Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The French Fries—
Danse A La Musique/Small Fries


Released 1968 on Epic
The Seth Man, May 2007ce
He didn’t call himself Sly...for nothin’.

High on the first Sly & The Family Stone success of “Dance To The Music” what did Sly do but cut a second version of the track with the group under the pseudonym of The French Fries, dispense with the lyrics except for its chorus (here sung entirely in French), re-arrange it with prominent fuzz guitar to the fore and strip it of not only its main verses but its former commercial potential as well. He then threaded it with the same nasally, nasty stylophone that first peeked out during Sly & The Family Stone’s “Dance In” then re-appeared in the sonic pileup at the end of “Music Lover.” And as if a hidden conclusion of that last section of “Dance To The Medley,” “Danse A La Musique” was a novelty thinly disguised as a mischievous thumb-to-nose statement by Sly who (ever the prankster) would return to reference “Dance To The Music” again and again throughout his career not only because it was The Family Stone’s first hit single, but because it was conceived with not a small amount of buckshot in response to his record company’s request for simpler songs which would sell. (Cue Sly’s imaginary thought bubble: Simple? You want simple? You got it and it’s something to make “Louie, Louie” seem high IQ! It’s called “Dance To The Music” AND now it’s setting the charts on fire! Choke on THAT! Huh! And now here’s something to make even THAT seem summa cum laude in comparison: It’s got special needs, it’s called “Danse A La Musique” cause I thought I’d dress it up with some French, to give it that --you know -- ‘jen ne se quoi’! Dig?)

“Danse A La Musique” is far a rougher and more stripped down version of “Dance To The Music” than even the component parts of “Dance To The Medley.” It features very little in the way of vocals, the horn section is a mere fraction of its former strength as the dominating, overblown lead guitar blares out with a punishing amount of fuzz that is probably Freddie Stone’s loudest ever performance captured on record. It displaces the horn section to the back of the mix with sloppy bombast as “Ready” Freddie Stone lets loose nearly non-stop throughout AND loud as hell as if to fulfilling his previous request on “Dance To The Music” to “Turn me up way up loud...”

And as if to further disfigure “Dance To The Music,” only Rose Stone alone sings the chorus instead of not the entire group while Sly’s background harmony vocal is sped up to a hilariously helium-inhaled Chipmunk degree. It’s only a 45rpm record, but Sly vocals run at 78rpm and he’s still keeping cadence as though a half-pint gremlin has commandeered the session. Rose tries to voice the line “all we need is a drummer/for people who only need a beat” in French but gets only halfway through it before blowing it by saying ‘drummer’ in English and automatically bursting out with uncontrollable snickering at the ridiculousness of it all. Sly is then scrawling over parts of the surface of the track with stylophone in place of Jerry Martini’s clarinet fills and then ragas it out for a few seconds in near-theremin stretches. During the “Cynthia on the throne!” pronouncement, the horn section dwarfed in magnitude by fuzz guitar while the unaccompanied “boom, boom, boom, boom, boom” vocal set-up for the reentry of the chorus is replaced by Sly scatting it at along with darting organ fills.

The second side features Sly on further sped up Alvin Chipmunk vocals, this time narrating a story about three little pigs named Freddie, Larry and Sylvester as each in turn are recruited by “Uncle Sam -- u -- el.” Musically not as interesting as the A-side, the jaunty and light melody does serve as a severe counterpoint to the A-side about as much as A-side is to “Dance To The Music” proper: a joke of a one-off cast-off that however marked for obscurity, was still just a different version of a huge selling single: although refracted though the Sylvester Stewart looking glass of goofballism and total class.