I only recently discovered this video that Etienne made for the last (to date) of our co-compositions. Pretty darn good I reckon.
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.
I could only find one track from the album on YouTube, 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.
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 France was 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 Flore is the most beautiful track and the one that reminds me most of that time with ethereal backing vocals from Laurie Mayer. 40000 Années D’Horreur is my compositional contribution to the album. Epaule Tattoo is the superb mix William Orbit did of the album’s first single.