Saturday, November 26, 2011

Unsung Bands Of The 2-Tone Era: Lou & The Hollywood Bananas Put Belgium On The Ska Map

Any discussion about Belgian 2-Tone era ska band Lou & The Hollywood Banana's must first start with the story of the Belgian singer Plastic Bertrand who gave the world the 1977 Euro-punk anthem 'Ça Plane Pour Moi'. Not familiar with the song? It reached #8 in the U.K. charts and also garnered airplay in the U.S. Despite being hatched in the studio by music producer Lou Deprijck (who it was later determined actually sang the lead vocal as well), the song may have been one of the very best songs of the punk era. Ca Plane Pour Moi would be covered and translated into in English as 'Jet Boy, Jet Girl' by Elton Motello. The song has an undeniable punk pop hook and was one of Joe Strummer's favorites:
"By purist rules, its not allowed to even mention Plastic Bertrand. Yet this record was probably a lot better than a lot of so called punk records." -- Joe Strummer Mojo October 2001
Plastic Bertrand was actually Belgian musician Roger Jouret.  Originally a drummer, he was recruited for his good looks to take on the Milli Vanilla-like persona of Plastic Bertrand.  However it is alleged that Jouret pulled a Milli Vanilli by fronting and lip-syncing during TV performances, but that the actual singing was really done by his producer Deprijck. Controversial stuff eh? A court case finally settled the case of the real singer of the song was in 2006, finding in Deprijck's favor.

Apparently Deprijck also had a penchant for ska.  As Plastic Bertrand ran its course and 2-Tone took off in the U.K. in the late 70's, he turned his attention to his next project: Lou & The Hollywood Bananas.  The name alone should give a sense about the seriousness of the project. While they were a one man studio project, Deprijck released some overlooked ska classics during 1978-80, including 'Kingston, Kingston' which was a hit in Belgium and France and later gained some attention in the U.K.  While the name alone suggests a Weird Al Yankovic joke ska band, instead think a French-language version of Bad Manners, with Deprijck as Captain backed by two attractive Tenille-like back up singers.  The look was goofy but the songs had solid ska chops and musicianship.

Deprijck is still active in the music industry and currently resides in Thailand. The story of his life in Thailand was shown in a Flemish-language documentary as part of the Belgian news program. Have a listen to some of Lou & The Hollywood Banana's best known ska tracks below:

Kingston Kingston (French Version)

Kingston Kingston (English Version)

I Won't Never Let You Go

Et Puis... Et Puis... Rien

Hong Kong Ska


Tone and Wave said...

...and before all of this he was in Two Man Sound. The song Marianna ("Velha Biana") was in a bastardized samba style that later became a sound associated with 2 Tone ska. It was recorded in 1975

CultureClash77 said...

Dear Marco

Lou Deprijck was interested in the connection between jamaican music and punk rock since the beginning.

He already cut a jamaican oriented track in the 1st Plastic Bertrand's LP.

The song "Dance Dance" is completely copied (musically) from Prince Buster's "10 commandments". One can easilly find it with SongR software.

Hope you'll get it and listen to it...

Keep up the good Work.