Jeanne Mas ‘Original Albums Series’ 5CD Box set (Warners) 4/5

jeanne-masThe revival of interest in 1980s electro-inspired pop reaches further here with the arrival of a box set of French singer Jeanne Mas who will be unknown to all but a few who resided across the Channel in the mid-late 1980s and was a true symbol of that decade for many French lovers and a very different and modern update on the classic French chanson tradition. Mas is in fact the first French singer to simultaneously reach number one on both the singles and album music charts in France, with the second single ‘Johnny, Johnny’ achieving one million copies sold, and was also the first woman singer to be awarded ‘Best newcomer’ at the Victoires de la Musique annual ceremony. What is contained on this set are the first four albums of her career and a later album of extended remixes of the hit singles that spans 1984-2004. This year represents thirty years of Jeanne Mas as a performer and she is one of the most instantly recognisable personalities on French television due to her dress style. However, she is also a gifted singer-songwriter, both for herself and for other musicians, and the albums stand the test well with that typically layered 1980s feel.

The albums work both individually and across the board with the mid-1980s hits ‘Toute première fois’, En rouge et noir’ ‘Coeur en stéréo’ et ‘Sauvez-moi’ probably the pick of the bunch. A first tour at the prestigious Olympia hall in Paris (where Ray Charles conquered the city back in the late 1950s) sold out for four days and the only pity with this selection is that we do not have the opportunity to hear Jeanne Mas live as on the double album from 1987, ‘Jeanne Mas en concert’. The remixes will appeal to clubbers and are probably worth the price of the box set alone. Though the French music press widely publicised Mas’ decline from the end of the 1980s onwards and it is true to say that she did temporarily retire from recording duties, in reality her fans never left her, While Mas spent a good deal of the 1990s bringing up her second child, she then returned triumphantly in 2001 with a mini album devoted to her fans entitled, ‘Je vous aime aussi’ and then settled in the US in the state of Arizona in 2005. This was not to be the end of her recording career in French, however, and she has recorded two critically acclaimed albums more recently in ‘Bleu Citron’ (2011)and ‘H2-Eau’ (2014). The time is ripe, then, for a re-evaluation of her early career and for fans of electro-pop with a French flavour, this may just be your nirvana.

Tim Stenhouse