Record Collection N° 127: Popincourt “A Deep Sense Of Happiness” (Milano Records, 2020)

Put the needle on the record: Popincourt „A Deep Sense Of Happiness“

What a marvelous second album by maybe the most British of all French pop and rock musicians. It’s a magnificent piece of art.

It’s not easy to follow a fantastic debut album like A New Dimension To Modern Love with a worthy second album, that’s as good as the first one. Olivier Popincourt, the French singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, organ, piano, percussion) has mastered that task with his brilliant new record A Deep Sense Of Happiness.

Popincourt has worked four years on the album. He was backed by some super fine musicians and singers. Olivier Bostvironnois (grand piano), Fred Jimenez (bass), Hervè Bouétard (drums, percussion), Sèbastian Souchois (soprano saxophone), Quentin Ghomari (trumpet), the wonderful French Boutik vocalist Gabriela Giacoman (lead vocals and lyrics for While The Ship Sinks In and backing vocals elsewhere), two other feminine backing vocalists) and a formidable string quartet. The splendid horns and strings arrangements stem from Souchois, recording director was Bostvironnois. The fine graphic cover design comes from Serge Hoffmann (singer, songwriter, guitarist in French Boutik). The complete record is worth the long wait, cause it’s a magnificent piece of art.

Even though Popincourt over the years has amplified his musical palette with more tone colours and styles, the music on A Deep Sense Of Happiness sails in similar waters as his debut. From the British guitar beat and the Californian Sunshine Pop of the 1960s and 1970s to the British punk and new wave of the 1970s to the British indie pop of the 1980s, to Soul and Jazz anyway. You could name Popincourt’s influences and inspirations from A to Z, but what would that bring? After all is said and done and the last song has faded, it’s clear that A Deep Sense Of Happiness is 100% Popincourt, no other artist makes music just like this. 

Mood wise Popincourt’s second album is a bit different from his romantic, love drunk debut. Whether autobiographical or written for a narrator, there are many songs here dealing with good-byes and new beginnings, thoughts of being young and getting older. They are not always full of hope, some are painfully soul-searching or even discuss the bad shape of the world. Maybe that’s owed to broken love affairs or the mean virus that has a stranglehold over the world. Who knows? But eventually positive, hopeful, uplifting feelings prevail.

Whether it’s songs, melodies, music, or arrangements – Popincourt doesn’t run a junk supermarket but a small and noble delicatessen shop. On the shelfs of A Deep Sense Of Happiness stand twelve formidable songs, maximum enjoyment guaranteed.

Thanks, Olivier for your dedication!

Side A of the 180g vinyl LP, which sits in a magnificent fold-out cover, opens with The Grass Of Winter Morning, a cautious guitar beat that pursues the nature images of Popincourt’s sublime 2019 EP 4 Colours 4 Seasons. Never Give All Your Heart, that seems to be a kind of warning to not fall in love too deeply, is an enchanting chamber music ballad with a baroque string quartet and a dazzling saxophone solo. Always Back (Like The Morning Dew) is a rousing guitar beat with beautiful sunshine pop harmonies and a soulful 60s organ. The emotive The Last Beams Of A Setting Sun sounds only for a few seconds like Lou Reed‘s Perfect Day, then a touching ballad evolves, sophisticatedly arranged and telling a short story about lovers that grow older and lose on the way their love, just like in the German Erich Kästner’s wonderful poem Sachliche Romanze. The title track has a fiercer beat and great jingling-jangling guitars in his veins and is maybe on the trail of a new love or a new start in life. My Whole World Is Falling Down explains itself in the title, but with its ringing guitars and nice sunshine pop harmonies doesn’t sound depressed at all.

Side B of A Deep Sense Of Happiness begins with one of the most beautiful songs of the album: the splendid melancholic ballad Where The Wind Never Blew which bewitches you with its touching sentiment and its sophisticated jazzy brass arrangement and Olivier Popincourt’s delicate Blue Note jazz guitar. French Boutik singer Gabriela Giacoman, charming as ever, takes over the vocals in the fierce 60s guitar beat groover While The Ship Sinks, she has also written its angry lyrics that bemoan the kaput condition of the modern world: „Let the last survivor turn out the lights“. But the wonderful guitar pop of Truly Yours lightens up the dark clouds, even though with a nostalgic glance to the past, upon which the following enchanting Spreading Golden Dust literally sprinkles gold powder. The charming ballad Once Upon A Time, a breath-taking beauty, is drifting once more between retrospect and re-orientation, but Popincourt’s melancholy melody and his delicate French accent are irresistible. The same goes for the conciliatory final song This Must Be Heaven, which is refined with soaring strings, a classical grand piano and Popincourt’s exquisite guitar solo with a touch of Pink Floyd.

I do not know if Joe Jackson, Paul Weller, Brian Wilson,or Burt Bacharach do know the music of Popincourt music, but they would like it.

Popincourt A Deep Sense Of Happiness, Milano Records, 2020

© The Deep Sense Of Happiness Pics shot by Klaus Winninger


Record Collection N° 31: Popincourt „A New Dimension to Modern Love” (Jigsaw Records, 2016)

True romance from Paris: Popincourt’s splendid debut album is one of the best albums of the new millennium and one of my most favourite records ever.

Popincourt’s magnificent album debut A New Dimension to Modern Love has been released in June 2016, but I noticed the record only after some months. You can blame it on a Facebook compliment by Brent Cash, who is a great songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer in his own right and gave the world three fantastic albums so far: How Will I Know If I’m Awake (2008), How Strange It Seems (2011) and The New High (2017).

