Good morning, NTSIBbers. Today we’re going on a virtual field trip to France! We are going to visit with Les Wampas, a punk band that has been around since 1983 but I didn’t know existed until probably about a month ago. And they are fantastic. They have become my go-to comfort music at pretty much all times. They do sing in French, but do not let that put you off. My facility with spoken French is approximately that of a very polite toddler, and I don’t find my lack of proficiency and/or comprehension a barrier to enjoying their music quite thoroughly.
The first song I am going to share is Manu Chao, from Never trust a guy who after having been a punk, is now playing electro (2003). It’s a diss track, but it’s a mild one. The lyrics, loosely translated, are along the lines of “If I had as much money as Manu Chao, I would go on lots of vacations” and Manu Chao is another European rockstar.
It’s the track that floated up on shuffle as I was walking to class one night after visiting the 7-11, trying to balance my cup of tea and umbrella at the same time and thinking something along the lines of “Have I lost my brownie again?” and I really did stop in the middle of the street, circuits jammed with “What is that?“, “Where can I get some more?” and “I need to make it louder right now.”
The next one is Rimini, from Rock’n’Roll No. 9 (2006) and is a memorial song for Marco Pantanni, a Tour de France champion who died in Rimini, Italy, in 2004. The song is masterfully constructed; it starts with just Didier Chapedelaine’s voice accompanied by a simple, delicate guitar line and then, in something like a minute and a half, slowly expands to include another guitar, drums and fuzzy, thudding bass:
Finally, a fan video from a show, filmed in Spain in 2009, so you can see them in action. Didier Chapedelaine is essentially leading the pit in an acoustic performance of Les bottes rouges from Simple et Tendre (1993) . The whole room is singing along, clapping out the beat, and carefully surfing him around all at the same time:
There is much more to listen to on the “Songs” section of their website, and you can also watch some webisodes they made to promote their last record over here. If nothing else the person running around dressed like an ostrich is extremely entertaining.