This album is pretty obscure. Dated 1960 and very Francophone in nature, it is not nearly as funky, groovy, or Space-y as many of the more definitive efforts in the same genre (think Enoch Light or David Rose). In many ways, this release actually has many characteristics inherent in the dime-a-dozen “fluff” the music industry churned out during the ‘50s and ‘60s. Despite all of that, it stands out as refreshingly quaint and makes for a fairly unique listening experience.
When I listened to this, I couldn’t help but wonder the exact context in which this record was meant to be spun. It seems a little too mellow for “cocktail party dancing music” but it also feels a little too energetic for “night-time recliner reading music.” In addition to that, many of the songs on this album emanate certain kind of quirk — one that’s more conducive to doing psychedelic drugs and less to “stuffed-shirt intellectualism.” At least one track presented here is clearly a Tiki Exotica number (“Au bal a Bahia”) and some of the other tracks contain complexities and eccentricities that are not usually attributed to this kind of music. Really, though, I believe I’m remarking on the contrasting qualities between French and American music from the ‘50s and ‘60s. European music from that time period usually has obvious distinctions and is oftentimes a little odd even when compared to the American equivalent.
André Popp appears to be a name that’s easily overlooked when discussing mid-century popular music. I just don’t hear or see him referred to very often. The reason why is probably due to the fact that he’s not known in the United States like he is in Europe. The SpaceAgePop.com website mentions this in the opening paragraph of his biography, stating that, “André Popp’s career is virtually undocumented here in the U.S.” His full discography does list 10 or 20 releases (including the better-known album “Delirium In Hi-Fi”), so he was indeed productive during his career, just not known as widely.
Overall, if you’re a fan of music from this era and have the opportunity to give this a spin, chances are you will find it enjoyable.
Joseph A. Bremson
The Exciting Sounds Project