Paris I was poking around this huge outdoor flea market on the edge of town when I came across a box of french pop 45's from the 60's. I managed to haggle with the dude in french, which I was very proud of.

All the record's had ILL picture covers with these weird french pop singers like the infamous "Sheila" here. Take a moment now to really absorb Sheila's distinct Madonna-like ability to morph and adapt, creating an entirely new look for herself for each subsequent record (a fashion trailblazer if I've ever seen one.)

When I showed the records to my mother (Peace Mom !), who is french-speaking Swiss, she said: "I had some of these records when I was young. C'est Yé-yé."

Wikipedia describes Yé-yé as  "a style of pop music that emerged out of France and Québec in the early 1960s. Yeye means young, innocent, and cute."

It's basically a lot of covers of American rock n roll translated into French. But somewhere in the translation, some of the trashy, rebellious, badassy, juvenile-delinquent spirit at the core of early rock n roll, may have been lost. The French people (God Bless them) just have a fundamentally different attitude towards life than us Americans. They just do. I'm not going to go into an elaborate explanation of the differences here. I'll save that for another blog, or pamphlet  or xeroxed leaflet, somewhere in my future.

Right now I just want to share this music with you. The first one is in fact a cover of the Sonny Bono penned banger (now famous in it's Nancy Sinatra /Kill Bill incarnation). The second is a breezy little french version of The Loving Spoonfull's "Daydream". And the third is a dancy number about phone sex (or something).

To illustrate perhaps some of the subtle differences between American Rock and Yé-yé. Compare the song "School's out for Summer" by American Rock Singer Alice Cooper to it's french counterpart "L'Ecole Est Finie" by Shelia.



Actually those are pretty similar. Forget it.


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