Michel Polnareff article in After Dark October 1976

I found this magazine in America with a 2 page article about Polnareff.  It’s not a brilliant article actually (there’s a lot missing or glossed over…) but it’s amazing to find something like this in an English language magazine so I thought I’d share it anyway:

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After Dark, October 1976, pp68-69

Michel Polnareff in Bravo magazine 21 November 1966

For Valentines Day this year I got some amazing presents including 2 Michel Polnareff Italian language singles (Love Me, Please Love Me and L’Amour avec toi in Italian on one single and Ame caline and Le roi des fourmis in Italian on the other), plus this German language magazine Bravo from 21 November 1966 (no 48):

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I’m including the cover just because I like The Troggs, but there’s also a large photo of Françoise Hardy, some photos of The Walker Brothers and an article on The Troggs.  It’s a great magazine, but the reason I’m posting it here is because of Polnareff, of course:

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If I had the time I’d translate it – maybe at a later date, but there’s so much to share on here and so little time.  Also in the same magazine, they helpfully provided the French and German language lyrics for La Poupée qui fait non:

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Must get back to my articles about Polnareff EPs at some point – I’ve only posted about two of them so far and there is so much more to cover.  Anyway, more soon.

Douches Ecossaises 4 July 1966

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What a joy it is to watch a well-made and stylish music show – this one is Douches Ecossaises directed by Jean-Christophe Averty who makes great use of early visual effects, which may look a little dated now but which would have been exciting at the time and still look interesting when compared to what they do nowadays; people have little imagination these days. Sigh!

I’m looking at this one because, as ever, it’s got a TV appearance from Michel Polnareff – yet again promoting La poupée qui fait non – and there’s also another favourite of mine in the show:  Zouzou.  

Originally transmitted on 4 July 1966, Michel Polnareff had just turned 22.  He looks really happy in this clip, but before we get to Polnareff here’s the rest of the show in order:

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First up is French actor Christian Marin, who I know from Costa Gavras’ 1965 film Compartiment tueurs.  Here though he is singing a song which appears to be called Pourvu qu’il ne flotte pas au mois d’août, but I’m not really sure about that.  It’s not my cup of tea – very old school, accordeons, silliness etc – but Christian Marin has a great face.

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Next up, scary triplets – Les Jiminis 3 – singing Ah ! Quel malheur d’être petite fille.  Good job their parents had 3 kids because if this song is anything to go by it sounds like they use them for child slave labour, at least they can share the chores (washing, scrubbing, polishing etc) between the three of them.

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I’m not a fan of kiddies or kiddy-pop so this does not appeal to me at all.  The closest I come to liking kiddy pop is that bit in Keith West’s Excerpt from a Teenage Opera when the kids sing the Grocer Jack chorus.  These Jimini kids are way too frightening for me.  Brrr!!!

Quickly moving on:

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This is Albert Santoni singing Mon bateau.  Back to the old school again with this one – accordeons, hand clapping, background cheers, hat tilting, it’s got it all.  It sounds like a rather bad drinking song – maybe they were drunk when they recorded it. Next!

Ah! This is more like it:

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Slightly morbid clip for a song from this singer/songwriter Maurice Dulac, but it’s understandable because the track is called La veuve Sylvie, which translates as Widow Sylvie.  Maurice tells Sylvie she’ll never be his widow because he’s still alive and he’ll never marry here anyway.  Why not?  She’s to-die-for beautiful but she’s already been widowed twice before and Maurice is not going to be her third husband. Or is he…?

Great use of visuals here with the lovely little skellybobs:

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Now for a bit of dancing from Vélérie Camille:

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Very attractive lady but she looks like she’s getting on a bit so it’s all about the hands as far as she’s concerned – she wouldn’t want to put her back out, would she?  Very graceful and looks stylish but I’m not here for the dancing.  Plus she looks like the template for Pete Burns’ cosmetic surgery here:

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What has Françoise Fabian got for me?

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She’s a French actress, who later went on to appear in Buñuel’s Belle de jour and got the part of Maud opposite Jean-Louis Trintignant in Rohmer’s Ma nuit chez Maud.  Lucky!  I like her already.

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She’s a very attractive lady and here she is singing a track that seems to be called Les honneurs de l’amour – I know nothing about this, but what’s new?  It’s not bad actually, sounds like something from a film soundtrack.  It’s okay.

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And here’s Jacques Loussier with a jazzy Bach track and lots of monochrome zig-zagging all over to make my eyes go funny:

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This is good but I prefer The Swingle Singers doing Bach.  I like a bit of Bach, me.