Brent Cash advised all to listen to the new project of his Parisian friend Olivier Popincourt. This guy from Paris, so Brent, channels the blue eyed soul of Paul Weller’s The Style Council; the jazzy, funky electric piano and Hammond organ of old Blue Note records; the Motown soul of Marvin Gaye and his magnificent duet partner Tammi Terrell. After some cursory listening I quickly replied to Brent: „Like what I hear. Olivier’s songs are so beautiful!”

At first, I had to content myself with a quite good sounding MP3 album, I bought in a music download shop. The vinyl LP – only 300 have been printed – was only available in the online shop of Popincourt’s American indie label Jigsaw Records in Seattle, post & package absurdly expensive. But after my first enthusiastic review of A New Dimension to Modern Love in my blog I got in touch with Olivier Popincourt personally and could buy it directly from the artist himself. He sent me from Paris a nice package: With his debut LP – at a very generous prize and embellished with a personal dedication on the back cover. And also, a great, signed 10-inch-vinyl-EP, released in 2014: Four songs, amongst them the outstanding track Is This Real? which already heralded the wonderful pop miracle, that became reality with A New Dimension to Modern Love.

Popincourt, named maybe after the 11th Parisian arrondissement, is the music project of the French singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Olivier Popincourt, who lives in Paris. A man with a declared British taste in pop music, who is active for quite some years now and well connected (with various projects) in the Parisian neo-beat- and neo-mod-soul-jazz-pop-scene. For the time being he also plays Hammond organ for French Boutik – a hot & hip, powerful mod-pop-combo from Paris – on their fantastic 2016 debut album Front Pop and often also live on stage.

The marvelous French Boutik singer Gabriela Giacoman returns the compliment and joins Popincourt on A New Dimension to Modern Love. Recording the album, Olivier also was seconded by some other great musicians: Hervé Bouétard, the drummer of the French music wizard and neo-chanson-singer Bertrand Burgalat; Ken Stringfellow (Posies, Big Star, R.E.M.) on bass; and soundtrack-composer Sébastien Souchois, who arranged all the exquisite jazzy brass sections throughout the songs and also served as producer in the recording studio.

The recipe for Popincourt’s amazing music and wonderful songs on A New Dimension to Modern Love follows a healthy diet. The already named ingredients – The Style Council’s French inspired 1983 cult LP Café Bleu, the sound of Marvin Gaye’s classic Motown soul and the iconic jazz of Blue Note Records – are complemented with some Small Faces; a dose of Paul Weller’s first fab combo The Jam; some Elvis Costello; some Joe Jackson; and maybe a bit of 1970s Californian sunshine pop. On top of all comes some super fine 1980s British indie-pop in the vein of Aztec Camera or Prefab Sprout. It seems, that Olivier Popincourt inherited in his musical DNA the melodies and vocal phrasing of Roddy Frame and Paddy McAloon – so he can’t do no other than croon his songs like them. Olivier does a heck of a job, and he delivers all his lyrics – written and sung in English – with a light, charming French accent. It’s simply irresistible.

So, what about Popincourt’s delicate songs? What he sings are odes of love. Love is all around wherever you look. One song is more beautiful and enchanting than the other. They sparkle with delicious, soulful melodies and have beautiful titles like The First Flower of Spring, Want You To Be A Souvenir, The Risk of Losing You or The Things That Last. The album title says it all. Send in the clichés: Paris, city of love. Sidewalk cafés. Cappuccinos. Smokey Bars and jazz clubs. Existentialism. Black turtlenecks. Trench coats. French kissing. We’ll always have Paris. All you need is love. There you go.

Finally, let me say that I haven’t heard for many years a more beautiful and more soothing album than A New Dimension to Modern Love, and one that enriches my life’s quality so much. The record hasn’t lost any of its magical appeal since I listened for the first time to the wonderful songs mentioned above and others like We Will Be Friends, Off Track or The Reason Why. If paradise is half as nice as A New Dimension to Modern Love, you can count me in.

Popincourt, A New Dimension to Modern Love, Jigsaw Records, 2016

Record Collection N° 16: French Boutik „Front Pop” (Detour Records/CopaseDisques, 2016)

On their rousing debut album French Boutik go for sharp guitar riffs, crispy drums, a funky bass, a soulful organ, catchy melodies and captivating vocal harmonies. You gotta say yes to their French beat from Paris.

Good pop music from France? That’s impossible, you think. Well, there you go. Think of Air, Bertrand Burgalat, Daft Punk or Phoenix. And even better, listen to Front Pop, the superb album debut from the Parisian mod soul power pop combo French Boutik. Fantastic pop music from France is a mission possible. Maybe the heavy weight of the traditional classic French chanson dominated popular French music too long. Perhaps it wasn’t an ideal matrix for exciting new pop music from Paris or elsewhere in the land of Jean-Paul Belmondo, Catherine Deneuve, cool jazz, existential philosophy and picturesque cafes.

