My current musical obsession focuses on 3 artists: Colette Magny, Catherine Ribeiro, and Theatre du Chene Noir. Many's the unifying string running thru all three: French women doing their defining work in the late 1960's & early 70's; operating well outside any cultural drift; all three appearing on the famed Nurse With Wound list (which Wm Berger has been so heroically documenting on these pages - rise Wm, rise!!). There's a fierce political character to all 3 as well, often subtle or implied, tho in the case of Mme Magny, sublimely overt.
But the thing that most strikes me about all 3 is a delivery that seems informed primarily by fatal despair and a supremely confident anger. I think it's this quality that has me so gaga over these artists, and it's this quality that I'll present to you in audio linkery. On this page, there's some brief biographical info on each, and over the fold I'll offer the audio links, selected discogs, and more links.
Colette Magny came first, (and has sadly died first) and was a massive influence on much French music to come. Beginning her career as a blues and folk singer, she became radicalized by the U.S. Civil Rights movement, the Nueva Canción musicians in South America, as well as the worldwide student revolt of that bygone era - you know the one. Her most astounding material is unapologetically violent, shocking, yet quite effective agit-prop accompanied by a heavy, romping jazzy rumpus.
Catherine Ribeiro (link is to her official website) began her career as a Ye Ye Girl and actress (appearing in 1963 in Godart's "Les Carabiniers") before meeting the composer Patrice Moullet, whom she married, and with whom she formed the bands 2-Bis and Alpes. Heavily influenced by Magny's vocal style, musically Ribeiro's most exciting incantations leap off from some of the most intense, repetitive and thrilling rural space-rock you'll find this side of Amon Düül, or even early Gong - several of whose members found their way to Alpes. Catherine's still busy performing in France, and she's apparently quite popular in Belgium.
I don't know who this woman to the right is, but she may possibly be the mysterious and haunting voice of Theatre du Chene Noir, a performance troupe from Avignon led by a guy named Gerard Gelas. There's sadly little I can find out about them, but it does seem that their recordings are actually documents of live stage plays. Check out this pic from one of them, "Miss Madonna". Musically presenting a diversity of styles, the anonymous vocal delivery is at once sexy and defiant, cooing and unapproachable. Her voice seems to be the one that appears on albums from 1971 and 1975. In any case, Gerard is still active.
- Colette Magny "Oink! Oink!", from Brian's show. You don't need to speak French to understand this one, from her 1974 album Repression. Bio info here, and a listener's email to Mark Allen here. Also check out Melocoton, Vietnam 67 / Mai 68, and Transit.
- Colette Magny "El Aparecido", from Tony Coulter's show. This is Colette covering a song by a most tragic figure, the Chilean freedom fighter, musician and folk hero Victor Jara. Mind you, Tony Coulter's the guy who hipped us all to Colette, so pay close attention here; in this link he provides some background info, and segues directly into Catherine Ribeiro's "Le Kleenex, Le Drap de Lit et l'Etendart".
- Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes "Ame Debout", from Rich Hazelton's Inflatable Squirrel Carcass. This one's sort of a gateway track, featuring great strong, throaty singing and a fascinating drone on the percuphone. Taken from the 1970 album of the same name.
- Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes "Roc Alpin", from Charlie's show. Almost folky, almost joyful, yet still highlighting some seriously powerful pipes. From 1972's Paix.
- Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes "Qui a Parle de Fin" and "Poeme non Epique (suite)", from my show. This one starts with a nearly whispered poem from 1975's Liberte, then takes 20 minutes to evolve into some of the most cathartic throat-ripping screaming I've ever heard, from Le Rat Debile et L'Homme des Champs (1974).
- Theatre du Chene Noir "La Vivilesse et la Mort", from Aurora (1971). Here she is in totally fearsome feral mode. If you've seen the otherwise forgettable movie "Pola X", and recall the scene in the woods at night, then perhaps you too picture Yekaterina Golubeva when you hear this song.
- Theatre du Chene Noir "Le Train", from Charlie's show. This one showed up in 1976 on Chant Pour Le Delta, La Lune et Le Soleil. Very distant and very commanding, I must follow this person.