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Any Major Beatles In French Vol. 1

September 21st, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments


The Beatles, to state the obvious, made a big impact throughout Western culture. And in places like France and Spain, they helped give a name to a subculture of 1960s followers of pop culture: Yé-yé. The name derived from the English “Yeah Yeah”, such as in the hit She Loves You.  Building on the already existing rock & roll scene, spearheaded by Johnny Hallyday, yé-yé initially drew from the British “Beat” scene, but expanded to incorporate different genres, from bubblegum pop to baroque pop.

The leading exponents of yé-yé included the likes of Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan (who married Johnny Hallyday in 1965), Claude François and France Gall, with Serge Gainsbourg one of the brains behind the scenes. Hardy actually was the first to sing the words “Yeah yeah yeah yeah” on a French recording, on La fille avec toi in 1962, giving birth to the term yé-yé. The yeahs in She Loves You in 1963 cemented it.

Unlike many other European countries, France had a thriving scene of songs in their own language. This meant that many English-language songs would be recorded in French. As the two collections of The Beatles in French show, that didn’t necessarily extend to only the big hits but also to lesser-known album tracks, such as There’s A Place, It Won’t Be Long, I’m A Loser, The Night Before, You Won’t See Me or Your Mother Should Know.

For the yé-yé period, which lasted till roughly 1967, there was an abundance of Beatles covers. After that, they became less frequent. This first mix covers songs which The Beatles issued between 1962 and 1965, and most of the French covers come from the same timespan.

The majority of the acts here are from France, or, like Petula Clark, recorded in French for the French market. But a few performers represent Québec, which had a thriving beat scene itself. The Canadian acts here are Les Bel Canto, Pierre Lalonde, Les Hou-Lops, Les Baronets, Christian & Getro, Les Monarques, and  Jacques Salvail.

Also not French but a star in France was Nancy Holloway, a US jazz singer who in the late 1950s performed at the Moulin Rouge before opening her own nightclub in Paris. But in the 1960s, already in her early thirties, Holloway had a line of hits with French covers of English-language pop hits, such as Don’t Make Me Over, My Guy, Hit The Road Jack, Sealed With A Kiss, and The Beatles’ She Loves You, which features on this mix. She died in 2019 at 86.

Holloway is not the only black act here. Les Surfs, a group of siblings, were stars in Madagascar when in 1963 they tried their luck in France — and after a TV performance became stars, topping the charts with a French cover of Be My Baby. They also had a string of hits in Spain and Italy before breaking up in 1971.

Two other acts came from afar. Tiny Yong was born in 1944 in present-day Cambodia of Vietnamese ancestry (her proper name is Thiên Hương). After her family moved to Paris in 1958, Yong was a teenage actress on the stage and recorded as a singer of chanson and cabaret. She hit her stride, however, as a yé-yé singer, having a string of hits before quitting the recording studios in 1966 and show business altogether in 1970. She then started a new career as a restaurant owner.

You might think that a group named Les Chaussettes Noires might have black members, but the noir in the name refers to socks. The band helped pioneer rock & roll in France in the early 1960s, with future star Eddy Mitchell as their frontman. Mitchell left in 1962 to pursue his solo career, so by the time the black socks recorded I Wanna Be Your Man in 1964, he was gone. And soon after  recording that, Les Chaussettes Noires split. Eddy Mitchell also features on this mix, with his version of You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.

Les Gam’s was an attempt at a French girl group. The quartet emanated from a popular youth choir called Les Djinns, which even made a couple of appearances of The Ed Sullivan Show. Les Gam’s — their name was an acronym of the members’ first names, plus a gratuitous apostrophe — mostly recorded French of covers of English-language songs, such as All My Loving, which attracted some attention, but by 1964 their time was already up.

In their time, Les Gam’s occasionally collaborated with Les Lionceaux (The Lion Cubs), who were founded in the early 1960s as a mostly instrumental band. They backed Johnny Hallyday, and enjoyed some popularity in the slipstream of The Beatles’ success. By 1965, they split.

Given the war France waged against Algerian independence from 1954-62, the name of the Algerian group here seems, well, interesting: Les Missiles. I haven’t been able to find much information about the group, but they were the sons of colonialism rather than local. The group was active from 1963-68. Their best-known song, Sacré Dollar, is a cover of Hoyt Axton’s Greenback Dollar, but the French lyrics are far more militantly anti-capitalist than those of the original. They feature here with their version of I’m A Loser.

As always, the mix fits on a standard CD-R, includes fait-maison covers, and illustrated PDF of the above text. PW in comments.