But in the 1960s in the undertow of The Beatles, France and the French definitely learned to swing and dance in a thrilling modern way. The yeh-yeh-wave with the wonderful, divine French beat girl Françoise Hardy or Jacques Dutronc, her later husband and father of her son, lighted French pop music. The same goes for the extraordinary artist Serge Gainsbourg, who with a little help from sexy singers like Brigitte Bardot or Jane Birkin made super fantastic pop music. Which brings us back to French Boutik again. This fab band consists of the cool Zelda Aquil, drums, backing vocals; the charming Gabriela Giacoman, vocals, backing vocals, percussion; the nonchalant Serge Hoffman, guitar, vocals; and last but not least the thoughtful Jean-Marc Joannès, bass. The main songwriter is Hoffman, usually in co-production with Aquil or Giacoman.

I discovered French Boutik by chance, taking a detour through Popincourt’s brilliant debut album A New Dimension to Modern Love. The wonderful French Boutik singer Gabriela Giacoman sings there so enchantingly. On the other hand Popincourt mastermind Olivier Popincourt plays Hammond organ on Front Pop, returning the compliment. Having released already three EPs French Boutik turned to beautiful Hamburg, German seaport of Beatles fame. After writing new songs in Paris French Boutik recorded there Front Pop in the small but really cool Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Studios.

Other than Popincourt, French Boutik sing their songs mostly in French. But both acts gain more appreciation and a bigger audience in the United Kingdom as well as in continental Europe. Their pro-European open-mindedness and simpatico internationality are practically the musical antithesis to rightwing anti-Europe-baiting, Brexit and Trumpdom. The situation is kind of similar to the 1980s and the tough years when the UK’s Prime Minister was the  Iron Lady Margret Thatcher. Then Paul Weller’s great second band The Style Council sought to overcome the grey dreariness of the era with their optimistic soul jazz pop, commuting between London, Paris, Rome and Detroit.

Likewise, French Boutik who are like Paul Weller convinced Mods do sound on Front Pop irresistibly fresh, uplifting and overwhelmingly charming. They adjust their new French beat more to electrifying power pop and the passionate guitar frenzy of The Jam, Weller’s first fab band. But they pay homage to the beat, soul and mod feeling of the swinging sixties as well as to the spirit of the punk and new wave of the 1970s and early 1980s.

So, they reinterpret Françoise Hardy’s delightful sixties hit Je Ne Suis La Pour Personne convincingly groovy. But at the same time they have splendid self-penned songs like Impitoyable, Le Mac, Sur Mon Ecranor, Le Casse or Costard Italien – all of them sung in French. Like Hitch A Ride and The Rent, which are sung in in English, they all have alert lyrics about political and social themes or more romantic or just everyday life topics.

French Boutik go for sharp guitar riffs, crispy drums, a melodic, funky bass, a soulful organ, catchy melodies and the captivating vocal harmonies of Gabriela Giacoman and Zelda Aquil. Theirs is the new, charismatic new French pop, the new French beat from Paris. You gotta say yes to their front pop.

The vinyl LP edition of French Boutik not only allures with its cool cover, it has also on offer a stylishly designed inner sleeve with all the song lyrics printed, a double sided poster with some other fine band pics and a MP3 download code inside. Merci beaucoup, French Boutik.

French Boutik Front Pop, Detour Records/CopaseDisques, 2016

In The Year 2022

Meine neuen Lieblingsplatten von A-Z.

2022. Nach all diesen Jahren immer noch verrückt nach Musik. Weil Musik ein, nein, das Lebensmittel, also Überlebensmittel und Lebensverbesserer wie sonst kaum was. Das hier sind meine liebsten, meistgehörten neuen Platten im Jahr 2022. Keine wertende Liste, weil Musik schönerweise kein Sport ist, also von A-Z. Einzige Bedingung (die Beatles sowieso die Ausnahme von Regel) die hier genannten Platten müssen 2022 veröffentlicht worden und käuflich erworbene Neuzugänge in meiner Plattensammlung sein, egal ob als LP, CD oder Download.

Also: Beatles. Beatles. Beatles. Und …

The BeatlesRevolver (Special 2022 Remix Edition, 2 CDs)

BilderbuchGelb ist das Feld (LP)

Elvis Costello & The ImpostersThe Boy Named If (CD)

Elvis Costello & The ImpostersThe Boy Named If (Alive At Memphis Magnetic) [Digital Album]

Channel Three – This Is London/ Small Flat By The Sea (7inch Single, ups, noch eine Ausnahme, 2021)

Kevin Rowland & Dexys Midnight RunnersToo-Rye-Ay As It Should Have Sounded (3 CD Box)

Jochen DistelmeyerGefühlte Wahrheiten (CD)

Familie LässigEine heile Welt! (LP, CD)

PhoenixAlpha Zulu (CD)

The Rolling StonesEl Mocambo 1977 (2 CDs)

Roy Bianco & Die Abbrunzati BoysMille Grazie (LP)

Bruce SpringsteenOnly The Strong Survive (2 LPs, CD)

Harry StylesHarry’s House (CD)

Taylor SwiftMidnights (3 am Edition) [Digital Album]

Tiny Flaws – Imperfection Blues (LP)

Neil Young and Crazy HorseToast (CD)

Tiny Flaws: “Imperfection Blues” (LP, 2022)

A superb present that arrived today, not really for Christmas, but it arrived in the festive season. I do like the Tiny Flaws second album Imperfection Blues a lot, their sophisticated, soulful, passionate, and totally energetic blues rock, rhythm & blues and soul, their fondness for coffee in their songs and lives. Actually it‘s one of my favourite records of 2022 and onwards, I guess.

Record Collection N° 248: Tiny Flaws “Imperfection Blues” (Imperfect Records, 2022) – English Version

The passionate blues rock and rhythm & blues & soul played on the English indie pop combo Tiny Flaws‘ second album is one of my favourite records of 2022.

