French Pop Compilations - Slipcue.Com French Music Guide
Obnoxious amphibian portrait... ribbit! FRENCH POP COMPS

I've heard tell that up North in Canada that they have all kinds of groovy French 60s/garage and pop compilations out... Sadly, few of those make it down here to California... Still, here are some of the great collections of dubious copyright which have recently made it into the Slipcue corporate HQ...

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Various Artists "LES ARTISTES TOT OU TARD EN DUO" (Tot Ou Tard, 2005)
Duet and trio collaborations between various artists on the (fabulous!) French label, Tot Ou Tard. Available through the label's website, )

Various Artists "LA BELLE EPOQUE -- EMI'S FRENCH GIRLS: 1965-1968" (EMI-Zonophone, 2007)
Here's a rare bird: an above-board compilation of French girl-groupish 1960s ye-ye pop-rock... While this collection does sport much cleaner, brighter sound quality than many of the bootlegs that've been coming out over the last decade or so (see below), it's also kinda tame by comparison. While there are a few outlandish arrangements, these vintage singles tend to be more pop-vocals oriented than rock'n'roll, more about co-optation than innovation. Still, there are some fun tracks, notably Christine Laume's giddy, teenyboppin' "Agathe Ou Christine" and "Te Te Moques De Moi," by Ria Bartok. A lot of this is more in the Connie Stevens/Petula Clark vein, but then again, for fans of that stripe of girly pop, this might be a real gem. Nothing terrible, but if you're a rocker, this won't get your blood pumping the same way as, say the ULTRA CHICKS collections. Worth a spin!

Various Artists "BIPPP: FRENCH SYNTH WAVE 1979-1985" (Eversong, 2008)
Not really my scene, but probably worth mentioning anyway...

Various Artists "BONJOUR PARIS! BON BON FRENCH SPECIAL" (Universal, 2006)

Various Artists "BRASSENS CHANTE PAR..." (Formulette Production, 2011)
A short but sweet tribute to troubadour Georges Brassens, with contributions from modern artists such as Adelbert, Agnes Bihl, Yves Jamait and others...

Various Artists "C'EST CHIC! FRENCH GIRL SINGERS OF THE 1960s" (Ace Records, 2010)
In an already crowded field of French pop reissues, the esteemed Ace label distinguishes itself with this top-notch collection of girly, teenybop ye-ye oldies, featuring plenty of little-known gems and obscure artists along with blockbusters from headliners such as Brigitte Bardot, Petula Clark, France Gall, Francoise Hardy, and Jacqueline Taieb... Among the less well-known artists on here are singers such as Louise Cordet, Christie Laume, Charlotte Leslie and Arlette Zola, as well as one of my favorite forgotten bands, Les Surfs, who had a lovely Brill Building-ish sound. As always, when Ace does something, they do it right, and this is a pretty strong selection that will bring a smile to hardcore collectors and newbies alike. Highly recommended!

Various Artists "CUISINE NON-STOP" (Luaka Bop, 2002)
David Byrne's far-reaching Luaka Bop label makes it to the Gallic territories, with this loopy set of kooky, postmodern cabaret tunes, a quirky update of the Parisian cafe music of the 1930s. The album opens with the crosscultural acoustic world-jazz of Lo'Jo, and moves into a succession of likeminded contemporaries... The spirits of Tom Waits, Serge Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet hover over this collection, which gives a welcome alternative to the more staid tradition of French pop vocals. A set like this bodes well: I hope Byrne & Co. have a volume or two of other French material on tap -- samplers of great indie rock by the likes of Francoiz Breut, Katarine and Etienne Charry would also be welcome, as well as a look at modern French hip-hop and electronica. Oui!

