Mates’ Crates, a series headed up by our friend Andrei Sandu, dives into the tales behind records and digs deeper into our connections to music. An antidote to second-lockdown gloom this time with some classic French chanson.
Label: Impact | Year: 1956 | Discogs: Henri Salvador – Henri Salvador
This November is not good. Cold and wet is not the climate of choice for only being allowed to see people outside. On a particularly gloomy evening, when sifting through my collection was the only thing for it, I rediscovered this gem. It made me feel better, and I hope it goes some way towards doing the same for you too.
Even the story of how I found this record lifts my mood. On a mission to recover a lost coat from Peckham’s Bussey Building the morning after the night before, means of passing the time before security staff arrived were few and far between. Killing two hours watching John Wick 3 at the Peckhamplex (as nonchalantly as Keanu Reeves kills everything that moves in the film) was average at best.
Sniffing out a second-hand sale was much more my speed. As one of the sellers struck up conversation, I was immediately warmed by how music can bring complete strangers together. After glancing at the records I’d already picked up, he pointed to an old Henri Salvador compilation and suggested that I might like it. I got back several hours later with one coat and one excellent record more than I had that morning.
Salvador was born in French Guiana in 1917 in the town of Cayenne (home of the pepper) to Guadeloupean parents. After teaching himself the guitar by copying recordings of Django Reinhardt, he recorded “Rock’n Roll Mops” the first French Rock and Roll song in 1957 and had a successful career as a television host and actor. Some claim that the influence of Salvador’s 1957 “Dans mon île” on Antônio Carlos Jobim shaped the Bossa nova genre, and he also worked with Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso.
Perhaps most unusually, Salvador voiced the crab Sebastian in the 1989 French dubbing of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
I enjoyed the whole compilation, but I returned to “Quand Je Monte Chez Toi” (When I go up to yours) over and over again. Hopefully you can see why. It is classy and it is life-affirming. And whichever home you’re looking forward to visiting again once it is allowed, Henri will see you through the meantime.