It’s fitting that a band calling themselves Tiny Flaws called their second album Imperfection Blues. But then again not. Because there are no flaws on Imperfection Blues. Instead, after the tasty, soulful mod soul jazz of the self-titled 2019 debut album, which grooved more in the footsteps of Georgie Fame, you’ll hear smoking blues rock in abundance, but also with a large portion of soul. When listening to the singer on Imperfection Blues you might think of Paul Jones (ex-Manfred Mann) and The Blues Band (from the early 1980s, if anyone remembers), the Animals, the Spencer Davis Group and sometimes even Dr. Feelgood. But beware, the Tiny Flaws are no cheap copycats, despite the mature age of all those involved, Imperfection Blues sounds fresh, vital, and relevant in every groove. This band has many trump cards up its sleeve.

The ace of trumps is Toby Kinder, founder and mastermind of the Tiny Flaws, who dislikes modern pop music with its uniform assembly line sound, homogenized with autotuning and disco beats, which bangs out of every radio, because it lacks any creativity and soul – which is a mirror of our society that’s so keen on one’s perfect individuality but ultimately leading to a self-optimized conformity. Whereas Toby, the son of a music teacher, who became acquainted with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Mose Allison, and Thelonius Monk through his father, relies on lively, passionate music played by real musicians according to the purity law of yesteryear. The good man himself shines on the Hammond C3 and Wurlitzer organ, on the piano, also on the accordion, if necessary, and even more so as a refined and subtle songwriter.

With Lenny Bignell, the Tiny Flaws‘ second trump card as guitarist and producer, Toby Kinder has played already in the superb mod-soul-jazz combo Gene Drayton Unit, but he also plays organ for the Parisian mod-soul combo French Boutik, where he has filled in for Olivier Popincourt when they play live, and also for The Sound Of Pop Art. Toby met Lenny at a Gene Drayton Unit gig in Brussels and over a few pints of Belgian beer they discovered their musical kinship which has led to the two musicians working together ever since, Bignell joined the Gene Drayton Unit in 2016, Kinder played organ for Bignell’s project The Juks and they continue their fruitful relationship as musical director and producer with the Tiny Flaws.

Bobby Tarlton as the new singer is the Tiny Flaws‘ third trump card that cannot be surpassed, powerfully supported by the rhythm duo Raydn Hunter (bass) and Mark Claydon (drums, also with the Gene Drayton Unit), who set the heartbeat for the Tiny Flaws, he really is the soul of Imperfection Blues. Of course, Bobby isn’t Paul Jones, Eric Burdon, Steve Winwood, or Lee Brilleaux, but hey, he’s Bobby Tarlton, a great rhythm & blues and soul singer who doesn’t need to fear comparison with any of the above greats and whose powerful, crisp blues tone and warm, soulful vocals perfectly match with the Tiny Flaws. And yes, the man in question is the very same Bobby Tarlton, who has been a fixture on London’s mod-soul scene for years and was named “North London’s finest troubadour”, who has in recent years established himself as Doctor Bird (aka Dr Bird) with superb songs, and soulful singing and a multitude of small gigs made himself heard in many places and has gained continually in reputation. Incidentally, it was Bobby, whose singing has already been described as “Van Morrison crashing into Nick Lowe”, who introduced Toby to the members of French Boutik, with whom Toby now plays organ casually, as well as with Dr Bird.

Blues harpist Joff Watkins, one of London’s finest harmonica players, is another trump card in the Tiny Flaws‘ excellent hand, that Gabriela Giacoman, the famous French Boutik singer, further strengthens, she makes a guest appearance on Imperfection Blues as lead singer on the song C’est Different and sings the seductive backing vocals on the dreamy A Boat Called Elsewhere.

The twelve songs of Imperfection Blues were recorded in Lenny Bignell’s home studio in Penge, a London district outside of the centre, in doing so the recordings were made more difficult and were delayed by the corona pandemic, and despite the rhythm duo could never play together in the studio, they grooved like clockwork.

Already the opening Photogenie , where Bobby Tarlton laments as blues shouter impressively about a lost love, sets a first emotional signpost. The second track Long Gone John, originally on the Gene Drayton Unit’s 2006 album At The Jazz Traffic Lights … keeps the tempo in a captivating blues shuffle, relying on Watkins‘ strong blues harmonica like almost all the songs here, and Bobby Tarlton celebrates his blues feelings and advocates making use of the time with the people around you, as long as they are still there because once they’re gone it’s too late. From The Soul with its sweet soulful sound and Memphis Horns-esque horns is a brand new composition and carries its message right in the title, it’s inspired by Toby Kinder visiting Memphis, and Bobby Tarlton knows to use the soul that he’s got in his voice to full effect and lets a pleasant shiver run over your skin. The gorgeous blues rock of Caffiend was first an instrumental on another Gene Drayton Unit record, 2008’s Done & Dusted, and addresses everyone on the album’s penchant for strong coffee. Also, originally a Gene Drayton Unit song, Get That Girl is the record’s secret hit that you can’t get out of your head, and unlike Bruce Springsteen’s early songs which were often about cars and girls, it’s all about that one special girl and even more coffee. And finally, at the end of the first side of the vinyl LP, in C’est Different, Gabriela Giacoman, who also wrote the song, gets her grand entrance, a friendly turn so to speak, which is not without reason reminiscent of Down In The Seine by The Style Council.

