Thursday, 31 October 2013

Thomas Dutronc: Le blues du rose

A new clip for the track Le blues du rose by Thomas Dutronc, ahead of the release of a much-anticipated
various artists collection due out next month.

The track comes from the Le Soldat Rose 2 collection, an album that sees songs written by Pierre-Dominique Burgaud interpreted by a variety of French artists.

Le Soldat Rose was originally a children's story by Burgaud and Louis Chedid and illustrated by Cyril  Houplain, the visual designer for -M-.

The first collection of songs came out in 2006, featuring the likes of Matthieu Chedid, Catherine Jacob, Vanessa Paradis, Bénabar and Alain Souchon.

It went on to become a musical in 2008, staged at the Casino de Paris with a new group of artists and later touring France, Switzerland and Belgium.

The show was such a success that it is still being shown on stage, and is currently at the Theatre de la port saint-martin in Paris.

The new collection of songs features new artists too, with Thomas Dutronc joined by the likes of Nolwenn Leroy and Tété.

The new album is due out on November 11.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Gesaffelstein: Aleph

A new album release today of note, with the very much anticipated debut album by Gesaffelstein.

The artist, known to his friends and family as Mike Lévy, has been active for a few years now as a DJ and producer, and has collaborated with the likes of Brodinski, as well as big names like Kanye West and Lana Del Rey.

I featured Gesaffelstein some time ago when he played in the UK. I have a feeling that we'll be hearing a great deal more about him in the near future.

Gesaffelstein plays live in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo early next month.

In the meantime, the album's available to listen to in full on Deezer.

Lou Reed 1942-2013

Farewell then Lou Reed, one of rock 'n' roll's true legends.

The guy who hung out on dirty boulevard and reported back to us with a journalist's eye and a poet's heart.

A guy, who despite the fug of drugs and drink, a quick temper and an ego that would dwarf an ocean liner,  wrote some of the greatest songs we've heard.

 A guy who scorned the artistic and musical establishment and its fawning corps of critics, refusing to compromise his art to suit anyone but himself.

Of course he paid a heavy price, with work that at times missed the mark or seemed willfully oblique. But his work was made to please no-one but himself.  If his work pleased you too, that was a bonus.

And he was capable of work that was breathtaking.  While his Velvet Underground back catalogue is best know, his was a career littered with gems like Street Hassle, Martial Law, My House, the songs on Berlin, New York and Songs for Drella as well as the better known Transformer. Any of these would have been a masterpiece in a lesser career.

Meanwhile he quietly raised the profile of some of society's previously marginalised groups, be they the gay community, the transgendered or the drug or alcohol dependent.

For an artist so rooted in New York, it might be a surprise to see connections to France, but there are many, and they go beyond the many Francophone artists that he influenced.

When the VU finally reformed subsequent to his Songs for Drella album with John Cale, they initially took to the stage at an Andy Warhol exhibition at Jouy-en-Josas in Yvelines for the  Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art. While only performing one number together, it was an event that many thought would never happen.

But happen it did, and it led to a full reunion and European tour some years later.

Their 1993 reunion tour saw the band take to the stage in Scotland at their first show. Needless to say, i was in Paris at the time. I was in Scotland when they later played Paris, at the Olympia and supporting U2.

 The band's Live MCMXCIII, the only official CD and DVD release by the reformed act was recorded during their three-night run at the Olympia in Paris.

The reformed band would not last, and Lou Reed would break up one of the greatest ever rock bands for the second time.

However, one interesting footnote to the Velvet Underground story took place in 1972, with Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico performing at the Bataclan in Paris.

Picture credit for image at the top of the page: dannynorton

Friday, 25 October 2013

Sylvie Vartan: I like it, I love it

One of France's veteran stars steps out in a cowboy boot for her latest video, with Sylvie Vartan's country
flavoured I like it, I love it.

There's always something strange about hearing country and western sung in French, but once you get past that you realise that she's well aware of country musics' role in the creation of the rock 'n' roll that she was associated with in the 60s.

Vartan's been a star in France since the early 60s, as a yéyé pop star, and an actress, and though the following decades she has covered jazz and rock as well as 70s disco.

She was married to Johnny Hallyday from 1965 to 1980 and is the mother of David Hallyday.

It's not the first time she's recorded in Nashville , her 1964 collection Sylvie a Nashville giving her an international hit with the song La plus belle pour aller danser.

The 60s collection helped establish her as an artist that had more to offer than just being a pop star.

 It seemed that 50 years later Nashville has lost none of its charms for Sylvie.

The track featured on the album Sylvie in Nashville, released in France on October 18

Charles Aznavour at the Royal Albert Hall

Charles Aznavour takes to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall in London tonight.

There are few singers that actually merit the title 'legend', but Aznavour is one of them.

