In this post I would like to go back in time to mid seventies, when I was a little child. Despite the fact I was a kid, I was already a vinyl head and also had my own turntable – a relatively big box made of wood, mono, but the one I was allowed to fully operate.
Here it is, the Soviet turntable titled Caravella – not actually mine, but exactly the same:
So, back in those days, my favorite singer was an American born French musician Joe Dassin. He was very popular in USSR, but unfortunately it was extremely hard to find his records on a market. Actually, in seventies there were no LPs with his songs at all except of one compilation record called “Foreign Variety” with Dassin’s hit “Et si tu n’existais pas”. As far as I remember, there were only two flexible 7″ mono records released, where on one side were his songs (some of them were cut) and someone else’s songs on another. Actually, I remember exactly the names of artists recorded on other sides – they were Soviet singers Irina Ponarovskaya and Rosa Rymbayeva (wow, what a memory I have!), but I never listened to them. They both had the same picture of Joe (which I literally hate BTW). The only difference was the color of sleeve. The one with Rymbayeva was red, the other one was blue. The sound was terrible, but you could not expect more from this type of media.
Some time after Dassin’s death in 1980, Soviets released two 12″ LPs. One was just a compilation of songs, kind of Greatest Hits. The second one was a full album “Le Jardin Du Luxembourg” (“Luxembourg Gardens”) we’re talking about here. Now I have them both, but back then it was not something you could always find on store shelves, at least in Leningrad, where I lived. The album released in 1976 consists of 7 tracks. The first composition, which title gave a caption to the whole album, lasts about 12 minutes. That’s why one side of the LP has only two songs. My favorites are “Il était une fois nous deux”, À toi, “Comme disait Valentine” and Laisse-moi dormir.
As you can see, the sleeves design is a bit different. Despite it’s a single LP, the original one comes in a gatefold sleeve, but it only has a big Joe’s picture inside:
On a Soviet record (right) , this picture is smaller and resides on a back side of the sleeve. Both back sides have song titles and credits, but the Soviet one has also a short Dassin’s biography. BTW, music for two first songs was written by the famous Italian composer Toto (Salvatore) Cutugno, who worked with Joe relatively often.
It’s important to notice that despite of 11 years gap between two releases, the one made in USSR sounds a bit worse than the original. If you do not compare them intentionally, you probably will not hear the difference, but if you do as I did in the video below, you’ll notice that Soviet one sounds kind of dimly, especially in terms of high sounds like cymbals.
I remember my parents were able to get this record for me. Some time after, I had to move to live with my grand parents (I used to live there very often) and of course I took the record with me. One day, I wanted to listen to it and I found out the vinyl was broken. Until now I have no clue how that happened, but it did. This was the first and last and only time I broke a vinyl ever. But overall I have only good memories related to the album. Some lyrics I even remember till now and can sing them without knowing French.
On September 2013 I was in San Bernardino at huge metal even with Testament, Overkill, Anthrax, Megadeth and Maiden. Day after I had a free morning before my flight back home, so I decided to visit Hollywood Forever Cemetery in LA and to find Dassin’s grave… Below you can see my video report from there. The report in Russian is also available here.
It’s so damn sad to die at such a young age, but… he had time to do a lot. His songs really made my childhood happy and conceivably they helped to establish my current musical taste, which I consider as good.