Monday, August 21, 2006

The Les Djinns Singers - 60 French Girls with the Christmas Bell Ringers - Joyeux Noël

Wow... it seems I pushed the CDs that contain long, LONG titles from the titles I downloaded at Ernie (not Bert)'s blog last December deep down the stack!

Looking at the average titles remaining in my stack of CDs from Ernie's blog, this very well could be the LONGEST title not only from Ernie but the longest in general for this very blog!

I googled "The Les Djinns Singers" and the first reference that came up was this one. Well done, Ernie! The second link or links were to an ABC-Paramount discography and shows that the Les Djinns Singers released several albums on that label between 1960-1964.

The remainder of the links were for various albums for sale, Musicstack, eBay, and WFMU's artist list.

I googled "Paul Bonneau", the arranger and director of this album and a number of web sites appeared, most in French. Bonneau was a composer and conductor of orchestras for many years with the French goverment radio station Radiodiffusion Française (RDF). This led to a posting with their television station, Radiodiffusion Télévision Française (RTF).

Back in 1959, the Malpasset Dam in France broke, killing 500 people. A group of 15 female choral singers from RTF were invited to an official reception for the families of victims to sing. Under the directorship of Bonneau (and subsequently the French government), this group of singers were rechristened "The Djinns" and began a quick recording career. They were expanded to "60 French Girls", were immensely popular throughout France, Belgium, and Canada, and ABC-Paramount began releasing their albums in the US.

This album was released at Christmas, 1961 and features the "60 French Girls" singing standard Christmas songs entirely in French. Also featured are the Christmas Bell Ringers on several of the tracks clanging out standard Christmas songs on bells, chimes, etc.

Overall, this is a pretty standard album. A few tracks catch your attention: "Noël Trois Anges Son Venus Ce Noir (Christmas, Three Angels We've Seen This Night)", and "Noël Blanc (White Christmas)" to name but two.

The standout track is "Pour Noël (For Christmas)". The song begins with a soft string arrangement, the melody is quite catchy and hooks you by mid-song. Suddenly, the track changes gears and we hear a driving piano and drum beat (think of the piano/drums from Dean Martin's "Everybody Loves Somebody") and it carries you home! WOW! This one just might make it onto my Christmas comp this year!

By the end of 1963, the Les Djinns Singers were at the height of their popularity and fame. Only one thing stood in their way: the French Government. In 1964, RDF and RTF were consolidated into one office - Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française (ORTF) and the cost cutting began.

The Djinns were considered "too expensive" to manage and by July 1964, the once popular group was officially disbanded. Paul Bonneau continued his career with the ORTF for many more years, composing hundreds of hours of music.

A Christmas album released by the French government, sort to speak. Who would have thunk it?

On to the next new Christmas CD in my collection...



Ernie said...

I've found most of those other records by 60 French Girls, and I can't say that I really enjoy them. Even this Christmas record is, at best, marginal to me. But it had a really neat cover. :)

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for this album for so long, it seems, and here it is. I used to know every song by heart when I was a French major in school. "Pour Noel" is a stunner and I love every single song.

Now, to figure out how to order a copy. Any assistance will be appreciated.

Brenda from "Little Washington", NC

CaptainOT said...

Brenda - Follow the links in the review over to our friend Ernie's astounding blog and ask him real nice...

Be sure to check out the amazing countless LPs he's sought out from vinyl bins across America!


searching santa said...

Please tell me how to buy a copy of this record! I grew up with it and have searched for a replacement for years. Getting it on CD would be ideal. Thank you!!!

CaptainOT said...

Searching Santa - Read the comment above yours!


Auntie Knickers said...

I have two questions: one, who is the composer of "Pour Noel"? I've not encountered it elsewhere. Two -- I always thought it was spelled "Joyeux" Noel, but the picture of the (presumably French) album cover says "Joyeaux." ?????

Anonymous said...

It looks like Franck Gerald was the writer of "Pour Noël".
"Joyeux" is spelled "Joyeux" in French !
This album is not the original. The recording was made by Ducretet-Thomson in 1956 and issued as "Les Djinns chantent Noël".
If the band had disbanded in July 1964, I remember having seen their ghosts at the French Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. There was a group of girls, explicitly called "Les Djinns" in a French Radio studio (within the pavilion) singing songs available on record, backed by an unseen orchestra. They were behind large windows.
Knowing the whole story, they were probably local girls lipsing the recording in the background ! Ah! ces Francais !!!!

Joyeux Noel,

Victor, Montreal, QC

Michelle said...

I grew up listening to this. My dad is Canadian French, French was his first language and he loved this lp as did I. It wasn't Christmas without it, scratches and all. Now his copy is too scratched to even play. Is there any way to get a CD copy? I would so love a copy of this to give to my dad and download on itunes for myself.