Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Made In France
As I Have Already mentioned, when I arrived in France in November 1987 I wasted no time in checking out the local music scene. Now French rock is a strange beast as some of it is more French than other, there are for example certain groups that sing in English, there are others that are fervent followers of Manchester, New York, London, Seattle or wherever and as such produce heavily derivative music. On the other hand there is a strand of musicians that with the help of protectionist legislation have breathed new life into that old beast la chanson. The late 80's and the early 90's were a boom period for what was labeled as "alternative" music in France with the most obvious examples being La Mano Negra and Les Negresses Vertes, one of the most annoying things about this scene was that it attracted a high percentage of dog on a string give us a pound/ a dollar/ a franc type of person. Another of the leading lights of this scene were Les VRP who mined la chanson and the spirit of inter war year cabaret as the influence for their humorous acoustic based numbers. They had a relatively short life span, 1988 - 1993, splitting live on stage in the 6000 capacity Zenth in Montpellier after headlining a festival there. Just in case the audience were not quite sure whether it was true or not the band trashed all their instruments before offering what was left to the stunned public. One of their songs that I spent many a stoned evening listening to and trying to decipher the lyrics was 'Le Roi De La Route' from their 1989 debut album 'Remords Et Tristes Pets' ( loosely translated as, remorse and sad farts). The song is in fact an early example of road rage with a motorist obsessed with overtaking another vehicle. From the same album comes 'Mardi Gras' more of a lounge number that pays it's respects to the great Serge. So enjoy the music and get your French dictionaries out!