Alpha Beta – Astral Abuse (1971)

7″ / 45 RPM

Today’s presentation is an obscure record released without the alias that made him a worldwide famous composer, producer, and musician: Vangelis.

Let’s go to our artist:

Born in Volos, Greece on the 29th of March 1943 Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (Ευάγγελος Οδυσσέας Παπαθανασίου) was a self-taught prodigy who avoided most formal piano lessons. Apparently, a gifted painter as a child his schooling was based on a formidable memory that enabled him to learn by intuition rather than by rote.

In the ‘60s he was part of the popular groups The Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child who hit big with “Rain and Tears” and the double album 666, selling more than 1 million copies over the four years of the band’s duration of rising stardom in Europe and US!

A Beardless Vangelis in 1965

A significant figure during turbulent times in Greece Vangelis began his score work in 1970 and then released his first proper solo disc – Earth – in 1973. After moving to London Vangelis’ distinctive electronic album work took off, acclaimed scores for movies like Chariots of Fire, Conquest of Paradise, Blade Runner, Alexander, and many many more remain perennial best sellers and feature in the American Film Institute’s list of greatest scores of all time(!). He is considered a titan in the electronic field releasing more than 50 albums in a career spanning the period from the 1960s when he was in bands in his native Greece to the present day. A deeply private and guarded individual who rarely grants the press entry into his world Vangelis explains himself best when he says:

“Mythology, science, and space exploration are subjects that have fascinated me since my early childhood. And they were always connected somehow with the music I write.”

Aphrodite’s Child

In 1975 Vangelis looked back:

“I like the whole spectrum of music. Jazz, pop, rock, the classics. I have no taboos, any kind of music is great, so long as it is honest. So I’m glad to help any artist whom I like. You see, I don’t regard myself primarily as a producer. It’s just that I have so many ideas, I can’t put them all on my own records. Production allows me more flexibility, more outlets. I was a prisoner of Aphrodite’s Child for three years, in the end, I was desperate. I was forced into the position of turning out music that didn’t interest me because of our own success. When I first went to Paris, I had lots of ideas that I wanted the group to be. But I realized that, as a new and foreign act, we had to create confidence in ourselves from the record company. And that confidence comes only from proving that you can earn money for them. What I didn’t realize is, that has created a precedent, it’s very difficult to diverge from it. It takes years to change your product. I have no regrets about that period, but it did waste a lot of time.

Synth Genius

Let’s go to our album:

Alpha Beta is probably it’s less known work to date, released on the legendary BYG Records label and distributed by Discodis in France back in 1971, this 7” presents a wild experimentation vibe with haunting vocals, paced percussion, lots of keyboards floating around the psychedelic guitar-synth driven session in a far off trip… απολαμβάνω!

Tracks Include:

A Astral Abuse
Written By: Koulouris, Papathanassiou, Vilma

B Who Killed?
Written By: Papathanassiou, Gomelsky

Credits

Guitar: Argiris Koulouris
Performer: Evangelos Papathanassiou
Vocals: Vilma Lado

Illustration: Evangelos Papathanassiou

Today

Léonie – Le Jardin Anglais / Mozart (1973)

capa cópiaAnother brief entry, as we previously talked about Léonie and its (surprising) short career, based on 45 singles, started in the late-60’s amidst the french yé-yé scene. The dossier from this unknown singer can be checked in Hero Culte blog, don’t miss out the detective work from tiny noggin and other curiosities about French stars!

Let’s go to our album:

This time, she is backed up with the mighty arrangements/compositions by the number one french maestro Jean Claude Vannier. Léonie’s peculiar sensual voice stands out on its 5th release, she knows how to be pop and cult simultaneously.

A side has a characteristic (slower) charleston piano/xylophone pace, played by Vannier, along with strings and wizardry guitars in a vintage delicate atmosphere.

B side are my favorite, this fuzzy psych ballad has a magic cadency that sticks to the head, an example of how you can be pop without neglecting good aesthetic choices!

Léonie (Martine Collet)
Léonie (Martine Collet)

I really would like to count on better quality rips, but the fact is none of her singles were duly re-released on CD, this and other entries are a good invitation to meet the B-side on what is called Pop Jerk, somewhat ahead from the naive (early) works of France Gall, Sylvie Vartan, CélineFrançoise HardySéverine, and many others.

