As we lamented in our sprawling end of year list the abundance of great music released in 2021 made it difficult to keep up. We aim to rectify that with this new summer series where we cover the music that we are ashamed to admit we never quite managed to highlight, yet have found ourselves returning to again and again.
Okay. It’s sexy time!
You should be able to tell that from the cover. It’s the soundtrack to Jacques Deray’s French Psychological thriller La Piscine (The Swimming Pool), which was released in 1969 and features Alain Delon and Romy Schneider. It was composed by Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg) and it was recorded immediately after cool jazzy pop of The Thomas Crown Affair. With lots of wordless female vocals, vibraphone and Stephane Grappelli’s violin, it’s a score drenched in 60’s excess – cool, sophisticated, outlandish and more than a little bit sexy.
It was released earlier in the year by the always excellent We Want Sounds, and it immediately sets the mood, where you find words like ‘groovy’ and ‘shag pile rug’ coming out of your mouth – yet there’s so much more under the hood. And that’s what kept me coming back. Legrand’s arrangements are incredibly sophisticated incorporating everything from blues, to classical to funk, to jazz, and often provide glimpses of each within the one song. It’s all held together by some really incredible vocal scat interplay, between male and female voices, which again often feels like they’re coming from entirely disparate worlds yet they fit seamlessly together in this entirely new thing.
So between its moment in time nature, its mood titillation and sophisticated jaw dropping arrangements La Piscine has it all, and shows a ‘groovy’ side to Legrand that I wasn’t altogether familiar with.