The second side of the LP opens with The Ones In Your Head, one of two re-recordings from the Tiny Flaws‘ debut album, it packs a lot more punch than the original, with Lenny’s pounding guitar riff, the howling blues harmonica and Toby’s full throttle organ, and Bobby sings in a class of its own as blues shouter. Whispering City is a highly evocative London ballad set against a jazzy cinemascope backdrop, and Bobby Tarlton once again shows just how much soul he has in his mature voice. The title track, Imperfection Blues comes also from the Tiny Flaws’ debut, and it deals with the fact that it’s the other person’s little mistakes that can make a relationship appealing and that maybe these mistakes are precisely what you miss when everything has gone to pieces. Done & Dusted was at first the 2008 instrumental title track of the album mentioned above, here soul man Bobby Tarlton laments how all hope, dreams and energy are relentlessly going down the drain with progressing age, and the wailing blues harp weeps with him. Definitely one of my favourite songs here, A Boat Called Elsewhere starts with drinking coffee again before the Tiny Flaws set sails towards Style Council Island with Bobby in the bow and Gabriela bewitches him with her sweet siren song. After all, Cake Shop is a cracking update of a soul-jazz instrumental by the Gene Drayton Unit from 2005 and would do credit as theme tune to a TV series, and it’s definitely a worthy la-la-la finale to the record.

The best songs are in your head, Bobby Tarlton sings in The Ones In Your Head, but on Imperfection Blues many of Toby Kinder’s intellectual creations materialize at their finest. As already said, this record is anything but flawed, it’s simply a sensation how good it is.

Tiny Flaws Imperfection Blues, Imperfection Records, 2022

Record Collection N° 248: Tiny Flaws “Imperfection Blues” (Imperfect Records, 2022)

Der leidenschaftliche Bluesrock und Rhythm & Blues-Soul des zweiten Albums der englischen Indie-Pop-Combo Tiny Flaws ist eine meiner Lieblingsplatten von 2022.

Dass eine Band, die sich Tiny Flaws, also kleine Fehler nennt, ihrem zweiten Album den Titel Imperfection Blues gibt, passt. Und auch wieder nicht. Denn Mängel gibt es auf Imperfection Blues mitnichten. Dafür gibt es hier nach dem süffig-souligen Mod-Soul-Jazz des selbstbetitelten 2019er Debütalbums, das noch mehr auf den Spuren von Georgie Fame groovte, rauchenden Bluesrock in Überfülle, aber auch den mit einer großen Portion Soul. Man darf bei Imperfection Blues an Sänger Paul Jones (Ex-Manfred-Mann) und die Blues Band denken (vom Anfang der 1980er, falls sich wer erinnert), an die Animals, an die Spencer Davis Group und auch mal an Dr. Feelgood. Aber Achtung, die Tiny Flaws sind keine billigen Copy Cats, trotz reiferen Alters aller Beteiligten klingt Imperfection Blues in jedem Groove frisch, vital und relevant. Diese Band hat viele Trümpfe im Ärmel.

Das Trumpf-As ist Toby Kinder, Gründer und Mastermind der Tiny Flaws, der moderne Popmusik mit ihrem uniformen, mit Autotuning und Disco Beats homogenisierten Fließband-Sound, der aus jedem Radio pumpert, verabscheut, weil ihr jegliche Kreativität und Seele fehle – sie sei quasi ein Spiegel einer auf Individualität erpichten Gesellschaft, die letztlich aber in eine selbstoptimierte Konformität münde. Dagegen setzt Toby, der Sohn eines Musiklehrers, der durch seinen Vater Bekanntschaft mit den Beatles, den Rolling Stones, den Animals, Mose Allison oder Thelonius Monk machte, auf lebendige, leidenschaftliche, von echten Musikern gespielte Musik nach dem Reinheitsgebot von anno dazumal. Der gute Mann selbst brilliert an der Hammond C3 und Wurlitzer Orgel, am Piano, auch am Akkordeon, wenn mal nötig, und erst recht als feingeistiger Songschreiber.

Mit Lenny Bignell, dem zweiten Trumpf der Tiny Flaws als Gitarrist und Produzent, spielte Toby Kinder schon in der lässigen Mod-Soul-Jazz-Combo Gene Drayton Unit zusammen, aber er orgelt auch für die Pariser Mod-Soul-Combo French Boutik, wo er live für Olivier Popincourt eingesprungen ist, oder für The Sound Of Pop Art. Toby lernte Lenny bei einem Gig der Gene Drayton Unit in Brüssel kennen und über einigen Gläsern belgischen Biers entdeckten sie ihre musikalische Seelenverwandtschaft, die dazu führte, dass die beiden Musiker seither zusammenarbeiten, 2016 schloss sich Bignell der Gene Drayton Unit an, Kinder spielte Orgel für Bignells Projekt The Juks und auch bei den Tiny Flaws führen sie ihre fruchtbare Beziehung von musikalischem Direktor und Produzent fort.