Even Sinatra in his later years did not command the kind of respect that Aznavour receives.

For many he embodies the finest attributes of France, romantic, poetic and intelligent, but also a caring human being rather than an aloof idol.

Of course, to many he's an embodiment of another time, an antique that while interesting and no doubt culturally important, isn't really relevant in this day and age.

But I doubt anyone in the Royal Albert Hall tonight will see it that way.

To be honest, if his set tonight consists of nothing more than him walking on stage and taking a bow, he'll get 90 minutes of a standing ovation and everyone in the crowd will go home happy.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Jenifer: Évidemment

The singer Jenifer has released another video promoting her Ma Proposition collection of covers of songs
originally performed by France Gall that came out in June this year.

This time it is the ballad Évidemment, a song that was a hit for France Gall in 1987, and was written by her husband Michel Berger. The song was written in homage to the French singer Daniel Balavoine, a friend of Berger's, who died in a helicopter crash.

Jenifer established herself as a singer after winning the first series of Star Academy in 2001/2002 and Ma déclaration, her collection of France Gall songs, is her sixth album.

There's been a lot of bad blood between the two artists since the collection came out, amid claims that Jenifer did not ask Gall for permission, and counter claims that she did

What's certain is that the work of France Gall been given a huge exposure to a new generation, the album reaching number two in France and number one in Belgium.

The video for Évidemment was filmed in Corsica, where Jenifer is from.

Jenifer is continuing in her role as a coach in the TV music show The Voice, la plus belle voix for the third year in a row alongsinde Mika, Florent Pagny and Garou.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Zaz: Si

A new single from Zaz, another track from a singer who seems to be on course to being a major league star
in France.

The clip has emerged just weeks after the clip for the song Comme ci, comme ça came out.

The song, which features on her second album Recto Verso, was written by legendary French songwriter Jean Jacques Goldman

She's already had a major hit with the song On Ira from the Recto Verso collection, and she's been one of France's biggest selling artists in 2013.

Her debut album, which was released in France in 2010, has recently been released in the UK.

Zaz is beginning an extensive French tour, and will be on stage throughout the country until spring 2014.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Maître Gims: Ça marche

Another single by Maître Gims, this time the track Ça marche from his album Subliminal getting the
promotional treatment.

Gims has been one of France's biggest selling artists this year, following the release of the Sexion d'Assaut member's album in May.

The singles J'me tire and Bella  both reached the top five for weeks, the single One Shot also giving him a hit.

The release of Ça marche as a single coincides with the re-issue of his debut album. A new edition of Subliminal comes out on November 18, with around a dozen bonus tracks.

Meanwhile, Sexion d'Assaut see a 'best of' collection issued at the beginning of November.

Gims may have been of 2013's biggest selling artists, and even in the closing months of the year he seems to be doing his best to increase that total even more.

Monday, 14 October 2013

-M- : Live at the Roundhouse, London

A reminder that this evening sees the French music legend that is -M- taking to the stage in the Roundhouse
in London.

The artist known to his family and friends as Matthieu Chedid, continues to tour supporting his Îl album that was released last year, to both commercial and critical acclaim.

The album included the track Mojo, which gave him a top thirty hit, and also provided one of the most memorable videos of recent years.

The tracks Baïa and Océan have also been released as singles, and he's been touring extensively.

He will also be playing in Paris before the end of the year, with shows at Bercy on December 12, 13 and 14.

Before that, he releases a live album entitled (ÎL)S on November 18.

In the meantime, some lucky people in London get the chance to see one of France's most exciting artists perform live.

Friday, 11 October 2013

The return of Taratata

Despite the television station made the decision to axe long-running TV music show Taratata, the show refused to go quietly, and is set to make a return in an online format later this month.

A teaser video has been released to promote the new version of the show, and from what it shows it seems that the show has lost none of its high production values despite being essentially a web-only show.

The new edition of the show features Patrice, Ayo and Cats on Trees.

The return of the programme in spite of a decision by a broadcaster to end it raises many interesting questions about the media and its relationship with the the online world. If a programme like Taratata can remain viable online, will TV companies invest in music shows? Will more quality music shows be developed online?

What audience will the new show attract and how does that compare to the regular broadcast figures?

It will be interesting to find out and we'll no doubt find out soon enough.

In the mean time, the show will be streamed online on October 18 at 20.00 French time at

FAUVE ≠ Voyou

A new video by ≠ FAUVE, which has come out ahead of their performance in London later this month.

The track comes from their forthcoming debut album which follows the six track Blizzard EP which they released last year.

This EP made the top 20 in France, two songs - Blizzard and Nuits fauves - making it into the singles chart.

The album is due out early next year, and already looks set to be one of 2014's most anticipated releases.

