Tete de bois et tendres annees 25 May 1966

I realised I can’t just call these articles “Michel Polnareff on TV…” because there are times when a French music show just has too many good bands on it to be able to leave them out of the post.  So this is kind of a “Michel Polnareff on TV” post but it’s also about Antoine et les Problèmes, Christophe and Les 5 Gentlemen.  There’s a lot to say about this show.  Let’s start at the beginning with the credits – very nice they are too:

Tete de bois 1 Tete de bois 2 Tete de bois 3 Tete de bois 4 Tete de bois 5 Tete de bois 6 Tete de bois 7 Tete de bois 8 Tete de bois 9 Tete de bois 10 Tete de bois 11 Tete de bois 12 Tete de bois 13 Tete de bois 14First up, this Albert Raisner guy and his harmonica – he seems to bring it with him everywhere so he can get in on the action.  He looks a bit too old for introducing this kind of show to the stubborn and young people as well!

I like this next bit, although the “bomb” didn’t go off or even knock the letters down:

Tete de bois 15Tete de bois 16The first band on were Les Knack with Serre-moi la main.  It was okay but not really my cup of tea – a bit of a sub-Beatles, R&B type beat band:

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If Les Knack were not my cup of tea, well, the next bit would have got thrown out with the slops as far as I’m concerned.  It was a medley of bits and bobs sung by Johnny Hallyday and Petula Clark.  I can’t stand Petula Clark – there’s something about her that is very middle-aged and very prim and proper, and just plain dull.  The word brio springs to mind when I think of her, in a negative way – I’d rather hear Jane Birkin stumbling over her words in French with her English accent than Petula’s over-enthusiastic approach to French pronunciation any day.  The less said about this the better really:Tete de bois 21Now, the spat between Antoine and Johnny Hallyday has been well documented, but this programme seems to have been some kind of showdown for them.  With Johnny taking it all far more seriously than Antoine ever could or ever would.  Next up was Antoine singing an adapted version of Les élucubrations – the offending song in which he suggests that Johnny Hallyday should be locked up in a cage at the Medrano circus.  To keep the peace, or just for fun, who knows, Antoine sings instead that Albert Raisner should be locked up in the cage at the Medrano instead:

Tete de bois 22 Tete de bois 23Antoine is wearing a plastic coat – maybe he was expecting some spitting from the audience.  Or from Johnny.

Next up, Monty with L’Île de Beauté.  Again, not 100% my cup of tea but it’s catchy and gets everyone in the audience singing.  Not bad really, a bit bluesy with a Spencer Davis Group kind of sound.  Anyway, he’s quite a charming fellow:

Tete de bois 24 Tete de bois 25Something well worth a look next: the super-cool Christophe performing one of my favourite tracks Excusez-moi, Monsieur le Professeur.  Apparently Christophe’s lost his way, but he’ll be back tomorrow.  Let’s hope so, or we’ll miss him.  What a stylish so-and-so he was with his Dennis Hopper looks and his great suits.  He’s one of my favourites for sure.Tete de bois 26 Tete de bois 27What a come down to have Miss Petula Clark on next, but at least it’s with something fairly decent – L’Amour avec un grand A:Tete de bois 28No fights have broken out between Johnny and Antoine – yet… – so Albert Raisner tries to set one up between Antoine and his Problems instead:Tete de bois 29 Tete de bois 30 Tete de bois 31Raisner puts them in a boxing ring and they battle it out with Les contre-élucubrations problématiques.  Despite all the goading, Antoine’s not having any of it: “You can, of course, tease me, but if your mothers had known about the pill you would not be here getting on my nerves”.  What a shame this is not in colour – it would be far more spectacular, I’m sure.

