This page is part of a larger guide, reviewing various French chanson and musette recordings, focussing mainly on older, classic material, but also branching out to include some newer performers working in the same styles. Suggestions, recommendations and corrections are always welcome...
This page covers the letter "P"
Patrice et Mario "Legende De La Chanson Francaise, v.1: Monsieur Li-Phang" (Marianne Melodie, 2000)
The French music-hall tradition of vocal duets peaked in the 1930s with classic acts such as Pills et Tabet and Charles Trenet & Johnny Hess. But the style lived on through the 1940s, and in the postwar period found no finer exponents than Patrizio Paganesse et Mario Moro, a duo who specialized in "Latin" songs... (They were, after all, of Italian descent, and like many French-Italian singers, they gravitated towards "exotic" material...) Sambas, rumbas, boleros, polkas -- you name it. If it was foreign, they were all over it! What's most striking, though, is how great they sounded... This is one of the smoothest and most enjoyable of these classic chanson collections you're likely to find. Patrice & Mario harmonized together handsomely, and each and every one of these tunes is a lot of fun. This disc gathers material from the late '40s, roughly 1947-49. Highly recommended! (Apparently Marianne Melodie has issued five CDs in this series(!) I'll try and track them all down some day...)
Patrice et Mario "Volume 2: Montagnes D'Italie" (Marianne Melodie, 2006)
Patrice et Mario "Volume 3: La Petite Marie" (Marianne Melodie, 2006)
Patrice et Mario "Volume 4: Jambalaya" (Marianne Melodie, 2006)
Patrice et Mario "Volume 5: Nous Chantons" (Marianne Melodie, 2006)
Patrice et Mario "Etoile Des Neiges" (Sony-Columbia, 1992)
This disc features music from nearly a decade later, two dozen tracks from 1957 (and one from 1952) that, predictably, often feature slicker, more lavish pop orchestrations, as well as numerous covers of popular songs of the day. There are surprises and plenty of cheese -- French-language adaptations of "Yellow Rose Of Texas," "Vaya Con Dios," "The Tennessee Waltz" and even "On Top Of Old Smokey." There are also several Italian-themed numbers, such as "Arrivederci Roma," "Montagnes D'Italie," and "Bambino," and pleasant surprises such as a version of Luiz Bonfa's proto-bossanova hit, "Chanson D'Orphee" and other goodies. Some numbers are better than others, but their vocal harmonies are consistently pleasant and engaging. Worth tracking down!
Patrice et Mario "Les Annees Odeon" (Sony-Columbia, 1994)
A 26-song selection of their work on the Odeon label, with very little overlap with the Etoile Des Neiges collection above (just one song, "Venus," appears on both collections.) Includes songs about Mexico, Hawaii, and other fun-sounding locales.
Patrice & Mario "100 Titres D'Or" (Marianne Melodie, 2008)
This 4-CD box set is a glorious helping of one of my favorite old-school French chanson acts... The vocal duo of Patrizio Paganesse and Mario Moro, a duo who specialized in "Latin" songs... (They were, after all, of Italian descent, and like many French-Italian singers, they gravitated towards "exotic" material...) Sambas, rumbas, boleros, polkas, cowboy songs -- you name it. If it was foreign to France, they were all over it! What's most striking, though, is how great their harmonies sound... This is one of the smoothest and most enjoyable of these classic chanson collections you're likely to find. Patrice & Mario harmonized together handsomely, and each and every one of these tunes is a lot of fun. This disc gathers material from the late '40s, roughly 1947-49. Highly recommended!
Les Peters Sisters "Toutes Nos Chansons" (Marianne Melodie, 2006)
A French answer to the Andrews Sisters -- this female vocal trio sang upbeat numbers as well as sugary love songs, and had a sweet sound. The orchestrations are a occasionally saccharine, or at least a bit on the modern side -- judging from the bright sound quality and half-brash/half-bland arrangements, I'd guess these recordings are from the late 1940s or early '50s... They were apparently a featured act in the Folies Bergere and at other fabled venues.
