Saturday, 26 November 2011


Every night I go to sleep and begin to dream
The story of my dream has got the same old theme
It’s you, baby, it’s you

Turn off the light, sit down on the couch, pour me a whiskey too
Take off your dress, I’ll help you with that
I fantasize of you

The scent of your skin gets to my head, as the smoke from your cigarette do
With Monk in the speakers and love in your eyes
I fantasize of you

[excerpt from the lyrics of "I Fantasize of You" by Jay-Jay Johanson]

With his debut album entitled "Whiskey" published in August 1996, swedish musician and singer-songwriter Jay-Jay Johanson (born Jäje Johanson) made crooning fashionable again at the end of the 20th century.

"I Fantasize of You", whose lyrics introduce this post and whose musical performance is the opening number on the bootleg recording of "The Black Sessions #104", is a fine example of his original style and genuinely affecting warm voice.

Originally published on Commando! / BMG (Sweden), and probably aimed at the Swedish market only, "Whiskey" was soon reprinted in a larger scale and made quite a sensation in France. Jay-Jay was elected "revelation of the year" by Les Inrockuptibles magazine and featured as cover-star on issue #124 in October 1997.

The Black Sessions are concerts performed for the French radio station France Inter as part of the C'est Lenoir Show. They were created in 1992 by Bernard Lenoir ("le noir" = "the black" in English) with the collaboration of Michèle Soulier. Often compared to the legendary Peel Sessions hosted by John Peel for BBC Radio 1, they are recorded in front of an audience and broadcasted live.

Also known as the "French John Peel", Lenoir has a strong reputation and is highly regarded as a radio pioneer, talent scout and prime mover of independent Rock music.

The Black Sessions are usually exploited by Sangatte Records, a bootleg label specialized in French radio shows. Marked as promotional releases, and resembling a connection with both Radio France and Bernard Lenoir, althought advertised as CDs they are CD-Rs "limited" to 2.500 individually numbered copies.

"The Black Session #104" by Jay-Jay Johanson was recorded live at Studio 105 in Paris on April the 30th 1997 and features the following songs:

01. I Fantasize of You (5:26)
02. The Girl I Love Is Gone (3:56)
03. It Hurts Me So (4:44)
04. So Tell the Girls That I'm Back In Town (5:25)
05. Mana Mana Mana Mana (5:50)
06. Tell Me Like It Is (3:19)
07. Suicide Is Painless (3:52)

All tracks were remastered from the original CD-R bootleg in November 2011 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files, both formats include complete PDF artwork. Please have a look at the comments for the download links.

Jay-Jay Johanson performing live at The Black Sessions #104, picture by Maxime Lévrier

Technically speaking, the recordings on the original bootleg in my possession are not in the best shape. They have probably been recorded on cassette and present quite a lot of hiss and radio static.

Furthermore, one of the songs ("So tell the Girls That I'm Back In Town") has a ten seconds cut during the first refrain. Luckily, I was able to fix most of these problems and the performance is quite more than just enjoyable in the fully remastered version that I'm offering for download here.

I must add that "Tell Me Like It Is" doesn't seem to come from the same source as the other tracks. It has a completely different ambience and it looks like it simply is a low-bitrate version of the original studio version that appears on "Whiskey".

I can't understand the reason for this, maybe the recording of this track was completely unusable for some reason, or maybe the bootleggers failed to record the song during the broadcast. As an alternative explanation, maybe the track was added just to increase playing time, who knows... Anyway, since it is part of the original bootleg I decided to keep it together with the other numbers.

Jay-Jay Johanson performing live at The Black Sessions #104, picture by Maxime Lévrier

Most of the tracks presented on this Black Sessions were originally released on "Whiskey" about one year earlier. Musically speaking, these songs are in strong debt with the Bristol trip-hop scene and especially with "Dummy", Portishead's debut album released back in 1994.

The cool arrangements are fed with hints of Jazz, Noir soundtracks and Bossanova, and Jay-Jay's voice stands out against the cinematic and lush backgrounds of Rhodes piano (courtesy of Erik Jansson, a precious and constant presence throughout Jay-Jay's entire career) and samples.

And about samples: althought the sleeve notes of "Whiskey" only credits Michael Nyman's "Fish Beach" as a sample source for "I'm Older Now" (...unfortunately a version of this track performed and recorded during this Black Session was not included on the Sangatte Records bootleg CD-R, but it available on the second edition of the rare "So Tell the Girls That I'm Back In Town" CD-single released by BMG (Sweden) in 1997...), there are other uncredited samples that you can hear in some of the tracks presented here that are worth mentioning.

First of all, the masterpiece "It Hurts Me So" is completely revolved around an orchestral loop taken straight from Francis Lai's "Plus fort que nous" (or "Stronger Than Us" in the English version) which is part of the soundtrack to Claude Lelouch's "Un homme et une femme" ("A Man and a Woman").

"So Tell the Girls That I'm Back In Town" features a small sample from Lalo Schifrin's "Danube Incident" (from an episode of "Mission: Impossible", which also consists the core of Portishead's "Sour Times") and a basic drum loop from Al Green's "I'm Glad You're Mine" (from the 1972 album "I'm Still In Love With You", also used by Massive Attack on their "Five Man Army" included on "Blue Lines").

The original music videos of "It Hurts Me So" and "So Tell the Girls That I'm Back In Town" are available here below courtesy of YouTube.

"Suicide Is Painless", the closing number on "The Black Session #104", is a cover of the theme song from the famous American TV series "M.A.S.H." written by Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman. According to Jay-Jay's own spoken introduction, this is his favourite TV series of all times.

The song was included on "Un automne 97", a special CD sampler released as a supplement to Les Inrockuptibles in October 1997 (...I'm not sure if this was a subscribers-only gift, or not...), and has been regularly performed live by Johanson through the years.

Since at last it has been properly recorded and included on his latest studio offering entitled "Spellbound" in 2011, it seems that Jay-Jay is still fond of M.A.S.H. and hasn't changed his mind about it.

By the way, just like all the previous Jay-Jay Johanson's releases, "Spellbound" is a great album. A double CD limited edition that includes new acoustic versions of older tracks is also available, I strongly encourage you to buy a copy and check for yourself how good it is.

Jay-Jay is often touring, if he happens to be in a city somewhere near you don't forget to pay him a visit, you will be rewarded and touched by his great artistry and his lovely persona.

Les Inrockuptibles #124, 29.10.1997

[last update: 31.01.2012]

More information about Jay-Jay Johanson and The Black Sessions is available here:!/JAYJAYJOHANSON

I will hopefully post more Jay-Jay Johanson live recordings in the future. If you have any other useful information about him and this Black Session - especially corrections and improvements to what I wrote above - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!



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