Christmas on The Cote d’ Azur – A Review of ‘Bonne Annee’ by Jean-Pierre Massiera

Many musical sins are committed during the festive season, just look at a list of Christmas number ones and you will see a whole host of them, many now used as instruments of torture at Guantanamo Bay. Lock me in a room with the last 20 years of Christmas number ones playing on a loop and frankly I would confess to anything, just to get out. Thank goodness then for a little record label called Finders Keepers, who have just released their Christmas single, to virtually no acclaim – ‘Bonne Annee’ by Jean-Pierre Massiera.

In a world were money minded suits sap creativity at record labels for the sake of profit and publicity, Finders Keepers, an off-shoot of Stockport Born DJ Andy Votel’s Twisted Nerve Records, reaches back to unreleased obscurities from years ago. Don’t get me wrong though, most of them are obscure for a reason, they don’t necessarily appeal to the X-Factor, Take That loving types that so adore the “usual suspects” that clog up the “charts” these days. They are though treasures for those who love real music.My favourite and the labels second release is ‘Yamasuki’, a fuzzed out, educational, multi cultural, psych rock opera from 1971…..sung in French, described as “absolute fucking genius” by Plan B magazine and labelled as “proto-psychedelic hip-hop that defies categorisation.”

In fact one would say that the whole Finders Keepers catalogue defies categorisation from soundtracks for Czech art-house films to the sharp trill of Sartola Zalatnay, labelled believe it or not as the Turkish Cilla Black. And from the beat poetry of Susan Christie on John Hill’s ‘Six Moons of Jupiter’ to the psychedelic sounds of deepest darkest Wales on the Welsh Rarebit compilation.Their specially chosen Christmas 7inch single is no different. Jean-Pierre Massiera, a studio wizz and prog genius, recorded few albums and the discovery of one would cause any record collector to go into hypovolemic shock, so is their rareity.

The A side of the single recorded originally in the late 1960s takes Christmas staple Silent Night and twists it into an amazing sound collage of fuzzy guitar over the theme with a French spoken word over-dub discussing the finer points of the Cote d’Azur and dinner with Dirk Bogarde….or something along those lines. Side B, Bonne Annee 1969 then takes the same theme and mixes it with a David Axelrod-like brass and string powered funk. If Silent Night has to be heard at all, it has to be heard like this, transformed into a mini psych rock masterpiece.

All in all it knocks every other Christmas single currently congealing all over our air-waves, into (as we say up north) a very cocked hat. I fear though it will never triumph over the likes of our current musical Yuletide hero’s……..Terry Wogan and Aled Jones….Peter Kay in a fat suit etc. as the record is a super limited 45. It is though a seasonal introduction to a charming record label.

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