Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Elton John and France Gall: "Donner Pour Donner"

We'll be the first to admit it: finding a gem in the late 70's output of Elton John is a difficult task. His myriad of missteps included temporarily parting ways with songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, crafting an ill-advised disco record, and announcing a retirement from live performance that lasted all of two years. Nonetheless, there were successes amongst the failures, and "Donner Pour Donner" is one of them.

The track is actually the b-side to "Les Aveux",  a France-only single with songstress France Gall.  It's a shame that it ended up as the b-side: "Les Aveux" is a bit of a faux-country trainwreck, while "Donner Pour Donner" is a classic piece of french pop.  In many ways, it fulfills stereotypes, with its bongos, electric piano, and slide guitar.  And yet, somehow it works.  The vocal interplay is perfect, and the stylings manage to be blatantly 70's, while not going so far over the edge that they become intolerable. Plus, Elton manages to pull of the French singing pretty damned well, which is an added bonus.

Interestingly, despite John's hiatus from songwriting with Taupin, this track was apparently cowritten by Taupin and Gall's longtime collaborator Michael Berger. This may explain some of the songs winning qualities, at a time when John was unquestionably a bit stagnant in his songwriting. Having only been issued in the US with the To Be Continued... box set, the track isn't exactly an easy find, but you can check it below.  We promise, it's well worth your while.

mp3: Elton John and France Gall - Donner Pour Donner