Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Saravah, 1974; out of print

Allegedly 9 tracks, 26:45

Continuing this blog's recent French theme (there's two more to go after this!), this may very well be the only children's record ever reviewed here. Why review a children's record? Well, this particular kid's album was included on the legendary Nurse With Wound list! Conceived by Jérôme Savary in 1965, Le Grand Magic Circus (whose full name roughly translates to the Large Magic Circus and its Sad Animals) were another example of the avant-garde thatre troupes that Steven Stapleton was so fond of. A lot more innocent than the hyper-political (and often vulgar) other troupes, Le Grand Magic Circus was indeed a large ensemble. I have no idea what anything else they recorded sounds like, but this short delight features a bunch of elements not common to a children's album. Funny and odd voices, quirky music, and a general sense of wackiness is the order of the day. As stated previously, my French is limited, but I could understand a few scattered words and phrases. The general idea seems to be a fairy tale parody told to a little girl by her grandfather. The plot involves the titular Big Mean Pig and the three small kind Wolves. The Pig's appearence is announced with a bizarre little proggy bit, interspersed with the Pig's deep bass vocals and random squeals and oinks; Grandfather has a husky but endearing voice, and he speaks a mile a minute; the Wolves tend to sing in harmony and with gusto; and the little girl has an endearingly earnest voice. A few other voices turn up, but since information on this is severely limited, I have no idea regarding the exact amount of participants. There's bits of surf rock, creepy organ dirges, folky guitar workouts, and oddly avant-garde piano bits. One of the most endearing touches is how the album ends on the exact same note it began, with the same song and everything. All of it adds up to a children's album unlike any other, easily enjoyed by even the snootiest avant-garde fan.

As an interesting footnote, both Richard and Danny Elfman had stints in Le Grand Magic Circus, as did Richard's now-ex-wife Marie-Pascale (who starred as Frenchy Hercules in Richard's FORBIDDEN ZONE). On that note, it's not hard to see where the Elfmans got a bit of influence once you hear Le Grand Magic Circus!

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