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Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe

Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe

DJ, writer, performer, record label owner and all-around pop activist Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe was born in Rouen, the city of Joan of Arc, Gustave Flaubert and Marcel Duchamp. His mother was Portuguese and passed on to him a deep love of music with a saudade (a joyful form of melancholia) quality. After spending many of his childhood years drawing his favourite cartoon characters, Deluxe enrolled at Rouen Art School. He moved to Sheffield, England to take post-graduate courses. While there he met Pulp, Designer’s Republic and Warp Records. His interest in music led him to launch his own record labels, Come Together and Euro-Visions. He was the first to bring April March to the attention of French audiences and introduced her to Bertrand Burgalat (Tricatel), which resulted in some memorable collaborations. His latest record label, Martyrs Of Pop, has released music by artists such as Jay Alanski (Beautiful Losers) and Jacques Duvall (Leatherman), the men behind some of pop princess Lio’s best songs. Deluxe has written for the UK’s Nude and Shindig magazines, plus Roctober (in the USA) and Outré (Australia). He currently writes for Standard, Lui, Schnock and Rock & Folk in France. Having written several books in French, his first in English, Yé-Yé Girls Of 60s French Pop, was published in 2013 to rave reviews in Mojo, the Independent and the Telegraph.

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Selected releases

  • April March 'Laisse Tomber Les Filles'

    Much has been written about Serge Gainsbourg’s genius, but those of you not living in France in the 80s might not realise how uncool he seemed to a teenage indie pop fan like me. By 1986, Gainsbourg was experiencing unparalleled fame, but at the same time he was also butchering his old classics on stage with embarrassing session men. Furthermore, he was making a fool of himself by appearing completely drunk on television talk shows. His self-indulgent behaviour resulted in some of the worst music of his career.

    It took an American friend, April March, to convince me I was missing some of the greatest French pop ever composed. Silly me. I had allowed Gainsbarre (the name he used when he was more Mr Hyde than Dr Jekyll) to blind me to the genius of Gainsbourg. With her adaptations of his songs, April was the first to introduce Gainsbourg to English-speaking countries and also caused many French people to reconsider him.

    So it’s a great sign that April appears on “Vamps Et Vampire”, Ace’s compilation of the best songs Gainsbourg wrote for others. He always had his dark misogynistic side, but here the females are triumphant. Ace even managed to pick ‘Elastique’, one of his few 80s compositions that does not suck. Vanessa Paradis and Charlotte Gainsbourg finally did him justice just before he passed on to another reality, but if you ask me, Gainsbourg’s best-ever interpreter is April March herself.

  • Annie Philippe 'On M'a Toujours Dit'

    When people talk about yé-yé girls, the names Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan and France Gall invariably pop up, but my favourite is Annie Philippe. She was (and still is) the perfect mix of joie de vivre, sexiness and grooviness. Just listen to ‘On M’a Toujours Dit’ to see what all the fuzz (not the fuss) is about. All that’s unique and cool about French yé-yé is synthesized in this one song. Annie is also the cover star of my book Yé-Yé Girls, the perfect accompaniment to Ace’s “C’est Chic!” and “Très Chic!” compilations.

  • Françoise Hardy 'I Think It's Gonna Rain Today'

    My favourite Françoise Hardy recordings are from the late 60s and early 70s, the period she became more independent and daring in her artistic direction. There are few French chanteuses who can be just as persuasive in English as they are in French. Hearing Françoise sing Randy Newman’s ‘I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today’ is an invaluable gift. Her silky, moody voice blends perfectly with the psychedelic folk arrangements recorded in Chelsea with producer Tony Cox. Who could ask for more?

  • Fifty Foot Hose 'Bad Trip'

    Being a sucker for the electronic pioneers, as well as the strange moment in time when psychedelia and synthesizers were conjoined, this album is perfection itself. I rate Fifty Foot Hose right up there with Hawkind, Silver Apples, the United States Of America, Lothar & the Hand People and White Noise. Who hasn’t experienced a bad trip at one time or another? With their song ‘Bad Trip’, they take us directly to the core of the bummer experience. Musically they manage to mix free jazz ditties with frightening yet comical screams. Freaking out has never sounded so good. 

