Rocker Michel Polnareff aimed at giving Jacques Dutronc a run for his money in the departmente agent provacateur psychedelique... His early albums mixed psychedelic blues-rock with rambling Dylanesque lyrics. And they were fun. Later material, predictably, gets a little scary.
Michel Polnareff "Le Bal Des Laze" (Disc AZ, 1968)
Michel Polnareff "French Rock Blues" (Kapp/Four Corners)
An attempt to import Polnareff's psych-pop to American shores, around the same time that the Four Corners series was reissuing Francoise Hardy's music. This is actually one of the most convincing French rock records of the time... when he really gets going, this is pretty good! (aka Sous Quelle Etoile Suis-Je Ne)
Michel Polnareff "Ma Cherie"
Michel Polnareff "Polnareffs" (Disc AZ, 1970)
A wild and impressive mix of psychedelic space rock, French chanson, and Motown R&B... A weird, eclectic blend which calls to mind the persistenly inventive nuttiness of the Bonzo Dog Band. Pretty goofy, but pretty cool.
Michel Polnareff "Michel Polnareff" (Atlantic, 1974)
This album features arrangements by Jean-Claude Vannier, the French Phil Spector behind Serge Gainsbourg's celebrated "Melodie Nelson...." While this is a peppy, bright album, with several beautiful softer tunes, it also has a glib, glossy side to it that hints at the coke-y emptiness of Polnareff's later work (although it is not as glam, musically, as the cover art would suggest...) Includes the teasingly "bilingual" "I Love You Because..." where the second half of the sentence is completed in French, baffling we poor Anglais... A clever song which is undone by an irritating, over-the-top arrangement. On balance, though, this album has enough beauty and depth -- on the non-annoying tracks -- to make up for its occasional shortcomings. Worth checking out, for sure!
Michel Polnareff "Lipstick" (Atlantic, 1976)
Michel Polnareff "Coucou, Me Revoilou" (Enough/CBS, 1978)
Sort of like a Virgil's-eye view of the nine rings of scary '70s rock purgatory, this showcases Polnareff in Abba-esque, Air Supply-y moments aplenty, with a bit of David Gates-ian wimp rock to sweeten things up. Truly quite frightening, though there are a few interesting passages.
Michel Polnareff "Juliette"
Michel Polnareff "Polnarevolucion"
Michel Polnareff "Karma Sutra"
Michel Polnareff "Incognito" (Enough Records/Epic, 1985)
Yi-i-i-i-ikes. Well, it can be said for this record that it was very much of its times, and, predictably, it's packed full of spastic drum machines, bad, thin-sounding synths, and pointlessly irritating electric guitar solos. Michael Jackson and the early MTV scene are clear influences, and while Polnareff does muster a moderately interesting melodic passage or two, this album is so resolutely tacky and manic that it's hardly worth tracking down. I didn't keep my copy, and I doubt I'll ever regret the decision...
Michel Polnareff "Bulles"
Michel Polnareff "Vertical"
Michel Polnareff "La Poupee Qui Fait Non"
Michel Polnareff "Tout Les Bateaux Tous Les Oise"
Michel Polnareff "Fame A La Mode"
Michel Polnareff "Live At The Roxy" (Sony-France)
Michel Polnareff "Nos Mots D'Amour" (Phantom, 1999)
Michel Polnareff "Ze (Re)Tour 2007" (Enough/Decca, 2007)
Live in 2007? Methinks, yikes.
Michel Polnareff "Les Premiere Annees" (Universal)
A 3-CD box set covering his earliest stuff...
Michel Polnareff "La Compilacion" (Sony, 1999)
A 3-CD box set covering his earliest stuff...
Michel Polnareff "Les 100 Plus Belles Chansons" (Universal, 2007)
A 5-CD box set... Incroyable!
Various Artists "UN HOMAGE A POLNAREFF" (XIII Bis Records, 1998)
An absolutely incredible indie-pop album. Okay, so maybe most of these tracks are slightly more polished, and a little more twee, than Polnareff's own work, but under no circumstances should you allow that little disconnect to keep you away from this fab pop gem. With a smooth mix of sleek indie-guitar rock and relaxed trip-hop grooves, this features a slew of gloriously talented French indie bands, almost none of which I've ever heard of before now. The exception is Guesch Patti, whose version of the teasingly bilingual "I Love You Because" is one of the album's highlights. Beautifully programmed, and intensely listenable, this collection gives a tantalizing glimpse into the contemporary French indie scene. I suspect that for folks in the States the only way to get this comp would be to contact the label directly... Keep in mind, however, that there is also a 2-CD version of this tribute , which has all the same stuff as this single disc set, along with new tracks by big-name international stars such as Pulp, Saint Etienne, Nick Cave and others. I haven't heard the expanded edition, but I bet it's completely fab, too.
French Music Index
French Rock Albums