France - Page 2

Wampas (les)

Wampas French Psychobilly


Les Wampas -Dracu Bop

Creepy Crawly 666 002 [1985]

Dracu Bop – Ma Petite Amie – BM – Wampas


On their first EP released in 1985, the Wampas are formed by Alain Marietti (double bass), François Quivoron (guitar), Didier Wampas (vocals), and Francis Wampas (drums). The four songs are sung in French and feature humoristic lyrics (“my girlfriend is a nazi, what are my parents going to say”), in what would become the band’s trademark. Backing Didier, the band has nothing to envy its British counterparts of the time, even if it sometimes remains a bit messy. The whole set is speedy, and Didier’s singing has not yet switched to the parody that it will become later.


Wampas


Les Wampas – Tutti Frutti

Tutti Frutti Records – TF03 [1986]

Shalala – Marie-Lou – Une Bombe Sur Washington – Héros – Trous – Ballroom Blitz – Le Ciel Etait Si Bleu


One year after their EP, Les Wampas released this mini-album. It shows a big step in the evolution of the band and the mastery of their sound. The arrival of Marc Police (ex Jezebel Rock, Pasadenas) on guitar and Nicolas Schauer on drums is probably no stranger to that. Alain’s double bass is much more prominent and better recorded; you must listen to Shalala to be convinced. Mary Lou starts slowly with minimal lyrics before exploding into a fantastic mix of Rockabilly and Surf. The next track, Une Bombe Sur Washington (One bomb over Washington), is an anti-Washington Dead Cats charge reminiscent of the Cramps in the guitar’s use. Héros slows down the tempo (at least in its first part) and brings an almost Jazz touch. Trous (Holes) is an excellent song from a musical point of view but shows the limits of Les Wampas in terms of lyrics (despite the reference to the Magnificient Seven). They then adapt Sweet’s Ballroom Blitz with French lyrics and take the opportunity to place another charge against the Washinton Dead Cats.
After this seminal album, Alain will leave the group (to play with Los Carayos and Happy Drivers), and Les Wampas will move towards a brand of alternative rock that is much more mainstream and, sadly, for us, much less attractive.

Happy Drivers

According to the legend, the band formed in June 1985 after a Jack Scott show. Initially a quartet, with Arnold Baker on lead vocals, Jean Christophe Jehanne on guitar and lead vocals, Thierry Petel on drums, and Franck Marivain on double-bass. The quartet became a trio when Baker left. Then Christian Pujol (aka Mickey Black Fingers) joined the band. When he quit at the end of 1988, the remaining two members contacted the Crabs’ double bassist, but it didn’t work. Following the advice of Alain of Les Vierges, they got in touch with Alain Marietti, who played with Los Carayos and Les Wampas.
This article focuses on the band’s early releases before they moved away from Rockabilly and Psychobilly.

Happy Drivers – Demo

Right String, Wrong Yo-yo / Jump Baby Jump / Tear It Up / London Rock

On these recordings, Arnold Baker sings the two jive/rock’n’roll tunes (Jump Baby Jump and Tony Crombie’s London Rock). Both feature a saxophone, and Jump Baby Jump, though not very original benefits from an excellent guitar part. Jean-Christophe Jehanne takes lead vocals on the Rockabilly stuff, Carl Perkins’ Right String, Wrong Yo-yo and Johnny Burnette’s Tear It Up, the former having a powerful slap-bass part.


Happy Drivers – Jump Baby Jump

Happy Drivers
Happy Drivers

Scalen – SC513 [1987]
Jump Baby Jump / My Boppin’ Rockin’ Babe

On this single, the band now evolves in trio format. Jump Baby Jump is a new version recorded for this single with Jehanne on lead vocals. It suffers from Jehanne’s accent, a recurrent problem on many of his recordings, and it’s a bit young and thin in terms of sound.The b-side is far better and more original with a stop-start composition and an interesting guitar solo. A new recording of this song was made for their debut album.


Happy Drivers – We Shall Be Going On

happy driversIguane Production – Iguane 001 [1987]
Babe Please Don’t Go – We Shall Be Going On – My Bopping Rocking Babe – The Fun Of It – Midnight Train – Popeye – Low Rider – Old Black Jack – Long Blond Hair – You Will Never Come Back Again – Oh Babe – My Daddy’s Banjo

Shortly after their single, the trio recorded We Shall Be Going On, in their rehearsal room in December 1987.
When you listen thirty years later to an album you liked a lot as a teenager, it’s not easy to know if you like it for good reasons. Does this album really have qualities, or is this just pure nostalgia? For “We Shall Be Going On,” the answer is both.
On the one hand, if you want to be objective, one can say that the sound and the production (or the lack of) are a bit thin, Jean Christophe’s voice is from time to time totally out of tune, and his pronounced French accent a bit too present.
But this album also has some qualities. The boys wrote their own songs (even if Low Rider sounds very close to Stray CatsBuilt For Speed) with varied influences from straight rockabilly to blues, with a dash of neo-rockabilly and a bit of country too (you can find a banjo on a couple of songs). The covers, including Dave Phillips The Fun Of It, are very well chosen. All these elements – and I can’t deny a bit of nostalgia – make this debut album an enjoyable listening experience, even three decades later.