Various Artists "FEMMES DE PARIS, v.1" (FGL/Anthology, 2002)

Various Artists "FEMMES DE PARIS, v.2" (FGL/Anthology, 2002)

Various Artists "FEMMES DE PARIS, v.3" (FGL/Anthology, 2004)

Various Artists "FILLES FRAGILES, v.1" (Zyx Music, 2008)

Various Artists "FILLES FRAGILES, v.2" (Zyx Music, 2008)

Various Artists "LA FRANCE ET LES BEATLES, v.1" (Magic Records, 2006)
The first volume in a multi-disc series of French-language Beatles covers... Ooo, la-la! This rather faithfully charts the progress of the Lennon-McCartney-Harrison ouvre as interpreted across the English Channel. Some recordings are disasterous (such as I Trovatori's take on "Please Please Me," which opens the album, and Les Blue Notes' near-lifeless "Girl") others are merely dutiful and a few are spunky and fairly inspired. All of these recordings have tremendous historical and kitsch value, and some are utterly delicious. (The irony of having an all-French translation of "Michelle," for example...) Only about a third of these tracks are songs I'd really want to listen to regularly... but that's not such a bad ratio, really! I'll probably try and track down the rest of these discs: I'm pretty sure that with five volumes (so far) I'll be able to put together a pretty fun playlist!

Various Artists "LA FRANCE ET LES BEATLES, v.2" (Magic Records, 2006)

Various Artists "LA FRANCE ET LES BEATLES, v.3" (Magic Records, 2007)

Various Artists "LA FRANCE ET LES BEATLES, v.4" (Magic Records, 2007)

Various Artists "LA FRANCE ET LES BEATLES, v.5" (Magic Records, 2007)

Various Artists "FRENCH CUTS -- POP MUSIC FRANCAIS LES ANNESS 60, v.1" (Panatomic, 2002)

Various Artists "FRENCH CUTS -- POP MUSIC FRANCAIS LES ANNESS 60, v.2" (Panatomic, 2002)

Various Artists "GENTLEMEN DE PARIS" (FGL/Anthology, 2004)
The gender-balanced companion to the FEMMES DE PARIS series, this electrifying disc features seventeen sizzling examples of the finest rare rock records late '60s France had to offer... Several things recommend this record, foremost being the high quality of the music -- this record is great from start to finish. There's also the welcome obscurity of the artists involved -- other than one track by Antoine and one with Serge Gainsbourg, it's packed with unknowns such as Les Lionceaux, Les Anges, Les Gypsies, 5 Gentlemen, et. al. who all kick out the jams... who knew!? Finally, there's the preponderance of Mod-styled ampheti-rock.. Most of these tracks come from 1964-66, when the Kinks were ascendant in the UK, and their influence is keenly felt, as is that of the Small Faces and the Yardbirds. There are also some flambuoyant, grandiose psychedelic freakouts, but it's the tighter, jangly fast songs that stand out. This set catches the French rock scene just before the more florid, orchestral work of Gainsbourg and his clique held sway -- it's one of the rare glorious moments when the French really rocked... and it's a lot of fun! Highly recommended.

Various Artists "ILS SONT FOUS C'EST GAULOIS v.1 & 2" (Disques Ronnie, 1996/1997)
These two LPs collect a couple dozen of the finest Jacques Dutronc-influenced frog rock rarities ever to escape from the Francophone sphere of influence. Inevitably, Jacqueline Taib's classic "7 Hueres Du Matin" (previously heard on the GIRLS IN THE GARAGE series...) appears on Volume One, as well as several other melodic greats from France, Quebec and Belgium... Surprising evidence that the French actually can rock!

Various Artists "ILS SONT FOUS C'EST GAULOIS v.3" (Disques Ronnie, 1999)
I'm not entirely convinced that this volume was put out by the same folks as the past two-- but who knows? At any rate, the disc's focus is much wider, encompassing surf, Gallic Merseybeat and rockabilly, in addition to the garage-psych and ye-ye of the earlier volumes. I'm not sure that the musical quality is as high, but it must be said that this is still quite fun... and how the hell else would anyone ever hear this stuff?

Various Artists "ILS SONT FOUS C'EST GAULOIS v.4" (Disques Ronnie, 2006)

Various Artists "DES JEUNES GENS MODERNE: POST-PUNK COLD WAVE 1978-1983" (Naive, 2008)

Various Artists "KILLED BY DEATH 200: RIOT AND DANCE - RARE PUNQUE FRANCAIS: '77-'83" (Redrum, 1998)
Yet another entry in this bewildering "series" of punk rock bootlegs. A strong collection of Gallic punk and hardcore, with a more melodic edge than many KBD collections. (For more information about KILLED BY DEATH, check out Max Hedgehog's article in browbeat noise 'zine). By the way... speaking of French punk, does anyone out there know much about the band Ted Destroyer? I've heard one album of theirs (from 1985) and have been curious about them for years...

