The queen of French pop’s best English-language recordings from New York, Nashville and London, 1962-1968. Featuring several unissued tracks and an exclusive interview with Sylvie.
Sylvie Vartan is a French pop institution, as popular today as when she first took the yé-yé scene by storm in 1962. The vivacious and always stylish Sylvie was also a pioneer amongst the new breed of French female artists, crossing the Atlantic several times in the early 60s to record. She proved remarkably adept at tackling material in English, which resulted in many superb recordings chanted in a husky, compelling accent.
Her main foreign release in that era was the US-only album “Gift Wrapped From Paris”. It combined tracks from the 1963 “Sylvie à Nashville” LP along with new sessions cut in New York in late 1964 with a crack session crew plus Ellie Greenwich and friends on backing vocals, all directed by Sylvie’s brother Eddie Vartan. Later on Sylvie recorded in England and utilised the talents of her British in-house writers, Tommy Brown and Micky Jones, the latter later to become famous in the band Foreigner.
“En Anglais . . . et en Américain” compiles the best moments from Sylvie’s English language releases 1962-1968, including the uptown R&B of ‘Gonna Cry’ and ‘I Made My Choice’, girl group nuggets ‘I Can’t Make Him Look At Me’ and ‘I Heard Somebody Say’ and the groovy ‘Thinking About You’ and ‘Run For The Sun’. We also delve deep into the vault to find previously unheard gems such as ‘You Please Me So’ and ‘Whirlpool’. With superior remastered sound and an extensive, heavily illustrated sleeve note that tells the full story behind her experiments singing in English – including an exclusive interview with Sylvie herself – “En Anglais . . . et en Américain” is a must-have for both her ardent fans and any fan of the classiest 60s girls.
A truly international star with a five-decade career, the lustre of which has yet to dim, Sylvie Vartan is in many ways a textbook example of how an act can survive in showbusiness with dignity. Beloved in France, still hugely popular in Japan, Italy, Canada, South America and other territories, Sylvie’s relative lack of visibility in the US and Britain has little to do with her obvious talents. Working incredibly hard, she has maintained a distinct class over the decades, consistently charming her audience and relying upon her admirable skills in dance and showmanship.
In contrast to a giggly poppet such as France Gall, or the aloof, unreachable Françoise Hardy, Sylvie emerged firmly and unequivocally from rock’n’roll. She was constantly in the headlines thanks to her relationship with Johnny Hallyday, but her career was firmly her own. Sylvie had the soignée poise of a top model, yet on record and in person was unaffected and engaging, and always herself. It was not the sensational press but her own natural artistry that ensured Sylvie’s rise to the top of the French music business. In an early Salut Les Copains questionnaire, she stated clearly how she preferred to “parler et chanter en Anglais”. Her proficiency in English is quite apparent on the vintage recordings on display here, but so are the qualities that continue to make Sylvie Vartan one of popular music’s brightest stars.