For those who don’t know him, Jozef Devillé is the man who brought the world The Sound of Belgium, the movie that, finally, put Belgium on the music map. Here, from popcorn to punk, he reveals 10 of his favourite Belgian releases – and there are a few locals only gems.
A Blaze Colour – Means To An End (1981)
I could never have made a movie like TSOB without the musical guidance of my friends. And I have two friends who are walking musical encyclopaedias. If you ask Geert Sermon of the Doctor Vinyl record shop in downtown Brussels what year a techno track is from, he will not only tell you the year it was released but also the month! And then there’s Pablo Eekman, who wrote the screenplay and voice-over of TSOB with me. He showed me the wonderful but dark world of EBM, Cold Wave and early Belgian electronic experimental music.
Nico Gomez & His Afro Percussion Inc – Lupita (1971)
Belgium is hardly the first place you’d think of when it comes to Latin or Afro Funk, yet one of the greatest records to blend both styles came from this small rainy kingdom. Masterminded by Nico Gomez and his Afro Percussion Inc. He is the father of another great Belgian singer, Raymond van het Groenewoud.
BURT BLANCA – Tout en fumée (1979)
Making cover versions is a worldwide phenomenon, but in Belgium it regularly happened that the cover version outsells the original, like Rock the Beat from 101. Back in the days when popcorn was a popular underground movement, making a cover of a famous track was harder, because you needed actual musicians and expensive studios. Not that many people did, but some pearls were born this way, like this Burt Blanca song, which is a cover of Kenny Lynch’s Puff.
Plastichke – Ça gaze pour moi (1978)
The most commercial punk song ever, Ça plane pour moi, was made by the local mad genius Lou Deprijck. But this is a funny cover-version in the local Brussels’ dialect about the slacker life when you’re living on welfare. Even more punk than the original punk-caper that robbed Albion of it’s rebellion.
red zebra – I can’t live in a living room (1980)
I remember being a kid and going to local parties. This song always grabbed my attention. The sound was so in-your-face and nobody could stand still!
De Brassers – En Toen Was Er Niets Meer (1980)
To me this is one of the darkest songs ever, especially if you understand the lyrics. And even if you don’t, you’d be rather inhumane not to hear the haunting sound of the industrial nightmare as it collapsed into rust and left nothing but a desolate mining tower standing lonely over the post-atomic landscape.
Bene Gesserit – She Sells Sea Shells On The Sea Show (1983)
Even after so many years of looking into the history of Belgian electronic music, I still discover great tracks through friends that are sharing what they find. This one originally appeared on cassette. There’s still much to be discovered in Belgian magnetic tape history. Sure, everybody may be feeling very vintage buying vinyl, but cassettes are clearly the next mines of musical wonder.
Frank Dingenen – Hatchie, De Nies In De Neus (1989)
When the New Beat craze was happening, I was too young to go to clubs. But it’s songs like this that I remember having on 7-inch record. I thought they were funny and a lot of them do have this surreal Belgian humouristic touch. Only years later did I find the wisdom to see that there were quite a few real bangers among the commercial rubble of fast-producing bandwagon jumpers.
Stabbed – Theme from Chicago
Yes, most electronic music is repetitive. But to me it is an art to create music that is as repetitive as possible without being boring.
RMB – Love Is An Ocean (Stephenson Remix) (1995)
A typical Belgian techno-trance-rave track from the ’90s. I didn’t buy those records when they appeared, because it was too “commercial” and not “underground” enough. But, while doing research for TSOB I started buying lots of those Bonzai-style records. Almost everytime I play them at parties, I play this one from beginning to end and everybody goes crazy! It is undoubtedly musical craftsmanship to be this effective on every dance floor.
For those who want to hear more music: every month I am hosting a TSOB party downtown brussel in La Vilaine. Next one here.