France Gall, a staple in the French music scene for nearly forty years, has been gaining a reputation recently in America for her early pop Go-Go music (or as the french called it, ye-ye music). Most people wanting to indulge their sweet tooth in such fare would be well suited to buy one of the many collections, most of which go by the name "Poupée de son."
I take it if you are looking at this album, you have already sampled her wares and are looking for more. Fear not. You have come to the right place.
This album probably seemed like a pitiful attempt to come up with some response to "Sergeant Pepper," an album that upped the ante for every artist and claimed the careers of many. So, at least for a while, with France Gall. After a long streak of successful singles, EPs and LPs, this is the last of the ye-ye albums and France went away for a while to retool with some rather bizarre hits in Germany before coming back with more "serious" work in collaberation with her husband, Michel Berger, in the 70's and 80's.
But to all people who love the Summer of Love, the "Nuggets" collections and all things psychedelic, the kitchier, the better, this album is a must. The mixture of France's squeaky freshly pubescent voice over the most lavish over-the-top psychedelic production makes for songs Petula Clark or Nancy Sinatra would beg for. And in French! (I'll admit it. Every time she uses le sujonctif, I get goosepimples.)
The songwriting is top-notch if a little, ahem, familiar. "C'est toi que je veux" starts with a nice string quartet kidnapped from "Yesterday" before Dusty Springfield's brass section bowls them over then returns to a plucked bass line plucked from "Good Vibrations." "Chanson indienne" is as over-the-top as "Can You Dig It?" from the Monkees' ill-fated "Head."
But the star tunes on this album are the ones found on the collections. "Bébé requin" is seductive. "Teeny Weeny Boppie" chugs into strange lands. "Avant la bagarre" starts with a switch so out of left field, you'll have to reverse and listen to it again a couple times before you can finish the song.
"La petite" is the only clunker, a duet with a man who sounds three times her age and harks back to childish songs she put on her early albums because, well, she was only 14 back then. It's the last track. Just skip it.
No, it's not the Beatles. Not even the Monkees. If you want a better singer, Françoise Hardy blows her away. But if you want a museum piece of pure 1967 (which is when 1968 was released) this is for you.
France Gall is hard to resist. People who I play her to might hate it on the first listen. Then later they all ask if they can borrow it. Then "sans que tu le sache" France Gall will devour your heart.