Synopsis: 1995 documentary concert video featuring the songs Serre-moi, Envole-moi, Des vôtres, Que disent les chansons du monde?, Être le premier, Je commence demain, Frères, À nos actes manqués, Un, deux, trois, Des vies, Juste après, C’est pas d’l’amour, On n’a pas changé, Comme toi, Fermer les yeux, Nuit, Il suffira d’un signe, Rouge, and Puisque tu pars.
Jean-Jacques Goldman is my all-time favourite composer. While I traditionally don’t like French music, there was something in his texts that really got me, a perspective on humanity that very much influenced the way I think and how I look at the world.
In my opinion, his texts only got better with time, some of his best work being on his last two solo efforts. While the music is mired in pop rock conventions at times, I accept it on the strength of his lyrics and passion, which really move me.
In the ’90s, he decided to share the spotlight with two of his friends, Carole Fredericks and Michael Jones, people he’d been collaborating with in the studio and on stage for years. He continued to write the texts and music, but they would both get to be centre stage as performers, with him as back-up.
Since most of his material is unavailable in North America, I ended up importing most of it at great cost. It was worth the price, but there was one problem with the DVDs: not only were they Region 2 (North America is Region 1), but they were recorded in PAL (North America is NTSC).
I was able to convert and watch most of them, which was terrific, but this programme had remained unwatched because I couldn’t transfer it properly. Recently, I picked up a machine that could play the disc and eagerly jumped at the chance to complete my viewing.
This particular title is available on a DVD called ‘Du New Morning au Zénith’, which compiles this feature as well as ‘Au New Morning’. They were originally released separately on video tapes, and, as with most of his releases, were doubled up on DVD – for good or bad, because, while the it makes them available and affordable, the video quality suffered for it.
Still, despite the limited video and audio quality (we get a basic stereo track! ), it was nice to get a feel for Goldman at that part of his life. Having never had the chance to see him live (he doesn’t come to North America!), not having many chances to see him in interviews or been able to follow him as devotedly as I’d like (his limited press appearances never making it here), it’s the next best thing.
While this is mostly a tour document, complete with concert footage and behind the scenes stuff, there are moments with Goldman. What I find interesting is just how reserved and somewhat glum he appears in it – something that doesn’t really jive with the way I interpret his songs, which are mostly filled with empathy, a sense of hope, of optimism.
But I’ve since discovered that his 22 year marriage would dissolve shortly thereafter; it may have something to do with his demeanour (and it certainly informed the material on his subsequent solo album). He even started playing the violin during this period, an instrument that is beautiful but nothing if not melancholic.
What makes this particular tour worth checking out is that the album they were touring featured the ex-Red Army Choir on a few songs and the lot of them were brought in for the shows. While they aren’t featured prominently during the show (it’s mostly for the closing bit), their combined forces make for quite the show-stopper. I would love to hear this remixed and/or in lossless audio.
The rest of the DVD is pleasant, if quite conventional for this kind of programme. As a fan, I obviously enjoyed its content but I wonder what value it would have for newcomers. One thing I found amusing, as always, is just how goofy these guys look onstage sometimes. Is this typical of French pop-rockers, or is it only Goldman and company? All I know is that the cool factor of North American rockers is lacking here.
In the end, if I were to compare this to another similar programme, I’d say that it’s far less satisfying than Depeche Mode’s ‘101’ or Madonna’s ‘Truth or Dare’, which are some of the better ones, but it’s definitely superior to Billy Talent’s ‘Scandalous Travelers’ and Type O Negative’s ‘Symphony for the Devil’
It may not be the best way to discover the artist(s), but fans would no doubt derive some enjoyment. At the very least , the DVD is worth it because it also contains the companion piece ‘Au New Morning’.