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.
I´m never looking for anything in particular, when I´m entering a record shop. Rather I like to be surprised by what I find. It´s really like digging for “something else”. That´s why I hate alphabetically organized shops. I´m never looking for anything in particular, so I have to then dig through all of the records in the shop. In the case of the Lisbon record shop where I bought this week´s selection, there were more than 10.000 45´s in the store. None of them sorted and I dug through all of them. I like it if shops are sorted by genre, because I do have a roughly sketched set of odd genres that I´m searching for: comedy records, advertisement records, political records, children´s records, records made by kids, records made by old people, records from exotic countries and adult records.
This one is not really an adult record but I did buy it because it had the “Interdit de moins 16 ans”-tag and obviously because of Coccinelle´s semi-nudity. I even listened to it in the record shop, but apart from the suggestive Avec mon petit faux-cul (With my little fake ass) there was nothing dirty about the music at all. A faux-cul was the late 19th century fashion of upholstering womans dresses to make their behinds look bigger and more beautiful. A play of words, faux-cul can also mean hypocrite.
I didn´t know anything about Coccinelle until I got home to my Lisbon hosts, Marcos and Joana. They really loved this record and took the time to read the liner notes on the back cover.
Joana then quickly searched the Internet and seconds later presented the surprise: Coccinelle (French for Ladybug) is France´s first and most famous transsexual! A national celebrity and a renown club singer, Coccinelle had a sex reassignment surgery in 1958 in Casablanca. She performed regularly at the famous nightclub Le Carrousel de Paris and appeared in some movies. Her first marriage in 1960 was the first transsexual union to be officially acknowledged by the French government , establishing transgendered persons’ legal right to marry. A transgender activist, she founded the organization “Devenir Femme” (To Become Woman), to give emotional and practical support for those seeking sexual reassignment surgery. She also helped set up the Center for Aid, Research, and Information for Transsexuality and Gender Identity. Coccinelle died in July 2006 following a stroke.
I don´t think I would have found all this, without digging randomly. Luckily, as compulsive and crazy as my record collecting habit may be, it can also educate.
“New Accordion Rock” was just another trick to get teenagers to buy a record made by a bunch of professional French musicians. I don´t think it worked. Teenagers were much smarter than that. They knew that accordions just don´t rock.
However if you close your eyes and simply listen to Last Night, a cover version of the Mar-Keys instrumental soul classic, and imagine not to be somewhere in a café along the river Seine but way over the Atlantic ocean in a state named after the King of France, this could be a song played by Nathan Abshire or Clifton Chenier. Well, at least for a couple of seconds and when they were on a slow night.
I still like these songs. Except for: “Love doesn´t exist”. With that I wholeheartedly disagree…
Maybe we should have joined a Striptease class?
I don´t know anything about the artists behind this French Tango EP and bought it for the sleeve obviously. The music is regular Tango music as far as I can tell and I guess you can do both the tango and a striptease to the Striptease Tango…
TONY MURENA ET SON ORCHESTRE MESETTE, Striptease Tango, 1962
The rarely heard instrument, where the player could control the volume with the knees (!), was developed by the genius inventor Ernst Zacharias for HOHNER in the late 50´s. His biggest success though, was the Clavinet , a instrument that became essential in 70´s Funk music.
Again these are lost sounds: only a few recordings remain by Manfred Mann, John Cale and The Stranglers.
Note: I found somebody who is still playing some nice tunes ( among them a piece by Michael Ramos) on the Cembalet today
(Nach dem Tanzen haben wir uns etwas Entspannung verdient. Begeben wir uns an die Bar anno 1961 und lauschen den Klängen des Magnet Quartet mit Michel Ramos am CEMBALET.
Ein selten zu hörendes Tasteninstrument, dessen Lautstärke mit dem Knie (!) verändert werden konnte. Entwickelt vom genialen Erfinder Ernst Zacharias für HOHNER Ende der 50er Jahre. Richtig berühmt wurde dann sein Clavinet, aus der Funk-Musik der angehenden 70er nicht wegzudenken !
Also auch hier: fast verschwunden, es bleiben wenige Aufnahmen von Manfred Mann, John Cale (Velvet Underground) und den Stranglers.
Anmerkung: Ich habe noch einen einsamen Cembalet-Besitzer und seine Sounds gefunden, auch er hat ein Stück von Michel Ramos mit drin)
Anyway, great crazy Twists from I guess France…