10.03.2005

Ma Fete Foraine / Le Serpent



Antoine Ma Fete Foraine (Discques Vogue, 1966)
Hughes Aufrey Le Serpent (Barclay, 1966)

When I was in Paris last March, I would meet up with my French friends and they would ask what records I found in my day's hunt and then give me that cockeyed look that Frenchmen give you when they think you are tell them how your night with a lady went, the sultry secrets that went on behind closed doors. And when I would answer, "I got an album by Robert Charlebois and another by Sylvie Vartan and some seven inches by Antoine and Hughes Aufrey," they would emit a loud snarf, roll their eyes, and then tell me what I missed out on. To me all these French records are exotic. They are things I've never heard before, new special sounds. To my French friends I am some rube. But should I blame them? I mean I would be snarfing at them if they came to my house with tales of snagging Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy and a seven inch picture sleeve of I am Woman. Now, the Frenchies I mentioned above are certainly better than Elton John and Helen Reddy, but their records are commonplace. They might go for $25 or $30 bucks here but in France you can pick them up for a euro or three. Hey, but it is new to me so....

My first encounter with Antoine was on a seven inch I found in Tijuana. He made it with the great Beat band Les Problemes (who later morphed into Les Charlots). Antoine by himself was kind of strummy but the songs with Les Problemes were nice fuzz thumpers. I later found an album by him and that too was a strumming affair. Not exactly mind blowing but nice in a Donovan kind of way, which is probably why my French pals refer to him as "our Donovan." The songs on this record (Vetez Pour Moi) are a bit different. As far as I can tell this is his "political" record or at least a goofy jab at politics and perhaps that angle was what gives this records the musical twist it has. Ma Fete Foraine is the only pop song I know that incorporates both a circus organ and a cat's meow.

If Antoine is the French Donovan, than Hughes Aufrey is the French Bob Dylan. My first Aufrey find was Aufrey Chante Dylan, his great record of Dylan covers and one that introduced France to Bob Dylan. I found that one in Canada. About a year later I found another record by him in a thrift store in San Francisco. God knows how it got there, but god knows how many records find their way into thrift stores. The Frisco find has one song that stands out from the rest and that is Le Serpent. Later when I was in France, I found a seven inch ep with the song on it. That is where the version posted here comes from. I think Le Serpent is the only pop song ever made that is influenced by Bob Dylan and has a bagpipe as lead instrument. It is a keeper.


Comments:
A Canadian friend introduced me to that Antoine single pictured above some months back, as well as a full-length (the name of which I don't remember). It was perfect Hungover Sunday music, much like Donovan, and it's French, so of course I ate it up like fries on shrimp. I think his stuff's pretty easy to come by in Canada. Then again, Montreal, which is obviously smaller than Chicago, had an infinitely better selection of record stores, so there you go.

-EL
 
Let's put it this way,those 2 old french singers are almost dead today & during 60 's they were singing shit to poeple on radio, why don't you try to take a look at really interesting french singers as Ronnie Bird or Jacques Brel or the 5 Gentlemen or Serge Gainsbourg or Edouerd or Hector OrMr de Bordeaux or Jacques Dutronc or Françoise Hardy or Michel Polnareff or Leo Ferre ou Nino Ferrer ,those were singers!!
Thank you For french IQ .
 
Hey man, it's Sylvie [i]Vartan[/i], with a "V."
 
Fucking B is next to the V and I tend not to proof these things...

It is always funny to read the French perspective when I post French shit. Like I wrote, my French pals look at my like I am an idiot when I pick up stuff like this....but Jacques Brel? Leo Ferre? Michel Polnareff? My god, even that stuff appears in US thrift stores regularly. Gainsbourg, Dutronc and Hardy are all great but comparitively well known in the US and their stuff isnt hard to obtain. And Nino Ferrer...I like his Beat stuff but then he became a wine & cheese singer. Sorry but I can only stomach very very small doses of French music hall stuff and won't torture you folks with what I can barely stand.
 
This stuff may be common place to the Frenchies but to my ears Antoine's a keeper! Hughes Aufrey is good to but the insanity factor on that Antoine is a 10 all the way!
 
I didn't have much luck finding Antoine for cheap when I was in France in April, I just got the Elucabrations EP for 5 E. This track's pretty cool.
 
i found lots of 7"s for 1 - 5 E, but most of the ones I picked up were 1 - 3 E. You just have to dig and be at the right place/right time. I am sure 10 years ago it was much easier to find Ye Ye & beat/garage stuff, before dealers caught on that they can sell to tourists at twice the rate of what they can to local diggers. Even so, some artists like Hardy, Dutronc, Aufrey, etc. they just pressed soooo many of they are not impossible to pick up. Just stay out of the collector's stores. Also, you can score good French 60s stuff in picture sleeves on ebay for 5 E or less a pop.
 
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