Bobby Tarlton als neuer Sänger ist der dritte nicht zu überbietende Trumpf der Tiny Flaws, druckvoll unterstützt vom Rhythmus-Duo Raydn Hunter (Bass) und Mark Claydon (Schlagzeug, auch bei der Gene Drayton Unit schon dabei), das für den Herzschlag der Tiny Flaws sorgt, ist er die Seele von Imperfection Blues. Bobby ist freilich nicht Paul Jones, Eric Burdon, Steve Winwood oder Lee Brilleaux, aber hey, er ist Bobby Tarlton, ein großartiger Rhythm & Blues- und Soulsänger, der den Vergleich mit obigen Granden nicht zu scheuen braucht und dessen kräftig-knackiger Blues-Ton und warmherziger, souliger Gesang perfekt zu den Tiny Flaws passen.  Und ja, bei ebendiesem Bobby Tarlton, der seit Jahren ein Fixpunkt von  Londons Mod-Soul-Szene ist, handelt es sich um Nordlondons besten Troubadour, der sich in den letzten Jahren als Doctor Bird (Dr Bird) mit superben Songs und beseeltem Gesang vielerorts Gehör und gebührende Reputation verschaffte. Es war übrigens Bobby, dessen Gesang schon mal als „Van Morrison kracht in Nick Lowe rein“ beschrieben wurde, der Toby Kinder mit French Boutik bekannt machte, bei denen dieser inzwischen nebenbei orgelt wie auch mal bei Dr Bird.

Der Blues-Harp-Bläser Joff Watkins, einer der besten Mundharmonikaspieler Londons, ist ein weiterer Trumpf im ausgezeichneten Blatt der Tiny Flaws, das Gabriela Giacoman, die famose Sängerin von French Boutik noch verstärkt, sie gastiert auf Imperfection Blues als Leadsängerin  im Song C’est Different und singt in A Boat Called Elsewhere die verführerischen Backing Vocals.

Aufgenommen wurden die zwölf Songs von Imperfection Blues in Lenny Bignells Heimstudio in Penge, einem Londoner Stadtviertel abseits des Zentrums, wobei die Aufnahmen durch die Corona Pandemie erschwert und verzögert wurden und so etwa das Rhythmusduo nie gemeinsam im Studio stehen konnte, aber dennoch wie geschmiert groovt. Schon der Einstieg Photogenie, in dem Bobby Tarlton als Blues-Shouter so amtlich wie eindrücklich über eine verlorene Liebe lamentiert, setzt einen ersten emotionalen Wegweiser. Das zweite Stück Long Gone John, ursprünglich am 2006er Album At The Jazz Traffic Lights …  der Gene Drayton Unit, hält das Tempo in einem fesselnden Blues-Shuffle, setzt wie fast alle Songs hier auf die starke Blues-Harmonika von Watkins, und Bobby Tarlton zelebriert seine Blues-Gefühle und plädiert dafür, die Zeit mit den Menschen um einen herum zu nützen, solange sie noch da sind, weil wenn sie einmal weg sind, ist es zu spät. From The Soul mit seinem süßen souligen Sound und seinen Memphis Horns-artigen Bläsern ist eine brandneue Komposition und trägt seine Botschaft schon im Titel, es ist inspiriert von einem Besuch Toby Kinders in Memphis, und Bobby Tarlton weiß den Soul, den er in seiner Stimme hat, voll zur Wirkung zu bringen und einem wohlige Schauer über die Haut laufen zu lassen. Der hinreißende Bluesrock von Caffiend war zuerst ein Instrumentalstück auf einer weiteren Platte der Gene Drayton Unit, Done & Dusted von 2008, und thematisiert die Vorliebe aller am Album Beteiligten für starken Kaffee. Get That Girl, ursprünglich ebenfalls ein Song der Gene Drayton Unit, ist der heimliche Hit der Platte, den man nicht mehr aus den Ohren kriegen will, anders als bei Bruce Springsteen, dessen frühe Songs sich oft um Autos und Girls drehten, dreht sich hier aber alles um das eine Girl und noch mehr Kaffee. Und in C’est Different, bekommt Gabriela Giacoman, die den Song auch getextet hat, ihren großen Auftritt, Freundschaftsdienst quasi, der vom Gefühl her nicht umsonst an Down In The Seine von The Style Council erinnert.

Die zweite Seite der Vinyl-LP eröffnet The Ones In Your Head, eine der beiden Neuaufnahmen von Songs vom Debütalbum der Tiny Flaws, es hat durch Lennys stürmisches Gitarrenriff,  der jaulenden Bluesharmonika und Tobys Vollgas-Orgel wesentlich mehr Druck als das Original, Bobby als Blues-Shouter ist eine Klasse für sich. Whispering City ist eine höchst stimmungsvolle London-Ballade vor einem jazzigen Cinemascope-Hintergrund, und Bobby Tarlton zeigt einmal mehr, wieviel Soul er in seiner reifen Stimme hat.Der Titelsong Imperfection Blues stammt wieder vom Tiny Flaws-Debüt und thematisiert, dass es gerade die kleinen Fehler der/des anderen sind, die eine Beziehung reizvoll machen können und dass es vielleicht gerade diese sind, die man vermisst, wenn alles in die Brüche gegangen ist. Done & Dusted war 2008 noch das instrumentale Titelstück des oben schon erwähnten Albums, hier beklagt Soul Man Bobby Tarlton wie mit zunehmendem Lebensalter alle Hoffnung, Träume und Energie unerbittlich flöten gehen, und die wehklagende Blues-Harp weint mit ihm. In A Boat Called Elsewhere, definitiv einer meiner Lieblingssongs hier, wird anfangs schon wieder Kaffee getrunken, ehe die Tiny Flaws mit Bobby vorne am Bug Richtung Style Council Island segeln, und Gabriela ihn mit ihrem süßen Sirenengesang betört. Cake Shop schließlich ist ein resches Update eines soul-jazzigen Instrumentals der Gene Drayton Unit von 2005 und würde einer TV-Serie als Titelmelodie zur Ehre gereichen, ein würdiges La-la-la-Finale der Platte ist es auf jeden Fall.

