Lizzy Mercier Descloux SUSPENSE REMASTERED

Vinyl Original LP 10 Tracks Remastered - Gatefold Cover
Digipack CD + 6 Bonus tracks Remastered from Analogue master Tapes
Digital MP3 16 Remastered Tracks
Digital FLAC 16 Remastered Tracks

RELEASE DATE MARCH,10. 2016
"Partnership" with Light in The Attic

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    • - Original Album Remastered
    • - 10 Tracks
    • - MP3 + 6 Bonus Tracks
    • - Digital Booklet
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    • - Original Album Remastered
    • - 10 Tracks
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    • - Digital Booklet
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  • 4 x LP SPECIAL PACK
    • - 4 BLACK VINYL LP
    • - 1 - Mambo Nassau
    • - 2 - Zulu Rock
    • - 3 - One For The Soul
    • - 4 - Suspence
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    • - + Digital Booklet
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    • - Original Album Remastered
    • - 16 Tracks
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    • - 5 Digipack CD
    • - 1 _ Press Color
    • - 2 - Mambo Nassau
    • - 3 - Zulu Rock
    • - 4 - One For The Soul
    • - 5 - Suspense
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    • - + Digital Booklet
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    • - Original Album Remastered
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SUSPENSE REMASTERED 2016

By the time bohemian singer/poet/artist Lizzy Mercier Descloux recorded her fifth album, 1988’s Suspense, she’d enjoyed a recording career that was as far from the clichés of music lore as is possible, flitting between genres, continents and collaborators, enjoying great success and equally great failure and even stealing the final breaths of master trumpeter Chet Baker for 1986’s One For The Soul. When she came to make Suspense – reissued here as the final album in our series – she was, for the first time, working without her longtime muse, partner and manager Michel Esteban, with whom she’d first moved from their native France to New York, where it all began.

The pressure was on to repeat the success of “Mais Où Sont Passées Les Gazelles”, a smash hit in France, and Descloux’s label were keen to make a conventional artist of her, pairing her with John Brand, an in-vogue producer with a style geared to a big, shiny 1980s chart sound—an approach Lizzy had never experienced before, nor intended to. Recorded in Oxfordshire and Wales, it features songs recorded in both French and English, with lyrics by Mark Cunningham, the trumpet player of the avant-garde band MARS, and James Reyne, the Australian artist who co-wrote much of One For The Soul.

In Vivien Goldman’s new liner notes, Esteban notes that Suspense sounds “less Lizzy than the other records, less open,” but in splitting herself into two – English and Francophone – the album has two personalities too; oddly, it shines a light on the real Descloux that her cultural experiments never did.

Though the initial aim was to make a folky, acoustic album, the pop sound suited the singer, and “A Room In New York” is as fine and sparky as AOR gets. But when early single “Gueule D’Amour/Cry of Love” stiffed, EMI lost confidence and buried the LP. Bound by her contract to the label, Descloux moved away from music and focused on painting. She eventually settled in Corsica, the French island, where she died, aged 48, of cancer. Descloux’s musical career ended, therefore, with the aptly titled Suspense. It was only a matter of time before this furiously creative artist’s work was re-evaluated, and with these deluxe reissues, that time is now.

ZE Digital Booklet

Original

Download PDF Booklet

PITCHFORK

March 2016

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THE ARTS DESK

FEBR. 2016

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MAGIC

FEBR. 2016

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ORIGINAL ALBUM

1 • Gueule d’Amour • 4 :42 
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux

02 • Cape Desire • 3:44
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux / Philippe Zamora

03 • Salomé • 3:48
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux

04 • Vroom, C’est La Voie Lactée • 4:06
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux / Mark Cunningham

05 • The Long Goodbye • 5:24
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux / James Reyne

06 • 2 Femmes à La Mer • 4:13 
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux 

07 • L‘Heure Bleue • 4:26 
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux 

08 • Once Upon a Time Out • 3:35
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux / Mark Cunningham

09 • Echec Et Mat • 3:19
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux 

10 • A Room In New York • 4:19
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux / Mark Cunningham

