Aug 16, 2013

Mistinguett In Paris, Newman In Lotus-Land, Plus A Flapper's Paradise And A Colorful October Secret Song!

Ahh, Mistinguett. In the late-1800's, she was just a tiny French lass named Jeanne Bourgeois (I'm not kidding, that was really her last name). As legend has it, she helped out her family by selling blossoms at cafes - and realized she could sell a whole lot more by singing. Not too long after, she made her first appearance at Casino de Paris, and the rest, as they say (no, they don't), is la history! She became Mistinguett. Just Mistinguett. Like Cher!

Mistinguett's is only one of many singers who appear on "Les Grandes Chansons Francaise" - a Tres-Tres Cheeful Exclusive! There's Piaf (of course), Maurice Chevalier, Tino Rossi, Jean Sablon, and oodles and oodles more. Perfect for listening to while you butter your croissant on a Sunday morning - but please, God, in Heaven, not with one of those damn cronuts. Like I'm going to wait in line for a pretentious donut? The French are laughing at us (the French are always laughing at us) (but then the word "killjoy" is of French origin, so don't feel bad).

Did you ever see "Less Than Zero," the 1987 movie with Robert Downey, Jr. and James Spader? Yeah, I did, too.  Did you read the book by Brett Easton Ellis? Uh-huh. Did you like the movie better? Yeah, I did, too. Just looking at the movie - it's a visual feast. All ambers and golds, with cool blues and glistening surfaces and disorienting, skewed angles that say everything about L.A.'s amoral beauty in just half-a-glance.

The score by Thomas Newman (it's still his best) helped, too. It's so cushiony, so luxe, so depraved, just like the characters inhabiting its moneyed cocaine corridors. The score was never released commercially (that I know of) (Fox released one of those pop song albums instead), but why should you be deprived of this gorgeous, sometimes unnerving, music? Will it sound best if you're coming out of some blissful drug haze? Maybe, but I bet it'll make you feel like that anyway.

I'm fascinated by flappers. Look at the girl below, ready for a night out on the town. Speakeasies! Illegal hootch! Corrupting jazz! You just know she won't make it home till noon the next day. And don't even think about asking her what she had to do to get those pearls.

I like listening to the real thing when it comes to jazz from the 1920's, but sometimes it's a kick to hear it all spit-shined and modernized - if it's done well. Have no fear, dear readers, the 2-CD album below is one of the best you'll find in electro speakeasy jazz (how's that for a specialized genre?). As for the girl on the cover, I'm sure she'll be all too happy to tell you what she had to do to get her pearls. And with who. But, you know, different times. Barely.

The Secret Song File was a naughty girl in her teens - pretty, but naughty - then went through a housewifey phase. And now? She won't tell. And, yes, she still likes rock, even though most commercial rock leaves her cold. But not this Texas-based rock band, which has been flying under the radar for over a decade. That'll probably change with their spanking new CD which. Is. Awe. Sum.

But back to the Secret Song File. Does she have all the answers? Should she consent to treatment? It's not like her history is for sale or something. And yet it's so easy to be foiled. Someday she'll sway - this way and that - and maybe approach normal. Oh my God, too many hints. Is it October, yet? Are you feeling blue?

Speaking of pearls, Fellini once said, "The pearl is the oyster's autobiography." 

Leave you own li'l pearl in the comments, if you like. 


James said...

So grateful for the Thomas Newman "Zero" score. I got to see the original cut of "Less Than Zero" back in the summer of 1987 (before Fox had to soften it up to get an R rating) and it was MUCH better than the released version, with an ending that was truer to the spirit of the book. But Newman's score was always one of the movie's greatest assets.

Faze said...

Okay, electro speakeasy jazz as a genre totally takes me by surprise. There are waves overlapping waves overlapping waves here. Kind of like Cheerful Earful itself, where jazz, pop, standards, soundtracks, blue comedy, exotica, electronica and kitsch all bed together in cozy harmony -- a musical Peaceable Kingdom. I don't always follow down the electronica road, but hold out the possibility that maybe someday ... And by a strange coincidence, I was sitting in a museum atrium just last week wondering aloud to some friends what ever happened to Amy Irving and getting increasingly annoyed because they didn't seem to find the question as deep and urgent as I did.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

James - I'm so jealous you got to see the uncut version, though even in the (slightly?) butchered version me and the masses saw, it's still a great, underrated movie (it's too bad the director essentially fell off the map). I'm so glad you finally have the score!

Faze - I'm thrilled and flattered that you think the Cheerful Earfull is a peaceable kingdom. Thank you. As for Irving, all I have to say is...WHAT'S WRONG WTH YOUR YOUR FRIENDS?? And by the way, electronica may not be your bag, but you might want to give this one a try; it's much more melodic and less "electrnicky" than most. And, wait, there's something else I wanted to say...oh, yeah...WHAT'S WONG WITH YOUR FRIENDS?? ;)

KH said...

"electro speakeasy jazz"

Freakin' amazing. You've made my DJ job much easier for a few weeks anyway… ;)

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Why, thank you, KH. Next up, electro Swan Lake! :D

James said...

Cheerful: There were many changes to "less Than Zero," but the most striking one was the ending. After RDJ's funeral, Jami Gertz and Andrew McCarthy are seen at LAX. He's going back east and wants her to join him. She promises she'll be there soon, although she doesn't sound very convincing. They kiss goodbye, he heads for the gate and she goes back to her car -- where she immediately snorts some cocaine and roars out of the parking lot as "Hazy Shade of Winter" plays. It was such a perfect finale -- but I was told the test audiences thought it was "too upsetting." Wish the original cut would show up on DVD or BluRay one of these days so people could compare. Some of Downey's best moments were cut from the final print, I thought.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

I'd love to see an uncut DVD version, too. Based on your description, that ending sounds perfect!