Quand Jimmy dit what’d I say?
I love you baby!
C’est comme qui dirait
Toute la province qui chante en anglais
Brussels’ newspaper of record, the centre-right Le Soir, is running a series of articles in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of rock. Among other things, they’ve published lists of their choices for the best rock albums ever, divided into two time periods: 1954-1979 and 1980-2004.
I have a lot of sympathy for those music critics inclined to think that rock died with the break-up of the Beatles and it would be better if we forgot about the “Rock revivial” of the 80s and called the rest of the stuff labelled as “rock” something else. But, that doesn’t seem to be the common usage. Rock seems to mean pop music that isn’t folk, isn’t country, isn’t rap or hip-hop, and isn’t disco, dance, techno or electronica. It seems to include punk and grunge according to Le Soir.
Okay, it’s fuzzy definition. I can live with that. But what struck me is that on the entire list – over 150 albums – all of three are not in English: Serge Gainsbourg’s Lhistoire de Melody Nelson, Noir Désir’s Tostaky and The Buena Vista Social Club. The last one I wouldn’t even have thought was rock.
Good ol’fashioned Rock’n’Roll was very much an Anglo phenomenon, but if they’re going to include some of the stuff on that list as rock then we’re not really talking about classic rock, we’re talking about a broad swath of pop. And, if that is the case, there ought to be some more music from outside of Anglo-American pop. I mean really – Noir Désir’s worst album is still better than Terence Trent D’Arby, who still makes the list.
Since we’re something of a Euroblog here, I think we ought to try to promote European culture. So, I’m putting out a call to our readers: We at AFOE are looking for the best in post-war non-Anglo music. Go look at the lists at Le Soir name a few albums that at least are primarily in a European language other than English that were reasonably popular and well known at least in one country in Europe and deserve to be on a best albums list.
Since rock is so hard to define, I’m willing to loosen the criteria to anything that is genuinely well known. Readers should be able to come here and make a shopping list if they want exposure to the best outside of “international” anglo pop.
Let me start with some nominations off the top of my head:
L’Autre and Ainsi soit je.. – Mylène Farmer
The No Comprendo – Les Rita Mitsouko
Mademoiselle Chante… and Scène de Vie – Patricia Kaas
I mostly know French music from my distant and misspent youth and don’t actualy have very much of it. What I want to see is a list of the very best albums that you’ll have a hell of a time getting at a record store outside of continental Europe, so that I and any other interested readers out there, can buy them if they’re interested. Think of it as the opposite of the Eurosong contest – a search for Euro-non-schlock.