The French Connection

Zut Alors!…Maybe France isn’t the first country that springs to mind when talking about Punk Rock, but its cultural contributions are all around, and here’s just a petit primer…

“By purist rules, it’s not allowed to even mention Plastic Bertrand. Yet this record was probably a lot better than a lot of so called punk records.” Joe Strummer – Mojo October 2001

Plastic Bertrand, real name Roger Jouret, is a classically trained singer, songwriter and R-375051-1117408389.jpgdrummer who was chosen to front producer Lou Deprijck’s three chord rocker “Ca Plane Pour Moi”. Originally conceived as pastiche punk, its non-sensical French lyrics, delivered in a monotone over drums, bass, guitar and a honking saxophone, went on to sell over 900,000 copies worldwide after it’s original release in 1978.
Despite it’s French lyrics, “Ca Plane Pour Moi” – literally “It Is Gliding For Me”, became a huge International hit, topping both the Swiss and French charts, and reaching the top ten in the UK, Ireland, Netherlands and Germany, Australia and New Zealand. It also reached number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100, being only the third French language song ever to do so.

Six months prior to this, in February 1978, Blondie had also jumped on the idea of Euro-Cool and included a French verse in their updated version of the Randy and the Rainbows 1963, hit “Denis”.

51729ad9f901187f9af204513f73d055Denis, Denis, avec tes yeux si bleus
Denis, Denis, moi j’ai flashe a nous deux
Denis, Denis, un grand baiser d’eternite
Denis, Denis, je suis si folle de toi
Denis, Denis, oh embrasse-moi ce soir
Denis, Denis, un grand baiser d’eternite

A motif that they would also repeat on “Sunday Girl” in 1979.

45614In 1981, the sixth studio album by The Stranglers also boasted a little je ne sais quoi, in the album title “La Folie”, which translates as The Madness. In English this might have looked more like part of a nutty Stranglers rebrand during the UK’s 2-Tone explosion, but in French, the title suits this more thoughtful LP, which contains the single Golden Brown.


Fast forward to 1982, and December’s Christmas offering from Siouxsie and the Banshees was the traditional French Christmas Carol “Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant”.  The video focuses on the band who appear to be standing rather uncertainly on a especially wintery corner of what looks like early prototype set of Call The Midwife. Worth watching if only to see whether Robert Smith is ever going to use those military grade cymbals he’s holding, while Siouxsie bravely holds the whole thing together.

Amis Punk de France, nous vous saluons!


1 thought on “The French Connection

  1. Don’t forget Metal Urbain! Their stunning debut 7″ “Panik” from 1977 still sounds futuristic and reductive [not to mention appropriate, 41 years later]. Jello Biafra’s label Alternative tentacles, reissued it in 2016. Metal Urbain’s second single “Paris Maquis” was RT 001; the first 7″ issued on Rough Trade Records!

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