Friday, 18 December 2009

Dec. 13th: A string of pearls goes on forever

 Les Rita Mitsouko- Variety (English Version) (Because Music, 2007)

Les Rita Mitsouko were one of the biggest alternative bands in France of the 80s; a duo of Fred Chichin and Catherine Ringer who first formed and played in various Parisian art spaces in the early 80s. They were active until Chichin died of cancer in 2007-this was the last album credited to the band, an English version of their previous 2007 album Variéty.
I am a big Catherine Ringer fan- more as a musician than as an occasional porn star, admittedly. To me, she's the French version of Annie Lennox: she has a strong, distinctive voice and personality, and just generally kicks ass. The English version of Variety doesn't do her justice, and isn't really a fitting legacy for Fred.

Musically, both versions aren't the best work LRM ever did. A bit heavy on the soft-rock, nowhere near as interesting as some of their earlier work. There are some great songs on the album though: 'Ding Dang Dong' and 'Ma Vielle Ville' particularly, I love- in the original language. Variety was the first LRM album recorded in an English version,and it shows. Lyrically it's somewhat lacking. 'Ding Dang Dong' becomes a straightforward party tune with no real emotion depth; 'Ma Vielle Ville' (retitled 'Paris (France)') changes from talking about homesickness and memory to what appears to be a musical advert for the Paris tourist board.  Also, in my view Ringer just sounds better in French, like she actually means what she's singing.

Variety isn't a bad album,but it's not particularly good either. The French original is much better, as the musical shortfalls are compensated for by the lyrics. If you were to get one, I'd get that, preferably. Or even better, get Catherine Ringer Chante Les Rita Mitsouko and More à La Cigale, her post-Fred live CD of LRM songs and appropriate covers. It contains all of the good songs on Variéty, in French, and with much more energy than on disc

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