Happy Drivers – Indians on the Road

happy drivers indiansGougnaf Mouvement – GM 038 [1988]
Indians – I’m Not A Hero – Tear It Up – Nervous Man – Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You – Crawdad Hole

Recorded in April 1988, less than six months after their debut album, Indians show the band’s rapid evolution. Compared to their debut album, this mini 10” album is plain excellent. It also shows that the short distance advantages the trio. Since their previous release, the Happy Drivers have hardened their sound. Not exactly psychobilly, but no longer 50’s rockabilly, they created their brand of modern rockabilly. “Indians” features the appropriate drum beat, as you can imagine, and a citation of The Shadows’ Apache (of course). Next, you have “I’m Not A Hero” a wild modern rockabilly that shows how tight the band was. The third original, “Nervous Man,” is nervous for sure with loud guitar and raspy voice. It prefigures what will follow with “War” their third album. JC has worked on his voice, and you also hear that the band benefited from a real studio and enough time to refine their sound. Regarding the covers, “Tear It Up” and “Crawdad Hole” are good, but the one that steals the show is “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Initially penned by Anne Bredon in the late fifties as a Folk song, Joan Baez later popularized it, then Led Zeppelin covered it on their debut album. The Happy Drivers turn that song into a frantic rockabilly number. Simply perfect.


Happy Drivers – War

happy drivers war

Boucherie
La Isla Bonita – I cry Jerry Lee – I shoot da Sherif – Lame de fond – Arena – Indians War – Crazy life – Rock on – Fire down below – I cry freedom – Blood & War

Recorded in January 1990 and released in March of the same year, the third album by the French trio marks a new step for the band. Alain (ex Wampas and Los Carayos) replaced Mickey Black Finger on bass (who later went to play with The Grizzly Family). Not only Alain brought his bass but also many influences that one didn’t find in the band’s sound like hardcore and heavy metal (Cro-Mags, Black Flag, Bad Brains, and so on). He also sang two songs, including one in French.
Contrary to their first releases, they worked with a “real” producer, namely Roger Tebbutt, who worked with The Long Tall Texans. The result is a harder sound, and the album sees the trio exploring new territories. They cover the likes of Madonna (an explosive version of La Isla Bonita), Bob Marley (imagine I Shot Da Sheriff if Marley was on speed instead of weed), and Gary Glitter (Rock On). Some songs stay closer to the rockabilly idiom (I Cry Jerry Lee), while others are strictly hardcore/punk rock like Arena. Another tune (Lame de Fond) sounds like a French folk song, a path some members of the band will follow after the group splits.
Despite some good songs here and there, The Happy Drivers’ following albums (Toowomba and Epica Carmina) were disappointing compared to War, which was the perfect combination of Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Hardcore, and alternative rock.

In 2017, Jean-Christophe appeared in Spain at the 25th Psychobilly Meeting. Too bad he didn’t choose to reform the band with its original line-up for the occasion. He then formed a new incarnation of the band called Happy On The Road with Gaybeul (Demented Are Go, Surf Rats and a electric-bass player. The trio recorded and released an album in Fall 2020.

Happy Drivers

happy drivers

Happy Drivers

Happy Drivers (Alain Wampas, Jean Christophe Jehanne, Thierry Pietel)
Happy Drivers (Jean Christophe Jehanne, Alain Wampas, Thierry Pietel)

Elektraws (the)

Elektraws – Shock Rock

Nervous records NERCD083 [1996]

Lost In A Time Vortex – Raving Mad – Elektones – Heartless Man – Fist Fight – Mad Man – Get Tattooed – I`m Gone – Let`s Cry Out – Delirious – Hell`s Bent On Rockin’ – Gallows Birds – Thurdering Love – Shock Rock – Lost In A Time Vortex (#2)

