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French cool

Salut les CopainsThis is a magazine I bought a couple of weeks ago from one of those second-hand book and magazine stalls on the left bank of the Seine, opposite the Louvre. Salut les copains was a magazine I read quite regularly in the early to middle ’60s, and I recognised the cover of this issue, which is from September 1965.

The magazine was the invention of Daniel Filipacchi, as was the hugely popular early-evening radio programme of the same name, which went out on Europe 1 and featured good American records as well as a mixed bag of French pop. I was a fan of that, too — the signal was quite audible in the middle of England — and three or four years ago I was delighted to find two nicely packaged four-CD boxes containing music featured on the show between 1959 and 1969, with station ads and idents thrown in: lots of Johnny Hallyday, Françoise Hardy, Richard Anthony (whose EP containing “J’entends siffler le train” was a fixture next to the Dansettes of most of the nice girls I knew), Claude François, France Gall, Eddy Mitchell, Les Surfs, Jacques Dutronc and so on.

You can usually find something interesting in an old magazine, and in September 1965 the editors of Salut les copains had a mixed bag of preoccupations, including the aspirations of a bunch of new French artists: now you think, whatever happened to Muriel Bianchi (debut disc: “Les Jaloux”), Thierry Vincent (“artistes préferés: Johnny Hallyday, les Coasters, Nina Simone”), Michele Sarna (inspired by “le folklore canadien”), Jacky Gordon (“un fan de jazz et son style s’apparente donc fortement au rhythm and blues”), Willy Lewis (“many think of him as one of the best drummers in France”),  Mick Shannon (“the young singer who, in 1962, took the place of Dick Rivers with les Chats Sauvages”), Bernadette Grimm (“son idole: Edith Piaf”) and Laura Ulmer, a fresh-faced 17-year-old spotted by the impresario Eddie Barclay when her photograph appeared on the front page of Nice-Matin?

Out of two dozen candidates, the only name I recognise almost 50 years later is that of Pierre Barouh, already 31 years old and a fan of Georges Brassens and Billie Holiday; a couple of years later he would be playing Anouk Aimée’s husband — an ill-fated film stunt man who strums a guitar and sings Brazilian songs — in Claude Lelouch’s hugely successful Un homme et une femme (A Man and a Woman). Later, in real life, Barouh and Aimée were briefly married; he used his earnings from the film to buy an old mill in the Vendée, where he founded the Saravah label, which released recordings by French and Brazilian artists.

Salut les copains and its short-lived stablemate, Mademoiselle age tendre, provide a great deal of the material contained in a very entertaining new book called Yé-yé Girls of ’60s French Pop, compiled by Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe. It’s published in the US by Feral House, and there are copies in London shops (I got mine at Foyle’s). It’s mostly visual: page after page of Françoise H, Sylvie Vartan, Sheila, France Gall, Jane Birkin and Chantal Goya. There’s also an informative commentary, and good stuff on more obscure girls. It’s a weakness of mine to like this sort of thing, I know, but there you go.

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13 Comments Post a comment
  1. In the dim and distant – late 1950’s.early 60’s – when a teenage rock’n’roll addict wanted to hear records on the radio – life was a struggle. There was Radio Luxembourg, which played 60 seconds of selected new releases across all genres, and the Light programme where five records were played on “Saturday Club” and there were request programmes. And then – and I’m sure my memory is not tricking me with the title – there was a French station on Long Wave with a regular programme called “Salut les Copains” which seemed to be much more switched on to American singles than we were with our insipid copyists. Who would ever seek out radio these days?

    April 25, 2014
    • And now, having read your piece properly, I see you did too!!!!

      April 25, 2014
  2. fraser kennedy #

    Hi Richard,
    Is Gillian Hills in the Magazine? She’s in the book. She working on a record as we speak!!
    Cheers
    Fraser.

    April 25, 2014
  3. Steve Hurrell #

    What good memories. I also used to listen to what I remember as France Inter, the radio station itself, in various eras, especially when on 60s family holidays in France. It was the only way to hear some music. Somewhat later I heard one of their records of the week, which was always the last track, played at 1am, and had to buy it. It was by Brigitte Fontaine, with Areski, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and was called ‘Lettre A Monsieur Le Chef De Gare De La Tour De Carol’, which may be one of the longest single titles. It was 1972 and I now find out that it was track from an album called ‘ Comme à la Radio’. You can find links to the single on Youtube, and the album can be downloaded online. There is also an extended live version from Le Bataclan club in Paris in 1993

    April 25, 2014
  4. Another nerve unerringly hit. Absolutely right about Richard Anthony and ‘J’entends’. And everyone hankered after Françoise Hardy after ‘Tous les garçons et les filles de mon age’, even though she apparently hated it. Incidentally, there was a wonderful exhibition of ‘lost’ photos of many of those you mention – and of some British bands in Paris – by Roger Kasparian at Snap Galleries a few months ago.