Unfortunately Johnny Hallyday’s next and Antoine’s laughing “hé, hé, hé” must have wound him up even more because he’s going for first blood – and he’s not even in the boxing ring with Antoine so he has to do it with words instead.  I bet Antoine was shaking in his Chelsea boots when he heard Johnny singing Cheveux longs et idées courtes, which translates as “long hair and short ideas”.  It’s a pathetic little song aimed at Antoine in retaliation for the Medrano comment, made in passing but obviously deeply felt by the much-loved Johnny.  Did it hurt him so much that Antoine didn’t love him too?  I guess so, otherwise he wouldn’t have had to pay a lyricist to write such absurd words for him about how having long hair is not in itself enough to change the world.  Who ever said it was?  Childish, Johnny, very childish.  And it’s only you who ends up looking the fool:

Tete de bois 32Albert Raisner’s itching to get his harmonica out so he sneaks up on Johnny at the end and joins in:Tete de bois 33Before you know it Petula’s publicist husband must have pulled a few strings because she’s in on the action as well.  Albert has to lend her his miniature harmonica:

Tete de bois 34 Tete de bois 35Albert makes sure Petula gives him his tiny mouth organ back straight away though.  Don’t want to lose that little beauty, Albert.

Next, the little Tête de bois cartoon character is giving renditions of a few songs in a Pinky & Perky type vocal fashion.  It’s amusing for a few seconds.  Tete de bois 36The best thing is Tête de bois version of Antoine with its long hair:

Tete de bois 37Next is Audrey with Les amours d’artistes – terribly dull and it seems out of place on the show:

Tete de bois 38Albert Raisner just won’t let the Antoine / Johnny fight thing go away, so he sits between them and starts out innocently asking Johnny about Protest Songs and about Bob Dylan.  Antoine quietly shows his disagreement with Johnny’s opinion on all of this with a shake of the finger.  You get the impression it’s not going to end there.

Tete de bois 39 Tete de bois 40 Tete de bois 41Dylan’s not on the show himself, so they just show some footage of him over in Europe being mobbed and then introduce the band Les 5 Gentlemen who were a French garage punk type band and I’m a bit of a fan, so that’s all good with me.  I’d rather see and hear them than Dylan and his nasal offerings any day.  What a rare treat to see this band doing a rather good cover version of The Sandals’ Tell Us Dylan, translated into French and called Dis-nous Dylan:Tete de bois 42 Tete de bois 43Johnny pipes up again about how he likes Dylan but he’s just sorry that Antoine doesn’t have his talent.  Ooh!  But at least Antoine can write his own lyrics and he doesn’t just “sit on his backside with his arms crossed” and pay someone else to do it for him!  If Petula Clark’s got Johnny’s back (see her less than subtle squeeze of the arm as he makes his catty comment), I’ve got Antoine’s – bring it on, Hallyday!Tete de bois 44Raisner diplomatically comments that that’s just an opinion.  It is – it’s just Johnny Hallyday’s opinion and that was probably written for him by someone else as well.  Yeah, I mean business, people!

To wash away the bad taste in the mouth that all this bickering leaves, Christophe pops up dressed as a cowboy.  Quite nice, but I thought he looked rather lovely in a suit myself:

Tete de bois 45 Tete de bois 46Christophe’s singing La Camargue whilst on horseback.  No, really.  Well, okay then it’s a pretend horse and I’m not sure I approve of Christophe doing this kind of thing.  I’m in two minds – either it’s too silly for someone as cool as him, or he’s so cool he can do stupid stuff like that and it doesn’t matter.  I still love him anyway, so it’s obviously not put me off:

Tete de bois 47After that there’s a cutesy little song from Chantal Kelly with (I think) Monty on guest vocals – Notre Prof’ d’Anglais:Tete de bois 48 Tete de bois 49This track’s been on at least a couple of those French pop compilation albums.  She seems quite sweet.  I like it.

Next up, the one I’ve been waiting for – Michel Polnareff.  It’s his second TV appearance doing La Poupée qui fait non.  This performance is from outside the studio in a club called the Top Ten or something like that.  The idea is they show footage of young French kids out clubbing in Paris and the provinces.  Tete de bois 50On this occasion Polnareff is there doing a playback, surrounded by young kids – one kid in particular appears to be in love with him, looking at him with hungry eyes and singing along with all the words:Tete de bois 51 Tete de bois 52 Tete de bois 53 Tete de bois 54 Tete de bois 55 Tete de bois 56 Tete de bois 57 Tete de bois 58Antoine’s back next, escaping Hallyday’s evil clutches, taking his chances on Une autre autoroute.  He does a nice job of it – it’s such a good track with a lovely bit of guitar playing on it:Tete de bois 59 Tete de bois 60 Tete de bois 61There’s no show-boating for Antoine but then again he’s not taking any chances on the harmonica front, what with Albert Raisner being in the vicinity and champing at the bit to join in when and wherever possible; Antoine brought his own blues harp with.