BONUS TRACKS

11 • Gypsy Flame • 3:06
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux

12 • Lucky Strike Drive • 4:06
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux / Mark Cunningham

13 • Playtime • 4:13
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux 

14 • Hurricane • 4:26
Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux

15 • Calypso MogulTender Dub • 4:55

Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux / James Reyne

16 • Calypso Moguls Single Version • 2:56

Written by Lizzy Mercier Descloux / James Reyne

All songs  Published by Emi Music 
except « Calypso Moguls Tender Dub » & « The Long Goodbye » Copyright Control
 

MUSICIANS

Lizzy Mercier Descloux  • Lead & Backing Vocals 
Bruce Smith • Drums
Durban Betancourt Laverde • Bass
Greg Jiritano • Brass Master, Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Dobro Guitar
Mark Cunningham • Trumpet, Bass & Keyboard on « Once Upon aTime Out »
Geoffrey Scantlebury • Percussions
Kim Burton • Accordion
Bernie Clarke • Piano, Organ, Keyboards 
Julian Stewart Lindsay • Keyboards, Programmation Fairlight
David Munday • Guitar, Keyboards , Harmonica on « A Room In New York »
Stuart Gordon • Viola, Violin, Cello
Tim Sanders • Tenor  Sax & Soprano Sax 
Constanza Burg  • Clarinet Bass 
Marilyn Davis  • Backing Vocals
Sandy McLelland • Backing Vocals
Volodia Boukortt • Backing Vocals on « La Voie Lactée »,
Roddy Lorimer • Trumpet on «  Gueule d’Amour » , « La Voie Lactée »,
& Bugle on « L ‘Heure Bleue »


SOUND

Recorded  at Loco Studio, Walles, Georgetown Studio Sutton Courrtenay/
Firehouse London • Engineer John Brand • Assistant  Chris Hufford • 
Mixed by John Brand at EMI Studio, Paris • Assistant Jacques Ehrhert & Volodia Boukortt
Producer by John Brand, Mark Cunningham & Lizzy Mercier Descloux
Remastered by Charlus de la Salle 2008, South Factory Studio
Original sound recording made by Polydor © 1988 
Licenced to ZE records © 2004

This compilation Selected and Produced by Michel Esteban
(p) & ©2016 ZE Records
 

DESIGN

Art Cover Design by « Nous 2 • Photo Gilles Cappé ( Sans Aucun Vice Connu)
« Vroom, C’est La Voie Lactée » dedicated to Alan Vaughan 
« The Long Goodbye » is dedicated to Guillaume « Wioming » Israel
« Once Upon aTime Out » Is dedicated to Tiger
« 2 Femmes à La Mer » is dedicated to Kim Massee & Julian Stewart Lindsay

SUSPENSE LINER NOTES   by Vivien Goldman

The restless firefly creativity of the petite French poet, artist and singer-songwriter, Lizzy Mercier-Descloux, led her to record around the world before settling in London in 1988 to record the cliffhanger of her career – “Suspense.”

On its success rested Lizzy’s future in the music industry, or so it seemed. A product of obscure underground counter-culture, inspired by hedonistic free spirits like the French poet, Arthur Rimbaud, Lizzy had surprised many, even herself and her faithful first beau/manager, Michel Esteban, by scoring a bona fide hit with 1984’s “Mais où sont passées les Gazelles?”  Recorded in Johannesburg the springy dancefloor filler was Lizzy’s bohemian take on a popular Shangaan Disco style tune recorded by Obed Ngobeni and the Kurhula Sisters. It was glorious that her native France voted “Zulu Rock” Rock album of the year, and that Lizzy, whose interest in politics was growing, could draw attention to the brutality of South African apartheid, even obliquely.

But at the same time, the commercial shelf life of an unconventional, marginal artist, specially a girl, is examined more closely each year by industry big boys. Having had one hit, the sales bar was set higher for Lizzy. Could her numbers rise as high again?

