Bulgaria Douze Points ~ Pop Junkie Salutes Sylvie Vartan

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Undisputedly Bulgaria’s greatest contribution to popular music has been Sylvie Vartan, France’s Queen of Pop. Moving from her homeland to Paris at the age of 10, her brother landed his dream role of record producer through a chance meeting and recorded his 17 year old sister when a booked singer didn’t bother turning up. The photogenic poppet was pretty much an instant hit and overnight star.

Despite hanging out with The Beatles in Paris in ’64 and recording here in ’67 her management were easily swayed from promoting her to an English audience. As a result Sylvie is not as well known over here as say Francoise Hardy or France Gall. She was better known in America, through being signed to RCA, and is massive in Japan to this day.

Sylvie’s status in France was sealed when she married their King of Pop, Johnny Hallyday in 1965 (hey, the day after I was born!). Let’s not kid ourselves that pop isn’t just about the music. It’s every bit about how you look when the camera lens shuts, isn’t it? Take a look at this gorgeous portfolio that Child of the Moon has lovingly put together.

This is all by way of announcing that Cherry Red subsidiary RPM has just released Irresistiblement, a compilation of songs composed specifically for Sylvie (as opposed to French translations of Anglo-American favourites such as The Locomotion or Pretty Woman) between 1965 and 1968. With a preference for the upbeat over the ballad, more the pop of Sandy Shaw than the soul of Dusty Springfield (though the opener Dans Tes Bras could easily be from Dusty’s earliest period), this is a great collection of 60s French orchestral pop at its very best.

Included on the album are songs recorded over here with British arrangers Arthur Greenslade, David Whittaker and the great Reg Guest (who worked on Scott & Scott 2) plus these two gems Et Pourtant Je Reste la and L’Oiseau. Recommended.

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