Friday, 26 March 2010

More French Franz

Great to hear the Franz Ferdinand/Marion Cottilard collaboration, so though a link to FF's cover of Gainsbourg's Sorry Angel was in order.

Like the best cover versions, it reimagines the song into not only different from the original, but the act doing the cover put something of themselves into it. It sounds like a FF song in a way, not just a simple homage to Gainsbarre.

And the female vocals? Jane Birkin of course. Nice touch, Birkin's always been at the forefront of re-inventing Gainsbourg's art for a new audience.

Taken from the Monsieur Gansbourg Revisited CD from 2006.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Franz ferdinand and Marion Cotillard

Oscar winning actress Marion Cotillard has teamed up with Glasgow's faviourite indie art rockers Franz Ferdinand to record the song 'The Eyes of Mars' to mark the launch of Dior's new fashion range.

Music and lyrics are by Franz Ferdinand, and the campaign features an online mini movie about a fictional character created by designer John Galliano

Cotillard, who won an Oscar in 2008 for Best Actress for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose is the face of the French fashion label.

Cotillard, who was this month made a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, was also praised by critics for her singing ion the musical Nine, where she starred alongside Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren and Penelope Cruz.

It's not the first time the Franz boys have dabbled with the French music scene, they covered Air's Sexy Boy and recorded Serge Gainsbourg's Sorry Angel with Jane Birkin for the 2005 album Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited.

I have to say, it sounds a lot like a Franz Ferdinand song rather something that was just written for an advertising campaign, and a pretty bold choice for Cotillard.

More one the campaign here:

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Marc Almond Jacque Brel radio documentary

A quick entry today to point you to part one of Marc Almond's radio documentary about Jacques Brel, that was broadcast on BBC Radio two on Tuesday.

Marc Almond invites Radio 2 listeners to explore the music and unconventional life of one of France's most revered singer-songwriters - Jacques Brel.

Almond has been a great interpreter of Brel's work in English, his Jacques album released in '89 collects them together. His later album Absinthe collects English versions of frnch songs by others.

You can catch up on the documentary here>

Part two is on air n March 23, the final part the following week.

Here's a clip of Marc Almond, from his Marc and the Mambas incarnation performing 'If you go away' Live on the Jonathan Ross show from 1989.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

St Patrick's - Celtic connection

It's St Patrick's Day, which while not a big festival in France, is worth marking on this blog. If only in recognition of the fact that when I lived in Paris the overwhelming majority of English speakers I spent time with were Irish, a fact no doubt linked to one of the most memorable St Patrick's celebrations I attended, involving a dégustation of Jamiesons whiskey in one of the city's fine Irish pubs...

There are now many Irish pubs in Paris and across France, numerous links between the two countries in every level, but the ties between Ireland and France seem to me to be most apparent in Celtic music.

To mark St Paddy's without further ado, the legend that is Alan Stivell, with Brian Boru. Originally from his '95 album of the same name, this version from the '99 live 'Bretagnes a Bercy' DVD.

There will be more Breton music on this site in the future. That's for sure. There will also probably be more Alan Stivell Sláinte!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Jean Ferrat

I have been thinking about launching a blog that focuses on French music for a while now, a blog aimed at hopefully furthering the popularity of French music to an anglophone audience.

The music scene in France is amazing. From hip hop to prog rock, chanson and folk, it's a huge worl that is largely ignored by the media this side of the channel. Time to do something to redress the balance.

Despite having the idea some time ago, I kept putting it off, but I got a bit of a reminder today about the need for this kind of thing. Jean Ferrat, one of the last giants of French chanson, died at the weekend, and despite being one of the most significant voices in france, he remained unknown outwith a small audience in the UK.

A Communist sympathiser who was praised by President Sarkozy for his "unyielding conception of French song", Ferrat's career from the 60s onwards put him up with the likes of Jacques Brel and Georges Brassens. Some songs were banned for their politics, (Potempkine, Ma France) others - such as his adaptations of the work of Louis Aragon (Aimer à perdre la raison) - amongst the finest examples poetry and song together in the French language.

As French TV legend Michel Drucker said: "A whole part of France, a whole generation is mourning today,"

"There were Brel, Brassens, (Leo) Ferré and then there was Jean. He was the last of the Mohicans."