SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #107 : THE FRENCH IMPRESSIONISTS

I’m actually going to offer up a bunch of songs today…it turned out to be a nice coincidence that The French Impressionists came round alphabetically for this series today as I can justify going back into the vaults and reproducing this piece from 6 July 2009:-

The French Impressionists were a jazz ensemble, formed in Glasgow by pianist and songwriter Malcolm Fisher around the end of 1980/beginning of 1981. Their first demo was recorded in June 1981. It was a session engineered by Davey Henderson, and Malcolm roped in Paul Quinn to sing, Roddy Frame to play guitar and Campbell Owens, another member of Aztec Camera, to play bass. Oh and Edwyn Collins seemingly lent a hand on the writing and arrangements. Here’s what they came up with:-

mp3 : The French Impressionists – Boo Boo’s Gone Mambo
mp3 : The French Impressionists – My Guardian Angel

Malcolm then formed a proper band in 1982 first with singer Beatrice Colin (who I’ve previously featured on TVV as lead singer with the short lived April Showers), drummer Barry Ross and bassist Paul Yacoubian, but played just four gigs as well as recording just four songs for a further demo, including this:-

mp3 : The French Impressionists – Rainbows Never End

After the demo, Beatrice was sacked (and to be fair, I don’t think her voice was remotely suited to a jazz band). Among those who were auditioned as a replacement was Eddi Reader, later of course to find fame with Fairground Attraction. In the end, it was a former hairdresser and dancer named Louise Ness who landed the gig, and in September 1982, the debut 12″ single was issued by Les Disques du Crepescule:-

mp3 : The French Impressionists – Pick Up The Rhythm

The band then began to play a number of live dates in Glasgow and London, and recruited a second vocalist named Margaret Murphy. A short while later, she changed her name to Katy Murphy and became a very successful actress, first coming to attention in the BBC series Tutti Frutti, alongside the likes of Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson and Richard Wilson.

At the time, there was a bit of a jazz revival being promoted in the UK music papers, and the French Impressionists were being talked up as the next big thing, even to the extent that it was suggested Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet would produce their material once they signed to a major label. More demos were recorded, more gigs played in Glasgow (I caught them twice within a fortnight playing at Night Moves, which was then the premier venue for up and coming bands…I was going through a particularly pretentious period in my life!!), and this Xmas single was recorded:-

mp3 – The French Impressionists – Santa Baby

But the interest was never followed up, and the band dissolved in early 1983, having been in existence for little more than a year.

Malcolm Fisher then hooked up with a London-based vocalist and tried to get Crespuscule interested in some demos and maybe an album, but nothing came of it. Malcolm went back to Glasgow, while the singer stayed in London, in due course hooking up with other jazz/soul musicians. Her name was Sade…..

Malcolm got involved in the visual arts side of things for a while but returned to usic again at the turn of the century, writing and recording under both his own name and that of The French Impressionists. He now lives in Milan.

JC

2 thoughts on “SATURDAY’S SCOTTISH SONG : #107 : THE FRENCH IMPRESSIONISTS

  1. Back in the very early 80s, the only way that I was aware of as schoolboy was to listen to various music shows on Radio Clyde at 8pm. I got the tape recorder ready and taped the songs I liked, trying hard to miss out the DJ, adverts etc.

    The French Impressionists were one such band and I really enjoyed their music, and had one of their songs on one of my favourite compilation tapes.

    Unfortunately many of my tapes disappeared when my car was stolen from Blythswood Square around 1990 and I have never heard some of the more obscure music since.

    It’s great to hear them again, so thanks for posting.

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