published: 23 /
In our 'Re:View' section, in which we look back at albums from the past, Tommy Gunnarsson reflects on Francoise Hardy's 1974 album 'Message Personnel', which has been re-released in a fortieth anniversary edition
The first time I heard Françoise Hardy was when she duetted with Blur on the song ‘To the End’ on their 1994 ‘Parklife’ album. This may sound absurd to some of you, but since I grew up the 80s (and in Sweden), there weren’t really any good opportunities for me to get to know her music. Her golden age was in the past, in the 60s and 70s, and when the 80s came around she tried to embrace the current music trends, but honestly it wasn’t very good. But never mind that now. This year we celebrate the 40th anniversary of her album ‘Message Personnel’ (and also Françoise’s 70th birthday!), which was something of a comeback album even back then in 1974.
It was her first collaboration with producer and composer Michel Berger, a man who had previously worked with his wife France Gall and Johnny Hallyday (among others), and it was an instant success in her native France. Since then the album has turned into something of a classic in French pop history, so it’s not a big surprise that Warner is choosing to celebrate its anniversary.
The album is, if you compare it to Hardy’s previous efforts, more “mature” (I really don’t like that word when describing music, but I couldn’t think of any other). The music is more or less piano based, and Hardy has a great voice, as always. This reissue is, of course, a double disc, and the second disc contains the single ‘Je Suis Moi’, which was released after the album, some instrumental versions of the songs from the album, three English versions (which are of particular interest to me, as I don’t understand a word of French) and three German versions of songs from the album, and some live versions from various TV and radio broadcasts in the mid-70s. The booklet includes the lyrics to the songs on the original album (plus the follow-up single), plus a short introduction, sadly written in French. But I can understand that, as the primary market for this reissue is France.
This is an excellent reissue of a great album, and in the age of diminishing CD sales, it’s always good to see that some labels still dare to do this kind of thing. After all, isn’t it a lot better to have a physical CD with booklet etc than a folder in your computer with a bunch of MP3s?