We’ll leave for an upcoming entry, more details about the yé-yé scene and its powerful independent girls, for now, keep it up with this lovely obscure pearl.

Haerenga Pai!

Tracks Include:

A Le Jardin Anglais (J.C. Vannier, Roda Gil)

B Mozart (J.C. Vannier)

Credits

  • Orchestra: Orchestre J.C. Vannier
  • Photography: Thierry Vincent
  • Producer: Thierry Vincent
  • Published: Editions Suzelle (A)
  • Published: Editions Labrador (B)
  • Distributed: Discodis
  • Printed: Dillard et Cie. Imp. Paris

Les Disques Motors ‎– MT 4030

Sylvie Vartan & Françoise Hardy
Sylvie Vartan & Françoise Hardy

French-Oriental Female Ep (2014)

ann sorel cópiaThis Ep is an attempt to present some artists who will enter soon in our galaxy, today will address exclusively two countries: France and Japan. Great arrangers, actresses singers, side B, and even famous ones, (feel free to) leave us a comment and enjoy!

France

1968

Brigitte Fontaine – Je Suis Inadaptée / Est… Folle, 1968 (arr. Jean Claude Vannier)

June 24, 1939 / The diva of French underground music.

Brigitte Fontaine made a series of increasingly strange and eclectic art-pop in the ’70s that gathered a lot of acclaim in France, although she remains obscure to an international audience. Initially, she was an eccentric but accessible pop singer, presenting melodic and orchestrated material, working with (living legend) arranger Jean Claude Vannier; on subsequent records, she got jazzier, and then into avant-gardism and art song, her albums were commendably wide-ranging and erratic.

With an active career and 2013 last release, albums like Est…Folle, Barbara’s Madame, and even less known Jean Constantin’s Le Poulpe, are some of the wonderful panoramas that Vannier conducted throughout the ’70s.

A dreamy arrangement, with delicacy, strong pace and multiple colors!

nicoletta 2 cópia

Nicoletta & Zoo – Dieu Est Negre / Visage, 1970 (arr. Zoo)

April 11, 1944 / Nicole Chappuis-Grisoni

She was considered as part of what is known as the French yé-yé generation heavily influenced by American music, particularly R&B, rock and roll and beat music, mostly known for her version of ‘Mamy Blue’ with her very specific, bluesy voice, she certainly gained a special place in French pop music, with many radio and television appearances, where she had a number of hits in the ’60s and the ’70s.

Her material after the ’70s is somewhat dubious, with that sugar chanson feel, returning to top form from mid-’90s and recently launched Ici Et Ailleurs.

Honestly, these recordings with Zoo are certainly Nicoletta’s best moment, a passionate diva interpretation with an incredible escort by these guys, check it!

ann sorel 2 cópia

Ann Sorel – L’Amour à Plusieurs / Single, 1972 (arr. Jean Claude Vannier)

Ann-Chantal Sorel, 71 years (more info ?). She released a few pairs of singles during the ’60s and ’70s, early on yé-yé and then, precious moments like this magistral one under Vannier’s tutelage. Banned (!) on radio, with a scandalous lyrics from Fréderic Botton, Ann’s sexy voice guides us through an unusual encounter.

Wrapped in a simple deep red cover, this is a fantastic erotica re-discover!

Japan

chinatsu cópia

Chinatsu Nakayama (中山千夏) – 砂漠 (Desert) / Single, 1971

July 13, 1948 / Actress Singer

Former wonder actress, TV personalitysinger and later established writer. She released a few singles during the ’70s and stopped its singer career in early ’00s, to fully devote herself as a writer, human rightscivil and feminist activist.

A B side soul-psych bomb with tons of brass, fuzz and nicely chorus!

rumi koyama 3 cópia

Rumi Koyama (小山ルミ) – 恋人の記念日 / Sasurai No Guitar, 1971

August 11, 1952 / Actress Singer

Another famous actress and Tv star, Rumi released a bit more singles and albums through the ’70s. A swinging one, with western brass, percussion, mellow strings and that Tarantino’s Kill Bill homage. Like Meiko Kaji tunes, expect some more entrances from Rumi Koyama, too, she sings with grace and got a real nice 1971 Lp!

rabi cópia

Rabi Nakayama (中山ラビ) – 夢のドライブ (Drive of a Dream) / Hira Hira, 1974

The one (and only) who helped Yoshiko Sai in his first years, Rabi Nakayama is probably one of the most famous singers from Japan, the female Bob Dylan often called, started its career in early ’70s with a dozen of releases, very active until 2009.

