Gonzales Singled Out

It’s hard to believe that half a year has passed since Solo Piano II was released, but as a timeless album, it keeps gathering new listeners. New fans may have picked up Solo Piano, Ivory Tower and “The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales” or other albums. With music as good as Gonzales’, there’s a certain ‘insatiable’ quality – a desire to seek out more emotionally stimulating songs. Luckily, Gonzales has an entire slew of albums and singles that you may not even be aware of. From original songs, to remakes and collaborations, there are plenty of relatively obscure discs and songs are available for purchase and download. Below, you’ll find a list of albums and tracks that you may not have heard of, along with handy links (availability may vary by country). This list is by no means exhaustive, but if you’d like to see other tracks added to the list, let us know. In the meantime, we hope you discover some great songs that you haven’t heard before.

More Solo Piano…

You may have heard of Gonzales’ record-breaking performance in Paris 2009 (Katharina was there for the entire 27 hour show!). Even if you couldn’t be there, the event was recorded, and 4 discs of selected songs are available. It’s very interesting to hear Gonzales’ treatment of his Solo Piano songs during that very special performance and to see how they have evolved over time. There is also a host of other standards and modern songs ranging from Daft Punk to Lionel Ritchie. Definitely a set that you’ll want to play from end to end, it also includes a great version of Singalong that evokes memories of Gonzales concerts.

Some people who bought or overlooked Soft Power may not know that there is a bonus version of the album with a few additional songs. “Home Movies” is a poignant and moving song; almost a predecessor to “Kenaston”. The sound of the piano and environment make it sound as if Gonzales was actually playing the song in his living room. A real gem.

Around the time Soft Power was released, Gonzales assembled an all-star touring group, including: Mocky, Katie Moore, Socalled, and Matthew Flowers (together called “Le Together Ensemble”). Apple released an “iTunes Live” recording of a concert in Germany, which leads off with a great 8-minute Solo Piano medley. If you buy the rest of the tracks as an album, you’ll essentially have one track for free – and they’re all really great.

Knight Moves is a powerful and uplifting song that really connects with many people. The remixes are very interesting interpretations of the song as well, but the track that stands out is Gonzales’ solo piano version of the song (track 4). Definitely one to add to your collection.

As 2010 came to a close, Feist released a wonderful documentary called “Look at What the Light Did Now”. The DVD focuses on the production behind the “The Reminder”, complete with a short Chilly Gonzales interview. The bonus CD includes four interpretations of Feist songs by Gonzales: Intuition, The Water, Sea Lion Woman, and 1234.

Look at What the Light Did Now

Sticking with Feist for a moment, Gonzales recorded a Solo Piano version of “One Evening” – a song Gonzales co-wrote. The original version is from Feist’s “Let it Die” album. The Solo Piano version is on “Open Season”, which is a collection of Feist remixes and collaborations.

Gonzales longtime friend Mocky released a brilliant album called “Saskamodie” a few years ago. The entire album is highly recommended, but if you are after Gonzales tracks, there’s a solo piano version of “Guiding Light” included in the deluxe edition of “Saskamodie”. Another version of “Guiding Light” has Gonzales teaming up with Mocky.

In 2005, Joann Sfar (a French writer & director) developed and released a movie about the life of Serge Gainsbourg called “Gainsbourg (Vie heroique)”. As it turns out, Gonzales makes a cameo appearance as (surprise!) a piano player, plus he contributed three tracks (18, 25, and 30 below) to the brilliant soundtrack. The entire soundtrack is amazing, and you’ll have 41 songs for slightly bit more than purchasing the three Gonzales tracks.

Thanks to longtime Gonzales video director Jonathan Barré for pointing out another great Solo Piano song (“Pisces”) included on the “Major to Minor” DVD, which is bundled with the deluxe version of Solo Piano.

Beyond Solo Piano…

One of the harder to find albums is “Bande Originale”. Bundled with an incredibly beautiful cookbook (or is the cookbook bundled with a CD?), Gonzales teamed up with renowned chef Pierre Gagnaire to develop the cookbook and album combo. The album’s 13 tracks are very original indeed, and contains an eclectic mix of classical, calypso and jazz styles to name a few.

Bande Originale

There’s no doubt that Serge Gainsbourg was a musical genius who inspired many artists who came after him. Gonzales, Feist, and Dani (a French singer) contributed a track to the 2006 Gainsbourg tribute album “Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited” actually, the entire album is great, but the Gonzales track (#9, “Boomerang 2005″) stands out as a favorite. As a bonus, during the rap portion of the song, Gonzales gives us a lyrical sneak preview of “Self-Portrait”, which would appear 5 years later on “The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales”.

Back in 2010, Gonzales teamed up with violinist Sarah Nemtanu on her album “Gypsic”. It’s not often that Gonzales records songs that he hasn’t penned, but his playing style is still unmistakable. The song “Avant De Mourir” is especially poignant, but my favourite is the classic Czárdás (written by my uncle’s namesake: “Vittorio Monti”). Gonzales also plays farfisa organ, drums and percussion. Definitely worth a listen.

Multi-talented musician and illustrator “Amateur Best” (a.k.a. Joe Flory) has played drums for Gonzales on many tour dates and events. Gonzales adds some lovely chords to underscore Amateur Best’s addictive track “Ready for the Good Life”. Amateur Best has a forthcoming album; we’ll update this list if Gonzales appears on more tracks.

More recently, Gonzales played piano on Lianne La Havas’ album “Is Your Love Big Enough?” (Deluxe Edition). The track is the classic Leonard Cohen song , “Hey, That’s no Way to Say Goodbye”. Gonzales also plays this song on his Guinness “One Night Standards” album.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Gonzales songs appear from time-to-time on soundtracks. Here’s an original song from Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) and Gonzales that appeared on the “Get Him to the Greek” soundtrack (track 9: F.O.H.):

Who doesn’t love Tchaikovsky’s perennial favorite “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”? Gonzales’ synth-driven retort was originally included on the “Take me to Broadway” single. This version is particularly fun, and Tchaikovsky can’t sue! The synth melody also appeared in “Harpcore” off the “Lost Treasures” CD.

In 2002, Gonzales teamed up with Guesch Patti, a French singer and recorded this downbeat classic, that Gonzales would later record with Feist as “Shameless Eyes”. This version contains a few snippets of Gonzales singing in French.

In the tradition of Wendy Carlos and her classic “Switched-On Bach”, Gonzales released an EP called “Switched on Gonzo”. Essentially, classic Gonz melodies from “You Snooze you Lose”, “Salieri Serenade”, and other tracks played on synth set to funky beats, the four tracks will have your head nodding in no time.

We know we’ve left out great artists like Akira the Don, Socalled, Jamie Liddell, Taylor Savvy, Teki Latex, and so on; we’re saving those tracks for a forthcoming “Collaborations” posting. In the meantime, maybe try to track down one of those red translucent vinyl Erotobot singles!

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