Pierre Cour was a French songwriter with an impeccable pedigree: it’s almost beyond belief that he should also be the originator of this tasteless trash, possibly the most disquieting record I have ever heard, and that includes the vile racism of acts like Skrewdriver and Johnny Rebel. Letter to a Teenage Bride is the kind of song that gives Peter Wyngarde's Rape a run for its money. Naturally I had to find a copy for my own collection.
Born in 1916, Cour served in the French Air Force and became a PE instructor; after France was liberated, Cour became a journalist before moving into acting under the name Pierre Lemaire. Landing a job on radio first as a keep fit instructor and later on in the role of Régisseur Albert on the popular comedy show Silence... Antenne, he quickly moved in to full-time lyric writing. His first hit came in 1952, when Les Compagnons de la Chanson recorded Mon Ami, Mon Ami. Cour wrote songs for a number of successful acts from the 1950s through to the 70s, including Roger Whittaker (the massive hits Durham Town and The Last Farewell among others), Petula Clark, France Gall (Si J’étais Garçon), Sacha Distel, Brigitte Bardot (Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas) and Nana Mouskouri among many others. With composers André Popp and Hubert Giraud he co-wrote a number of Eurovision Song Contest entries, including Tom Pillibi, which won the competition for France in 1960 and L'Amour Est Bleu (Love is Blue) which, when performed by Vicky Leandros, came forth for Luxembourg in 1967. Paul Mauriat would later have a huge international hit with an instrumental version of the same song. His song Frère Jacques – a disco rewrite of the nursery rhyme - came 16th in 1977 for singer Anne Marie B.
Master though he was of lush pop balladry and the fine art of yé-yé, none of these hits can hold a candle to the distinctly dodgy Letter to a Teenage Bride. It is simply ghastly.
Describing, in all-too graphic detail, the rape within marriage of a barely legal young woman, Letter to a Teenage Bride is genuinely repulsive. ‘Oh my Daddy! Oh my Mama!’ the poor young protagonist whispers breathily all the way through this revolting record as her oily other half insists on his conjugal rights. Happily, after Pierre demands ‘Right! We’ll see! Come here darling! I ham you ‘usband! I ‘ave my rights!’, her entire ordeal lasts for less than 20 seconds, and with one short ‘ughh’ (it’s there, two minutes and 27 seconds in if you can bear to listen for that long), Pierre spills his seed - almost a full decade before Frankie Goes to Hollywood would be banned from the airwaves for doing the same. Clearly the French had yet to discover the joys of Viagra. Incidentally, the song was originally called Love Letter to a Child Wife, but someone at Charisma had the good taste to change the title to something marginally less offensive.
The B-side, Love Letter is little better, describing the morning after and how our Lothario is already bored with her. Surprisingly, in spite of the fact that Cour sounds for all the world like Kenny Everett’s Marcel Wave, the disc was not broadcast by Everett during his World’s Worst Wireless Shows or two Bottom 30 compilations, although I have no way of knowing if he ever dared air it on his regular Capital Radio show.
Issued on St. Valentine’s Day 1975, legend has it that altering the title was not enough to placate the sales staff and pluggers working at the Charisma office: despite at least two pressings of the sexist song most of the stock ended up being thrown in to a cupboard and forgotten about – which is why it’s easier to find A-label promos than finished, shop stock copies. Pianist and orchestral arranger Zack Laurence is better known these days for his work in television: he wrote the themes to Treasure Hunt and The Crystal Maze as well as acting as musical arranger on series including The Flame Trees of Thika. In an earlier life he was known as of Mr Bloe, and hit the UK charts with Grooving With Mr. Bloe in 1970: a later, France-only Mr Bloe 45 had both sides written and performed by Elton John. 'Record Supervision Ltd', the company credited with the production, was once one of the UK's leading independent producers. RSL operated out of the Lansdowne Recording Studios in London's Holland Park, where everyone from the Sex Pistols to Shirley Bassey, the Plastic Ono Band and Queen had recorded, and where Joe Meek had cut his teeth before setting up on his own.
Cour died, aged 79, in 1995. Hopefully he’ll be remembered for his many pop hits, and not this dreadful blip in an otherwise thoroughly respectable career.
Download Teenage Bride HERE
Download Love Letter HERE