Here she catches a heavier side, with a furious backing band, this is almost a B side in Hira Hira’s album, totally folk-oriented. Even being unknown worldwide, Rabi’s career is pretty solid, with diverse moments and bands, soon she’ll enter here!

Hyvää matkaa!

Blind Woman's Curse, 1970 (Meiko Kaji)
Blind Woman’s Curse, 1970 (Meiko Kaji)

R. Pultek – The Voodou Juju Drug (1969)

capa cópia

Vodou, also spelled Voodoo, Voudou, Vodun, or French Vaudou, it’s an official religion of Haititogether with Roman Catholicism. Vodou is a creolized religion forged by descendants of Dahomean, KongoYoruba, and other African ethnic groups who had been enslaved and brought to colonial Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and Christianized by Roman Catholic missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The word Vodou means spirit or deity in the Fon language of the African kingdom of Dahomey (Benin). European mysticism, Freemasonry, is also in the practice. With an encompassing philosophy, medicine, justice, and religion, its fundamental principle is that everything is a spirit, humans are spirits who inhabit the visible world.

Vodou masks
Vodou Masks

The unseen world is populated by lwa (spirits), mystè (mysteries), anvizib (the invisibles), zanj (angels), and the spirits of ancestors and the recently deceased. All these spirits are believed to live in a mythic land called Ginen, a cosmic Africa. (!)

The primary goal and activity of Vodou are to sevi lwa (serve the spirits), to offer prayers and perform various devotional rites directed at God and particular spirits in return for health, protection, and favor. Spirit possession also plays an important role in Afro-Haitian religion, as it does in many other world religions.

Ville Bonheur, Saut Deau (Rituals)
Ville Bonheur, Saut Deau (Rituals)

During religious rites, believers sometimes enter a trancelike state in which the devotee may eat and drink, perform stylized dances, give supernaturally inspired advice to people, or perform medical cures or special physical feats; these acts exhibit the incarnate presence of the lwa within the entranced devotee.

Vodou ritual activity is aimed at refining and restoring balance and energy in relationships between people and between people and spirits of the unseen world!

Haitians take a cleansing dip in the Ma bath (Rituals)
Haitians take a cleansing dip in the Ma bath (Rituals)

Nevertheless, Vodou has often been associated in popular culture with Satanism, Zombies and Voodoo Dolls (sic). Zombie creation has been referenced within rural Haitian culture but is not a part of Vodou. Such manifestations fall under the auspices of the bokor or sorcerer, rather than the priest of the Loa.

The practice of sticking pins in voodoo dolls has a history in folk magic. Voodoo dolls are often associated with New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo as well the magical devices of the poppet and the nkisi or bocio of West and Central Africa.

I Walked With a Zombie, 1943 / Jacques Tourneur's masterpieces
I Walked With a Zombie, 1943 / Jacques Tourneur’s classic (in color!)

Let’s go to our artist:

The today’s entry is made with a little doubt, although some sources say that (mighty) Davy Jones and Janko Nilovic are the responsible behind this single, we see no indication on the stamps, unlike other releases from Ju Ju Records label. This one is a bit different (and better) from these releases and we believe that the real credit should be given to another famous arranger and composer: Roland Vincent.

Roland Vincent is a pianist, conductor, composer, musical arranger known French, among others, for his compositions and arrangements made ​​for Michel Delpech in the years 1960-1970. He is also a composer of musicals Athon, with texts by Jean-Pierre Lang and more than 100 films, TV movies and plays!

Roland Vincent
Roland Vincent

Here he supposed to sign under the pseudonym Reynaldo Pultek! (?)

Let’s go to our album:

‘His works have gained international recognition for their beauty, lyrical scope, and imagination. I am sure that whatever he endeavors in the music industry, he will handle his field with unusual success’ / Quincy Jones. L.A. 1981

Another obscure lo-fi rip, but take further on this exploitation afro-psych party!

