Sunday, January 17, 2010

France Gall, The Lost Years?

In the early 60's, France Gall began a very long and successful career as a pop singer. But while most French pop singers were busy singing French versions of American or British hits, France Gall collaborated with many talented French composers and lyricists, including of course Serge Gainsbourg. People mostly know France Gall for those early sixties hits (ranging from a Eurovision winner, a song for kids and all the way to a scandalous double-entendre song about fellatio) and her career revival (thanks to her collaboration with husband Michel Berger) from the mid-seventies all the way to the late eighties.

But perhaps her most interesting period is the one that is also the most obscure: after a few commercial flops, she began in 1966 a relatively successful career in Germany (!). All the while, she recorded in France a few jazzy songs, such as this little gem:

It's 1968, France Gall is finally 21 and no more a minor, and she wants to exercise her freedom (she often disagreed with choices that were made for her by her entourage). She decides to join a few other artists to sign with a brand new record company, La Compagnie. What she records there is a hodge-podge of songs, some experimental, some silly, some just plain bad. But here's one of the "hippie" songs recorded then that I find particularly charming:

And here's a samba she recorded for la Compagnie, with some great orchestration. It kind of makes you feel like you're Peter Sellers and you've been invited to a very high-class party. the YouTube video is a very high-quality edit of vintage pictures:

In 1970, La Compagnie went under, and that was the end of that "free" period. France Gall then tries hard to make a comeback, which keeps failing until she finally meets Michel Berger. But that's another story, and not really an obscure one, so I'll leave it at that.

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