 ≠ FAUVE are a collective of five members, who have been active since 2010.  I suppose  their music could be filed under 'rap', but it is so beyond any conventions of the genre that it's really something quite unique.

The track Voyou, and others, are available as a free download here:

Fauve are touring extensively in France, but make an appearance in the UK later this month at the OohLaLa festival in London on October 21.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

M83: Moonchild video

There's never a need for an excuse to publish an M83 video, so here's another that has emerged.

The track comes from their third album, 2005's Before the Dawn Heals Us and it features Anthony Gonzalez and his friends at their epic cosmic best.

While 2011's Hurry Up We're Dreaming was the album that propelled M83 into outer space, their earlier work was no less out there beyond the final frontier.

The clip emerged after the band launched a competition for a clip for this track and for Outro.

It's certainly about time for some new material from M83, since Hurry Up We're Dreaming they recorded the soundtrack for Tom Cruise's film Oblivion.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Jacques Brel: 35th anniversary

Thirty-fiveyears after his death on October 9 1978, Jacques Brel is recognised not only as one of the finest French language songwriters, but simply as one of the greatest ever.

His work has been interpreted in the English language since the 1960s. Over the years, hundreds of performers , including  David Bowie and Scott Walker, have all recorded memorable versions of Brel's work.

Much of the popularity of his work is down to English versions of his songs that featured in the 1968 Broadway musical Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, where around 25 of Brel's songs were translated by Eric Blau  and Mort Shuman.

Bowie recorded and released versions of Amsterdam and My Death. He recorded Amsterdam in 1970, and it featured on the B side of the Sorrow single released in 1973.

He performed My Death live at the peak of his Ziggy Stardust-era popularity, a version being released on the film of his final concert in London in 1973.

Bowie's versions of Brel songs had been inspired by the versions of the songs that had been recorded by Scott Walker. Walker, who had a hugely successful career as part of the Walker Brothers, covered Brel's songs at the begining of his solo career, clearly showing that as an artist he was going in a different direction to his precvious career as a teen idol. Brel's songs underpinned his first three solo albums, and they would later be collected into a volume entitled Scott Walker sings Jacques Brel.

Another key version of the work of Brel in English came from Scottish singer Alex Harvey, whose version of Next was a hit for The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in 1973. The band were able to effortlessly blend theatrics and progressive rock with a gritty and earthy style. Next was a perfect song for them to cover.

1974 saw one of Brel's songs becoming an international hit in English. A version of his song Le Moribund was entitled Seasons in the Sun, the English lyrics by  singer-poet Rod McKuen. Canadian singer Terry Jacks cover went to number one in the USA, Canada and the UK.

But Brel's work was not soley the property of acts rooted in the 60s and 70s. Acts from later generations who were themselves influenced by the legends of the previous decades found the work of Brel and made it their own.

Marc Almond recorded several of his songs, eventually releasing an album in 1989 entitled Jacques featuring his versions of Brel's songs. He later recorded Jacky for his 1991 Tenement Symphony collection, reaching the top 20 in the UK charts.

Nick Cave interpreted the song Next in his own fiery style.

Nirvana also recorded a version of Seasons in the Sun, albeit not as an official release while the band were around.

To mark Brel' s anniversary, a box set of his recordings has been produced, and Brel's legacy and reputation shows no sign of fading as the years pass.

1984: Live in London

French band 1984 take to the stage in London this week, with a show on Thursday October 10 at Catch in Shoreditch.

They are the kind of band that fans of Phoenix or of Franz Ferdinand should be checking out as a matter of urgency.

The band have been around since 2005, and have supported the likes of Blood Red Shoes, and their album Influenza was released earlier this year.

The band, Etienne Nicolini, Kevin Matz and Thomas Figenwald, hails from Strasbourg in Alsace.

1984 also play at the Lexington in London on Saturday October 12.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Stromae: Formidable in Montreal

A video's emerged of Belgian rapper Stromae in Montreal, reprising his performance in the video for the song Formidable, this time in a Montreal metro train.

Stromae's original ground-rbeaking video saw him acting drunk in the streets of Brussels, the situation and ye reactions of passers-by - including police officers - caught on hidden camera.

His album Racine Carrée has been one of this year's biggest sellers, with the tracks Formidable and Papaoute giving him even greater success than Alors on Danse did from his debut album.

I'm surprised that other artist's haven't 'been inspired by' (ie ripped off) the Formidable video, but in the meantime, Stromae himself does a pretty good job of it.

Friday, 4 October 2013

IAM: Manœuvres sombres/Sombres manœuvres

Another video has come out by Marseilles rappers IAM, with Manœuvres sombres/Sombres manœuvres a
follow-up to the clip released for the song Après la fête which came out last week.

It continues the narrative of the first clip, in effect a short film set in the band's home town.

The song comes from their Arts Martiens album that was released in April this year, and re-established the act as one of France's leading hip hop acts.