1. Les Bel Canto – J’en suis fou (Love Me Do) (1965)
2. Petula Clark – Tu perds ton temps (Please, Please Me) (1963)
3. Claude François – Des bises de moi pour toi (From Me To You) (1963)
4. Lucky Blondo – J’ai un secret a te dire (Do You Want To Know A Secret?) (1965)
5. Les Surfs – Adieu chagrin (There’s A Place) (1964)
6. Johnny Hallyday – Quand je l’ai vue devant moi (I Saw Her Standing There) (1963)
7. Nancy Holloway – Elle t’aime (She Loves You) (1964)
8. Pierre Lalonde – Oh! Donne moi ta main (I Want To Hold Your Hand) (1964)
9. Les Gam’s – Toi l’ami (All My Loving) (1964)
10. Chaussettes Noires – Je Te Veux Toute A Moi (I Wanna Be Your Man) (1964)
11. Martine – Il Faut Revenir (This Boy) (1964)
12. Les Lionceaux – Le temps est long (It Won’t Be Long) (1964)
13. Thierry Vincent – Je n’peux l’acheter (Can’t Buy Me Love) (1964)
14. Frank Alamo – Je me bats pour gagner (A Hard Day’s Night) (1964)
15. Les Hou-Lops – Ces mots qu’on oublie un jour (Things We Said Today) (1965)
16. Richard Anthony – La Corde au Cou (I Should Have Known Better) (1964)
17. Michèle Torr – Et le l’aime (And I Love Her) (1965)
18. Les Baronets – Si je te donne mon cœur (If I Fell) (1964)
19. Christian & Getro – Je suis revenu (I’ll Be Back) (1969)
20. Les Monarques – Elle est si belle (No Reply) (1965)
21. Les Missiles – Il faut oser (I’m A Loser) (1965)
22. Tiny Yong – Huit Jours Par Semaine (Eight Days A Week) (1965)
23. Akim – Hum! Qu’elle est belle (I Feel Fine) (1965)
24. Olivier Despax – Ne me mets pas du bleu (Yes It Is) (1965)
25. Dick Rivers – Prends un ticket avec moi (Ticket To Ride) (1965)
26. Eddy Mitchell – Tu Ferais Mieux De L’oublier (You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away) (1965)
27. Les ‘Faux’ Frères – Une fille pour deux garçons (I Like Too Much) (1965)
28. Renée Martel – Un certain soir (The Night Before) (1970)
29. Jacques Salvail – Y’a pas d’mal (It’s Only Love) (1975)
30. Michèle Arnaud – Je croyais (Yesterday) (1966)


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  1. amdwhah
    September 21st, 2021 at 13:10 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. rat-a-tat-tat
    September 21st, 2021 at 14:31 | #2

    Color me impressed. Great work.

  3. Fredrick Beondo
    September 22nd, 2021 at 22:10 | #3

    Is it just me, or does Il Faut Revenir (This Boy) skip a little toward the end of the track?

  4. Fredrick Beondo
    September 22nd, 2021 at 22:11 | #4

    @Fredrick Beondo about 2:20.

  5. September 24th, 2021 at 13:49 | #5

    Oh, wow, this is a great treat! Thanks!

  6. Philippe from France
    September 24th, 2021 at 19:08 | #6

    Merci beaucoup !
    Superbe compilation !!
    J’attends le deuxième volume avec impatience !!!

  7. amdwhah
    September 25th, 2021 at 12:05 | #7

    It does, unfortunately.

  8. Fredrick Beondo
    September 26th, 2021 at 01:38 | #8

    Okay, I just wanted to make sure I hadn’t gotten a corrupted file when I unpacked it. It is pretty much toward the end of the song, so it was only noticeable because I had really been brought into the whole vibe and enjoying this kind of alternate universe ala that movie Yesterday where the Beatles don’t exist, but the songs do, but in France instead of England. I would never have thought I could get into an album of French Beatles covers, but here we are. And because this had been labelled as #1, I can be sure a second volume covering the latter half of their music is forthcoming.

  9. amdwhah
    September 26th, 2021 at 22:51 | #9

    Oh, the connection to the “Yesterday” vibe is brilliant. Fun though the French covers are, thank God there actually were The Beatles though.

    Most certainly there’ll be a second volume. And we still have Spanish, Italian and German mixes on the same concept to come.

  10. Fredrick Beondo
    September 27th, 2021 at 15:38 | #10

    Of course, I’m also glad they actually existed, but like I said, it was fascinating to hear these covers with a sense of wonder…Look forward to the next volume of this take, and those others you mentioned…

    As a bizarre aside, when I was initially listening to this, a coworker actually asked if it was *Japanese*…so I wonder if I can mess with his head some and ask if you could possibly complile a volume of Japanese Beatle covers so I can play it and have him ask again LOL

  11. September 30th, 2021 at 16:50 | #11

    Still listening to this fine selection a week later! And you’re just messing with us now, promising collections in Spanish, Italian and German! And Japanese? Could one dare hope?!?

  12. Fredrick Beondo
    October 14th, 2021 at 04:07 | #12

    Well, so far in my totally informal and not in depth Google search, I haven’t come across Beatles songs in Japanese all that much, though there are two Japanese bands named The BeaTrips and The Parrots, who have been performing pitch perfect Beatles songs IN ENGLISH, and in the proper outfits, for years. I watched a video of the BeaTrips performing I Wanna Hold Your Hand, and like many of the acts on this French set, they may not speak any English, but when they play, ‘close your eyes’ and they pass well for the originals (to my ears, at 51, but I was born and raised on the four B’s [according to my parents LOL], Bach, Brahms, Beethoven…and the Beatles \mm/), though of course, your mileage may vary of course :)

    I have probably found enough covers from the Far East, as a whole, to consider a volume though, but ironically to my quest, the majority of them are in…Chinese (no distinction made between Mandarin and/or Cantonese as far as I can find) with a couple in Korean as well…

  13. amdwhah
    October 14th, 2021 at 13:50 | #13

    That’s some serious research! Wow.

  14. Anja K.
    December 10th, 2021 at 19:13 | #14

    Finally had a chance to enjoy this mix – this was really fab! :) It’s kind of a mind-freak to hear the well known tunes with lyrics en français. I’m still trying to perfect my French (well, to make it somewhat passable, ha ha) so this is a fun way to practice. I’m really behind on my Dude mixes but I will try to get to the 2nd mix sooner rather than later since this one was so great.

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