Archive for June 2011

Just passing through

June 1, 2011

One of the charms of the old Midnight Tracker radio show was that you would, from time to time, be exposed to something you otherwise might not have listened to.

Some months ago, a friend asked me to keep my eye out for a record by the French singer Francoise Hardy. He passed along the title of the LP. I had to Google the rest, just to get a sense of what I was seeking.

Last month, I came across a Francoise Hardy record while digging in my friend Jim’s basement. It didn’t match the title my friend gave me. Still, I had a hunch it might be the right record. Googling it a second time confirmed that.

Having spent several months digging through H records and female vocalist records — when I remembered to do so — damn right I was going to put it on the turntable and give it a listen before passing it along to my friend.

It was like listening to the Midnight Tracker back in the mid-’70s. Here was a record someone else liked, so why not give it a chance?

“Loving You,” “Hang On To A Dream,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Lonesome Town,” “Who’ll Be The Next In Line” and “Never Learn To Cry,” Francoise Hardy, from “Loving,” 1969. This is Side 1. It runs 13:44.

Released on the Reprise label, this LP is said to be Hardy’s only major English-language release. It is out of print. (Also known as “En Anglais,” it was re-released in Japan in 1976, 1979 and 1990.)

The formula for “Loving” is a bit like that of Dusty Springfield’s “Dusty In Memphis,” which also came out in 1969.

Hardy’s soft, gentle folk-pop vocals grace a bunch of covers. Side 1’s first five songs are from Elvis Presley (written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller), Tim Hardin, the Shirelles (Gerry Goffin and Carole King), Ricky Nelson (Baker Knight) and the Kinks (Ray Davies). Side 2 includes Phil Ochs’ “There But For Fortune” and Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day.”

The Kinks cover is the best cut on the record.

Hardy was 25 when “Loving” was released. By then already a huge star in France and Europe,  she had set up a production company, Productions Asparagus. It gets the producer’s credit on this LP, so it seems that this is Hardy, in English, the way she wanted to do it.

Truth be told, this isn’t a record I’d buy for myself. But I am glad I heard it, and I’m delighted to be able to pass it along to my friend, to whom it really matters.