Next up, the fabulous Zouzou. I can’t get enough of Zouzou, she’s one of my absolute favourite French singers, and this is a track written for her by the handsome Mister Jacques Dutronc – Il est parti comme il était venu. 

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Like Françoise Fabian, Zouzou also appeared in a Rohmer film: L’Amour l’après-midi.  I’m not sure why she didn’t make a bigger career out of films because she was very good.  There was talk of drug addictions and a couple of stints in prison during the 90s.  Quite sad, but I think she’s fine these days, which is good news.  Anyway, I can’t recommend Zouzou more – check out her music.  I always say this, but this particular track reminds me of Nico/VU, only better.  I think.

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From one extreme to the other – fancy following a fabulous track like that with Albert Raisner and his harmonica, eh?  O well, sit back and let it play…Douches ecossaises 31Douches ecossaises 32Douches ecossaises 33

Albert is all about the hands as well, so maybe he could join forces with Vélérie Camille and they could do a “all hands on deck” double act?   It couldn’t get any worse. Or could it…?

Douches ecossaises 34What’s this?  It’s Henri Virlogeux (ignore the typo in the TV credits, they have got his name slightly wrong) doing some ridiculous bull fighting sketch.  I will let him off but only because he was in Truffaut’s Les quatre cents coups; in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s stunning unfinished film L’Enfer; and in Balducci’s Trop jolies pour être honnêtes with Jane Birkin, amongst other things.

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You are forgiven for wasting my time, Henri.  Next, here’s Stone – what is she wearing, I wonder?  O no, NOT that horrid black and white suit again!  She certainly got her money’s worth out of that purchase.

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In any case, this is Seul, a French language cover version of Norwegian Wood.  It’s alright but Stone can do better than cover versions.  And she can change out of that suit at the same time.

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I shouldn’t complain, should I?  No, I should not because this is what happens when I complain:  Georgius doing a track called On l’appelait fleur de fortifs.  They may call it that but I call it a blast from the past – the French love their chansons, don’t they?  I would say it seems a bit out of place on the show but it doesn’t really – it’s a free for all here.  I’m just waiting for Polnareff now but in the meantime at least the visuals are good:

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Next up in this Michèle Arnaud produced TV show is, you’ve guessed it, Michèle Arnaud!  Not too shy to give herself a slot on her own shows from time to time.  It’s a wonder her little boy Dominique Walter is not here too but you can’t have it all.  Well, you can because this track, Ballade des oiseaux de croix, was written for Michèle Arnaud by my number one favourite: Serge Gainsbourg.  In that case, sing away, Michèle, sing away!

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Right, the first track from Claude François (yeah, sorry there are two…) is Mais combien de temps – a slowie.  I must admit I quite like this track.  I tend to think of Claude François as an all-singing, all-dancing freak show but I am secretly fascinated with him – especially since I saw the Cloclo film last year.  Who would have known he was such a weirdo?  Hiding a son, running porn magazines, sleeping with countless groupies, all at the same time as portraying himself as a cleaning living family friendly chap. Amazing.  Of course it could be an inaccurate biopic as it was with the Gainsbourg film – spit!  Anyway, here is Cloclo:

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Wow, it’s a Gainsbourg-fest here, with Pourquoi un pyjama? from Régine:

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I love Serge – I love him SO much – but what is this song, eh?  It sounds like it was written for Klaus Nomi but instead has been sung by the Divine looky-likie Régine.  It’s not a good one.  And if asked for an opinion, I would say that even though Régine claims never to wear pyjamas, I could give her 100 reasons why I would rather she wore some. 

To make up for the disappointment here is Claude Bolling with a tiny kitten!

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Bolling was a French jazz pianist and he seemed to work with everyone and recorded loads of film soundtracks – including Vivre la nuit (which Serge was in) and Qui? a fabulous film starring Romy Schneider.   He was a busy guy, here he plays Kitten on the Keys with a little help from a gorgeous kitten, aw!

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And, now, the moment I was waiting for – Michel Polnareff with La poupée qui fait non and some scary ladies in masks who keep shaking their heads at him:Douches ecossaises 53Douches ecossaises 54Douches ecossaises 55Douches ecossaises 56

He looks totally cute here, doesn’t he?  No need to answer – I know I’m right.

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No special effects for Michel, just some quick editing which made it difficult for me to get the screen grabs I wanted, dammit!  Excellent clip though and worth waiting for.

