Fashion comes and goes and after a while a lot of material ultimately looses its appeal. A company who makes money with an artist today, will drop him tomorrow, if he ceases to sell. No matter how popular he used to be, a company will not keep his material available. After he dies, his music will slowly be forgotten. Unless that is, it was recorded in a cult style.
A remarkable exception seems to be the family of Emile Lambert. Emile Lambert (1923-1986), real name Emile Kodeck, was a comedian/singer from Wallonia, the predominantly French-speaking Southern region of Belgium. In the late 50s and early 60s Lambert recorded a slew of records, among them five 45s and the LP 140 Kilos De Bonne Humeur Avec Émile Lambert for the Olympia label, and some others for Fontana, Phillips and Pathé. None of these records have ever been reissued, but at least his son cared enough for his father´s work to create a very personal and touching video of his father on Youtube here.
The only song of Emile Lambert´s vast works, that has ever been legitimately reissued, is the rousing Le Houla-Bop. It first appeared on a French CD in the 90s and then recently on the excellent, very recommendable compilation LP Rock Rock Rock – French Rock and Roll 1956-1959 by Born Bad Records. That song was only reissued, because it was a satire of a cult style.
So if you have a deceased artist in your family or among your friends, don´t rely on their former business partners to manage their legacy. Business is bound by financial and legal necessities and doesn´t care for sentimental contemplation. Otherwise some record company would have let these tracks by Emile Lambert be heard in the past fifty years. Keeping the memory of an artist alive should be free from commercial restrictions. And if friends and family won´t care first, nobody will.
Musician, singer-songwriter and conductor Eddie Vartan ( 1937-2001) is the brother of French pop star Sylvie Vartan, father of actor Michael Vartan and uncle of David Hallyday. As a bandleader he was the mastermind behind his sister´s early success. He also composed many songs for her and a dozen titles for his friend and brother-in-law Johnny Hallyday. Eddie, Sylvie and Johnny were certainly at the top of the yé-yé game. They sold a ton of records and the teen magazines were full of their antics. In the early 60s you couln´t be cooler than these three.
Surprisingly though, when I searched for “Eddie Vartan” on Amazon/Itunes/Spotify only one song popped up. Considering the celebrity status of Eddie Vartan and his family, it´s a real shame that his whole solo instrumental works of the 1960s, especially the early twists, have never been reissued in 50 years. If it wasn´t for a handful of people who put his music on Youtube, it could not be heard at all. The two instrumental twist songs from other EPs on the Twist label, the mid-tempo Salut les copines and the hectic S.L.C.Twist, are both similar in style to the tracks I present here. Then there is his version of Telstar in a weird Scopitone film that you´ve got to see to believe. Eddie himself even appears playing the guitar while following a female astronaut, surrounded by his band all dressed in lab coats like a bunch of Joe Meeks. All these songs would sure make a nice Eddie Vartan Twists compilation LP.
Eddie Vartan died in 2001 following a brain hemorrhage in Paris at the age of 64. Shortly after Sylvie Vartan recorded Réponds moi, a wonderful tribute to her brother. Again, it was a fan who made an effort to put the song together with some collected images of Sylvie, Eddie and Johnny.
At least seven EPs by Eddie Vartan were released by the small Twist label, that was distributed by Decca. A bunch of other artists also recorded for the Twist label, but not as many as Eddie Vartan. Of all the Twist label releases, this one has by far the most boring sleeve design. It´s probably because I´m a cartoonist that I feel that all-typo designs look dull. The hand-made Twist logo is cool though. This EP was very cheap, but unfortunately when I got home I discovered that my copy was sun damaged and warped at the sides. Two of the tracks are completely unplayable.
Your Ma said You cried In Your Sleep Tonight was first recorded in by Kenny Dino and reached #24 in the Billboard charts in 1961. Kenny recorded a number of demos for Elvis, including the song Good Luck Charm, so it is no surprise that he is pretty much imitating Elvis on Your Ma said. Compared to Kenny Dino´s original version, Eddie Vartan´s instrumental version is pretty heavy…
One Track Mind was recorded by Bobby Lewis in 1961 on the Beltone label. Eddie Vartan´s instrumental version copies the Sheb Wooley-style sound of a toy saxophone that is also in the Bobby Lewis original.
François Lubiana (1940 – 2011), real name François Biro, was mostly known as the husband of French pop star Jaqueline Boyer. A singer and composer in his own right, Lubiana recorded quite a few EPs for Pathé and Barcley. In the only video I found of him performing live, he can be seen singing the beautiful Les cloches sonnaient in March 1966. He starts into the song, and for some reason not entirely happy with his performance, abruptly stops, excuses himself and then casually continues. Cool. Sadly later that same year he suffered a severe cerebral hemorrhage that ended his career abruptly.
Two twist songs by Francois Lubiana strangely appeared on this Romanian EP. I don´t know if they were issued exclusively in Romania, but if they did, I wonder why? The nice mosaic-style sleeve illustration was done by Electrecord house-designer Jean Eugen. The two tracks, both written by Jeff Davis, have not been been reissued in 50 years.
Dedicated to all the crazy girls…
I found another version of Moi Qui on the French Pathé EP on Youtube that sounds like it was re-recorded at a later date. This is a regular twist:
“Sexy-Twist” is a German version of Chris Montez´rocking surf hit “Some Kinda Fun” minus the buzzing trademark organ. The title is quite misleading and was obviously just chosen to raise attention. It´s just a happy little twist tune about being young and in love. This version, recorded for the budget label Clariphon, is almost identical to the original version by the Twist Twens on Germany´s biggest budget label Tempo. Colette Meston recorded only a handful of songs and also narrated some children´s records for Clariphon but besides that I couldn´t find any information about her, the Colibris or Jean Satori and his orchestra. “Sexy-Twist” would´ve fit on the excellent “Twist in Germany” CD that Bear Family Records put out in 2000, but so far the fifty year old song has never been re-released.
