Monday, 8 January 2018

France Gall Est Mort

A while ago I suggested that  Lulu was the nearest British equivalent to France Gall who has died aged 70. I was wrong, the French treat their singers far better than we ever treated Lulu, Dusty or Sandie, they let them grow up.

A quick history...

1964-67: Serge Gainsbourg started writing for her, best song from her Ye!Ye! period is Laisse Tomber les Filles. Won Eurovision and kick started the novelty song era of Eurovision songs.

1967-74: Stopped working with Gainsbourg after unwittingly recording a song Les Sucettes that turned out to be one big Double Entendre (it means Lollipop, she was 19, it was 1967, work it out). Career stalls until she met and ultimately married star songwriter Michel Berger.

1974 - 92: With Berger writing the songs she matured into a mix of all round entertainer, musical Starmania being the highlight here, and albums artist. Eight studio and six live albums over twenty years, all of which did respectable business in France and not a light here.

1992 - 97: Berger dies of a heart attack, and after one more studio and a raft of farewell live albums, with the death of her daughter in 1997 that was it.

Why should you care? Because all through her career she worked with quality songwriters, and always developed and progessed her music, changing arrangements, styles, and hair while remaining uniquely herself. For me she is top of the list of Ye! Ye! singers. To learn more about this fascinating era try Ye-Ye Girls of '60s French Pop by Jean-Emmanuel DeLuxe. and Ace Records Ces't Chic compilations. Later on, while she certainly chased fashions in music, there were some great albums. "Babacar" with her tribute to Ella Fitzgerald is her best album as album, but very few of her later ones are without merit. The conventional wisdom has it that Michel Berger didn't write the quality of songs for Gall that he provided Franciose Hardy or Veronique Sanson. Not so, he just wrote more for his wife. The quality over 20 years of songs is very high. There aren't many double cd compilations you can listen all the way through to without hitting skip sometimes, Gall's "Evidemment" which covers her whole adult career is one I play all through often.

Gall regularly shifted the focus of her music, disco, pop, rock, and used the best French and imported musicians. Her last band featured Prince's New Power Generation rhythm section and David Sancious. Magma bassist Janick Top was a fixture for many years. Compare songs like 'Resiste' from it's slightly insipid pop roots in 82 through to live show anthem in '96. Her voice can be a bit shrill at times on the uptempo numbers, but give her a ballad like 'Ella Elle L'a' or‘√Čvidemment’ and she can do no wrong for me.

I have been pondering a blog about the appeal of French music for a while, why you should hear people like Nolwenn Leroy, and Couer De Pirate. I will get to it soon, but in the meantime I will be playing "√Čvidemment" and her last live album "Concert Prive, Concert Public" and remembering one of my favourite singers.


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