Die besten Lieder sind in deinem Kopf, singt Bobby Tarlton in The Ones In Your Head, aber auf Imperfection Blues materialisieren sich viele von Toby Kinders Kopfkreationen aufs Feinste. Wie schon gesagt, diese Platte ist alles andere als mangelhaft, es ist schlicht eine Sensation, wie gut sie ist.

Tiny Flaws Imperfection Blues, Imperfection Records, 2022

Record Collection N° 127: Popincourt „A Deep Sense Of Happiness” (Milano Records, 2020) [Österreichisches Deutsch]

Am Plattenspieler: „A Deep Sense Of Happiness“

Was für ein wundervolles neues Album vom britischsten aller Pop-Franzosen, ein großartiges, prächtiges Kunstwerk.

Es ist nicht leicht, auf ein fantastisches Debütalbum wie A New Dimension To Modern Love von 2016 eine würdige, gleichwertige zweite Platte folgen zu lassen. Olivier Popincourt, französischer Sänger, Songschreiber, Multiinstrumentalist (Gitarre, Orgel, Perkussion) hat diese Herausforderung mit dem wunderherrlichen A Deep Sense Of Happiness gemeistert, und wie. Vier Jahre hat Popincourt im Studio daran gearbeitet. Unterstützt von Olivier Bostvironnois (Konzertflügel), Fred Jimenez (Bass), Hervè Bouétard (Schlagzeug, Perkussion), Sèbastian Souchois (Sopransaxophon), Quentin Ghomari (Trompete), French-Boutik-Sängerin Gabriela Giacoman (Lead Vocals und Lyrics für While The Ship Sinks In und Backing Vocals), zwei weiteren Background-Sängerinnen und einem Streichquartett. Die prächtigen Bläser- und Streicher-Arrangements stammen von Souchois, Aufnahmeleiter war Bostvironnois. Das feine Cover Design kommt wieder von Serge Hoffman (Sänger, Songschreiber, Gitarrist bei French Boutik). Die fertige Platte ist das lange Warten wert, weil ein großartiges Bravourstück, richtig tolle Kunst.

Auch wenn sich Popincourts musikalische Palette über die Zeit um einige Klangfarben und stilistisch erweitert hat, bewegt sich seine Musik auf A Deep Sense Of Happiness im selben Fahrwasser wie sein Debüt. Vom britischen Gitarrenbeat und kalifornischen Sonnenschein-Pop der 1960er und 1970er Jahre zum britischen Punk und New Wave der 1970er und zum britischen Indie-Pop der 1980er, zum Soul und Jazz sowieso. Man könnte Popincourts Einflüsse natürlich auch namentlich von A bis Z aufzählen, aber was sollte das noch bringen? Nachdem alles gesagt und getan ist, und der letzte Song verklungen, ist klar, dass A Deep Sense Of Happiness zu hundert Prozent Popincourt ist, kein anderer macht Musik wie diese.

Thematisch ist Popincourts Zweite leicht anders gelagert als das romantische, liebestrunkene Debüt. Ob nun autobiografisch oder einem Erzähler in den Mund gelegt, geht es in vielen Songs um Abschiede und Neuanfänge, Jugenderinnerungen, Älterwerden. Nicht immer hoffnungsfroh, mehr schmerzlich seelenschürfend und vielleicht zerbrochenen Beziehungen oder dem fiesen Virus geschuldet, das die Welt im Griff hat. Wer weiß? Letzten Endes überwiegen auf der Platte aber hoffnungsvolle, aufbauende Gefühle.

Ob Songs, Melodien, Musik oder Arrangements, Popincourt führt keinen Ramschsupermarkt, sondern einen edlen Feinkostladen. Im Regal stehen auf A Deep Sense Of Happiness zwölf formidable Songs, höchster Genuss ist garantiert. Die A-Seite der 180g Vinyl-LP im prächtigen Klappcover wird von The Grass Of Winter Morning eröffnet, einem schaumgebremsten Gitarrenbeat, der die Naturbilder von Popincourts piekfeiner 2019er EP 4 Colours 4 Seasons fortführt. Never Give All Your Heart, eine Art Liebeswarnung, ist eine bezaubernde kammermusikalische Ballade mit barockem Streichquartett und blendendem Sopransaxophonsolo. Always Back (Like The Morning Dew) ist ein rauschender Gitarrenbeat mit schönen Sunshine-Pop-Harmonien und Sixties-Orgel. Das gefühlsbetonte The Last Beams Of A Setting Sun klingt nur die ersten paar Sekunden wie Lou Reeds Perfect Day, dann entwickelt sich eine ausgeklügelt arrangierte Ballade über älterwerdende Liebende, denen ihre Liebe abhandengekommen scheint, wie in Erich Kästners Gedicht Sachliche Romanze. Der Titelsong hat wieder mehr Beat und Jingle-Jangle-Gitarren, und ist vielleicht einer neuen Liebe, einem Neustart im Leben auf der Spur. My Whole World Is Falling Down erklärt sich im Titel selbst, tönt mit seinen klingelnden Jingle-Jangle-Gitarren und Sunshine-Pop-Harmonien aber gar nicht deprimiert.