Edith Piaf - see artist profile
Jacques Pills "Avec Son Ukulele" (Marianne Melodie, 1999)
A delicious selection of solo work by singer/actor Jacques Pills, who started out in the jazzy, 1930s swing-vocals duo of Pills & Tabet, and is also known as the former husband of chanson divas Lucienne Boyer (from 1939-51) and Edith Piaf (from 1952-56). Although his work with Georges Tabet was notably buoyant and uptempo, here he slips into a mellower crooning role -- there are some bouncy, big band-y numbers, but Pills proved well-suited to the postwar pop-vocals style, with a velvety deliver that recalls Jean Sablon and other suave French stars. This collection spans 1941-48, with backing during WWII from Jean Marion's orchestra, and bandleader Raymond Legrand playing the softer stuff during '47-'48. I thought this was a great collection, quite listenable with nothing jarring or subpar as far as I could tell. Recommended!
Georgette Plana "Mes Premiers Succes" (Marianne Melodie)
In the 1940s, Georgette Plana emerged as a music-hall star who specialized in reviving music from the 1920s and '30s, old hits from stars such as Frehel and her cohorts. This album concentrates on her early work, which has a robust modern (1940s) sound, but is quite nice nonetheless. It's a nostalgia trip, but it still rings true -- nice voice, too!
Georgette Plana "Les Plus Belles Chansons" (BMG-Vogue, 1993)
Georgette Plana "Mon Coeur Est Un Bastringue " (Marianne Melodie, 2007)
Albert Prejean "Monsieur Loyal" (Forlane, 1995)
Les Primitifs Du Futur "World Musette" (Sketch Studio, 1999)
Cartoonist R. Crumb has long had a sweet-tooth for old-time music. Along with his duties as a countercultural icon, he's also spent decades obsessively collecting old blues and jazz 78s, and throughout the 1970s and '80s was a member in good standing of the old-timey revival band, the Cheap Suit Seranaders. Since moving to France in the '90s he's transferred some of his passion for nostalgia to French musette music, an accordion-based dance-hall style which took on some of the breezy jazz intonations of Tin Pan Alley during the Depression years. This ensemble features Crumb playing mandolin or banjo on some (but not all) of the tracks, and also includes a heavy dose of Arabic influences woven into traditional French motifs (hence the "world" in the title...) It's nice, charmingly relaxed material, albeit with a slightly goofy edge. Fans of both Crumb's earlier stringband work and of the musette style should find plenty to enjoy on this album. Recommended!
Yvonne Printemps "Etoiles De La Chanson" (Music Memoria, 1994)
One of the more operatic and songbirdish of the early chanson starlets, Yvonne Printemps may hold limited appeal to a modern audience, even to those who like the antiquity and old-fashioned feel of other singers from the 1920s and '30s. This collection spans a wide swath of her career, from 1929-1943, but even on the later material there is a lot of prissy, aria-like trilling, and very little indication that Printemps was aware of, or interested in, any of the stylistic changes that had entered the popular culture in the intervening decades. This also includes several scenes of dialogue excepted from films such as Mariette (1929) and Veronique (1941), which add some context to her career, but also stand out next to the musical numbers. I found this disc kind of borderline: if I concentrated on her voice, I found it irritating, but if I just let the album play in the background, beyond my conscious attention, it was okay.
Yvonne Printemps "La Saison De Amour" (Pearl, 1994)
Yvonne Printemps "Yvonne Printemps" (Forlane, 2002)
Yvonne Printemps "Airs Et Melodies: Arias And Songs" (EMI-Angel, 2005)
Yvonne Printemps "Les Voix D'Or" (Marianne Melodie, 2006)
Yvonne Printemps "Succes Et Raretes: 1919-1940" (Chansophone/Rym, 2008)
Yvonne Printemps "Rendez-vous Avec Yvonne Printemps -- Integrale 1919-1953" (Marianne Melodie, 2012)
A 4-CD set...(!)
Emile Prud'homme "Et Ca Repart!" (Marianne Melodie, 2008)
French Music Index
French Rock & Pop