¡Qué tengas buen viaje!!

Tracks Include:

R. Pultek – The Voodou Juju Drug (1969)

A The Voodou Juju Drug (Part 1)

B The Voodou Juju Drug (Part 2)

Barclay ‎– 62226

Vodou in Benin
Vodou in Benin

Léonie – En Alabama / Wahala Manitou (1971)

capa cópia

France. Unlike our last entryLéonie has a slightly extensive career based on singles, film themes and also as an actress/model in the 70’s. Nevertheless, it remains a little-known singer outside its country; to our surprise, she is backed by a top-notch team of composers (Cristophe, Jean Claude Vannier), lyricists (Étienne RodaGil) and arrangers (Karl Heinz Schäfer, Jean Claude Vannier).

This first single count on the participation of mythical Vannier only in A side, the arrangements here are from another great maestroKarl Heinz Schäfer a German settled in France. In future entries, we will see other works (with or without Léonie) that I consider the greatest French pop arranger from all time!

Let’s know a little more about him.

JCV
JCV

A vitally important figure on the French music scene, Jean Claude Vannier is best known for the work he’s done with other people, but his list of collaborators is stellar, and includes Serge Gainsbourg, Michel Legrand, Johnny Hallyday, Jane Birkin, Mort Shuman, Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, and many more!

Vannier was born in 1943 in Courbevoie. A self-taught musician, he began playing the piano when he was 18, and learned the basics of arranging and orchestration from reading a book in the Que Sais-Je? (What Do I Know?) series of instruction manuals (!). A meeting with flutist Roger Bourdin led to a job working at the Pathé Marconi recording studio, where he was an assistant/session musician, and soon put his skills to work writing and arranging material for pop singers Alice Dona / Michel Magne.

By the early ’70s, Vannier was one of the top arrangers and studio players in French pop music, composing and orchestrating Serge Gainsbourg’s La Histoire de Melody Nelson, Jane Birkin’s Di Doo Dah, Françoise Hardy’s Message Personnel, and dozens of other recordings of note. Vannier also enjoyed a successful career writing music for films, movie scorestelevisiontheatre, and conductor projects.

Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin

In 1972, he recorded his first solo album, an eccentric avant-garde instrumental song cycle titled L’Enfant Assassin des Mouches, the album went unreleased for years but became an underground legend thanks to the distribution of a handful of promo copies, and finally received an official release in 2003. Vannier continued to record in a more traditional singer/songwriter fashion through the ’70s and ’80s, and as French pop gained a new audience among record collectors and tastemakers, Vannier’s work slowly began to find an appreciative audience in the United States.

Lately, he released two albums stateside: Electro Rapide, a collection of unreleased recordings from the ’60s and ’70s, and Roses Rouge Sang, his first studio recording of new material since 1990! Check out an interview with the master in 2011.

Vannier, Presently
Vannier, Presently

Let’s go to our album:

Léonie Lousseau (Martine Collet), was born on 8 May 1947, Saint-Malo. She went to high school in Vitry, where her parents lived, and then studied Arts and Music at Sèvres University. We must emphasize the work that our friend from Hero Culte already made, trying to track down every scarce info about Léonie, little of what was written here about her was done by them, ok?!

Besides the two songs, we will add a beautiful extra track present on ‘Les Gants Blancs du Diable’ OST (1973), composed and conducted once more by Karl Heinz Schäfer.

Léonie Lousseau
Léonie Lousseau

Let’s embark once again in the b-side world of chanson française, dáccord? 

బాన్ వాయేజ్!

Tracks Include:

A En Alabama (J.C. Vannier, S. Poitrenaud)

B Wahala Manitou (Cristophe, E. Roda-Gil)

Bonus Track: Couleurs (K.H. Schäfer)

Credits

  • Arranged by: K.H. Schäfer and Cristophe (B)
  • Design: Studio Beaugendre/Lassemblée
  • Photography: Tony Frank
  • Producer: Christophe, T. Vincent
  • Recorded: J.C. Charvier

Companies

  • Distributed: Discodis
  • Made in France

Released: 30 September 1971

Les Disques Motors ‎– MT 4014

Nice, Cote d'Azur
Nice, Cote d’Azur