Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Catherine Spaak Album - U.S. Release - 1967

Here is the track list:

Side 1

1.  Mes ami, mes copains
2.  Prima di te, dopo di te
3.  L'ete dernier
4.  Noi due
5.  Riapre la scuola
6.  Ieri

Side 2

1.  Quelli della mia eta
2.  Tu ridi di me
3.  J'aime le matin
4.  Ho scherzato con il cuore
5.  Quando ti vedo
6.  Tu e io

The back cover says in part:

"The leggy, moody and starkly modern Miss Spaak has been in many French and Italian motion pictures and has created an international reputation through her many photographs in the world's leading magazines.

A complete stranger to Hollywood and the Hollywood way, she established residence in a Beverly Hills hotel and immediately became an exciting new personality.  She is a stylish dresser, has a jet set temperament and a penetrating talent as both an actress and a singer.
Catherine, who writes songs and is an accomplished guitarist, performs all the selections contained in this album in French...and seemingly manifests her total talents for your listening enjoyment."

Dischi Ricordi, Catherine's record label in Milan, Italy, had contracted with the Mira label in the U.S. in January 1966 for the release of Catherine's recordings in America.  There were plans to release a pop album and a classical album, but the pop album is the only one that was ever released (in both a Stereo and a Mono version), in March of 1967, to capitalize on the publicity for Catherine with the release of Hotel in January of that year.

Mira Records was a small label formed in 1965 and had an office at 9028 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.  If you are interested, here is a link to a nice write-up that tells more about the history of the Mira label:

Mira Records 

Generally, Catherine has a rather soft, quiet singing voice to which it is pleasant to listen, even if I don't understand the language.  She was capable of singing catchy, upbeat tunes, but her soft style, I think, was most effective delivering ballads in a haunting manner. In subsequent years, she appeared to grow more confident, or learned how to better project her voice, perhaps due to doing more stage work from the late 1960's onward.  I am not a musician, nor do I know much about her guitar-playing on these recordings, so I am not going to try to comment on her musicianship.

On Side 1, I particularly like Primo di te, dopo di te (an upbeat, catchy tune) and Noi due (more of a haunting-type ballad).  Ieri, Catherine's cover of The Beatles' Yesterday, is nice.

On Side 2,  I think that J'aime le matin and Quando ti vedo are effective ballads.  Quelli della mia eta was Catherine's first hit record and is nice. Tu e io is the only song on the album that I thought sounded weak and should not have been included.

In retrospect, my suggestion to strengthen the album would have been to replace Tu e io and another song with Non i niente (this song is PERFECT in La calda vita) and L'esercito del surf.

I do not know how the album performed in the U.S. market, but I suspect that it did not perform particularly well.  It's hard for me to envision that there was much of a market for this type of foreign language recording in the U.S. in 1967.  It would have had to have been a very niche market.  I will update this post in the future, if more information becomes available.

Here is correspondence between Dischi Ricordi and Mira, which will give you a sense of what was happening in regard to the U.S. release of Catherine's recordings.

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