"Tetes Lourdes is a compilation that provides an overview of some seriously arcane heavy Rock from France. Sourced from a baker's dozen of 45rpm singles released between 1970-1972, this assembled m'lange is as heavy and fucked-to-the-Gauls as the sleeve, so hang onto your disbelieving eyes and ears because THIS is the REAL merde, it's on FIRE and ever since I first stepped into it I've been sliding down a greasy track of disbelief while getting nothing but the highest octane psychic fuel from it all. What do you say to a collection of beaucoup kicks, real hot licks and nada to nix from the land of Grand Prix except -- VIVE LE ROCK! So let's unfurl this tricolour'd yawn, and toot d'sweet!
Something was happening in France in the first three years of the seventies all over a bewildering assortment of singles that stand as excellent examples of the variety and power of French Rock that has been hidden for WAY too long. And as is the case with most singles from anywhere on this planet, the fire of the outstanding side is usually paired with an opposing side of 100% drab filler that bears little or no relation to its killer counterpoints. Which is the case here (save for one) which makes the kick ass tracks even more precious, for only two of the ten groups discussed herein even got to the stage of releasing full length LPs; the majority lucky to leave behind a mere legacy of one to three singles, tops.
But most of all, the main characteristic this collection of curveball, one-to-several-off 45s share is that they help dispel the long-standing misconception popular among American and British Rock'n'Roll devotees that France is entirely without merit when it comes to Rock. Barring Magma and the tiniest amount of early Gong (albeit fronted by an expat Aussie acidhead), I was in complete agreement because sad fact was: the miniscule portion of French Rock that wound up edging itself into the peripheries of the Anglo-American slipstream always fell way short of the mark from even before the time I first started paying attention. I mean, The Stinky Toys? Punk as fucque. Apparently. Telephone? 'Les Wave Nouveaux calling collect!' (Click...) Plastic Bertrand? One-off snottage pony copping a punk frottage offa The Beach Boys' collective flabbiness when Ray Burns committed a far more iconoclastically stupid feel up with 'Jet Boy, Jet Girl.' Telex? File under: Haute Tech ala Werk d'Kraft.
In fact, I knew of no one who even RATED France as a part of the geographic landmass of Rock (and that even included some French acquaintances.) Least of all, my high school music pals -- who were rushing over to my house blue in the face not with the latest Metal Urbain single (or anything else on Rough Trade, for that matter) but rather: Jean-Michel Jarre's 'Oxygene' (which was barely a patch on even 'Stratosfear' or Klaus Schulze's 'Body Love Part 2' and had me doubling back in no time flat to my small, underachieving yet entertaining-for-the-sleeves-alone space rock collection comprised mainly of Tim Blake imports and cut-out Synergy and Vangelis albums.)
So it was little wonder that this representation wasn't exactly assuring France a place at the head of the Rock'n'Roll banquet anytime soon as its transparent faux-everything-ness was considered so laughable it was scorned roundly and often: even by older music heads who'd actually heard albums by Francois Breant and other import disques of the day. And the abundant back catalogue of library records by chanteuses and chanters like Edith Piaf, George Brassens and their ilk hardly helped the French cause du Rock, because it was all either too old-fashioned, folk-based, stank of Broadway Brel from Hel and all of it was sung in French as though accompanied by an omnipresent fog of Gitanes smoke. This was hardly the meat and drink of a sixteen year old who was just discovering 'Their Satanic Majesties Request' while guzzling a cocktail of beer and downers in between stints of free supermarket nitrous, secret Rock & folk & jazz cigarettes, defacing public property and generally rebelling against all forms of authority any-which-way-willy-nilly, while generally not knowing or caring what the fuck was expected of moi. Basically, I was a fuck up until my savage teen heart were quelled somewhat with the soothing balm of bared female caresses, kisses and more for the first time as I... Hey: who you calling a cornball romantic? Me?! All of a sudden I'm Screamin' Lord Fucking Byron because I was going through exactly the same headcase heartbreakin' scenario like any other non-bull-fruit jock, future pillar of community hobgobbler or exam-swotting intellectual-to-be that felt something/anything? Before you accuse me take a good look at yourself and besides these were the same kinda scenarios what scripted 'Leader of the Pack,' 'Louie, Louie,' 'C'mon Everybody,' '(I Cannot Receive A Modicum of) Satisfaction (So It Looks Like I'm Jerking Off Again Tonight),' 'My Generation,' 'Talk Talk,' 'No Fun,' 'Kick Out The Jams (Because I Am A) Motherfucker, Motherfucker' and basically, ALL of Rock'n'Roll. Oh, alright then, make that a YEAH! And by the way, mine's a double. YEAH! YEAH! And this one is for Alice speaking: 'YEAH, YEAH, YEAH!!!' I only wax this affirmative because if I am a romantic it's only because I care and I don't care if you don't -- but I wish you would all the same would because then we'd all seal the deal and make it all for real instead of creeping around sniggering potshots at some hothead typing this in at ten times the speed of some amphetamined monkey churning out scripts for the Globe fricking Theatre. Speaking of which, my own Teenage Archangel of a Juliet unlocked my heart, blew my mind and managed to straighten my head just when things were just getting too crazy all the way 'round in my life. Things are still crazy, although I'm older and not a little wiser (Although at this point my IQ should tower over the collective grey matter high marks of Newton, Einstein and Nietzsche's if William Saroyan's old chestnut 'We get very little wisdom from success' has any measure of truth to it and I think it does) and maybe things aren't as exciting as I'd like 'em to be. They rarely are, but WHEN they are, I live a new set of existence ten foot tall and am able chop down the side of a mountain of bad vibes like nobody's bizniz. Which is where and why this collection of insane racket from France enters the fray... (track by track breakdown)
Variations - Generations