Saturday, June 22, 2013

And Bands: Eli et Papillon

Eli et Papillon: Train de Vie

I don’t speak French, but I know enough to know that “et” means “and.” I have written often about my son, and less about my daughter, which is just because my son and I seem to have more similar musical tastes, although maybe not really. I do love them equally, no matter what they may think. But I am always looking for a reason to mention my daughter, and when I came up with an idea in connection with this theme, I jumped on it.

My daughter is a young woman who has an intrepid streak and loves languages. Her goal in life, right now, is to live outside of the U.S. A French student in high school, she also started teaching herself Spanish and spent a summer in Ecuador. In college, she started studying Arabic, and is a Spanish major, studying last summer in Buenos Aires. She has taken a semester of Portuguese, and will be spending her junior year in Barcelona, studying Spanish and likely some Catalan.

The summer before her senior year, she attended the Middlebury Monterey Language Academy in Vermont, which is an immersion program, so the students are supposed to speak only their chosen language, in my daughter’s case, French. The students were cautioned that the only books they could bring would be in French, and any music they planned to have on their iPods had to be in French. So I started to look for music in that language for her. Along with the obvious Serge Gainsbourg, Carla Bruni, and the like, I found some French prog rock, some Cajun songs and a few other random things. She and her then-boyfriend found French ska and rap. But probably my favorite discovery was Eli et Papillon, a duo from Montreal, which my daughter also liked.

It turns out that “Eli” is not an old Jewish guy or a hipster kid from the Upper West Side, but is singer Elise Larouche, and “Papillon” is not Henri Charriere, but is multi-instrumentalist Marc Papillon-Ferland. They were offering their demo for free, and I snapped it up. It was well crafted music, somewhere between folk and pop, and Eli has a beautiful voice. It reminds me a little bit of Hem.

About a year ago, Eli et Papillon released a final version of their first CD, and they have fleshed out the songs a bit. The version of “Train de Vie,” which Google translates as “Lifestyle,” posted here is the new version, and it proves that you don’t need to have any clue what a song means to enjoy it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

And Bands: Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band


Any band that would put out a live album called "Hand Clappin', Foot Stompin', Funky-Butt...Live" is one you know you need to hear. So find it 'cuz this track from Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band is from 1968's Shake a Tail Feather Baby!

  In the mid 60's The Air Force stationed Indiana native Geno Washington in England  where he met up with the Ram Jam Band. Together they recorded some of the finest, best selling and most frenzied live albums of the decade. In the 70's Geno left the UK to become a hypnotist. But he wasn't entirely forgotten. In 1980 Dexy's Midnight Runners hit #1 for two weeks in the UK with their tribute "Geno". That prompted a come back of sorts. Geno still performs every now and then.

  "Understanding" was the last track on side one of the '68 album so listen closely towards the end for a passionate prompt to flip the record to side two.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

AND BANDS: Sniff 'n' the Tears

Sniff 'n' the Tears: "Driver's Seat"

There are so many band names including the word "and" that it would be nearly impossible to arbitrarily decide on a good place to jump in here. It would more or less be a matter of closing your eyes and throwing a dart at a dartboard with all the names posted on it. Which actually isn't such a bad idea, but where to find a dartboard that large and the time to print out and cut up all those names . . . well, it just doesn't seem that do-able once you start to think about the logistics.

So instead, I'm approaching this from the angle of the most creative use of the word "and." Not typically a word that is used all that creatively, this narrows it down incredibly. Placement of the word might in fact be creative, such as "And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead," where it's the first word, or some band that has it at the end (can't think of one offhand at the moment).

However, my selection today is the band Sniff 'n' the Tears (yes, of course the "'n'" counts as an "and" as much as, say, an ampersand -- heck, it's "rock 'n' roll," after all). Here, it's used as a bit of a pun, simultaneously conjuring up "Sniff and the Tears" and "Sniffing the Tears" -- pretty clever. And really, a pretty good band name however you look at it. If only their name had carried over to a long and fruitful career -- unfortunately for them, as it turns out, despite the release of a couple more albums, they're a one-hit wonder if ever there was one.

"Driver's Seat" was released in 1979 on the debut Sniff 'n' the Tears album, Fickle Heart, and to this day I hear it frequently on the classic rock stations. And you know what? It's still a great song. The strummed acoustic guitar really makes it pop (and the vocals are pretty cool too). There's a nice guitar solo in there as well, although for some reason I suspect the work of a session musician (but any of you devoted SntT fans should feel free to correct me on that). "Driver's Seat" hit the Top 40 (which I recall well because it was during a time when I was young that I would listen to Casey Kasem every Sunday morning and keep a handwritten list of the songs tacked to my wall, including their chart movements from the previous week), but the original band broke up soon after the album's release and reformed versions never again found any chart success to speak of.

"And" that's that.