Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Sheesh, who woulda thought there woulda been so many books written on the French Rock Underground, especially when you consider just how many snoots out there have written off French rock 'n roll as bein' nothin' but a buncha subsputum hooey not worth lendin' an ear to! Haw, what a lie, especially when I consider just how much French rock has bolstered up my own record collection what with a load of efforts delivered to us by the likes of Skydog not to mention a whole load of heretofore forgotten wonders from the likes of acts such as Bijou, Shakin' Street, Little Bob Story and Mahogany Brain! And really, who can forget alla those great fanzines which I gotta say sure look great even if I can par-lay-voo that Francais about as well as I can understand Bill Shute's horsetrack betting logic.

And with alla that in mind lemme clue you in to this particular screed...LA FRANCE UNDERGROUND's a relatively new read detailing the birth and growth of the French musical underground, not only the rock 'n roll acts that played the under-the-counterculture soundtrack during the fifties onwards, the avgarde jazz and freeform rock 'n roll acts who are only legendary NOW outside their Gallic domains but who made quite a brash sound back in them days when music really was that soundtrack to a wild, uninhibited lifeforce that usually resulted in weird scabs appearing on your genitals but hey, that's the price you have to pay for FREEDOM!  

Hokay, there are some portions of this which I can kinda/sorta decipher, and as you can guess they are the jucier bits of the book which pretty much detail the side of French under-the-underground music that more or less fits in with the cranial mindset of most of you regular tuner-inners to this blog. Loads on the birth and growth of the new free sounds via jazz not to mention the concept of rock 'n roll as a furious fit of rage that could fit into the inner musical makeup of a French kid as well as an Amerigan one!

The likes of such freeform jazzers as  Francois Tusques  and Barney Wilen are given more'n ample space and if you'd like to see an early snap of future Rollsticks/Gong saxophonist Didier Malherbe looking rather innocent in the early-sixties look no further. The early proto-punk era which ties into the then-roaring French avgarde is also given ample space and packed with some good snaps of everyone from Daevid Allen-period Gong to even an old ad for the legendary Open Market record shop (perhaps the only record shop I'd time travel to do my shopping other'n the Drome that is) pops up. And if you want to use your handy dandy google translator you will find out some more crucial info on those Gallic groups who were elaborating on the whole Velvets/Stooges-inspired like the aforementioned Mahogany Brain to Red Noise as well as my current sure-wanna-hear-'em-NOW!'s Cruille Marteau, with former LES IDOLES co-stars Jean-Pierre Kalfon and Pierre Clementi (best known to you for the reference to him "snorting cocaine" in Patti Smith's "Space Monkey") whose form of out-there "freak rock" had some who experienced their live efforts referring to them as being "the French Velvet Underground"! Definitely one act that deserves a royal record release since this very book refers to a session for BYG (and who knows how many tapes are flowing about in a variety of Francophile collections up and about!).

Not much on Dagon (who the French Lester Bangs a.k.a Yves Adrien called the French Velvets which just might make for a three way battle with Brain and Marteau for the coveted crown!) but others like AME Son and Fille Qui Mousse, groups that really don't ascend to the true underground spirit but 'eh, are brought up. There's also a snap of an overweight Jim Morrison during his final days en Paree and considering his importance in the French scheme of things it sure ain't outta place here.

Yet another tome for the times that I wish I could really delve into despite the obvious language barrier which sure makes me wish I took French during my high stool days. Until an English translation appears try to get hold of this book, and maybe you can force your old French teacher to translate this for you while you hold a knife to her throat. Serves her right for sending you to the Principal's office for telling her that "merde" actually meant "sea of" just like Patti Smith led ya to believe!


Alvin Bishop said...

A French Lester Bangs? Aka, Lefter L'Banque? Chuckle!

You do find the obscurities, Chris!

Me? I'm spinning a rarity, one of 1968's finest, Human Ball by The McCoys, in which the former bubblegummers put on their big boy bell-bottoms and performed some first-rate psych-blues! This LP turned a few, erm... heads in the day. A classic!


President-elect HHH said...

The McCoys are a personal favorite. I am a big fan of their hit, "Sloopy and the Red Baron."