Halloween–C’est La Mode Style

C'est La Mode Halloween Julie Driscoll Brian Auger

Here at C’est la Mode, it’s a groovy Halloween happening featuring these five spooky tracks. Enjoy!

1. Run by Sandie Shaw

Lots of atmosphere on hand here from the barefoot princess of Britpop. This Chris Andrews penned track from 1966 features thunder and wind sound effects and a creepy keyboard hook. Sandie’s foreboding vocal has her trying to escape a tyrannical boyfriend. See her prior release, “Nothing Comes Easy,” for lowdown on this twisted relationship!

2. I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night by The Electric Prunes

A great one-off hit from late 1966/early ’67 full of psychedelic fuzz-tone guitar, pounding drums, tambourine and what sounds like a sitar (?). The song alludes to an acid trip gone wrong, and there is a genuine weariness in lead singer James Lowe’s vocal. The Electric Prunes recorded for Reprise Records, owned by Frank Sinatra.

3. Season of the Witch by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity

Psychedelia again as Jules and Brian cover this slinky simmering Donovan track that appears on their 1968 album “Open.” Julie is a C’est La Mode favorite. Her voice reminds me of a harder-edged Dusty Springfield. Check out her groovy eye makeup in this clip and you’ll discover why she was named “The Face of 1968”!

4. Daughter of the Sun by Sharon Tandy (with Les Fleur De Lys)

A hard-driving, freakbeat track from South African-born Sharon Tandy, backed by mod outfit Les Fleur De Lys circa 1968. “I’ll cast a spell on you and you’ll be dead,” sings Sharon. This woman ain’t foolin’ around!

5. I Put A Spell on You by Manfred Mann

The Manfreds’ 1965 take on the oft-covered Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic. In C’est La Mode’s humble opinion, lead singer Paul Jones is one of the best white R&B singers the UK ever produced!

Next edition of “C’est La Mode” radio show is November 15! Stream live on Jolt Radio 4:30-6:30 p.m. EST. Visit Mixcloud for archived shows.

October Radio Show Highlights Twinkle, P.P. Arnold and 1964 Motown

P.P. Arnold 1967

Hello readers–It’s supposed to be Fall here in South Florida, but it still feels like summer! Turned off my air conditioning for a little while and opened my windows to get some fresh air. Hopefully it will cool off soon!

Speaking of fresh–here is the October edition of the “C’est La Mode” radio show featuring:

  • “Micky” the 1969 release by Twinkle–the story behind the almost-hit
  • A belated birthday tribute to mod/soul icon P.P. Arnold
  • Motown singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 October 17, 1964

Read more about these highlights after the link!

“Micky” by Twinkle, 1969

Twinkle in fur coat

This infectious, bouncy pop tune, released on Immediate’s subsidiary label Instant seemed destined for #1 status given the rash of bubblegum sounds popular at the time. Songwriter and Manfred Mann singer Mike D’Abo produced the track.* But alas it wasn’t meant to be. Shortly after it’s release, Immediate imploded and the record tanked.

“Micky” could’ve been a comeback for Twinkle, aka Lynn Ripley, an intriguing artist in the brit-girl canon who wrote most of her own material. She hit big in late 1964 with the biker death disc “Terry,” a close cousin to The Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack.” Twinkle also wrote “Micky” and her other chart hit “Golden Lights” (#21 in 1965), which The Smiths covered in the 1980s.

*The first set of October’s “C’est La Mode” features songs written/produced by Mike D’Abo. I didn’t plan this–it just came together naturally!

“Come Back Baby” by P.P. Arnold and Rod Stewart, 1968 (promo only release)

P.P. Arnold 1967
P.P. Arnold in London, 1967. Photo by Tony Gale

Happy belated birthday to P.P. Arnold (aka Pat Arnold), who turned 73 on October 3! Her new album is The New Adventures of P.P. Arnold.

Pat signed to the Immediate label in late 1966, at the urging of Mick Jagger, whom she met while touring with The Rolling Stones as a member of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. With her power-packed, gospel-inflected vocals, she hit big in 1967 with a cover of Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut Is the Deepest.”