Die B-Seite von A Deep Sense Of Happiness eröffnet mit einem der schönsten Songs des Albums: Die herrlich melancholische Ballade Where The Wind Never Blew, die mit ihrem berührenden Sentiment und einem ausgefeilten Arrangement von jazzigen Blasinstrumenten und einer delikaten Blue-Note-Jazz-Gitarre betört. Die wie immer bezaubernde French-Boutik-Sängerin Gabriela Giacoman übernimmt im kämpferischen Sixties-Gitarren-Beat-Groover While The Ship Sinks die Lyrics und den Gesang und diund die über den Zustand der modernen Welt besorgten Lyrics: „Let the last survivor turn out the lights“. Mit dem prächtigen Gitarren-Pop von Truly Yours lichten sich die dunklen Wolken, wenn auch mit einem nostalgischen Blick zurück in die Vergangenheit, auf die das folgende bezaubernde Spreading Golden Dust Goldstaub streut. Zwischen Rückschau und Neuorientierung  driftet auch die anmutige Ballade Once Upon A Time, die von atemberaubender Schönheit ist. Popincourts melancholische Melodie und sein delikater französischer Akzent sind unwiderstehlich. Das gilt auch für den versöhnlichen Schlusssong This Must Be Heaven, der von schwelgenden Streichern, klassischen Klaviertupfern und Popincourts exquisitem Gitarrensolo (Pink Floyd irgendwo?) veredelt wird.

Ich weiß nicht, ob Joe Jackson, Paul Weller, Brian Wilson oder Burt Bacharach die Musik von Popincourt kennen, aber sie würden mögen.

Popincourt A Deep Sense Of Happiness, Milano Records, 2020

© The Deep Sense Of Happiness Pics shot by Klaus Winninger

Record Collection N° 216: Channel Three “This is London / Small Flat By The Sea” (Static Wax Records, 2021)

In days like these you could tune in to Channel Three to bring more light and hope in your life. A few days ago the postman brought me their splendid first single, sent from Paris.

Hello aus London, Bon jour aus Paris. North London’s finest troubadour, Bobby Tarlton, who we know that is an excellent poet and singer, and Gabriela Giacoman and Serge Hoffman from the superb Parisian „Pop Moderniste“ band French Boutik, valued for their cool mod pop soul and currently waiting for the recording of their third album, got together in these pandemic-induced cultural doldrums and formed a project they call Channel Three. The first result of their inspired collaboration is the double A-side vinyl single This is London / Small Flat by the Sea, which will quickly become a collector’s item for connoisseurs. I got lucky, cause I ordered mine in time.

Channel Three „This is London“ – sent from Paris

On Side A1: This is London, whose superb melody was composed by Serge Hoffman and the lyrics were written by Bobby Tarlton who sings them with a lot of soul in his voice. The words rightly lament the destruction of London and other beautiful cities by the greedy gentrification everywhere. But a relaxed organ groove, a jazzy flute, and the dance beat of drummer Brian Gosling blow away too much melancholy.

On Side A2: The formidable Small Flat by the Sea, from Bobby Tarlton’s (aka Dr Bird) 2018 excellent debut EP Part Of My Plan, is a special gem. Cool and beautifully sung by Gabriela Giacoman, the wonderful French American singer from French Boutik. Her interpretation is reminiscent of Sandie Shaw or Nancy Sinatra singing songs by The Smiths, Morrissey, or Jarvis Cocker, and that is meant as a big, big compliment.

Channel Three This is London / Small Flat by the Sea (Static Wax)

B-Logbook 28.07.2021: Mal umschalten auf Channel Three

Channel Three

Hello aus London, Bon jour aus Paris. Nord-Londons allerfeinster Troubadour Bobby Tarlton, ein, wie wir wissen, hervorragender Lyriker und Sänger, und Gabriela Giacoman und Serge Hoffman von der famosen Pariser „Pop Moderniste“ Band French Boutik, geschätzt für ihren coolen Mod Pop Soul und zurzeit in der Warteschleife für die Aufnahmen eines neuen Albums, haben sich in der pandemiebedingten kulturellen Flaute zu einem Projekt zusammengetan, das sie Channel Three nennen. Das erste Resultat ihrer inspirierten Zusammenarbeit ist die Doppel-A-Seiten-Vinyl-Single This is London / Small Flat by the Sea, die schnell ein Sammlerstück für Kenner werden wird.

Auf Seite A1: This is London, dessen superbe Melodie Serge Hoffman komponierte, die Lyrics, die Bobby Tarlton mit viel Soulschmelz singt, beklagen mit Recht die Zerstörung Londons und anderer schöner Städte durch die profitgierige Gentrifikation allerorts. Ein lässiger Orgelgroove, eine jazzige Flöte und der Tanz-Beat von Drummer Brian Gosling verblasen aber allzu viel Melancholie.

Auf Seite A2: Das formidable Small Flat by the See, von Bobby Tarltons (aka Dr Bird) 2018er Debüt-EP, ist eine besondere Perle. Cool und wunderschön gesungen von Gabriela Giacoman, der wunderbaren frankoamerikanischen Sängerin von French Boutik. Ihre Interpretation erinnert an Sandie Shaw oder Nancy Sinatra, wie sie Songs von The Smiths, Morrissey oder Jarvis Cocker singen, und das ist als großes Kompliment gemeint.

Channel Three This is London / Small Flat by the Sea (Static Wax).