Saturday, October 3, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 13)

13. "French Disko"
Artist: Stereolab
Year: 1993

After Komeda's Stereolab-inspired "Disko" at No. 14, did you really expect something else?

I go back to Tim Gane's '80s days with McCarthy, but I didn't immediately take to his new band with French girlfriend and McCarthy mate Lætitia Sadier when they formed in 1990. By 1993, though, Stereolab really hit its stride, and I think the addition of one of my heroes, Sean O'Hagan of the High Llamas, made the difference. I like every album, single and EP from 'Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements' through the seminal album 'Emperor Tomato Ketchup.' The 1997 album 'Dots and Loops' ain't half bad either.

The list of reasons to love Stereolab is long. Like McCarthy, I respected the band's willingness to wear its politics on its collective sleeve. Stereolab was extremely experimental and created a sound so far from what was being listened to at the time and, yet, they were able to bust onto unwelcoming Billboard charts. It seemed like they were influenced by every genre... krautrock, electronica, lounge... you name it. Well, maybe not country, but just about everything else. I thought it was cool they played vintage instruments, particularly Vox organs and Moog synths too. Like a couple of other bands on this countdown, I really took to the back-and-forth vocals of Sadier and the late Mary Hansen. Sigh. Let's not be sad. This is a celebration of the music.

There were a few songs that were thought of for this spot, including "Jenny Ondioline," "Ping Pong" and "Cybele's Reverie," but not really. The ferocious pace of "French Disko" has been and will always be tops. You can (and should!) find this song on the "Jenny Ondioline" EP or the 'Serene Velocity' anthology.


Echorich said...

That's the track Brian...hands down, or as it's "disko"...hand in the air....I'll probably get pummeled for this but I really love the hard edged Editors version from their All Sparks 12". Sure, it's missing the amazing eeriness of the original, but it's a gut puncher on it's own.

TheRobster said...

Awesome song. I remember when I was in a band (Shrug). We were working on a track in a local studio and our producer told us it reminded him a little of French Disko. At first I was hugely chuffed, but then I thought how wrong he was. We weren't fit to lick the dirt of Laeticia Sadier's oldest, muckiest boots. I stand by that to this day.

George said...

Brian, I'm in danger of starting to like a LOT of the songs you are now posting! (Scritti Politti excepting, of course.)

C said...

This would also be near the top of my list for the '90s... I love it... and Jenny Ondioline too.
I agree with Echorich about the Editors' version too, and for the same reasons.

Swiss Adam said...

Aye, great song. When Stereolab are good, they're really good.

Ian Balentine said...

What a great song by a great band. Thanks for shining a light on these guys! Also, love your Classic Record Recommendation

Brian said...

So happy to read the fine reception to this song. One of those picks I was needlessly nervous about. I gave the Editors' version a listen the other day, and I thought they did a really nice job too.

The Swede said...

Such a very fine band and a marvellous selection. Yet again, I tip my hat to you, I'd find so many of your calls incredibly hard to make. I've been trying to get a mere 10 song Desert Island Discs feature together for about 5 years, but invariably tie myself in knots whenever I re-approach it.