She recorded this Uptown Soul-flavored Wilson Pickett cover with then unknown Rod Stewart in 1967, but it went unreleased. Legend has it that there was some friction in the studio. Producer Mick Jagger felt Stewart couldn’t hit the song’s high notes. An argument broke out resulting in Jagger leaving the studio with the tapes. “Come Home Baby” is the only song that survived from the session. Musicians on the track included Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Nicky Hopkins on keyboards

Motown Hot 100 Chart Singles October 17, 1964

Martha and the Vandellas Dancing in the Street 45 sleeve
Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandellas, 45 sleeve

“Callin’ out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat?” The world answered “yes” as Motown Records popularity exploded in 1964. At the height of the British Invasion, the label stood strong, scoring four #1 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100, including “My Guy” by Mary Wells and “Where Did Our Love Go” the breakthrough release for The Supremes. Week-ending October 17, 1964, Motown had seven songs in the Hot 100. Together they make a great set–I dare you NOT to dance!

  • #90 — “Needle in a Haystack”–The Velvelettes
  • #46 — “That’s What Love Is Made Of”–The Miracles
  • #32 — “Baby Don’t You Do It”–Marvin Gaye
  • #26 — “Girl (Why You Wanna Make Me Blue)”–The Temptations
  • #16 — “Baby I Need Your Loving”–The Four Tops
  • #12 — “Baby Love”–The Supremes
  • #2 — “Dancing in the Street”–Martha and the Vandellas

Listen to the October Edition of “C’est La Mode”

The next edition of “C’est La Mode” streams live November 15 on Jolt Radio. Listen to past shows on Mixcloud.

Rare Soul, Sunshine Pop And Duos Highlight September Edition of “C’est La Mode”

The Association Birthday album 1968

Planning a radio show isn’t always easy, but I had plenty of inspiration for this latest edition of “C’est La Mode.”

Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold”

Freda Payne Band of Gold
Freda Payne circa 1970

I’d been listening to a lot of early ’70s soul from Freda Payne. Gotta love her work for Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Invictus label, especially her Grammy-nominated 1971 album “Contact.” Ms. Payne also celebrated a birthday September 19!

I kicked off the show with a rare alternate version of her big hit “Band of Gold,” that features additional instrumentation and verses. Then I book-ended the first set with the hit version of the song, just for comparison. I’m a bit of an audiophile–I love to hear the differences in lyrics, sounds, instruments, vocals–you name it!

Bones Howe and Wrecking Crew on Sunshine Pop

The Association Birthday album 1968
Birthday, The Association/courtesy of Discogs.com.

I hunt for vinyl in South Florida in a number of places, including Record Rack in Pompano Beach. On a recent jaunt there, I picked up a used copy of The Association’s 1968 album “Birthday.” The disc opens with a spirited track entitled “Come On In.” The sound is fresh and engaging–and it’s no wonder–West Coast-based sound engineer Bones Howe produced the album! Howe served as sound engineer for a number of late ’60s pop acts, with instrumentation handled by L.A. studio musicians known as The Wrecking Crew.

I highlighted Howe’s work with the Wrecking Crew focusing on sunshine pop tracks by The Mamas and the Papas, The Fifth Dimension and obscure Latin-influenced vocal ensemble The Carnival.

It Takes Two

The Everly Brothers Sing 1967
The Everly Brothers Sing/Courtesy of Discogs.com

Do we still have duos these days? The ’60s sported a number of them, and they weren’t necessarily all romance-styled singing partners. Record-shopping back in Cleveland, my friend Emma brought to my attention a 1967 album by The Everly Brothers, simply called “The Everly Brothers Sing,” it includes their last Top 40 hit “Bowling Green.” Although considered past their commercial peak at the time, the album is chock-full of great harmony-laced, pop-psych tracks, and some cool fuzz-tone guitar riffs. I selected the track “Mary Jane” to anchor a set of ’60s duos that looked like this:

  • “Two for the Price of One” — Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart
  • “Mary Jane” — The Everly Brothers
  • “Little Ole Girl, Little Ole Boy” — Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
  • “Lovers of the World Unite” — Nina and Frederik
  • “Some Velvet Morning” — Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood
  • “Wrong from the Start” — Peter and Gordon

Listen to “C’est La Mode” on Mixcloud

Have I sufficiently wet your appetite for more sounds of the ’60s? Listen to the complete September 20 edition of “C’est La Mode below. Next show is October 18 on Jolt Radio!

