Thursday, September 8, 2016

Four Randos and a Red Broom

How is it that VVer #1 always stumbles across randomly discarded records (aka vinyl vagabonds) in the street?  Seems that someone has eyes like a hawk for these...
The Strays:
A free, pristine, four-record set begging to be brought home was sitting in front of Som Records (honestly, that place always has a weird box of free stuff out front).  The set in question is Dance Du Balai No 1-4 by Jo Privat et son orchestre musette and pressed by Les Industries Musicales et Electriques Pathe Marconi in Paris, France.  At first glance there was a level of fear; why would someone just discard a pristine set of something so lush with warm colors, smiling wedding guests, and some guy holding a red broom?  This VVer had to know more.  He spent time studying the more unusual aspects of the covers (the red broom on in every photo for instance) and began to imagine what these records might sound like.  Into the bag and homeward bound.

The Plan:
On the journey home an idea started to percolate... why listen to them at all?  VVers don't typically go in for orchestral wedding music ya' know.  Why even do any research?  Why not just try to Sherlock Holmes this jam and figure out as much as possible to guess what they will sound like?  Sounds like a good enough MacGuffin to get writing!

The Research:
Each cover prominently features a semi-burly man in a dress shirt, blue slacks, striped socks, and sandals (Jo?) playing a blue-marbled accordion with gold trimmings.  On accompaniment is always his buddy with the skinny mustache (Steve?) playing a rustic looking acoustic guitar.  Both look very happy, focused, and possibly a bit inebriated.  Even though the records are all French productions, the well-dressed wedding attendees all look slightly Greek, maybe Polish or Italian?  Except for the bride (a blonde), everyone has dark hair.  There is something old-world, rustic/country about the pictures.  The front cover upper section features an illustration (Ekta Jean Mainbourg?) of a dapper gentleman with a bowler cap dancing with ... you guessed it, a giant, red broom.  The color photos are soft and saturated all at once.  They look a bit like hand-colored black and white, but it's probably just cheap printing of the era from whence they came.  Regardless of the fact that these are old records... no year is printed on the sleeve or the vinyl.  The VVers guess 1963 based on fashion choices (conservative but hip), decor (bamboo curtains), hair styles (greased and up), and lettering on the sleeves (quirky but clean).  Fascinatingly, each cover features the same wedding couple in four totally different scenes.  Did these covers get shot at four different fake weddings?  That's a lot of fake wine to drink!  The couple looks to be in pure bliss as they bask in each other's joy.

What the music sounds like is tough to guess even though there is a great deal of evidence to soak up.  Described as a potpourri of one-steps, valses (waltzes?), rumbas, tangos, marches, and even a few polkas--it's just about impossible to figure.

 "Special Danse" (see picture) music has never been so intriguing!!!  The back of each record advertises others from the set, with the exception being No. 1 which also has an ad for Jo Privat's album "Petanque a Nogent" which is sort of like French bowling/bocci (the VVers have cousins in France so therefore know about Petanque... and in the picture Jo and his buddies are all are pointing at balls).  What's really awkward is that the balls are all around Jo's accordion, which is clearly a staged and awkward photo.  Balls.  The VVers refuse to show this picture here.

Looks like each album sold for twelve or twenty-six francs at ye'olde Samartaine BG (see picture again!) which sounds like a pretty good deal.  All four LPs are marked Series Pilote with a corner image of an aquatic ship steering wheel logo, implying a nautical motif.  Are these anthems of the Mediterranean French Navy!?!  What about that red broom?  Are there satanic witches?

So about that broom.  In each case the person holding the magical red broom is pictured looking intently at a dancing couple (in two cases it's the bride and groom, in one it's another attractive couple, and in the last, the guy is admiring his glass of scotch or possibly he is about to drink a candle) and appears to be waiting for his chance to cut in.  Is this the old-world equivalent of the swap scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark?  "Here man, hold this magic broom for a second while I hold your wife/bridesmaid/drink."

Some Fun Songs (Probably):
One Step "Avec les pompiers" which sounds like evacuate the pampers
Valse "Les Nuits" which is a song squirrels would like
Valse "Le grande frise" which is about a big salad
One Step "Ma Femme est morte" which sounds a bit dark for a wedding song
Rumba "Quizas, quizas, quizas" which is a nice little ditty about anxiety for pop quizzes
March "March du bonheur" ... don't ask
Polka "Joyeuse tourterelle" a swell tune about a happy, dancing tortoise

Perhaps the VVers are ready to listen...

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