Next up, another Gainsbourg collaborator, Valérie Lagrange – actress, singer and a very interesting and beautiful lady.  She’s appeared in films by Barbet Schroeder and Andrzej Żuławski, you know?  Anyway, this might not be Gainsbourg but it’s fabulous. It’s Le même jour by Francis Lai and Pierre Barouh.  Incredibly catchy, you’ll find, and doesn’t she look wonderful?

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Next, round two for Claude François who claims he has a tiger by the tail – Je tiens un tigre par la queue – he might be better off putting it in his guitar like Dutronc did.  The track’s okay and Cloclo’s dancing is good too, plus there are some good visuals.  This is alright, I suppose, but I preferred the first track.

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Not sure why he looks like he’s about to sneeze in that second photo…

Finally, to close the show with something annoying there’s a sketch from Muller et Ferrière (I guess they’re a comedy double-act, I really don’t know) with Jean-Christophe Averty in the municipal showers.  It’s not my kind of funny.

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But they seem to find it amusing, giving Jean-Christophe Averty the douche écossaise treatment.  O well.

Luckily the closing credits are fabulous so the show doesn’t have to end on a bad note:

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More French music shows soon.

My Favourite Stuff: my Polnabook collection

Earlier this month ipanema éditions published a new book about Michel Polnareff – Le Polnabook – which is currently the pride and joy of my Polnareff collection.  It’s a large hardback book, presented in a box, and full to overflowing with beautiful photographs of Michel Polnareff from childhood through to the current day.  The book is well-designed with little pouches containing numerous inserts – reproductions of original concert tickets, programmes, sheet music, postcards, posters.  It’s visually stunning but the problem is I just want to get all the bits and pieces out to look at them properly but I’m terrified I’ll damage the book if I play with it too much.  Here’s me trying not to ruin it too much:

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I got my copy via Fnac but I’m sure it’s available elsewhere – the recommended retail price is €44 but I wouldn’t even think about the price; it’s worth every penny and must have cost a fortune to make.

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I have various other books about Polnareff, some of which are well-read and used and others not to much.  Here they are in no particular order:

Polnaculte by Benoît Cachin (Tournon, Paris, 2007) was a book I found when I went to Nice to see Polnareff in concert.  It’s well-researched and informative, including interviews with various musicians and songwriters who worked with Polnareff from 1966 through to the 2000s, taking each song, recording and TV appearance in turn.  It’s one of my favourite Polnareff books and one I always use when I’m looking for information for my little Polnareff articles – it comes highly recommended by me!

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Polnareff Mania by Christophe Lauga (Scali, Paris, 2007) is a book I totally understand – a book by a fan and a massive collector of all things Polnareff.  It’s a book I only bought earlier this year when I went to Paris to interview the French singer Evariste, but it’s one that should be taken very seriously by any Polnareff fan and I’m sure I’ll be referring to it in future articles.

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Polnareff Le Roi des Fourmis by Christian Eudeline (Eclipse, Besançon, 1997) is well-used by me and unfortunately it shows it.  For years it was my only real reference book and it’s been a great source of information for me since I bought it in 1997.  It contains lengthy interviews with fellow musicians and friends and lots of invaluable information.  If you can find it, buy it.

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Polnaréflexion by Michel Polnareff in collaboration with Jean-Michel Desjeunes (Dire/Stock 2, France, 1974).  This is the first Polnareff book I ever found and it’s fairly rare now.  Highly amusing but doesn’t really tell the story of Polnareff, just selected highlights.  A must for any Polnareff collector even if there are no photographs or illustrations.

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Polnaréférences by Philippe Margotin (Lagune, Enghien-les-bains, 2007) feels, to me, a little bit like a cash-in book to coincide with the success of Polnareff’s comeback tour.  It just seems like a summary of everything else that you can find in the other better books about Polnareff; it doesn’t seem to have any new information unavailable elsewhere but maybe I am wrong.  In any case, don’t take my word for it – it’s cheap enough to buy a copy and try it anyway.

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Les Photos Collectors by Fabien Lecoeuvre (Ramsay/Vade Retro, Paris, 2004) is a beautiful collection of photographs of Michel Polnareff in a large hardback format.  It’s not a biographical or a reference book, it’s more of a photography book with informative captions but for any Polna-lover it’s a must – there are lots of photographs in the book I hadn’t seen before.