French Psychobilly band the Elektraws first started as a Rockabilly band under the name of the Bobkatz in 1991. They recorded some demos with covers of 50’s classics like Something Else, Rockhouse, Long Blond Hair but also tunes like Gary Glitter’s Rock On which was also recorded by the Happy Drivers on War.
Around 1993/1994 they decided to change their sound and morphed into a psychobilly band called the Elektraws. From the beginning, the line-up remained steady: Nicolas Hervier on double bass and vocals, his brother François on drums and Georges Defretiere on guitar.
The Elektraws first appeared on the compilation album “Banana Juice Kongpilation.” They then sent a demo tape to Roy Williams of Nervous records and the result was not only an appearance at the Big Rumble but also a record deal with Nervous. In October 1995 they recorded their debut album “Shock Rock” with Alan Wilson (of Sharks fame) engineering and producing.
In a period (the mid-nineties) when more and more bands were adding metal elements to their psychobilly (Nekromantix, Krewmen…) the sound of the Elektraws was quite refreshing. One could hear the influence of Frenzy (both versions of Lost in a Time Vortex could easily figure on Hall of Mirrors), early Meteors, Sharks and they Ricochets (both bands cover Jimy Wages Mad Man.) On Elektones, an instrumental tune, one could also hear a bit of surf. But the most obvious influence of all, both musically and vocally, is the one of Batmobile.
Of course, the album is not flawless. The main problem being the drums that are not always in place. But it’s only on a couple of songs and the whole album remains a very enjoying experience.
In 1996 they recorded songs for a possible second album with a more agressive sound but split soon after. These recordings can be heard on “Alive” on Klub 333 label.
Nicolas went on to join the Hellbats. Sadly in 2006, he was shot in the street after a fight and died.

The Radioactive Kid

Scamps (the)

scamps

The Scamps – Don’t Be Worried

Studio SDH – SDH311 [1984]
Don’t Be Worried / Live Fast Die Young

Debut single by the Scamps before the morphed into a Keytones / Restless influenced band. On this single the line-up of this French band was Bruno Peisey (vocals), Joël Lagnier (guitar), Frederic Mascrier (slap bass) and Marc Kornet (drums.)
A-side starts with a slow introduction then evolved into a mean rockabilly with a touch of psychobilly number. B-side is a cover of the Blue Cats.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Be Bop Creek

/

Be Bop Creek – Plan B

Be Bop Creek

Cherry Doll – Emelynn Gal – Waiting for Summer – Alone and Crying – You’ll Be Gone – Free as a Breeze – Homesick Bop – No Squares Allowed – To Win Your Heart – GI Blues – Jilted Again – Bye Baby Bye

This French band returns with a new album and a refurbished line-up. The band is now Rocky on double bass,  Nico on guitar and Larry who joins Steve Bongo of the Deltas and Dana Stewart of the Racketeers in the club of the singers/drummers.

Be Bop Creek have some pretty cool original numbers penned by Larry in which one can hear the influence of the great figures of the genre. Emelynn Gal evokes the sound of mister Blue Suede Shoes hiumself, Carl Perkins and Waiting For the Summer, one of my favourites if that interests you, nailed that Eddie Cochran attitude perfectly. Elsewhere you can hear a bit of Johnny Burnette or some Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys

The covers are rather obscure and not your usual Sun/Meteor stuff. It’s good to hear a band that digs a bit to propose something new and finds tunes that you’ve not heard a zillion times. As much as I like this song, I guess I couldn’t hear another version of “All I Can Do Is Cry.” The most original being probably the cover of Some Kinda Earthquake’s You’ll Be Gone morphed into a hillbilly bop with additional lyrics from Larry. This also proves that those guys are open minded which is always a good thing.
They’re also a good dose of blues with Homesick Bop, a mean blues bopper with maracas, and No Squares Allowed more in the Chuck Berry vein. Although the later is not that original, Nico on guitar turns it into a great tune. This young guy sure knows how to use those six strings while Larry and Rocky lay down a perfect beat. Larry also has a mean and very good voice with no French accent.

Last but not least, Bob Butfoy of Jack Rabbit Slim / Bob and the Bearcats fame wrote the laudatory liner notes.

Be Bop Creek on the web.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Pussykillers

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Pussykillers - David Vincent les a vu
Pussykillers – David Vincent les a vu

David Vincent les a vu /Zombie Rockers
KRUEL K 8803 [1989]

The Pussykillers were a French Psychobilly band from Poitiers and consisted of Bill (vocals), Kub (doublebass / b-vox), Erick (guitar / b-vox) and V(drums / b-vox). They played  a brand of heavy psychobilly influenced by the Meteors and the early Coffin Nails. Actually, their singer shouted more than he sang. They also played some gigs with Thierry Petel (Happy Drivers) on drums but they split in the early 90’s. It seems that their guitar player later comitted suicide.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis