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World Music CD Reviews Europe

Swinging Mademoiselles: Groovy French Sounds From The 60s

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published October 28, 2005

Silva America SIL-CD-1191

Throughout much of the ’60s France was a bastion of youth culture, Parisian teenagers being especially enamored of Anglo-Saxon pop culture. Les années yé-yé, as the era came to be called, produced uniquely French takes on Ango-American pop music. Some of the era’s chanteuses (laced with mascara and endowed with sultry voices) became stars but such big names as Francoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan don’t show up on Swinging Mademoiselles. Instead we get 18 tracks of sunny pop and light psychedelia by 14 mostly obscure singers, including Elizabeth, Clothilde, Cosette, Olivia, and Stella, to name only those who went by their first names. These unabashedly cool songs would fit well on a soundtrack for a hypothetical Gallic Austin Powers. Although these are mostly original compositions, a few tracks can trace their origin to English songs. While Jacqueline Taieb’s “7 Heures du Matin,” the opening track, only references the Who’s “My Generation,” two others are French adaptations of Petula Clark’s “Call Me” and Lulu’s “I’m A Tiger.” This is part of the missing musical link between Carnaby Street and Champs Elysée.