Nearly six years after the singer's death on December 5, 2017, two unreleased songs were released by the record companies Warner and Universal.
Warner Music France produced the rocker's recordings from 2007 to his death, including seven studio albums, including a posthumous one, Mon pays c'est l'amour, released in 2018. General director of the Parlophone label since 2021, Antoine Gouiffes-Yan y had served as marketing director until 2017. In this capacity, he collaborated with Johnny on several albums. “After my departure, I remained close to Laeticia,” he explains. I was left with the launch of the production of a new album in 2017.” Last spring, the man remembers an unpublished title locked in a safe whose key was apparently lost. He contacts Maxim Nucci (aka Yodelice), composer of Johnny's latest songs, who admits to having listened to this piece two weeks ago. A cry, that's its title, had been modeled when Johnny, knowing he was ill, had asked to sing new songs.
To a text by Xavier Jacob, a musician friend of Nucci, the latter had composed a simple and stripped-down blues. “Johnny never recorded demos, but the particular circumstances of this period meant that he had prepared some in February 2017 in a small American studio,” explains Bertrand Lamblot, artistic director of Johnny. Very quickly, the preparation of the album Mon pays c’est l’amour is progressing. Hallyday intends to return to a more epic sound after the stripped-down Of Love from 2016. A cry, too primitive, is ruled out. “He didn’t fit into the boxes, and we ended up forgetting him,” admits Lamblot.
Reworked by Maxim Nucci, who redid the accompaniment and enriched the harmony, Un cri, broadcast Thursday November 16 at 1:40 p.m. on streaming platforms, will be released on the compilation Made in Rock'n'roll, an assembly of the most rock titles from the Warner period. With its boogie/blues atmosphere and its chrome guitars, Un cri is consistent with the most raw and stripped-down part of Johnny Hallyday's music. “Johnny is one of the artists who make the history of Warner Music France, we are very happy to share this new title with his audience because we know to what extent the relationship with his fans was exceptional,” explains Alain Veille, president of Warner MusicFrance.
At the same time, Universal Music, which produced Hallyday's recordings between 1961 and 2005, has chosen to market, in two weeks, a new product, Symphonique. Or the two albums orchestrated by Yvan Cassar in 2019 and 2021 as well as new titles. Among these, a completely new piece, Grave-moi le coeur, French adaptation of Elvis' Love Me Tender, recorded in 1996. As part of the preparation for the concert given in Las Vegas in November of that year, Johnny had worked on several adaptations of rock'n'roll standards with Jean Fauque, Alain Bashung's lyricist. “After a first meeting in the spring, they spent a week together at Johnny’s, who was then living in La Lorada, to work,” explains Xavier Perrot of Universal Music. “Jean wrote texts in French, trying to be as phonetically close as possible to the originals.”
Among these titles, Love Me Tender receives particular attention. A pearl of Elvis' repertoire, it was discovered by the French rocker in 1956 in the film The Twilight Rider. “Later, during rehearsals at Long Courrier studios in Aubervilliers, the song was recorded. But on the evening of the concert, Johnny sang it in English, leaving this French version aside.” Unpublished for 27 years, this recording is finally released, after re-orchestration work carried out by Yvan Cassar, Hallyday's faithful arranger. “I didn’t know the existence of this recording,” explains Perrot. We discovered it while looking for live vocal takes to allow Yvan to add his symphonic arrangements to classics of the repertoire.” By emphasizing the piano rather than the guitar, and adding minor chords, Cassar gives it a new status. And fans are delighted to find their idol in two never-before-heard songs!