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Polnareff par Polnareff by Michel Polnareff in collaboration with Philippe Manoeuvre (Grasset, Paris, 2004) – this is absolutely hilarious.  I bought this when I went to see Polnareff in concert in Nice and I remember sitting on the beach reading this and laughing out loud.  It is outrageous and unlike its predecessor Polnaréflexion it seems to be more of a traditional autobiography.  It’s great fun but I can’t pretend that I believe everything Michel Polnareff has to say about himself!  Buy it now!

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There are, no doubt, many other books about Polnareff and I will inevitably get them at some point or other to join the rest of the Polnabook collection.  I’ll have to do little items on my Gainsbourg, Birkin and Hardy book collections some time soon, when I can dig them out.

Michel Polnareff on Douce France 18 June 1966

I’ve been watching my French music shows again.  Here’s another Polnareff appearance from 1966, promoting La Poupée qui fait non on Douce France (18 June 1966, dir François Chatel) but before we can get to Polnareff I’m afraid you’ll have to endure the rest of the show like I did.  It’s not a brilliant line-up, it has to be said.  Especially as quite a few of the songs were “performed” in playback by an actor called Jacques Ary rather than the original performers.  Not sure if it was a bad week for availability or if the producers actually thought people would be amused by this.

Anyway, let’s start at the beginning:

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The actress Mireille Darc is being driven around by some crazy chap called Roger Vattier – a very prolific French actor who was obviously having a quiet year in 1966.  This opening sequence is kind of reminiscent of Godard’s Week End which was released in 1967, but that might just be a coincidence – even if the show is pretty much a car crash.

Vattier is trying to convince Darc to participate in a musical comedy show or some such but apparently she says she is too frightened to sing.  The sketches they participate in together throughout the show continue in that vein until finally she sings at the end.  A stupid premise for the show, but that’s what we have to work with here.

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The first act up is one of the ones who bothered to show up in person – François Deguelt.  Maybe he should have stayed at home too.  His back-story is that he had represented Monaco in the Eurovision Song Contest twice in 1960 and 1962.  You can tell.  And let’s just say he is old enough to know better than to sing a song like Oui, non, oui.  Non, François, non!

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He looks like a replacement school teacher who is trying to act cool in front of the school kids and can’t quite pull it off.  That’s what I think anyway.  Next!

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I’m guessing this was Jacques Ary pretending to clip the hedges and singing along to the Charles Aznavour track.  I’m not sure I get the point but Mireille Darc looks amused…

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If François Deguelt was trying to act younger than his age, it would seem Mario Lattre is going in the other direction.  He’s a tenor and he dresses and acts like someone far older than his years.  He’s very dull.  The track is called Un sourire et un ciel bleu or something.  I don’t like!

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Antoine was obviously busy campaigning to get the pill on sale in the supermarket so Jacques Ary donned a wig for the occasion and stood in for him – no need to look so happy about it, Jacques!

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Then comes the punch-line: the camera pans back to reveal the extra hand protruding from his chest, holding the harmonica.  Oh, yeah! as Antoine would have said.  Maybe.

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Laura Ulmer provides some relief for me, performing Tous les Garçons ne pensent qu’aux Filles.  She’s a cutie-pie and I don’t mind this song at all.  I don’t recall hearing it on any of the French girls compilation albums but it’s no doubt on one of them and if it’s not, it should be.

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Couldn’t you just eat her?  Thanks, Laura, for making it more bearable.  Mireille and Roger are back and then it’s straight on with some dancing in the park from the ballerina Liane Daydé and the dancer and socialite Jacques Chazot.  How do you become a socialite, I wonder?  I don’t want to become one but I just wonder how you get that added to your CV as a profession.  Anyway:

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It ends when Liane vanishes into thin air and Jacques is left with a handful of rose petals.  One of the perils, I guess.

Où est donc passé Nino Ferrer?  Well, he’s gone AWOL so Jacques Ary will have to do instead.  Here he is looking for Mirza:

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Big bugger, that Mirza, so I’m not sure how he managed to lose him.

Thank god Michel Polnareff bothered to show and saved the day or at the very least the show:

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La Poupée qui fait non never sounded so good.  Shame it had to be followed by some pointless sequence with a scary looking guy (Jacques Ary again?) and a guillotine:

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Still, it’s over fairly quickly this time and then it’s followed by a chap called Georges Ulmer doing a track called Quand l’amour a décidé.  Talk about keeping it in the family, Georges Ulmer is Laura’s daddy.  But no, his track’s not really my cup of tea.

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Jacques Ary does another turn, this time pretending to be a traffic warden dishing out parking tickets.  Sigh!

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Isabelle Aubret is next with a track called Le bonheur.  I know her for doing a Serge Gainsbourg cover and I’ll stick to that thanks.