Talking of show-boating…Tete de bois 62Johnny gets in a four-piece backing band and a group of dancers to liven up his performance of Jusqu’à minuit.  He does a bit of Clo-Clo style dancing himself as well, hoping to out-shine Antoine and his brilliant but understated jerky dancing, no doubt.  Never mind, Antoine, Johnny was always going to make sure he had the last word on this whatever happened.

Petula has been missing the limelight too, so she gets to introduce the smiley, chirpy singer and alleged wartime collaborator Charles Trenet who sings La Tarantelle de Caruso (I think):Tete de bois 63Petula can’t stay away for long; she’s such a limelight hogger that even the dancers try to kick her as she sings Si tu prenais le temps:Tete de bois 64 Tete de bois 65And that’s your lot, aside from the credits which were sung by Monty, Petula Clark, Johnny Hallyday and Charles Trenet.  Nice little touch that and what a fun show.Tete de bois 66 Tete de bois 67

One last thing – Johnny Hallyday, you were great in Robert Hossein’s film Point de chute and I salute you for this, but please leave little Antoine alone.  Thank you!

My Favourite Stuff: Michel Polnareff 1979 Japan Tour Programme

I have seen Michel Polnareff in concert – in Nice in June 2007.  But I wasn’t at this concert in Japan in 1979; the programme is an item of memorabilia I purchased several years ago.  Here it is:

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The above page is my absolute favourite part of the programme – okay, I can’t understand the rest as it’s in Japanese but that’s beside the point; I am certain this has to be the best article in the entire book.  It’s a kind of “fan letter” to Michel Polnareff from someone called Yuko Yoshimi.  I don’t know if it was translated from Japanese or if it was originally written in French but something has to be wrong somewhere, or else Yuko Yoshimi was being slightly (and possibly unwittingly) insensitive when writing this.  I imagine it’s meant as a compliment but at times it doesn’t come across that way.  Anyway, to add yet another level to the “lost in translation” aspect of this, here’s my translation of the letter into English.  Bear in mind I’m not fluent in French so I may have missed out on some of the subtleties somewhere along the way:

Dear Mr Michel Polnareff

The first time that I saw you was at NHK [Japan Broadcasting Corporation] and I realised that I did not really know you: but when you played the piano I realised that I would never really know you.  Your music is so beautiful that, without knowing why, I compared it to that of a violin.  You are such a mysterious character.  I stood near the door and although near you, the distance between us seemed tremendous.

I have seen you only once, but the one memory I have is of a dazzling light that radiated from you which I’ve never seen in any other star or any other human being.  Michel Polnareff – the very name is a music, you are the choreographer of the world.

You are a child and like a child, you confuse beauty and truth.  You are not handsome and yet beauty emanates from you. You hide yourself behind a mirror and you use your sunglasses to avoid seeing the ugliness of the world, and having to suffer it.  I can glimpse your concept of beauty, but I could never grasp a reflection.

This is why there is this unbridgeable distance between us.  If you were the ocean, I would not want to cross it.  If you were the sky, I could only contemplate it.  If you were a locked door, I would not dare open it.  And you know very well that nobody would dare to.  I think that to understand all this brings me closer to you.

I love your world.  You come from space and no one else but you can breathe there.  David Bowie is accessible, but you, I cannot reach you.  You do not have to be an astronaut on their way to the moon because it belongs to you.  Seeking to know you is like trying to go to another planet.

Without being sexy, even so you are the symbol of sexuality.  Music, you sculpt it.  You do not like a woman for her looks but for herself and whatever she may be.

You sing love like a sublime sin of the Renaissance.  And now where are you going to take me?

