Its the late seventies in a small town in northern France. Unemployment is high and the future looks bleak. A bunch of late teenagers contemplate their futures through a blur of drugs, casual sex, alcohol and occasional violence. A film that, when you watch it, you wonder what the point is. But it stays with you in the days following. Coming of age in a gritty, realistic setting. Follow up to his ten years on with young, largely unknown actors. An updated, French take on Bronco Bullfrog perhaps. Worth a look.
Sebastian works as a labourer, eking out a basic existence. He can't believe his luck when he intercepts a set of instructions for his boss which he thinks will lead him to riches. Where it does lead him is somewhere else, horrific and brutal where luck is needed to survive. Directed by Gela Babluani and starring George Babluani, this is a grainy black and white hard edged thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. It's ripe for a Hollywood remake so watch the original while you can.
Album of the year? There's no question from where I'm sitting. After previous triumphs such as To Find The Spirit and A Life Unlimited (not to mention glories like the sublime Tracing Paper), Street Rituals by Stone Foundation is the album that inspires.
West Midlands soulboys, they could have brought Muscle Shoals to Warwickshire. This is proper soul, with lyrics from life and vocals that come deep from the heart. There are infectious horn sections and hammond and bass lines that will send funkalicious shivers down the spine.
Its produced by a certain Mr Weller, who guests on the opener Back In The Game, Street Rituals and Your Balloon Is Rising. It also includes guest vocals by William Bell on Strange People and Bettye Lavette on Season Of Change, which just happens to be my favourite tune. Its what the world needs right now. Along with records like this.
Late night, feeling hungover this morning, after watching one of the most exciting elections in years until five and the light was beginning to appear. Accompanied by copious bottles of Becks and classes of wine. Glad I had the day off.
Managed to rouse myself in the afternoon. Not quite sure how, but I did it, somehow. Strong coffee can work wonders. The first thing I thought on waking, apart from last night, was that I wanted to to pay a visit to one of my local second hand record shops. Very pleased I did. I picked up a pair of gems, original classic singles from the sixties. Happy Jack and I'm A Boy by The Who on Reaction. Looking beautiful in all their black vinyl and blue label glory. That band have played such an integral part of my world view since I first put Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy on the turntable all those years ago. These two are classic Pete Townshend, focussing on the individual and the misfit and the outsider. Happy Jack is such a statement for the indomintability of the human spirit.
Both singles are from 66 and play perfectly - very pleased with the purchases I've made.
Looking for a soundtrack to the Summer? Look no further than this gem of an album. It was released towards the end of last year and quickly found its way into my subconscious.
Front Pop is French Boutik’s debut long player. From the opening bars of Le Mac, there is a wonderful continental vibe that evokes, in this listener’s mind, thoughts of the French new wave. Singer Gabriela croons through the record, backed by some classic mid-sixties style guitar, bass and drums, courtesy of Serge, Jean-Marc and Zelda. On keys is Oliver Popincourt whose album A New Dimension In Modern Love is well worth checking out in its own right.
The band have been making music for a while now, first coming to my attention via their ep Ici Paris back in 2014. The video for that tune is well worth a look, almost an online guided tour of the French capital. Another ep – Mieux Comme Ca - later and they were ready to release Front Pop.
There is so much to love about this record, starting with its title which references the Front Populaire, a key element in France’s political past. I love the fact that most of these tunes are sung in French, the standouts for me including Le Casse, Le Chemise Dechiree and the magnificent Je Regarde Les Tigres. The two tunes sung in English – the instant classic Hitch A Ride – one of the best love songs of recent Summers – and The Rent are equally strong.
Not only is the music great. The vinyl album comes in immaculate packaging, complete with lyrics and a lovely double-sided poster of these sharpest of young Parisiens. All in all, this record is a Pop Moderniste classic, destined to acquire legendary status and its own unique place in the cultural iconography of all things stylist.
Put it on the turntable, let its Gallic charm waft across your world and pretend you're a twenty one year old Antoine Doinel in a Truffaut classic. Front Pop. The perfect soundtrack to this and any Summer.