A Primer on French ’60s Pop

A Primer on '60s French Pop

When I explain to people that I listen to French pop music from the 1960s they often look surprised. With an eyebrow raised they usually respond with a “Really!?!?”  And then want to know more.

Others give me a blank look as if I just asked them to solve one of those annoying story problems from elementary school math class. Yuck!

On rare occasions, someone will throw me for a pleasant loop and admit to being a fan of the genre too and proceed to name their favorite Gallic artists.

In my own way I consider myself an evangelist for French ‘60s pop and rock, which is often referred to as “ye-ye pop.”

A European Spin on American Rock ‘n’ Roll  

Ye-ye is a light and breezy style of music brimming with bright rhythmic melodies, that originated in Western Europe (mainly France) in the early 1960s. Teenage female singers dominated the genre, often performing in a coquettish, bubbly, yet innocent style, with hints of traditional French chanson.

'60s Ye Ye Girls
’60s Ye Ye Girls Francoise Hardy (L) and Sylvie Vartan

Ye-ye places its own uniquely European spin on American rock ‘n’ roll, borrowing elements from ‘50s rock and R&B like Elvis Presley and Ray Charles, early ‘60s teen idol pop sounds, and girl groups. At first, many ye-ye artists covered American songs re-written or translated into French. As the decade progressed though, a stable of writers and producers emerged, creating more original material. The sound matured, adopting aspects of garage rock, funk and psychedelia. 

Sociologist Edgar Morin coined the term “ye-ye” in the French daily Le Monde in 1963.  The term derived from the “yeah-yeah” back up vocals popular in pop at the time, i.e. The Beatles’ “She Loves You.”

The moniker stuck and defined a generation of clean-cut pop purveyors. Some of the most popular include:

  • Francoise Hardy
  • France Gall
  • Sylvie Vartan
  • Sheila
  • Chantal Goya
  • Johnny Hallyday
  • Richard Anthony
  • Jacques Dutronc
  • Serge Gainsbourg

Though ye-ye has a definite “sound” as a genre, each of the above artists established their own iconic identity and style that set them apart. In fact many of them enjoyed continued success beyond ye-ye.

For most of the ‘60s, French ye-ye music fans consumed their idols’ work on “Le super 45s”—extended play (EP) seven-inch 45 RPM discs featuring four songs, packaged in beautifully designed picture sleeves. Unlike releases in the US or UK where it was a premium, all artists received picture sleeves regardless of their popularity. 

Le Super 45s Sylvie Vartan
Le Super 45 sleeves

Collecting Ye-Ye Vinyl

Ye-Ye Vinyl
Francoise Hardy “L’Amitie” album, 1965/Courtesy Light in the Attic

Today, ye-ye vinyl is extremely collectible and rare, especially in the US, although you can find them on sites like www.discogs.com, sold by Europeans.

But in the last decade or so, it’s become more mainstream.

For example, US-based reissue label Light in the Attic released Françoise Hardy’s first five French ‘60s albums for the first time ever domestically. The lovingly restored packages, available in both CD and LP format, feature the original artwork, gatefold sleeves and include extensive historical liner notes penned by music journalist Kieron Tyler.  In addition, Hardy’s 1962 hit “Le Temps De L’Amour” featured prominently in Wes Anderson’s 2012 film “Moonrise Kingdom.”

Sylvie Vartan 2009 compilation on RPM label
British label RPM released this Sylvie Vartan compilation in 2009.

Sylvie Vartan, the first female rock-n-roller in France and the undisputed Queen of ‘60s French pop, earned two anthologies of her best ‘60s tracks by the British label RPM. “Irresistiblement: Sylvie Vartan 1965-1968,” covers French releases, many of the tracks written exclusively for her by British musicians Mick Jones (who founded the band Foreigner) and Tommy Brown, while “En Anglaise et En Americain” spotlights Vartan singing in English as she attempted to capture the UK and US markets.  Not forgetting the guys, RPM has also released compilations by the French king of rock, Johnny Hallyday (married to Vartan 1965-1980) and garage rock and satirist Jacques Dutronc (Hardy’s beau and current husband).