Without knowing one another, I’ll visit your planet, go to your capital city, my invitation in my hand, and climb aboard your spaceship where I will respect all the blackout lights.

YUKO YOSHIMI

Amazing, eh?  I hope I’ve never been so clumsy when I’ve written fan letters!

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Check out that ballet school photograph if you want to know which way Michel Polnareff dresses!

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My Favourite Stuff: flowers from Robert, Princesse de rien

When I wrote the article about the French singer RoBERT the other day, I somehow forgot to include this photograph of my RoBERT daisies:20130218_112837

One of my favourite concert memories, these fake daisies were purloined from the stage after one of her shows at the Café de la Danse – I don’t feel bad about stealing them, as I recall it we all invaded the stage afterwards and got the set lists and daisies by the handful.  I’m sure RoBERT expected / wanted us to steal them!

To see the daisies in their natural habitat, see these photographs also stolen from the RoBERT website many years ago:

Concert7 concert13 robert17A couple of my flowers have long black hairs ensnared in them – the hair of a Princess; a Princess named RoBERT.

Another photograph, this time without the daisies but with other flowers – just because it’s a beautiful shot.  I think it’s from the Colchique Mon Amour video shoot:

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French singer Robert, Princesse de rien, over the years

You know musical roads always lead to other musical roads, well back in the 1980s / 90s I was a massive fan of the French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer and somehow this led me to the French singer who calls herself Robert; these days RoBERT.  In some ways RoBERT has eclipsed Mylène for me – good thing, then, that Mylène played that record by Robert on that radio show all those years ago.

I was a fan of Robert in the earlyish days – especially for an English person, I’d say,as she’s not exactly a household name here.  Maybe some people noticed her singing and voiceover on a Givenchy Ange ou Démon TV advert in 2009, but I doubt it would have made her known here.  And there must have been some kind of attempt at breaking through over here; a UK remixes 12″ of her first single Elle se promène; the 2007 album Princess of Nowhere, with English language versions of songs from the Six pieds sous terre album and various other tracks.

Anyway, why am I telling you this?  I don’t know.  It’s just that I have found various bits and bobs in my collection dating back to the late 1990s / early 2000s.  I was first in touch with Robert in the late 1990s to arrange to do an email / telephone interview with her.Robert011Robert012

Then I finally made the trip over to Paris to see her in concert in 2000 at the Café de la Danse:

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I went back to Paris in 2001 to see her again for a two-nighter at the Café de la Danse – the first evening (30 March) was the pink night and the second evening (31 March) was the blue night.

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I did buy some live DVDs after this but there was an 8 year gap from the 2001 concerts to the next one I attended, so I missed out on the Cigale and Haute Couture shows in the 2000s:

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I made it back over to Paris to see Robert again in 2009, when I went over to catch the Serge Gainsbourg exhibition at La Cité de la Musique before it finally closed:

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It was quite an odd experience – I really enjoyed the music but somehow everything had got “bigger” and therefore it was no longer so intimate.  In the eight years that had passed, the prices had gone up from 121 French Francs a ticket to €36,30 and it was all merchandised-up.  I had invested in one of the limited edition Mathieu Saladin (Robert’s husband) books, Robert des Non-Dits  – I got book number 120 / 400.  In all, it was a pretty expensive affair.  Still, I guess everyone has to make a living.Robert015Robert016Robert017Robert019

Back to the concert, like I say the music was great but the problem for me was that the audience had got a lot younger and less cultured – I was trodden on in the queue by a goth in clodhoppers and had to tell him off in French (it’s really strange being angry in another language!) and he was most unapologetic.  Quite frankly, at the risk of alienating a lot of RoBERT fans, I wasn’t too keen on the goth element and there seemed to be a lot of them there.

I also didn’t enjoy sitting so far away – row J seemed like a million miles away from the stage.  I haven’t been back to Paris to see Robert since then although I still buy and very much enjoy the albums.  Maybe I am just getting old.  I am getting old.

