It would appear that spring has given way to an early and particularly sultry summer in my current Eastern neck of the American woods, so I felt that a song as sultry as the climate, and equally as intoxicating, would fit today’s bill.
For those unfamiliar with the colourful Lizzy Mercier Descloux, she was one of pop’s true unsung heroines. After moving to New York from her native France in 1977, she recorded several innovative albums which fused her own quirky sensibility with an eclectic range of styles, and meanwhile lived a heady life filled with writing, painting, acting and poetry, sadly cut short by her untimely death in 2004.
She was a key figure in the NY No Wave scene, and swiftly branched out into disco and funk with a heavy African influence, working with everyone from Patti Smith to Chet Baker in the process.
In 1995 she tried her hand at reggae, and given her talent for wrestling big name hits into Mercier-tainted submission, it seems only logical that the man locked in her disharmonious half-nelson on this occasion was Bob Marley.
As with almost all of her cover versions, she imbues Marley’s 1971 swayer, Sun Is Shining, with a nervous tension while still managing to sound as though she’s reclining on a yacht. Ominous Sleng-Teng style synth and an atonal bassline provide a climbing frame for playful-yet-mournful faux-accordion, while Lizzy’s languid vocal makes lines such as ‘I want you to know I’m a rainbow too’ sound almost like a warning.
Have a go on the link below, though ignore the track title ‘cuz it’s incorrect. Certainly spits in the eye of Funkstar De Luxe’s house version, I can tell you…
And while you’re at it, here’s a prize snippet of the late, great Lizzy performing Arthur Brown’s Fire on French TV in 1980. Who’s that lusty drunkard introducing her?