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Date: 11/11/20

"Ça Plane...Où Quoi?"

A little musical curiosity for you here, chums.

Those of un certain âge où plus âgée que ça will remember a storming little number from the charts of early summer 1978, in which a Belgian singer calling himself 'Plastic Bertrand' both celebrated and took the piss out of the then exploding punk scene:

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The singer on the recording was not, however, Bert Plastic (aka Roger Jouret) himself, but the record's producer and co-writer, the splendidly-named Lou Deprijck.

So far, so goofy. But this was merely a French lyric which had been put over an instrumental backing recorded the previous year by a band called Elton Motello. This was largely an Englishman called Alan Ward - who had been working in Belgium with a glam-rock band whose members included Brian James of The Damned - and who had then formed his own outfit.

The French lyrics (written by Yvan Lacomblez, who had/has the nickname 'Pipou', which indicates that things don't get any better the further you delve into this story) are little more than stream-of-consciousness gibberish.

The English lyrics (with the song in that incarnation entitled Jet Boy, Jet Girl), on the other hand, are anything but, as you will hear if you choose to play the following video.

(I say 'choose', because the lyrics are Not Suitable For Work or for any atmosphere with a high content of that unstable and explosive gas Ninnium. It is, as it always should be, at your own risk)

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Yes, the lyrics are written from the point of view of a fifteen-year-old gay lad who has an affair with an older man, who then goes off and leaves him for a woman, thus engendering feelings of despair and a desire for some serious revenge on the part of the boy. No punches were pulled in the making of this song.

The Motello version was released at the start of 1978 and was, not surprisingly, a flop (except in Australia for some reason, where it reached the lower reaches of one of the Top 40s there), and a radio station in Miami, Fla. was fined $10 000 for playing it after a complaint by a far-right Christian fundy activist. It has had a few cover versions, most notably by The Damned (q.v.).

The French version - being innocuous in all respects - went on after its release the following Spring to become a Top 20 smash in a number of 'territories', including no. 2 in Australia (q.v.). Ward, as co-composer of the backing track alongside Deprijck, at least got some of the royalties from it, especially as it has been covered far more often by - inter alia - Sonic Youth and Metallica.

So, Alan Ward can still say, "Ça Plane Pour Moi".