O well, I shall write an article about Robert – or should I say RoBERT? – shortly to explain the Robert, Princesse de rien myth in more detail.  In the meantime, here are a few photographs sent to me back in the early 2000s, not sure quite when, by a French friend.  This is from an appearance Robert made with Mathieu Saladin at a FNAC store:Robert FNAC001Robert FNAC004Robert FNAC002Robert FNAC003

Primal Scream at The Garage, Nottingham

Back in the mid to late 1980s I was into indie bands – C86 and all of that.  Primal Scream, The Bodines and The Mighty Lemon Drops were my absolute favourites.  I saw them all as often as I could when they came to Nottingham.  Today I found these photographs I took of Primal Scream playing at The Garage in Nottingham some time in the 1980’s – sad to say I can’t even remember who was supporting them on this occasion or even the date of the gig.  Maybe someone can let me know.

The photos were taken with a basic point and click, no focus, built-in flash camera from Boots the Chemist – it was my dad’s and I borrowed it for the occasion as I didn’t have a camera myself.  So, nothing fancy and I’ve not cropped or touched these photos up or anything – here they are as they are.  Please remember, if you are going to share these photographs elsewhere on the internet or in print that you must credit them to me, Raechel Leigh Carter and the website Hero Culte.  Sorry to have to point that out – most people are decent enough to do that, but some people need it spelling out.  Anyway, here you go:

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I’ve not liked anything Primal Scream have done since the Creation Records days so my love for them was very short-lived indeed!  Short-lived but intense.  I went off Primal Scream when Sonic Flower Groove came out as it just didn’t have the sound I had anticipated – I much preferred the bootleg live tapes I had back in those days.  So I moved on, but luckily for me being a fan of Primal Scream had introduced me to certain 1960s American garage punk and baroque pop bands so I had something to replace them with.  I’m sure I’ll be writing about some of those bands at some point.

Anyway, here are some really rather frightening autographs, artwork and notes from various members of Primal Scream (note that nobody ever writes my name correctly, even when I’m spelling it out for them):

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Francoise Hardy photos

Sorting through my stuff today, as you may be able to tell.  Here are a few scans of some Françoise Hardy press photos, along with a Dutch matchbox cover and a picture stamp.

These press photos from the UK reveal just how famous Françoise actually was over here in the 1960s:

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This is a Françoise picture stamp from The Wonderful World of Pop & TV Stars “Picture Stamp Album” , published by F.K.S. in London in 1968:

Francoise Hardy Picture StampIf you want to see what else was in this amazing picture stamp book, which I’m very proud to own – especially as I can’t seem to find it anywhere else on the internet – see my post here.

Here’s a Dutch Vlinder match box cover:

Francoise H matchboxSome more press photos, but these ones don’t seem to be originals like the lovely ones above – the scan quality is not as good, so apologies for that.  Two from Grand Prix (1966, dir John Frankenheimer):

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Not sure what this one is from – nice shot though:Francoise012

And, finally, here’s another original I bought in the flea market in Paris in December:

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No details with this one, but I have reason to believe it was taken on 12 April 1968 when Françoise went to see The Rolling Stones in concert at the Olympia with Jacques Dutronc.  I only say that because she appears to be wearing the same outfit and hat as she was on that evening, so don’t quote me on it!

Louise Brooks photos

Back in the 1980s I started collecting photographs and postcards of Louise Brooks and Clara Bow and seeking out their films.  Over the years I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff and it inevitably ends up being filed away in storage boxes – in the end it’s rarely looked at.  I decided to get some of my Louise Brooks collection out and scan it – here are some bits and pieces, nothing terribly surprising here and some of them have scanned better than others (the postcards scan pretty badly) but I thought I would share the pictures anyway:

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I still find her breathtakingly beautiful even after all this time.  More on Louise Brooks soon.

Francoise Hardy and a red rose for Valentines Day

Who wants red roses for Saint Valentine’s Day when you can have a photograph of Françoise Hardy with a red rose instead?