Hear ’60s French Pop on My Radio Show

If you’re a lover of 1960s pop and rock music, pop culture and fashion, ye-ye is definitely worth checking out! I regularly feature these artists on my radio show, “C’est La Mode,” which streams the third Friday of the month, 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Miami-based JoltRadio.

Groovy highlights from last “C’est La Mode” broadcast

Scott Walker tribute on Cest La Mode

June’s edition of “C’est La Mode” on Miami’s Jolt Radio includes a tribute to the late, great Scott Walker, artists with June birthdays including Brian Wilson and Ray Davies, and of course a great selection of eclectic ’60s pop, soul and more.

Listen to the June edition of C’est La Mode

You’re All Around Me—The Walker Brothers

I’ll admit, my news sources have been somewhat limited lately, so I was saddened to hear that Scott Walker died earlier this year. I’m a huge fan of his work as primary lead singer of The Walker Brothers, three Yanks who made it BIG in the UK with a string of hits between 1965–1967, including two number ones. One of my favorites is “You’re All Around Me,” written by Scott with female British singer-songwriter Lesley Duncan. The song appeared as the b-side of their single “My Ship Is Coming In” in 1965 and on their debut album “Take It Easy With… .” I love the guitar on this and the female backing singers’ swell on the chorus (mostly likely the prolific Breakaways).

Lightning’s Girl—Nancy Sinatra

There’s more to Sinatra’s 1960s recordings than “These Boots Are Made for Walking.” Case in point is the 1967 single “Lightnings Girl,” penned by long-time collaborator Lee Hazlewood. It packs a power punch: a hybrid of country-psychedelic-pop, highlighted by slinky heavy percussion and a fuzz-tone guitar figure played backwards for sinister effect with strings and cellos. Made the top 30 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Get Rid of Him—Dionne Warwick

A great track from Warwick’s superb 1964 album Make Way for…,” this jaunty girl group number was penned by Helen Miller and Howard Greenfield (frequent collaborator with Neil Sedaka, (i.e. “Where the Boys Are”). Love the attitude on this, especially the background singers’ advice offering lyrics. Overall it’s a close cousin to the Shirelles’ 1963 hit “Foolish Little Girl,” which was also a Miller/Greenfield composition. The Shirelles were also label mates of Warwick on Scepter Records.

Tune in to the next edition on “C’est La Mode” on Jolt Radio July 19th, 4:00–6:00 p.m.

Can’t Get this Quirky Song Out of My Head!

I can’t help myself! YouTube is a treasure trove for quirky ’60s French Pop and Rock. Check out the video below of “La Bise Aux Hippies” (Kiss the Hippies) written by the legendary Serge Gainsbourg and performed by Sacha Distel and Brigitte Bardot on what I’m guessing is a Distel TV special (he was kind of like a French version of Andy Williams).  Awesome bass line!

Gainsbourg could be considered the king of ’60s French Pop, or at least one of its chief composers. Originally a jazz singer/songwriter, he made his mark in the 1950s penning tunes for Gallic songbirds like Juliet Greco and Michele Arnaud. In 1964, he teamed up with French Ye-Ye star France Gall, crafting some of the singer’s most memorable tunes, including “Ne’ecoute Pas Les Idoles” and L’aisse Tomber Les Filles.”

Welcome to C’est La Mode!

C'est La Mode blog

C’est La Mode is a celebration of the eclectic music of the 1960s! Pop, soul, Motown, mod, girl groups, ye-ye French pop and more! I regularly shine a spotlight on some of my favorite artists including:

  • The Supremes
  • Dusty Springfield
  • Sandie Shaw
  • Sylvie Vartan
  • Francoise Hardy
  • Johnny Hallyday
  • The Small Faces

I’ll assemble play lists of not only hits, but also misses and deeper cuts by these artists and others. I may also highlight films, fashion and other pop culture bits from the era.

My name is Rob and I’m a Cleveland native currently living in Southern Florida. The “C’est La Mode” blog is inspired by the radio show of the same name that I hosted for nearly three consecutive years on legendary WRUW FM 91.1 Cleveland, broadcasting from Case Western Reserve University. I’ve had a passion for the music, culture and fashion of the 1960s since I was nine years old!

In the meantime, here’s a taste of some ’60s French Pop from Annie Philippe, singing the song that inspired the title of this blog!  Dig the opening DJ announcement, plus the groovy dancers!