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:
Drummer, band leader and actor François-Alexandre Galepides, alias Moustache (1929-1987), was a big name in French post-war jazz with quite a few releases in the 1950s. He started to play in Claude Luter´s band and later performed with Sidney Bechet and George Brassens. Moustache even recorded some funny early rock´n´roll sides like Le Croque-Crâne-Creux (Purpe People Eater) with French lyrics written by Boris Vian. From what I understand he also really enjoyed playing rock´n´roll, contrary to guys like Henri Salvador, Boris Vian and Michel Legrand. Henri Salvador recorded some excellent early French rock´n´roll, but still only regarded it as satire, a part of his job as a comedian. Decades later he hated it when rock´n´roll fans pestered him about his Rock´n´Roll Mops. Personally he preferred the swinging jazz music he grew up with. Moustache apparently was a much more down-to-earth kinda guy. In the mid-50s he also ventured into acting and comedy, mostly playing musicians in films. Later he owned a restaurant and ran several bars. Moustache died in a car accident in 1987.
The back of the sleeve lists three other EPs in what appears to be a series of musical trips: Moustache a Moscou, Moustache Toréador, Moustache en Italie and Moustacha a Tyrol. As illustrated by the nice cover design done by Max Dufour, house illustrator for the French Festival label, on this record the Stache takes a trip to Harlem. The three jazz standards are quite faithfully trying to recreate a swingin´ 1930s mood. In his fast instrumental version of Chick Webb´s Stompin´at the Savoy the Savoy Ballroom is coming to life, while Duke Ellington´s Just Squeeze Me (But Please Don’t Tease Me) and the traditional Frankie and Johnny, both sung by Nadine Young, are played in a nice easy going mid-tempo…
This is the other EP by Jean-Claude Pelletier that I have in my collection. My French is rather limited so this is what I could grasp from the liner notes on the back of the sleeve. It´s probably all wrong, so please correct me: Jean-ClaudePelletier was born in Paris in 1928, started to go to conservatory in 1936 and won a first prize for his piano playing and graduated in 1946, met Benny Vasseur, Pierre Braslowsky, René Franc and their group ended up in the finals of the Hot-Jazz contest in 1946. Jean-Claude then joined the orchestra of Alix Combello and stayed with them for five years. In 1954 he started to play in smaller groups together with Bill Coleman, Albert Nicholas, Buck Clayton, Jonah Jones James Moody, Sidney Bechet and Lionel Hampton. In 1955 he performed together with Claude Luter at the Vieux Comombier, the famous Paris jazz club in the basement of the Vieux Colombier Theatre.
Jean-Claude Pelletier is seen pointing to a sign of the Paris metro station Peletier (pronounced just the same but spelled differently) on the front cover of the record. On the back of the sleeve two more EPs are listed in the Columbia Jazz Stars series by the Pelletier Trio and the Pelletier Sextett. I would sure be interested to hear them, but, just like this EP, they have never been reissued. All of the songs were written by Jean-Claude Pelletier.
The personnel of the Pelletier orchestra is:
A. Renard – P. Sellin – V. Cassino (tp) B. Vasseur – Ch. Verstraete (tb) – H. Jouot (bs) – G. Grenu (as) – G. Lafitte – R. Simon (ts) – R. Bianchini (b) – Ch. Garros (dm) – J.C. Pelletier piano and leader
Pelletier was not only well-versed in traditional jazz but could also really swing. The liner notes mention his ability to play the blues: “a rarity among pianists of the new generation”. Now some purists might argue that the only good swing music is from the 1930s and 40s but by now you should know what I think of purists. I think this is excellent French 1950s big-band swing…
Despite the last two rainy days, springtime is in full swing here in Berlin, so I´d like to celebrate with some swinging early french rock´n´roll. No idea how this turned up in Prague, but that´s where I bought this 45 a couple of years ago. Great dual vocals by Maria Velasco and Jean-Pierre Sasson, backed by swing jazz veteran Jaques Diéval!
Back when I still lived in Hamburg I loved to shop in a little thrift store near my appartement called Hamburgs kleinstes Kaufhaus (Hamburg´s smallest department store). It was very well-organized and also cheap, so many poor people from the neighborhood came to the store to buy household stuff like pots and pans. When I visited my old home the last time, I noticed that the original poor population has largely been driven out of the area. But the store still exists. It´s where I found this record in the early 90s.
I never knew much about it until recently, when I researched a bit. Nothing on Fanny Audret or the Carrousel label on the Internet but I found information about the songs. Chanson d´Orphee is the title track to the film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) made in Brazil by French director Marcel Camus in 1959. I had seen the movie and I even have the French soundtrack EP, but I still didn´t recognize the song. Probably because this version has a different tempo.
Le Train Bleu was a luxury French night express train which carried wealthy and famous passengers between Calais and the French Riviera in the 1920s and 30s. It was dubbed “The Blue Train” because of its dark blue sleeping cars. Luis Mariano recorded Un train bleu dans la nuit in 1959 as a tribute to the train. Caterina Valente also recorded a version the same year. According to French Wikipedia Un train bleu dans la nuit is a version of “Blue Train in the Night” by legendary Bebop double-bassist Ray Brown with French lyrics by Pierre Delanoë. But for some reason I couldn´t find a Ray Brown song called “Blue Train In The Night”. Anyway, it is a beautiful song:
As a side-note that would tie the two sides of this record together, here´s Ray Brown performing a bass solo of Black Orpheus in 2001:
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…
I think it would be a cool if orchestras today would record some Lady Gaga or Beyoncé songs. Likewise if surf groups would do instrumental versions of Pink or Katy Perry songs. That´s what the Ventures did in their time. Or maybe today´s surf groups are doing just that and I haven´t noticed?
Here the Seto Orchestra do a instrumental version of L´amitié, a hit for Francoise Hardy in 1965.