Various Artists "LE POP -- EN DUO" (Le Pop Musik, 2005)

Various Artists "LE POP, v.2: LES CHANSONS DE LA NOUVELLE SCENE FRANCAISE" (Le Pop Musik, 2004)

Various Artists "LE POP, v.3: LES CHANSONS DE LA NOUVELLE SCENE FRANCAISE" (Le Pop Musik, 2005)

Various Artists "LE POP, v.4: LES CHANSONS DE LA NOUVELLE SCENE FRANCAISE" (Le Pop Musik, 2007)
Another fascinating, richly rewarding collection of contemporary French indie/pop. The electro-tinged cool of Dominique A and Francoiz Breut hovers over this set -- Dominique A contributes one song, but the entire album echoes his work, a doleful, syncretic mix of dark cabaret and joyful, sassy rock-pop. Maybe a bit of Marc Almond and '80s synthies in there as well? Naturalment. It all sounds lovely, though after a while, also all rather similar. The one track to break ranks is "Torticolis," a giddy, handclappy powerpop tune by Bernard Lallemant. There are many enticing tracks on here -- by Pierre Lapointe, Vincent Delerm, Jeanne Cherhal and others, but Lallemant is the artist I most want to further check out. As with the previous volumes, this album is a fine guidepost for further exploration of new French pop: you'll be glad you checked it out! (Also, if you like this disc, you'll want to check out the Tot Ou Tard record label, where many of these gems came from... One of the best French pop labels around!

Various Artists "LE POP, v.5" (Le Pop Musik, 2010)
Another triumphant collection of contemporary French indiepop, gathered by the German-based Le Pop Musik label, who seem to have unerring good taste in this department... If you're looking for guideposts to help you explore the French indie scene, the LE POP series beats all other competitors -- you'll be introduced to dozens of great artists, including many popular and off-the-radar faves. This volume is as strong as the others, with some of my favorite new artists, such as Vincent Delerm, Mathieu Boogaerts and Bastien Lallemant, as well as many others that were new to me. It's a pretty fun set: you can also check out my French Pop section to find out more about some of these bands.

Various Artists "LE POP, v.6" (Le Pop Musik, 2011)
Another groovy collection of contemporary French (and French-language) indiepop, gathered by the German-based Le Pop Musik label... If you're looking for guideposts to help you explore the blossoming French (and French Canadian) indie scene, the LE POP series beats all other competitors, finding the best and brightest of contemporary Gallic twee. Among the highlights here are the mandolin-driven funk of French "cajun" Feloche's "La Vie Cajun," the perky indie pop of Emmanuelle Seigner and the band Coeur De Pirate, as well as tracks by Jerome Miniere, JP Nataf and Yvan Marc... Plenty of female artists as well, with an overall mellow, melodic feel that will be familiar to fans of this excellent series.

Various Artists "LE POP: LES FILLES" (Le Pop Musik, 2008)
Another outstanding collection from one of the most consistently satisfying indie-pop labels in Europe... A strong set profiling the women in the current French pop scene, including established artists such as Francoiz Breut, Jenne Cherhal and Coralie Clement and numerous others who will be new to most American fans. The disc itself is well-programmed and quite pleasant: I've listened to it several times in a row, and been delighted every time. It's also a superior guidepost for further explorations -- so far I've tracked down albums by Marianne Dissard, Loane and Julie B. Bonnie, and I now have several others, by Barbara Carlotti, Poney Express and others, that are on my long-term wantlist. This is a great record... If you like contemporary French indie-rock and the pop-chanson revival, you'll love this disc.

Various Artists "LES MECS QU'EMBRASSENT" (Productions Speciales, 2008)
An interesting multi-label sampler with twenty tracks by French indie/pop artists such as Bertrand Belin, Cali, Thomas Fersen, Da Silva, Albin De La Simone, Gerard Pitiot, and many others. This is the male-artist companion to the LES PETITES QUI PIAFFENT collection listed below.