    April 25, 2014
  5. another nerve unerringly hit. I listened to Salut too. Spot on about Richard Anthony’s ‘J’entends’, and Françoise Hardy was an aching reason to want to be French. (She hated ‘Tous les garçons et les filles de mon age’, apparently.) Incidentally there was a wonderful exhibition at Snap Galleries recently of photos of French stars of that period, and some English ones when they were in Paris, by Roger Kasparian. Utterly redolent of the era

    April 25, 2014
  6. John Pidgeon #

    Unexpected blogs like this are the icing on the Blue Moment cake for me, Richard. My sister attended what was known as ‘finishing school’ in Geneva in the mid-sixties and brought Richard Anthony and Claude Francois 45s home for the holidays, though not even my Francophile leanings could convince me they deserved turntable space alongside my beloved R&B.

    April 26, 2014
  7. Dick A #

    Goodness me. I used to have this on special order from WHS in York during that period. My favourite edition contained a comprehensive piece on Brigette Bardot. Wonderful on every level!!

    April 26, 2014
  8. I think this must be the radio programme I used to listen to in bed (when I should have been asleep) in the 60s. There used to be a record of the week played hourly and I can remember The Doors “Unknown Soldier” and The Zombies “Butchers Tale (Western Front 1914) as choices. The same station also interviewed The Soft Machine but as they spoke very good french the interview was all in french so unintelligible to me.

    April 27, 2014
    • Aah a little research shows that the actual programme I listened to was called Pop Club. It was on later at night.

      April 27, 2014
  9. John Evans #

    datz53 — full title was Le Pop-Club de Jose Artur, with an appeal that was light years removed from the teenie-bopper demographic of Salut les Copains. One of the Pop-Club’s most memorable on-air pairings was an ageing Salvador Dali in discussion with a young Manitas de Plata. My French penfriend used to send me the SLC magazine (and also insisted in addressing me as ‘Johnny’ rather than John). When I went over to France to meet her for the first time (admittedly in a tiny village in the far south) I took her a copy of the newly released ‘Revolver’ album which went down like a lead balloon, confirming my worst fears about the limits of SLC readers’ musical horizons. Thirty-odd years later I had an opportunity to chat with the great jazz bassist Henri Texier and mentioned my years of listening to Le Pop-Club as a teenager in London. To which he replied, ah yes, I wrote the theme tune for that programme…

    April 27, 2014
  10. Dave Heasman #

    Vingt-quatre heures sur vingt-quatre, la vie serait bien dur….

    I first heard “Travellin’ Band” and “American Pie” on that show. You’ll note the use of the subjunctive? Also lots of subjunctive fun on Francoise Hardy’s “JAurais Voulu”. Quit a few of her songs had really strong melodies.

    Anyone remember Rosko’s show on Luxembourg long-wave? 5 hours on Saturday night.

    April 28, 2014
  11. Guillaume A azoulay #

    I was looking for Laura Ulmer and happen to find your blog on Salut les copains … I was featured on SLC in the mid sixties – oh quite incidentally- I should say Bobby Solo the Italian singer is pictured framed by my legs in jeans … as peculiar as it sounds it’s true , and quite innocent as well- Bobby was appearing at the Olympia that night and we were friends , he and a plethora of french performers , including Francoise Hardy , were the opening feature of a main show ( the ” vedette americaine” as it was known then ) I did not know of the main attraction nor , in all honesty, cared .
    As the evening went on ( I were standing backstage ) I could see that a disaster was developing and every performer was sent packing by an infuriated public demanding none other than their idols , the main event …all the while standing behind me were these lanky english kids in tight pants and pointed shoes , grinning and whispering as the singers were ejected one after the other … then came the turn of Bobby Solo … he soon came back in tears having been pelted with some projectile …at that moment I noticed one of the english fellows laughing quite openly : I lunged for his throat and aimed my head in prep for a mighty head butt but was prevented by several stage hands …..I had almost hit a fellow whose name always escapes me : the now balding drummer for the Rolling Stones … I know it sounds daft today , but I had no idea then who the Rolling Stones were ,
    Some years later , in 1969 , I told the story to a fellow actor in the Tel Aviv production of HAIR , and he laughed heartily … his name was Chris Jagger , Mick’s brother …
    By the way , Laura Ulmer is the daughter of Danish born French singer Georges Ulmer , who was a sensation for decades in post war France .
    All the best ,
    Guillaume

    May 18, 2014

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