The DM postbag always brings an assortment of delights, and this week was no different, as Anne Pigalle’s latest collection of songs L’Amerotica landed on my desk.
It was back in 1985 that Miss Pigalle’s exquisite voice first lit up the world with her brilliant album Everything Could Be So Perfect. It was a stunning debut, and revealed a gifted singer with a voice as richly emotive as Piaf and as strong as Lotte Lenya.
Raised in Paris, Anne’s earliest musical memory was the excitement caused by theme to Third Man TV series, which would make her rush from the kitchen to the sitting room. Pigalle started singing in the school choir, and was praised for her “golden voice.” Though father played double-bass, Anne had no musical training, and it would be the influence of Punk that set off her career. Punk showed the young singer everything is possible, as she later said:
“Growing up at the punk time gave me a great sense of integrity, which really saved me in the end. I’m not saying I never made any mistakes, but I always had a base to go back to. My music is not punk but it has a punk ethic behind it .”
Punk led the fifteen-year-old singer to pick up a guitar and start performing. In the 1980s, Anne moved to London, where her incredible voice soon enchanted audiences and critics alike, and led to her collaborations with Adrian Sherwood, Michael Nyman and Trevor Horn, who produced her album Everything Could Be So Perfect.
Pigalle was signed to Zang Tumb Tuum Records, the label founded by journalist Paul Morley, producer Trevor Horn and his wife Jill Sinclair. ZTT were behind such acts as Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Propaganda and Art of Noise, but while the label prospered, the artists didn’t always fare so well, as Anne explained in 2005:
“ZTT wanted to do a second album with me. There was talk of me working with Peter Hammill (a Brian Eno associate). They wanted Anton Corbijn to do the photography etc. etc. I felt dissatisfied. My contract was a bad one. I didn’t feel controlled by ZTT, I just felt things were not advancing and the contract was too bad to allow me to do what i wanted… Other ZTT acts such as Instinct didn’t even get to have their albums released. I found seeing the recent Trevor Horn tribute concert rather depressing. After 1988 I left ZTT and moved to America. I had such an interesting time. I got to perform with Leonard Cohen’s backing band. Very much more relaxed. America gave me so much more confidence in my own ability as a performer. My ex-writing partner at ZTT, Nick Plytas, went on to play with Nick Cave.”
In the 1990s, Anne moved to Los Angeles where she met Donald Cammell, director of Performance, with whom she worked on an idea for a film. Sadly, Cammell, who suffered from depression, committed suicide before this could come to fruition. Pigalle then appeared in Zalman King’s The Red Shoe Diaries, (“always decent”), and performed for the homeless, in downtown LA. She also performed in a theatre production about poet Charles Bukowski where she played Death.
Since then the multi-talented singer has established herself as a successful poet, artist, model and photographer. Two years ago, she exhibited a selection of her Amerotica Polaroids at the Michael Hoppen Gallery, and has since merged image and song together into a series of critically acclaimed multi-media performances across London, that mix cabaret with personal imagery.
Now the release of L’Amerotica confirms Anne Pigalle as one of our best and most important talents. The album, co-produced by Pigalle with Tommaso Del Signore, is a breath-taking mix of electronic beats and ballads, with such highs as “With My Blonde”, “The Pleasure Ground” (described by Chris Roberts, in Uncut Magazine as “chilly as Iggy’s ‘Fall in Love With Me’”), as well as the excellent “Mary Mother of God”, “Sesso” and the beautiful “Je te veus toi” and “Espore Spirale”. Throughout Anne’s vocals are nothing other than superb.
It’s been a long time coming, but the quality of L’Amerotica makes it all worth the wait. Here’s to more soon from the wonderful Miss Pigalle.
L’Amerotica is available on i-tunes and CD, details here.
If you’re in London, Anne Pigalle plays Le Montmartre Bistro, 144 Essex Rd, N1, on the 24th February.