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This is from CINÉMONDE magazine number 1492, dated 12 March 1963.  Sensational in colours, it says on the cover, about the “song in pictures” – Tous les garçons et les filles.  The article says Françoise wrote the song three years before when she was being trained at Mireille’s Le petit Conservatoire de la chanson.  Françoise role-plays scenes from the song with her friends Vic Laurens, Arielle and Zambo.  Here it is scene by scene and then finally in its entirety:

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All the boys and girls my age are walking in the streets two by two

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Yes, but I’m alone in the streets, soul in torment

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Oh! When shall the sun shine for me?

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I wonder when the day will come when I too will have someone who loves me

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Luckily the story ends happily with a young chap turning up with a red rose for the lovely Françoise.

The article also says that Françoise found the guitar accompaniment (presumably on Tous les garçons et les filles but that’s not totally clear) too simplistic and she preferred violins and an organ.  I’m not sure about that myself, the arrangements on the song make it even more endearing – it doesn’t need anything more than it has as far as I’m concerned.  Also, interestingly it says her record which was to be released shortly was to be called L’Amour reviendra (Love will return).

Excuse the rough translations, any errors are totally my fault (but, hey!, I can’t help it if I’m not quite fluent, can I?!) – and enjoy Valentine’s Day with a red rose from Hero Culte and Françoise Hardy.

Francoise H

Michel Polnareff on TV: Vient de paraitre 7 May 1966

Michel Polnareff’s first TV appearance was on 7 May 1966 on Vient de paraître (2ème chaîne, dir Janine Guyon), performing La poupée qui fait non.

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The show starts out with an interview with a rather moist looking Michel Simon (Boudu saved from drowning in his own sweat maybe?) discussing his record Michel Simon interprète Kafka et Courteline:

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And then I’m pretty sure the presenter Frantz Priollet refers to Polnareff as Georges Polnareff (!) and says this Georges guy told him it took one year for his hair to grow so long.  Anyway, here’s Michel Polnareff:

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Next up was Jennifer – not a bad song Mais qu’est-ce que ça peut vous faire, and not a bad performance, but coming after La poupée qui fait non it feels just a bit tame really.  Jennifer’s wearing a lovely dress for a girl half her age – but what do I care, uh?:

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Great eye make up though:

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The show closes with Enrico Macias performing Je t’aimerai pour deux – promises, promises, Enrico, and stop looking at me like that!:

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It’s a pleasant enough song but again just a little subdued.  Highlight of the show?  Polnareff, of course.  Here’s my favourite screen grab from the show:

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More Polnareff on TV stuff soon.

My Favourite Stuff: Michel Polnareff Live in Tokyo LP

Live albums aren’t usually that good but this Polnareff Live à Tokio LP is amazing – personally I think it might even be better than the more popular Polnarévolution LP of the same year.  This album was recorded live with Dynastie Crisis at Koseinenkin Hall, Tokyo on 20 November 1972.

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My copy doesn’t have an obi with it but it does have the lyrics insert and although I can’t read what it says there are also 6 pages of photographs and text inside the gatefold sleeve.  It’s a quadraphonic album, not that that means much to me because I don’t have anything that would play quadraphonic audio and, quite honestly, because I’m a record collector I don’t play my vinyl after I’ve run it off on my USB turntable these days anyway.

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Aside from the quality of the recordings, the great set list, the lovely packaging, the fact that Polnareff delivers (as ever) a perfect live performance, the other thing I really like about this album is the lyrics sheet:

Polnareff a Tokio 9Polnareff a Tokio 10It’s worth clicking on these to take a closer look – forget the typos (“horridle monstre”, “Je cherce un job”, etc), the lyrics to Great Balls of Fire are something else and have clearly been misheard by whoever transcribed them.  Imagine this, you’re Japanese, you’re listening to a French guy singing in English with a really strong accent.  Furthermore, you obviously don’t know the Jerry Lee Lewis’ version of the song, so you just have to write down what you hear.  This is what you hear:

You shake my nose, you ride on my brake, You got the love to drive a woman insane, You broke my whip but I fell, Goodness gracious, great balls of fire…

I treat my nails and I tread on my foot, I don’t know what love is, but it sure is fun a, Oh, baby, you drive me crazy, Goodness gracious, great balls of fire

Laugh? I nearly trod on my foot!