Les Rita Mitsouko – live at Alabamahalle, Munich – February 7, 1994 – Bavarian Radio –
French Synthpop legends Les Rita Mitsouko in concert at Alabamahalle in Munich on February 7, 1994 and preserved for posterity by Bavarian Radio.
Les Rita Mitsouko was a French pop rock group formed by Fred Chichin and Catherine Ringer. The duo first performed as Rita Mitsouko at Gibus Club in Paris in 1980. They went on to become one of the most acclaimed musical acts in France. “Marcia Baila”, their debut single produced by Conny Plank, went to number 2 in the French singles chart in 1984. They then started a collaboration with producer Tony Visconti on two albums: the No Comprendo and Marc & Robert. “Singing in the Shower”, sung as a duet with Sparks, was a commercial success in France and was then heavily played on US dance radio stations in 1988. Iggy Pop also collaborated with them on 1993’s Système D, duetting with Ringer on “My Love Is Bad”.
The duet has stated that the name “Rita Mitsouko” originated from the combination of Catherine Ringer’s childhood friend and the name of a meal they enjoyed in a local Japanese restaurant soon after they met.
According to the French Wikipedia the name of the group was chosen to reflect the band’s extremely diverse musical reference: Rita refers to the South American music (and the cult actress Rita Hayworth). Mitsouko is the French spelling of the Japanese first name Mitsuko, and is also the name of a perfume by Guerlain. The group originally went by the name “Rita Mitsouko” but in 1985 “Les” was added when they realized that many people believed the name of the group was that of the singer.
Rita Mitsouko began performing in the early 1980s in alternative spaces such as the Pali-Kao, a squatted factory building in Belleville, Paris.
The band first achieved major popular success in 1985, with the release of the second single from their first album: “Marcia baila” rose to number 2 on the French record charts that summer. Philippe Gautier directed a vibrant and widely viewed music video to accompany the record. “Marcia Baila” is an homage to the Argentine choreographer and dancer Marcia Moretto, with whom Catherine Ringer had studied and performed in the 1970s. Moretto died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36.
Rita Mitsouko was a creative and eccentric first album, combining elements of punk, rock, synthpop and jazz. Coupled with the band’s colorful, wild, over-the-top image, it brought Rita Mitsouko to the attention of some important anglophone listeners. In October 1985, they contributed a cover version of “All Tomorrow’s Parties” for the Velvet Underground tribute album Les Enfants du Velvet.
The American record producer and musician Tony Visconti produced the band’s next two albums, The No Comprendo and Marc et Robert, helping to polish and perfect their sound. These two albums have both French and English lyrics. The most successful singles from these albums were “C’est comme ça” and “Andy”.
The American band Sparks collaborated with Les Rita Mitsouko on Marc et Robert. Russell Mael sings lead vocals with Catherine Ringer on three of the album’s tracks, “Singing in the Shower”, “Live in Las Vegas” and “Hip Kit”. “Singing in the Shower” was included on the soundtrack of the Ridley Scott film Black Rain.
Jean-Baptiste Mondino directed most of Les Rita Mitsouko’s music videos in the 1980s.
Jean-Luc Godard’s 1987 feature film Soigne ta droite incorporates documentary footage of the band’s The No Comprendo recording sessions.
In 1991, they made the music of the movie My Life Is Hell, directed by Josiane Balasko.
In 1993, the video of “Y’a d’la haine”, from the album Système D, was awarded Clip of the Year by MTV Europe.
On Système D, Ringer sings a duet, “My Love Is Bad”, with Iggy Pop. Variéty also includes a vocal duo in which Ringer is joined by the guest musician Serj Tankian (from System of a Down).
Les Rita Mitsouko’s album Variéty was released in 2007 in both French and in English (Variety) versions; it was produced by Mark Plati.
On Wednesday 28 November 2007, Chichin died from cancer while the band had just cancelled their previous concert dates in Paris. He was only diagnosed with the disease two months before. Ringer toured under her own name following his death.
For a reminder, here’s a concert from 1994 which you should play rather loud. Just sayin’.