Johnny Hallyday – Johnny Hallyday (Cherry Red Records)

Johnny Hallyday isn’t an immediately recognizable name to most people, but in France he’s as big as Elvis or The Beatles. This reissued album from 1969, alternately known as Johnny Hallyday or Riviere…Ouvre Ton Lit, is entirely in French, but still strikes a nerve with fans of late-1960s heavy blues-rock acts like Cream, Jeff Beck, and Zeppelin. The people who will get the biggest kick from this album, however, are Small Faces fans, as it captures the band’s last session before splitting. Not only did the group serve as Halladay’s backing band for some of the songs (and allow Hallyday to more or less appropriate Steve Marriott’s vocal style), but they also donated three Marriott/Lane originals to the album – a re-working of “That Man” re-titled “Amen”, and two songs – “Reclamation” and “Regarde Pour Moi” – they wouldn’t record until the formation of Humble Pie. Oddly enough, one of the other main musical/songwriting contributors was Mick Jones, who would later strike it big with Foreigner. Hallyday himself has expressed his disdain for the album, calling it his worst ever, but once you get over the language barrier (and the occasional over-bearing vocal) it holds up better than many others from the era. Worth checking out.