Rockbrat Introduces You To: Claudine Longet

CLAUDINE-LOVE IS BLUE frontThere are certain female singers from the 1960s whom I dig. I have always been a Nancy Sinatra fan, and even though I have sold off 90% of my once 2000+ record collection, I still have every one of her LPs. Ann Margaret is another, as is  Australia’s own Judy Stone. Yet of late, I’ve been reacquainting myself with the often maligned, French singer Claudine Longet. Now I say maligned because there were clearly two parts to her life; Claudine the singer – and then also Claudine, Mrs Andy Williams and the Claudine accused of murdering her then lover, Olympic skier Spider Sabich in 1976. Yet 40 years after she disappeared into self-imposed obscurity, it’s the songs that still sound great. I once read somewhere that she was considered to be a poor man’s Francois Hardy, yet I think that’s somewhat harsh.  Her appeal was fairly obvious. She was an attractive brunette who sung in a cute French accent (which no doubt appealed to male record buyers). Yes, she was sexy, much like other singers/actresses s from the 60s (Ann Margaret, Marlo Thomas, Tina Louise, Angie Dickinson etc), but not in the ridiculously overt way that today’s crop of so called ‘singers’ vaunt themselves. True, she does sing in a breathy style, its accent heavy, and she has an occasional lisp that is evident when she sings R’s and they become W’s (ie: ‘regret’ becomes wegwet, and ‘try’ becomes twy) but let’s not overstate it, it’s not Porky Pig like.  Her most famous tune is ‘Love Is Blue’ (“L’amour Est Blue)and this tear jerker still sounds great. In fact, if you want a good reference point, you could do worse than starting with her ‘Love Is Blue’ album from 1968. Like her other earlier albums, it was released on Henry Mancini’s A&M Records, Mancini himself being a fan. As a whole, ‘Love Is Blue’ still sounds great today, and top to bottom appeals in an easy listening kind of way. A hark back to a simpler, less complicated, less aggressive world. Without getting political, listening to Longet sing sends me back to a France of the mid to late 60s that was free of the Islamic scourge that choke it today. What happened to the France that was once the pulse of Europe and a  leader in popular culture ? From films and music to fashion and food. What happened to the France of  ‘Un Homme Et Une Femme’, Emmanuelle Riva, the aforementioned Francois Hardy, Bardot, Sylvie Vartan, Francoise Dorleac or her sister Catherine Deneuve? De Gaulle would turn in his grave to see what has happened to the France he and his generation rid the Nazi occupation of. If you are in Australia, go watch ‘They’re A Weird Mob’ to see a glimpse of how Australia looked in the early 60s. Go watch ‘Paris Blues’ with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll to get a brief insight of France in the same period (or even ‘Breathless’ from 1960 with Jean Seberg). Anyway, I digress, and I think I made my point.  So back to the album. The title track “L’amour Est Blue is resplendent in strings, and is sung in French. I love her accent.  Although a little syrupy, the whispering , ‘When I Look In Your Eyes’ is another good un. Again, it’s the vocal that gets it through. At times haunting, girlish. The dreamy ‘Snow’, (a Randy Newman tune), with its plaintive piano accompaniment is appealing, as is ‘Holiday’, (penned by Robin and Barry Gibb),  and the bossanova groove of ‘Who Needs You’.  The music is performed by legendary André Popp (and his orchestra), not dissimilar to Paul Mauriat.  ‘Walk In The Park’ is another upbeat, cheery song with an uncomplicated lure. ‘Happy Talk’ is all upbeat, with squeezebox’s and children’s vocals. A simple charm.  On other albums she covers tunes by the Beatles and Stones and these often come under unwarranted criticism. They are still appealing, and again, to call them easy listening is way off the mark. As is commonly known, the Stones recorded a song about her  ‘Claudine’, that was pulled from ‘Some Girls’ prior to its release, for fear of litigation. Claudine released several albums in the 1960s, and their success was no doubt due to the profile she developed as being Mrs Andy Williams, whom she was married to for 10 years. She would often appear on his TV show, and as far as movies go, I guess she is best known for her role playing Michele Monet  in ‘The Party’, opposite Peter Sellers. This post serves to introduce you to Claudine the chanteuse, and the enriching listening experience I feel when I listen to her records. Details of her personal life, friendship with Bobby Kennedy, murder trial  etc., are all available on the net for you to read if you so desire. Instead, I encourage you to disassociate yourself from that side of her story, buy ‘Love Is Blue’ and enjoy the beautiful music of Claudine.

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