S2-E15 Denis

Debbie in 1974 at Union Square subway station (nyc) ©Chris Stein

Pour ce 15e épisode, nous allons évoquer le premier hit d’un groupe qui allie l’énergie et l’effervescence du NewYork de la fin des 1970’s à la fraicheur des 60’s.

S2-E15 Denis (Denise)

You can find a summary in English below.

La version de blondie est là
La version originale est ici

On peut écouter Debbie de Randy & the rainbows en 1928 en suivant ce lien.

For my Friends who don’t speak French a summary in English. I hope it can help to follow what I say :

Denis / Denise

For this 15th episode, we are going to talk about the first hit of a group that combines the energy and effervescence of New York at the end of the 1970s with the freshness of the 60s.

Sample of  the cover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahGxiSV_LH0

« Denis » is Blondie’s first international hit. People of my generation may remember that we heard an extract from « Denis » in the credits of the program Chorus by Antoine de Caunes in French TV. Blondie is one of the flagship bands of the New York Punk scene that shook the East Village in the mid-70s, with Patti Smith, Television, The Talking Heads, the Ramones. With the Talking Heads, Blondie shares the taste of various musical influences. They will have no qualms about embracing all New York styles, soon disco (Heart of Glass, Call Me) or nascent rap with the title Rapture with JM Basquiat and Grant MasterFlash in the video clip. In 1980 « Denis » is already a fusion of New York punk and sixties pop of the 60s. Like the Ramones who wanted to be the Ronettes of the 70s and who would record with the legendary Phil Spector, Blondie also loves the 60s. And Denis is a cover of a hit from this period.

Sample the original version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7Xy8XLKwec

American doo-wop group Randy & the Rainbows recorded « Denise » in 1963. « Denise » spent seventeen weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching number 10. This group from Queens had the distinction of being composed of 5 members including two pairs of twins. « Denise » would be their only hit and the group broke up in 1967. Before returning in 1982, where on their new album, they thank Debbie Harry (Blondie’s singer) and dedicate the song « Debbie » to her which is a « Denise  » revamped:

Sample of « Debbie » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhoGQz2xT6M

Apart from the orchestration with guitars and energetic drums, Deborah Harry of course sings Denis and not Denise. In addition, this Francophile improvised in rehearsal a verse in « French », at least which sounds French. It seems that their record company tried to make them record a version with grammatically correct French lyrics but the band preferred to keep the freshness of the improvised version.

The group Blondie is still active and « Denis » continues to be a favorite of the group’s French fans, with everyone dreaming of being the Denis that Debbie has a crush on.

   Before slipping Blondie in your ears, see you soon for a new episode of Ils Ont Repris Ma Chanson.