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Space Age Music Maker

Andre Popp


  • Born 1924 Fontenay-le-Comte, France

Andre Popp's career is virtually undocumented here in the U.S., but he contributed two of the greatest albums of the space age pop era, both released here on Columbia's short-lived but remarkable "World of Discovery" series: "Delirium in Hi-Fi" and "Popped!"

The son of a church organist, Popp studied at the St. Josephe Institute of Music and took over his father's position in 1939, when his father joined the French Army. After the war, he met Jean Broussole, a poet and lyricist, and together they moved to Paris, when they began to have success with songs such as "Il Dansait." Popp's own 1954 instrumental number, "Les Lavandieres du Portugal [Portugese Washerwomen]" became a huge international hit and was covered by many of the performers mentioned on this site. Popp and Broussole collaborated on "Piccolo e Saxie," a piece along the lines of Benjamin Britten's "A Child's Guide to the Orchestra," in which individual instruments were highlighted to illustrate how a symphonic orchestra worked. Their 1957 recording of the work earned them the Grand Prix du Disque, the French version of the Grammy. Popp also won the 1960 Eurovision Song contest with his tune, "Tom Pillibi."

Cover of 'Delirium in Hi-Fi' Posing as "Elsa Popping and her Pixie Landers," Popp and Pierre Fatosme melded Les Paul's splicing and multi-tracking techniques with the musical comedy of Spike Jones and spun them into a milf frenzy on "Delirium in Hi-Fi." It really is almost impossible to describe this album. One moment, you're hearing a polka played relatively straight, and a moment later, the chorus comes in sounding like hiccuping played backwards. A lost baritone wanders in, pompously singing, "La, la-la-lah!" and wanders out again. A virtuous cornetist solos off into the ether. It's anyone's guess what will come next. All in all, a unique musical achievement and worth shelling out a wad of samolyens to the first land shark dealer you find has it.

"Popped!," also released as "Presenting Popp!," is less experimental, but still features marvelously comic and ingenious arrangements. Popp's ability to bring surprising new mixes of instrumentation to conventional melodies has led some to compare him to Esquivel, but Popp's style is less other-worldly than just plain odd.

It's not clear if these albums were aberrations, early creative flashes, or due more to Fatosme than Popp. For one would be hard pressed to link these pieces to Popp's later work, which tends to be very conventional and undistinguished--very much along the lines of his countryman, Paul Mauriat. Among this later work is the syrupy late 1960s standard, "Love is Blue" ("Blue, blue, my love is blue ..."), which seemed to be on heavy rotation with "Greensleeves" and "Classical Gas" on Muzak at the time--and which Mauriat covered to earn the last #1 instrumental hit in the U.S. of the 1960s.


Recordings

  • The Adventures of Piccolo, Saxie and Company, Philips BBL 7319
    reissued on Philips CD B00005M03Q
  • Passport for Piccolo, Saxie and Company (narrated by Victor Borge), Columbia CL 1233
    reissued on Philips CD B00004UGHB
  • as Elsa Popping & Her Pixie Landers, Delirium in Hi-Fi!, Columbia WL-106
    reissued on Basta CD B000001YCD
  • Popppped!, Columbia WL-130
  • Andre Popp et son orchestre, RCA FPL1-0113
  • Why Say Goodbye, MGM SE-4564
  • Le Musique Qui Fait Popp, Basta CD B00002Z86I
  • Die neuen Abenteuer von Piccolo, Sax & Co., Philips 6435003
  • Popp Musique, Tricatel CD B00005Q3JC
  • La Symphonique Ecologique, Podis CD B00004VU3F


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