Ten days after the triumphant release date I’m happy to report, in a non-boastful way of course, that the reaction so far has been a unanimous thumbs-up. I recommend checking out Arnold’s Facebook page for a roundup of the press and TV commentary. Scroll down aways and you’ll see a photo of me and Arnold in our white-shirted 80s guise, working on his first solo album Let’s Go à Goa.
Here’s the full video clip of first single Souffler N’est Pas Jouer. Also check out a very nice fan clip of the beautiful ballad Que La Fête Commence.
Word is getting out. More people are starting to know what my readers (being in the know) already know: the new album from Arnold Turboust is an important milestone in French musical history. That may sound grandiose and bombastic, but it’s seemingly how things are done in this anno rabidus, so who am I to buck the trend.
Here’s a teaser for the first single Souffler N’est Pas Jouer with an excerpt from the amazing video, or moving photograph to be more accurate.
Very happy to announce that a release date has been set for Arnold Turboust, the self-titled masterwork from my old friend, who I find to be one of the most original composers ever to hail from Normandy, or anywhere in the world for that matter. Watch this space for more news.
Meanwhile, this blog will soon return to the riot-torn Los Angeles of 1992, to pick up the picaresque tale. À bientôt.
What the heck, I’m going to mess with the timeline again, this time to jump forward, because I rediscovered this song and I think it’s pretty damn great.
There is more to write about 1989, including sessions with Dusty Springfield, as you shall hear. But around this time I am tiring of my subterranean existence and beginning to take fewer studio assignments. Tony Visconti certainly saw the writing on the wall when he closed down his large studio. By the end of the 80s anybody with a cheap computer, a sampler and a synth could make a good enough track in the comfort of their living room, and many were abandoning the studios to do just that.
This blog will similarly slow down some, as I have an Arnold Turboust album to finish. Bear with me though dear reader, for there is still much to tell.
So let’s jump off the Time Tunnel in late 1990, when I was in Belgium to do some mixes for the excellent Dominique Dalcan, who played and sang everything on this song. It was released on the Crammed Discs label run by Marc Hollander; this is a label that has given me a lot of pleasure over the years, not least with its very first release Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine back in the late 70s.
Also major props to Mr Henry Rollins, who played a track from Onze Danses on his KCRW radio show recently, making a Sunday evening drive to the supermarket an unusually magical experience.
Sometimes, when life just gets a bit much, I pull myself up and say…dude, you wrote a song with Françoise Hardy…
One of the demos I’d given to Etienne Daho a couple of years previously was a song called Days of Heaven. He wasn’t feeling it for himself but when Françoise Hardy was looking for songs for her album Décalages he passed it on to her and she penned new lyrics for it. And that’s how I came to write a song with Françoise Hardy.
During the preparation of Arnold’s album I was invited to the studio in Paris where she was recording. Some readers may not be altogether astonished to hear that I made an ass of myself. I was nervous, starstruck, very probably over refreshed. Françoise, of course, was all elegance and cordiality. She handed me a Fender Stratocaster, casually mentioning that she had borrowed it from her husband Jacques Dutronc, at which point I nearly dropped the thing. Most embarrassingly, I had hardly played guitar for 2 years and was completely unable to play my own song. Luckily the unfailing Xavier “Tox” Geronimi was there, and gave me that look given by natives of Brittany to convey “I got this”.
With the dawn of the New Year it was back to Paris to prepare the first solo album of Arnold Turboust, then on to Belgium to record it.
Arnold had put together an excellent collection of songs and arranged them with the help of then sideman, the late great Jacques “8 Ball” Bally. By this time I had a large library of Akai S900 sounds to augment the percussion tracks. I’d used some of them the previous year on the solo debut of Tess, a lovely song called Les Rizières.
Brussels must be one of the most comfortable cities in Europe and I found working there very pleasant. I remember running into Alan Rankine, I think he was living and working out there at the time. The indispensable Xavier “Tox” Geronimi joined us to fill out the sound. I even played drums on the exquisite A La Frontière de Ton Beau Pays.
All in all I was happy with it. Maybe we’d have been better off mixing in London, as the one track we did there, Margarita, came out very well. But I like the Belgium mix. Right now I’m working on a sequel of sorts, Arnold’s latest solo album, and it’s sounding fab.
Second single from the album was Francine’ Song. Etienne Daho wrote the lyrics to that one. I’m also including a link to an earlier remix of Arnold’s debut single Adelaide. This remix was done on the night of 26th April 1986, as Chenobyl melted down.
2018 update: this album has just been reissued in a sumptuous and unmissable new edition.
Etienne Daho was a pretty big star in France and he wanted to make his new album Pop Satori in London, with Torch Song producing.
At that time the band were trying to get their second album finished and released so it fell to me to take the controls. Etienne had already sent over a multitrack of his recent single for us to play with. Tombé Pour La Francewas insanely catchy euro pop, style français. The B side, Ballade De Edie S, was highly intriguing, an homage to the Warhol star with a strange, writhing and reaching melody, and an arrangement somewhat reminiscent of Nino Rota but altogether new at the same time. This was my first hearing of the compositional skills of Arnold Turboust, who became a good friend and with whom I am still working.
So Etienne and Arnold, and Arnold’s lovely fiancée Tess, and guitarist Xavier “Tox” Geronimi, all turned up in Maida Vale for the recording. I seem to recall things going very smoothly after some initial bumps. I know I spent a long time pounding on an Emu SP12 drum machine, on which I pretty much did every drum track.
Having got most of the album in the can it was decided to return to Paris to finish it, which was just fine by me, and so ensued a magical few weeks mixing this great work and running around the “city of light”. I am featuring three selections, two from the album and one that William remixed later. Paris Le Floreis the most beautiful track and the one that reminds me most of that time with ethereal backing vocals from Laurie Mayer. 40000 Années D’Horreuris my compositional contribution to the album. Epaule Tattoo is the superb mix William Orbit did of the album’s first single.