“The most beautiful thing in the world is for free and it´s being young and in love.”
One Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago my friend Franky picked me up with his car and took us to a record convention. I hadn´t been to one of those for a long time and I have to say I was a bit disappointed. It was poorly attended and apparantly only by old men.That had never bothered me before. I went to my first record swap meet in 1980, when I was a fourteen year old rockabilly, accompanied by my dad, who was very patient with me. The event had been recommended by the radio DJ Werner Voss on his weekly show “Werner Voss Rock´n´Roll museum”, that was always aired right after school. That first time I bought some nice 45s like “Heat/Nameless”, two great blasting saxophone instrumentals by the Rockin Rs on Tempus, or a pounding version of “In The Mood” by the Hawk (Jerry Lee Lewis) on the Phillips International label, of some vendors that seemed unbelievably old to me then, but were probably younger than I am today. Back then, before the Internet and Ebay, record conventions were the only place to find rare records. Also, vinyl was still the most popular medium, so a lot of different people, from jazz to schlager fans, went there to find something. This time I had a feeling the whole business was on the way down. Most of the stuff that is being sold is pop and rock vinyl LPs from the 60s to the 80s – the short period the collectors grew up in. No 78s, no electronic music or hip hop vinyl and only few CDs. Even Jazz collectors don´t seem to look for vinyl any more. When I asked for Jazz, a vendor told me: “Ah, I left that box at home!”
We still had a nice sunday morning at the swap meet and both came home with a bunch of cool stuff. From a french seller I bought this mysterious EP. “The Climb” was written by Leiber and Stoller for the Coasters, who first recorded it in 1962. Like a lot of the Coasters stuff it is a slow grinding R&B number with great vocal harmonies. In 1963 Duane Eddy recorded a instrumental version. In 1964 “The Climb” appeared again in “Viva Las Vegas” this time performed by the Forte Four, a gospel quartet led by George McFadden
In France at least eight different versions of “Le Climb” were released. The only information I could find about Big Jones, is from the back of the sleeve: 6.2 ft tall and born in Ohio. “Galaxie” was the biggest hit for “Les guitares du diable” a french instrumental band made up of studio musicians led by jazz guitarist Léo Petit (a.k.a William Stanray). The two other crazy twist songs on this EP are also penned by Stanray, so I guess this was one of his many projects in the early 60s.
So here´s “Le Climb”, a weird little number with bass AND also very high vocals by the mysterious BIG JONES – THE HUMAN DOUBLE BASS!
It is therefore little wonder that dance band leader Jean Couroyer roams musically across many borders in gathering material for his recording and makes sure of the widest possible acceptance by selecting the most popular dance rhythms.” (J.H. Watson from the liner notes to International Hit Parade)
This is another Swiss Varieton LP that I bought together with the Aprés-Ski in Kitzbühel album. Varieton was a sub-label of the main Swiss label Ex-Libris, used for budget releases like this one. The production is not so bad though, using thick cardboard and slick printing. It looks almost like an american album. The illustration on the sleeve however looks like it was drawn in five minutes by somebody who was not into the job at all. And it probably was. Regrettably I have had similar experiences in the past. The customer doesn´t really care or know the difference and I don´t really care or have the time either. So I rush a job. But receiving some product weeks later that reeks of all the reluctance it was crafted with feels bad. It´s embarassing to do poor work. Luckily those jobs are the exception, but at least for some reason they are always the best paying.
The raw and bold brush work and the combination of the innocent big girl dancing with the bald little man stands out though. He´s hanging in mid-air and she´s missing an arm but there´s a primitive charm to it. Most certainly the rest of the album´s design was done by other people than the guy who did the sketch. The Ad Lib font used for the title of the album was designed in 1961 by Freeman Craw for the American Type Founders (ATF), so it was pretty hip at the time. When I see the font I think of Crypt Records, because they have used it excessively on their album covers and for their catalogues since the 1980´s.
Sure, all this analysis is redundant considering that apart from three twist songs the album is pretty forgettable, at least to my ears. But I buy some records for other reasons than the music and I do enjoy this restrained orchestra rock´n´roll that was made for old people. Maybe because I am old. Not a lot of information on the Internet about Jean Couroyer, but I guess he is from Switzerland.
DANNY DAVIS AND THE TWISTERS, Happy New Year Twist, 1961
The sole purpose of this record was to get teenagers to buy more S.Pellegrino Bitter soda so the company didn´t even bother to credit the actual artists. The teenagers who got it as a give-away didn´t care to know who recorded these songs either. Likely the majority of the Club Dima records were thrown away soon after and fifty years later even the surviving ones are stone-dead. Nobody knows who recorded these songs and nobody cares to find out.
I got this thin, one-sided flexible record some years ago in Angouleme when I bought a bunch of French rock´n´roll EP´s by the Chats Sauvages and the Chaussettes Noires. When I asked how much it was, the seller let me have it for free.
Is this record worth anything? No, but I´m not trying to sell my copy, so I don´t care. Is it good? Well, I like it. In fact I like it more than those Chats Sauvages and Chaussettes Noires records because this ragged and tattered record with no name to it, this poor orphaned Oliver Twist of a record, is just a little more endearing to my heart…