Linnea Tillett, a political activist and designer, was one of Lizzy’s closest gilrfriends; her musician and photographer brother Seth was a grand creative passionf Lizzy’s. She observes, “Lizzy genuinely was someone who had a desperate desire to constantly be creating and her music career was a kind of frustration, because it was always about (would she make) the next record.”

An artist whose passion for creativity spilled over into her intimate life, the two albums before “Suspense” were all made in the company of amours and/or exes – first Michel Esteban, who launched her career with the abstract noise duo, Rosa Yemen, and the scrappy 1979 album, “Press Color” on ZE Records; and then with British producer Adam Kidron.

Along with Michel, Lizzy had left Paris to ride New York’s No Wave.  She hung with Patti Smith and Jean-Michel Basquiat and fell in tempestuous love with the gifted but difficult musician and poet, Richard Hell.  Her true friends came to accept these whirlwind romances. “It was volatile. Sometimes she would vanish with a guy and we wouldn’t hear from her for a year!” laughs Linnaea.  Mark Cunningham agrees. “Lizzy had a very strong personality and we got along really well. We were always in touch, depending on where she was and the boyfriend of the time; Lizzy could disappear for long periods.”

Michel was a reassuring companion through the recording of “Mambo Nassau,” with it’s tropical dance ambiance, and was by her side throughout her next two records,  “Zulu Rock” and “One From the Soul.”

A more intimate experiment including duets with jazz legend, Chet Baker, was recorded in Rio, Brazil with Kidron in 1984. But friction arose as both Adam and Michel tried to mold Lizzy’s vocals into a more conventional style. It seemed like she had lost the brio of her performances in South Africa, and could please neither man – nor a large audience, Despite the record’s haunting, tentative charms, Lizzy’s long stop-start affair with Adam Kidron ended for good – and so did her long-standing partnership with Esteban.

“It got complicated. We had made five albums together,” Michel notes. “C’est bon. It  was time for Lizzy to go it alone.”

So for “Suspense,” Lizzy found herself recording alone in a new city, London, but for a good friend from the old days, Mark Cunningham, the Trumpet player of the avant-garde band, MARS. They had met when Lizzy and Michel first came to New York for their French punk-rock magazine, “Rock News,” before she had ever recorded.

A major milestone for Lizzy was finally being credited as producer on “Suspense,” alongside Cunningham; rather ironic, given that Lizzy seemed to have less possibility of input on this than on any of her other discs. “She wanted me involved with producing so I would be there with her in all the phases and back her up,” Cunningham says. “Otherwise they could have ignored her even more.”

So really controlling her own sound still eluded her. “It sounds less Lizzy than the other records, less open… Lizzy at her most conventional,” declares Michel. “I had nothing to do with “Suspense””

In one sense, Michel is correct.  But by some odd alchemy, it was on this final album that Lizzy found her true voice as a singer, not a declaimer– in both French and English.  Who knew where her audience would be, at this point? Hedging her bets and doubling her potential market , Lizzy recorded the same tracks over twice, with her own French  lyrics  and quite different English versions by Cunningham and James Reyne, the Australian artist who co-wrote much of “One for the Soul,” Lizzy’s previous record.

The dual versions make a fascinating comparative study, a jigsaw puzzle pleasure for each listener – spotting how the brassy film noir feel of “Vroom, La Voie Lactée” is also the rhythm for  “Lucky Strike Drive”. Lizzy was thorough in creating versions that are equal but different; and though the languages alter the tunes’ texture, she owns all her voices. “Deux Femmes à la Mer” is an alternate take on  “Playtime”; in the Anglo version, maybe because of a slight linguistic distance, Lizzy sounds grown-up-punk and ironic, while in French she is more intimate and yearning. The bite of Lizzy’s vision is most clear on “A Room in New York,” which unlike the usual booster tracks about the city, revels in its danger and decay. The jagged intensity of tracks like the brooding “Echec et Mat,” still show Lizzy’s edgy spirit.

Yet there is an internal tension within “Suspense,” despite it’s being her most realized work in many ways. Whereas till now, Lizzy had been creating and battling with Esteban and Kidron, two of the closest men in her life, she had now been partnered by EMI, with John Brand, who Mark describes as “the producer of the moment.” Brand’s style was geared to a big, shiny 1980s chart sound; an approach Lizzy had never experienced before, or intended to.