Various Artists "LES PETITES QUI PIAFFENT" (Productions Speciales, 2008)
An interesting multi-label sampler with twenty tracks by French indie/pop artists such as Marine Bercot, Francoiz Breut, Camille, Jeanne Cherhal, Juliette, Myrtille, Sarah Olivier, Olivia Ruiz, Rose Et Noire, and others. This is the female-artist companion to the all-male LES MECS QU'EMBRASSENT collection listed above.

"NOS ANNEES PUNK: 1977-1980" (Capitol, 2002)

Various Artists "ON DIRAIT NINO" (Universal-Decca, 2008)
A French pop-indie sampler with Alain Bashung, Cali, La Grande Sophie, M, Fabien Martin, Miossec, J.P. Nataf, Fabio Viscogliosi and others.

Various Artists "O TOI, BEATNIK..." (Out Of Limits, 2000)

"LES PLUS GRANDS SUCCES DU PUNK, v.1" (Skydog, 1992)

"LES PLUS GRANDS SUCCES DU PUNK, v.2" (Skydog, 1992)

Various Artists "POP A PARIS, v.1: ROCK'N'ROLL AND MINI SKIRTS" (Universal/Sunnyside, 2004)

Various Artists "POP A PARIS, v.2: MORE ROCK'N'ROLL AND MINI SKIRTS" (Universal/Sunnyside, 2004)

Various Artists "POP A PARIS, v.3: C'EST LA MODE" (Universal/Sunnyside, 2003)

Various Artists "POP A PARIS, v.4: MINET JERK" (Universal/Sunnyside, 2003)

Various Artists "POP A PARIS, v.5: S.O.S. MESDEMOISELLES" (Universal/Sunnyside, 2003)

Various Artists "POP! POP! PIGALLE!" (2003)
Another collection of mysterious provenance, this dips deeper into straight pop-rock releases, stuff that takes its cues from Sergio Mendes and Herb Alpert as well as Dylan or The Beatles. There are well-chosen tracks from many of the better-known singers, including France Gall, Sylvie Vartan, Antoine, et al, yet this 27-song set is also packed with less high-profile artists, such as Robert Gogoi, Marc Aryan, Michelle Torr, Christopher Laird, and others. Wide variety of styles, and a lot of odd songs, well off the beaten track. Worth checking out!


A barebones bootleg, complete with snaps and crackles from the original vinyl, but jam-packed with super-cool, hard-rock mod psychedelia of the Cream/Small Faces variety. Includes bands such as Les Boots, Les Bowlers, Les Sparks and Five Gentlemen (the Carnaby Street influence is apparent in the band names alone...) Lots of obscure artists, and plenty of great music. No liner notes, no inside art, and not even a fake label name adorn the packaging, but the music is hard to beat. These bands picked up where Jacques Dutronc left off -- if you can find this disc, it's well worth checking out! The sound isn't super-duper, but I've definitely heard worse.

Various Artists "PUTUMAYO PRESENTS ACOUSTIC FRANCE" (Putumayo, 2008)
A sweet sampling of the Nouvelle Scene, a modern musical movement that revives and reworks some of France's best musical traditions, producing sweet acoustic tunes with sleek, sly lyrics. Some of these artists were familiar to me from a bit of persistent poking around on the Amazon-France website, but many were not... The most famous singer here, of course, is model-gone-musician Carla Bruni (these days also known as "Mrs. Sarkozy," the newly-minted wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy...) who contributes one fine, understated track from her delicious debut album. And if you loved that record, you'll delight in this disc as well. There's plenty of soft-voiced female crooning on here, too, with particularly nice entries from acousto-chanteuses Constance Amiot and Rose as well as some nice stuff from the boys. A particularly groovy discovery was actress Sandrine Kiberlain, whose "Le Quoditien" (co-written with Pierre Souchon) is an album highlight. To cap things off, there's a bit of gypsy jazz from guitarist Romane (aka Patrick Lequidcoq) and from Thomas Dutronc (the son of French ye-ye superstars Jacques Dutronc and Francoise Hardy) as well as some crazed, catchy Eastern European hybridization from the multi-national Rupa & The April Fishes. All in all, a really nice record, the kind of album you can leave in rotation for weeks on end and never grow tired of. Recommended!