  • Vince Taylor 'Jezebel'

    A biopic should be made about the fascinating Vince Taylor. In it people could see that real life is often much stranger than fiction. When Vince performed at the infamous Place de la Nation concert in 1963, he received all the headlines, but at the same time was turned against by all the old squares. The black leather, chains and uncompromising high energy rock’n’roll was too much for the powers that be, who preferred to push the more malleable Johnny Hallyday. The fall of Vince Taylor began, his career spiralling downhill along with his sanity. He became the first rock martyr and inspired David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust doppelgänger. But the ups and downs of his life shouldn’t hide his musical legacy. Without his inspiration, the Clash and Billy Childish likely would not have been who they were. ‘Brand New Cadillac’ anyone? My favourite Vince Taylor song is his cover of Frankie Laine’s ‘Jezebel’, which in his hands becomes a mesmerizing magical chant. Complete genius.

  • Dion 'Born To Be With You'

    Phil Spector fans might think I’m crazy but I’ll take that risk. I think his 1970s work is his best. Spector’s 1960s productions stand at the pinnacle of pop history, but there’s something more touching about his 70s recordings. It’s as if, having proven his genius, he could take his art to a deeper and more baroque level without having to worry about the reaction of critics or listeners. Leonard Cohen, John Lennon, Cher and Harry Nilsson are really incredible when Spectorised, but it’s Dion who reaches heaven with ‘Born To Be With You’. In 1975, when the music world was ruled by disco, glam and boogie rock, you had to be crazy to come up with a record like this. The audience was probably not ready for such a monumental cathedral of sound. 

  • Alex Chilton 'Free Again'

    Like Vince Taylor before him and Johnny Thunders after, Alex Chilton was always a cult figure in France. Some people say French rock critics prefer their heroes unappreciated and beaten up. When listening to Alex Chilton’s 70s sessions you realise Ace are finally doing justice to a body of work that needs to be heard around the world. Having just left the Box Tops, and not yet involved with Big Star, he was exploring his own inner visions. If you are looking for pure pop solace, this one-of-a-kind gem is just for you.

  • Jackie DeShannon 'Put A Little Love In Your Heart'

    Despite great advances during the past century, I think we’re still living in a man’s world. Yes, there are many women songwriters with originality, but can anyone explain why Jackie DeShannon hasn’t been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Without her, a lot of women wouldn’t have picked up an instrument and composed songs. I’d like to suggest you check out my pal Louis Philippe’s wonderful homage, “Jackie Girl” – it's like a meeting between Michel Legrand and Burt Bacharach. My favourite Jackie DeShannon song is ‘Put A Little Love In Your Heart’, which, as with Proust and his Madeleine, brings back vividly the time I discovered it on French radio in my youth. This song is a timeless classic that has been covered by everyone from Wreckless Eric to Leonard Nimoy. It’s virtually indestructible due to its core brilliance. 

  • Mighty Baby 'Egyptian Tomb'

    “I was a Mod before you was a Mod” sang the Television Personalities. All joking aside, let’s remember Mod was short for Modernism. Mighty Baby’s album was way ahead of its time, perhaps because it was recorded at a time when artists were still dreaming the future instead of fearing it. The first time I heard ‘Egyptian Tomb’ by these ex-Action guys it was as if I’d always known and loved it. Great songs do that to you because they seem so familiar. Listening to Mighty Baby sends me back to 1968 as well as forward to a psychedelic vision of the future – I almost believed I could travel in time and go shopping at Granny Takes A Trip to look as sartorially cool as the band.

  • The Bonniwell Music Machine 'The Trap'

    If you’re a true lover of garage rock, you’ve no doubt got copies of the Music Machine’s first two albums. These guys were so cool and mean-looking, with a sharp sound enhanced by Sean Bonniwell’s voice. For a long time I thought they were finished after two albums, but thanks to Ace I’ve found out how wrong I was. Their anthology of the latter part of the Music Machine’s career is incredible – no fillers, only killers. Just listen to ‘The Trap’ or ‘I’d Loved You’ to experience Bonniwell’s mastery of various styles: pop, soul, rock, baroque pop. Had he been a contemporary of Bach, I’ve no doubt he would have been one of the outstanding composers of his time. Truly exhilarating music.