They performed at the Urban Peace festival at the Stade de France last weekend and are about to embark on further live dates around France, including a show in Paris on November 20.

Meanwhile, a new album is to be released before the end of the year. To be entitled simply Iam, the collection comes out on November 18.

French Rap feature on France 24

A nice little video feature on France 24 English about rap in France.

The report makes the point that the genre has been around in France for 30 years now, and the market for rap music in France is second only to the USA.

Nice to see France 24 giving a platform to French music, something it could perhaps do a bit more of, but it's good to see a serious news source giving respect to music, in particular one that is still seen by many as fundamentally controversial.

As last week's Urban Peace festival shows, rap is not only popular in France, but it is an artistically vibrant scene with a huge variety of voices and styles.

Hopefully it's only a matter of time until a French rapper makes a breakthrough into the international scene, There's not really been a French rap figure getting recognition in the anglo-saxon music world since MC Solaar in the 90s so it's certainly about time.

Again, the music industry and media remain shy of using music in a language other than English, but with the internet making entertainment less parochial, this may well change.

In the meantime, hats off to France 24 for running this. Now can we have more features about French  music?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Mylène Farmer: Monkey Me

A new video has emerged for the track Monkey Me, the new single by Mylène Farmer.

The song is the title track from Farmer's most recent studio album , the release coincides with her Timeless 2013 tour, that has so far seen her play a lengthy engagement in Paris, and is currently touring around France.

The video is by Eric Delmotte and Luc Froehlicher, Froehlicher having worked on visual aspects of Farmer's tour. It had been expected that there wouldn't be a video released to accompany the song, but

Mylène herself doesn't feature in the video, perhaps she's been a little busy putting the tour together to get involved.

The single gets a physical release at the beginning of next week, it will be interesting to see if it gives her another number one single to add to her growing collection.

The cover for the single was chosen from potential designs submitted by fans in a competition, with Mylène selecting her favourite to appear on the cover.

It's the third track to be released as a single from the album which emerged last year, following À L'Ombre and Je te dis tout.

Farmer's tour continues, Monkey Me being one of the tracks featured in her set, and some of her earlier albums get a special release as picture discs next week, while there's speculation that a recording of one of her shows might be releases as a live DVD before the end of the year.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Indochine: Black City Parade

A clip's recently  been released for the title track from Indochine's most recent album Black City parade.

Indochine have this year shown that even bands that have been around for a few years can remain relevant artistically, critically and commercially.

The album Black City Parade, the band's 12th album, was released in February  and it reached number one in France.

Memoria preceded it as a single, the song College Boy being released in May. That song caused considerable controversy on account of its video, the homophobic violence portrayed in it resulting in a ban from daytime television, its release coinciding with the debate about equal marriage in France.

The new video was shot in New York and was directed by photographer Richard Kern.

Indochine have been touring extensively this year, with more dates resuming at Zénith sized venues around France later this month and into next year. They play at the Stade de France in June 2014.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Zaz: Je Veux (live at the Institut français in London)

A great little clip of French singer Zaz at the Institut français in London for a private concert on the terrace of
the French corner of the UK capital.

She performs the song Je Veux, a track from her 2010 self-titled debut album.

The album was a number one hit in France, several of the songs including Je Veux going on to make a mark on the charts. The track La fée made it into the top ten.

Since then, she's released a live album and a follow up  studio collection entitled Recto Verso, which was  realeased in France earlier this year, with the song On ira giving her another hit single.

Her debut UK album,  entitled Zaz is released this week on Dramatico.

Editorial: October 2013

Another buy month here at vive le roq, and while never managing to get all the content on the site that I want
to do, getting some great material on and hopefully reflecting some of the exciting things that are going on in the French music scene.

The big event of last month was probably Mylene Farmer's tour, with one of France's most popular acts undertaking her long-awaited tour. The tour continues this month, with a show being recorded for release, potentially before the year is out.

Meanwhile, the end of the month sees some of France's best acts play in London under the banner of the Oohlala festival.

This month sees little let up, with a huge number of releases expected to hit the shelves in the run-up to the holiday season.

Among this month's releases is the new one by Sébastien Tellier, which certainly should be an interesting album if the single that was released last month is anything to go by.

In terms of the site we've again had a good month for visitors to the site, so if you're coming back, good to see you again, and if you're visiting for the first time, bienvenue. Hope you like what we're doing.

As always, I can be contacted on johnkilbrideAThotmailDOTcom, with the appropriate punctuation where you'd expect it to be.

We're also on Twitter as @viveleroq or you can find me at @karnag

Thanks again are due to the various record companies and promoters who have been in touch, and  thanks as always to the Institut francais in London and the French Music Office in London for help and encouragement.

Merci et à bientôt

John K