ROCK ROCK ROCK -- FRENCH ROCK'N'ROLL: 1956-1957" (Born Bad Records, 2009)

Various Artists "ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF FRANCE" (Rough Guide, 2003)
An interesting assortment of modern French music, from the old-school chanson and musette of Edith Piaf and Jo Privat to folkies like Gabriel Yacoub and a whole raft of newer oddball artist who mix pop, jazz, rock and worldwide influences... This collection is admirable both for its breadth and the quality of its program -- the songs flow well together, keeping your attention while opening your ears up to an unexpectedly wide array of artists and styles. Recommended!

A nice, eclectic set that tips towards the mod/psychedelic end of the spectrum, with tracks from Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg, Francoise Hardy, Michel Colombier, and other "usual suspects." There's soundtracky stuff, pop vocals and giddy ye-ye rock -- a nice introduction to French pop in the 1960s and '70s.

Various Artists "SIXTIES GIRLS, v.1" (Magic, 2005)

Various Artists "SIXTIES GIRLS, v.2" (Magic, 2005)

Various Artists "SIXTIES GIRLS, v.3" (Magic, 2005)

Various Artists "SIXTIES GIRLS, v.4" (Magic, 2005)

Various Artists "SIXTIES GIRLS, v.5" (Magic, 2003)

Various Artists "SO YOUNG BUT SO COLD: FRENCH UNDERGROUND MUSIC 1977-1983" (Tigersushi, 2009)

Various Artists "SWINGING MADEMOISELLES v.1-2" (Sasha Monett Records, 1999)
I admit, when I saw the first of these collections, I didn't have high hopes... but boy, was I wrong! A fun, well-programmed collection of mid-to-late '60s ye-ye material, with plenty of semi-psychedelic instrumentation. There's some overlap between these albums and the ULTRA CHICKS series below, but not so's you'd really notice. Sound quality is very good, as is the song selection. What really sets these compilations apart from similar unlicenced collections, though, are the detailed liner notes -- not only are the artists' career's outlined, but the recording dates are also included! Volume 2 turned out to be quite nice, as well. Well worth searching for!

Various Artists "SWINGING MADEMOISELLES" (Hip Bop, 2005)

Various Artists "SWINGING MADEMOISELLES 2" (Hip Bop, 2008)

Various Artists "TOULOUSE EN CHANSON" (Mosaic Music, 2008)
An intriguing, if uneven, 2-CD celebration of the "nouvelle scene" of Toulouse, featuring tracks in a wide variety of styles. Mainly, it's dominated by neo-chanson and musette, with energetic accordion work throughout. Some of these tracks have distinctive Slavic touches, apparently the product of crossover with the resurgent Eastern European/Roma movement; there's a healthy dose of tango in there as well. There are some rock/indie tunes and rap (bleh), too... Most of the artists are complete unknowns, which is nice in a way, making the collection a truly authentic reflection of a vibrant local scene. Of the better known artists, there's a track each from Bombes 2 Bal, Art Mengo and Juliette -- their material is borrowed from the major labels, but the rest of the record sounds like home-produced demos or indie label stuff; there are also several live tracks, presumably from some local showcase show. Not mind-blowing, but definitely worth checking out if you want to find out about France's under-the-radar indie scene.

Various Artists "ULTRA CHICKS v.1-6" (1996/2000)
A great series, with plenty of punch compared to similar releases. Whether you're a francophile or a ye-ye girl-groupie, these comps are worth tracking down. Yes, Jacqueline Taib is on here, too, but so are a whole host of others, including dozens of artists zat no one has evair 'eard of... All three CDs are high-test; Volume Three gets a little more modern, but in a power-poppy kinda way, not new wave. As with the ILS SONT FOUS LPs, this covers France, Belgium and the new world... v.3 also includes Tuesday Weld, which seems to be stretching things a bit... but who am I to say? HIGHLY recommended!

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