MIROUZE, JEAN PIERRE – le mariage collectif (OST)

CD digisleeveborn bad records2012


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In our modern world, everything ends up – or will end up – in the garbage dump or in a museum. Occasionally, objects make it to the museum by way of the dump. The record you are holding is one of those objects. With the exception of two songs that already came out on a 45, the material on this disk was destined to remain in the trash. In 1971, a very few copies were made on acetate in an attempt to attract the interest of record labels. One was miraculously found in July, 2010 in a Paris garbage dump (quai d’Issy).

But let’s look at the circumstances under which this film soundtrack came to be.

Jean-Pierre Mirouze was born in Nice, the son of Marcel Mirouze, orchestra conductor for the Monte Carlo Ballet and the Nice Opera. Jean-Pierre seemed predisposed to a career in music and art. At the age of fifteen, he won first prize in piano at the conservatories of Nice and Paris. Together with his childhood friend, the artist Arman, he was soon rubbing elbows with members of the New Realism art movement, founded by Yves Klein. This opened the door for him to accompany Klein in Germany, in January 1958, to help decorate the Gelsenkirchen opera house with a series of his famous monochrome blues. The work took almost three years to complete.

Upon his return to France, Pierre Schaeffer hired Mirouze to work for the GRM (Musical Research Group) of the ORTF (the French equivalent of the BBC). There, he worked alongside Pierre Henry until 1962, but his personal tastes quickly led him to explore ethnic music. He took many trips to Africa to research African instruments; he thus became a strong exponent of what was later labeled “World Music.” This led him to advocate the mixing and blending of musical genres, an innovative viewpoint at that time. Some of these influences are quite apparent in parts of the “Mariage collectif” soundtrack.

Simultaneously, in the early 60s, the GRM created an “Image” group that gave Mirouze his first experience directing films and inspired his desire to make documentaries. He filmed “Algérie année zéro”, a documentary about the beginnings of that country’s independence, in Algiers during the summer of 1962. The movie was banned in France and Algeria, but won the Grand Prize of the Leipzig Documentary Film Festival in 1965. Next, he made a series of documentaries in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt.

Jean Rouch, who had just founded the Ethnographic Film Committee at the Musée de l’homme (Museum of Man) in Paris, then became an important mentor for Mirouze. Based on their shared passion, it was a natural step for him to become Jean Rouch’s assistant. They began to film numerous documentaries in Africa that would go on to revolutionize the genre. The new Eclair-Coutant 16 mm hand-held camera increased their mobility and allowed them to shoot authentic scenes indoors. Their films thereby captured an unprecedented and unique view of African customs and manners, and they became pioneers of “Cinema du Réel” documentary (raw images, minimal narration, shooting on the fly).

Following his collaboration with Jean Rouch, Mirouze returned to France. He joined Opera Films, the fledgling company of director Jean-Pierre Reichenbach. He directed or co-directed 18 films for Reichenbach, for both television and cinema, including “Mudra” (with Maurice Béjart), “Les 25 Ans de l’Olympia” and “La Leçon de Slava Rostropovitch.”

In the mid-60s, he was hired to work on Jean-Christophe Averty’s very popular and very “Pop” program “Dim Dam Dom.” Mirouze was in charge of the show’s soundtrack.

In 1971, Hervé Lamarre, who had just finished shooting the film “Le Mariage collectif” in Sweden, thought of using the “Dim Dam Dom” team to create the musical score for his film. This film, which claims to try to justify open relationships and sexual freedom, is actually a botched second-rate picture that combines evocations of the Beat Generation, hippie idealism and softcore nudity, in a work that is – quite frankly – uninteresting. Jean-Pierre Mirouze, because of his association with “Dim Dam Dom,” was expected to bring a trendy touch to the project.

Seeking to round out funding for what was, in essence, a commercial job, Mirouze went to Bagatelle, a Paris publisher specializing in film music, among other genres. While he was there, he played the melody of “Together” for them. These few notes were enough to convince the publisher to finance the recording of the soundtrack. Auditions were held, and Barry Green was recruited to sing the theme song. The recording was wrapped up in a week by a top-flight group of musicians, including Jean-Pierre Sabar, a talented organist who would be instrumental in the future success of the song “Sexopolis.”

Nine tracks were produced during these sessions. Bagatelle then started looking for a record label to issue the soundtrack album. In an attempt to interest record companies, a handful of test pressings were made, solely in the form of acetates. The songs on this album come from one of these acetates, found, in July, 2010, in a garbage dump. We could not have invented a story this strange. But let’s get back to the film. It turned out to be a failure, and Bagatelle had a difficult time selling the soundtrack project. Finally, AZ (a French label) agreed to put out a 45 with “Together” on side A, billed as the “hit” from the film, and “Sexopolis” on the B side as an instrumental filler. The 45′s release went completely unnoticed, of course. It was rediscovered in the early 2000s, thanks – ironically – to the song “Sexopolis,” and became the Holy Grail for worldwide collectors of film music.

In the wake of “Mariage collectif,” Jean-Pierre Mirouze tried his hand unsuccessfully at musicals. For example, the musical “Attention” (1974) is about a future dystopia where people live underground to escape air pollution. The musical was never performed on stage; the only remaining evidence of this project is the soundtrack, which came out on the Barclay label, on the strength of the opening credit theme, “Je suis,” sung by Nicole Rieu. It became a minor hit.

Three other musicals, including “Le Bonheur,” were later written by Mirouze, but none of these projects were actually produced. Since then, he has regularly directed scientific films and documentaries for French television.

Obviously, we will never know how one of the acetates, cut in 1971, could possibly end up in a city dump in 2010. No matter. Forty years later, the full soundtrack of “Mariage collectif” is available at last.


1. Together
2. Sexopolis
3. Tivoli Garden
4. Ulla Et Georgie
5. Karin On The Ryke
6. Lovers Party
7. Tivoli By Night
8. Scène Du Port
9. Tandoori Dance

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