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Roger and Mireille share a little joke.  I feel left out so I make up my own joke:  it looks like Carol Vorderman bleached her hair and had a bad night’s sleep.  It’s not funny but it’s funnier than Douce France.

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Eddy Mitchell is taking a fag break during the filming of a John Ford western.  Or something.

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Between puffs on his cigar he lip-syncs Fortissimo.  I liked Eddy Mitchell in Alain Jessua’s Frankenstein ’90 (released in 1984) and I don’t mind him as a person but I can’t abide his singing.  Sounds like he is severely backed-up.  Crack open the All Bran, Eddy!

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Finally Roger has convinced Mireille (who I also know for her work with Serge Gainsbourg) to sing a song for us.  It’s quite sweet – Si tu devines.  Not a bad way to end the show.  What do you think, Roger?

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Thought so.  Polnareff was the best though.

Discorama Beatnik Special 30 May 1966

From time to time I get French TV shows sent to me through the post – sometimes they are truly exciting.  This is one of those TV shows that is really worth watching and not only because Michel Polnareff is on it performing, yet again, La poupée qui fait non: 

Discorama, 30 May 1966, director Raoul Sangla

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Why a Beatnik Special?  Well, because as Michel Sardou says in his song Les Beatnicks, they are the subject we are talking about.  The beatnik movement was a bandwagon a lot of people jumped on back then, I guess.  Sardou looks well on it and who’d have guessed he’d do a track like this considering what he became?  I’d never heard it before but enjoyed it very much.  By the way, Sardou says the beatniks have hair and it’s what gives them their strength – more on long hair later!

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I don’t know if Michel Sardou ever really was a beatnik but next up, here’s someone who was…

…one of my special boys – Michel Polnareff.  Sigh!  This is his third TV appearance with his smash hit La poupée qui fait non and he looks so pretty here.  For the beginning of the appearance he is joined by his cute hamster Véronique.

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Next up is Stone – a girl in trousers going for that androgynous look with her Brian Jones style haircut.  I wouldn’t mind but I really hate that black and white suit she seemed to wear quite a lot back then.  She’s cute though.  This track C’est ma vie (It’s My Life) was written for her by Eric Charden, who later became her singing partner and husband.  It’s quite good.  As in Sardou’s Les beatnicks, the lyrics of this one indicate that people laugh at the beatniks.  But Stone says she chose her life and wants to be the way she is – a common theme with the young singers back then.  Not quite sure why Stone has to be “stage directed” by the sexy beatnik guy (Is it Eric Charden?  It could be – he looks lovely with this image if it is him) but it is quite amusing to see her being beckoned down from the roof and directed to dance and then directed to exit!

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Next, one of the most exciting English rockers, Screaming Lord Sutch – appearing here without The Savages to lip synch The Train Kept a-Rollin’.  Can I just say, Lord Sutch looks very sexy here in his caveman gear and cape (and, no, I’m not joking!).

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That’s just a bit too much excitement, what with Lord Sutch flashing his nipple and all.  Anyway, next up a great garagey-folky track from Elsa called Ailleurs.  You can find this track on the rather wonderful Swinging Mademoiselles (Vol 1) LP, which is where I know it from.  It’s about travelling the world, probably by hitch-hiking.  Beatniks!  A great song but not a massively inspiring performance here, hence not so many screengrabs.  Sorry, Elsa!

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The next track is a treat – Édouard performing My Name is Édouard complete with his long wig, apparently a parody of Antoine with his harmonica etc.  Looking at him close-up, this Édouard guy looks quite cute so it’s a shame he has his Cousin Itt wig on.  Regardless of whether or not he’s taking the p***, this is a great little rockin’ number about meeting a girl in Liverpool and not being able to communicate with her because all he can say in English is “My name is Édouard”.  The saddest line of the song:  At her place, there aren’t any chairs.  Sob!  Still, it’s okay cos Édouard can sit on his hair.

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Apparently Édouard is the songwriter Jean-Michel Rivat, who wrote the wonderful Bébé requin for France Gall.  It’s a shame Édouard was just a joke, but this is such a catchy track I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t like it.  It’s lots of fun anyway.

It’s another shame – the show closes with The Beatles doing Help!… I don’t hate The Beatles but for me they’re a bit over-played and a bit over-rated.  My favourite UK beat band were The Troggs, who were much more edgy.  But that’s just my opinion.  Here’s a few screengrabs to make amends but that’s all you’re getting!

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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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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.