Says Mark, “We intended to make more of a folk, acoustic record with strong production. It turned out to be a synthesizer-heavy sound, very polished, and when I listen now, I have mixed feelings; but as an author, it is Lizzy’s best, most mature work. “

“Lizzy had a strong contract and allies within EMI,  which had a lot to do with how all this played out.,” he continues. “They were very generous and backed her throughout the process. It was a big budget expensive record that took three months to record in a studio in Oxfordshire, and an old stone barn in Wales. It was idyllic – and we were paid well, too!”

“The only thing was, EMI really wanted a hit and that never worked out. They released a 45,  “Gueules D’Amour/Cry of Love,” gave the album an initial push, saw there was no hit and things fizzled out.” he continues. “They dumped it, really. And that was the end of her career. She made demoes after that, but was never able to get another contract. She stayed under contract to EMI forever,” Cunningham concludes.

Confirms Michel Esteban, “After “Suspense” didn’t happen, Lizzy decided to stop working on music. She spent some time in Guadeloupe. She wanted islands, the heat. There, she started painting. I still helped her – toujours ami, always friends.”

In writing the soulful  “Deux Femmes à la Mer,” maybe a trip she took to Corsica with Linnaea Tillet was on Lizzy’s mind. Though she had not yet received the diagnosis of cancer that would cause her death in 2004, aged 48, Lizzy was already seeking a warm, safe haven. Since leaving New York, she had transformed a small, abandoned farmhouse in Happonvillier, near Chartres, into a bijou retreat where she loved entertaining friends.  “She knew how to integrate design, personality and art,” comments Linnaea.  “Lizzy made it into one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life.”

But it was neither France nor Guadeloupe, that finally called her.

“In her last few years, Lizzy identified Corsica as the home of her spirit.  There is a wildness to the place and the culture there, very sharp, rugged, no soft edges at all,” says Linnea. “When she got close to coming to terms with the fact she was dying, Corsica was where she wanted to be.”

Over the course of a career that spanned five albums, one book of poetry, various film performances and many, many paintings, Lizzy continually sought authenticity of expression. Her plunge into making mainly music happened to an extent because that was where so much action was in the late 1970s/early 80s; she could easily have communicated via other media, too, as she indeed turned to painting after “Suspense.”

“In some ways she was frustrated. That became very clear and particularly tragic round the time she became sick, because it seemed clear to us that she would have had another opportunity for her musical work to be re-appreciated and for her to build on it,” says Linnea urgently. “She was constantly trying to create and present her connections and her ideas. She was painting, she was writing poetry, she was always trying to create some momentum and motion. She was always hoping that things would pick up with her work and in contact with people about it. That’s what made the diagnosis so painful. Lizzy was not winding down; there was an updraft.”

His love for Lizzy clearly undimmed, Linnea’s brother Seth insists that Lizzy’s particular magic was present, live, kinetic – that in so many ways, Lizzy’s greatest art was the way she lived her life. Both so close to this woman of wayward brilliance, the siblings still agree. Says Linnea, “Lizzy was constantly engaged in shaping life -- whatever the hell that looked like.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Track List
  • 1
    Gueule d'amour - Single Edit
    03:07
  • 2
    Cape Desire
    03:44
  • 3
    Salome
    03:48
  • 4
    Vroom C'est La Voie Lactée
    04:06
  • 5
    The Long Goodbye
    05:24
  • 6
    Deux femmes à la mer
    04:13
  • 7
    L'Heure Bleue
    04:26
  • 8
    Once Upon A Time Out
    03:36
  • 9
    Echec Et Mat
    03:19
  • 10
    A Room In New York
    04:18
Bonus Tracks
  • 1
    Gypsy Flame
    03:07
  • 2
    Lucky Strike Back
    04:05
  • 3
    Playtime
    04:13
  • 4
    Hurricane
    04:26
  • 5
    Calypso Moguls - Single Version
    02:56
  • 6
    Calypso Moguls - Tender Dub
    04:55