MOPO MOGO “POUVOIR/FUCK OFF” 7″ (COLMAR,FRANCE, 1983- STUDIO LABEL, #1823)
Here is another posting that, when I began putting it together, I knew next to nothing about the band or record. The only facts I knew were that Mopo Mogo was from France, the record was rather obscure, and- the main thing- I liked how it sounded. But thanks to the power of the handy-dandy information superhighway I have learned more about the back story behind the, er, “band” and the disc itself.
I was first tipped off to the Mopo Mogo 7″ back in ’98. A year later, P.R. taped me a copy and I was hooked right away on its unique sound, especially by the snotty B-side. As you will hear, it does not follow the typical punk formula of “guitar-bass-drums” so it’s one of those outside-the-box classics. Um, first, there’s no bass. Secondly, there’s no real drums- just a drum machine (that of course brings to mind fellow Frenchmen Metal Urbain). And thirdly, as I found out through my research, there was no band.
It turns out that Mopo Mogo was a one-man band- namely, one Didier Ruyer who was just armed with a guitar, amp and drum machine. Didier was from the city of Colmar which, for reference’s sake, is about 5 hours Southeast of Paris and somewhat near the Swiss border (French and Swiss readers in the know will probably chide me for my simple Google Map geography). From what I understand, Mr. Ruyer was a race car driver(?!) of sorts who got into punk after hearing bands like the Dead Kennedys, and the 7″ was then recorded a few months later. Judging from his photo of him on the front of the sleeve, he was trying hard to get “the punk look”- check out the spiky Mohawk, leather jacket and- how punk is this- the pet mouse on his right shoulder. The mouse makes me picture some Mohican character straight out of an early 80’s punxploitation movie where the main punk character squats under a dank, dirty bridge with only mice and other vermin as his friends. But I digress…
This 7″ was the only Mopo Mogo record, but Didier Ruyer/Mopo Mogo appeared pseudonymously as “Le Cure De La Lune” (“The Father of The Moon”) and contributed one song to an obscure punk and minimal synth compilation LP entitled “Colmar Futur” that was also released on the Studio label (label #16-024) in 1983. Supposedly 1,000 copies were pressed- does anyone have this LP? Furthermore, would you want to share some rips of it? Apparently the comp has 4 different bands on it.
Here is a picture of the front cover of the “Colmar Futur” comp LP
After Mopo Mogo, supposedly Didier became the singer in a German group that had more of a HC sound- does anyone have any specific information on this rumor, or any further information?
Both sides of this 7″ are winners in my book and stand out against yer average “punk-by-numbers” classic. And of course because Didier sings in French- for me, French language punk just sounds so fucking cool. I mean, a French singer could be babbling about tying his shoes or emptying the trash but if it’s sung in French it just sounds totally smooth and flowing. The late, great Tim Yohannon of MRR once said many years ago that French is the language of punk, and I definitely second that. Like I mentioned before, the B-side “Fuck Off” is the real winner for me and kind of drips attitude with its slower approach. It’s very catchy, and you may find yourself humming the song and chanting the chorus in a sing along manner. But with a song title like “Fuck Off” it better have some attitude, ya know. If you’ve never heard this tune before, be patient because there’s a long, slow intro before it kicks into high gear around the :40 second mark. The A-side has a faster pace and, like the B-side, has some great wailing guitar noise but on this one the drum machine is almost at a fast pace. Weird, in a great way. I can’t think of another song with a speedy HC pace played on a drum machine.
From what I understand, in English “Pouvoir” means “to be able to”, like “I can” or “I may”. Perhaps Didier meant the song title as a self-empowering statement like “I can, goddammit!” with a fist pounding in the air. Whoops- I was quickly corrected by a commenter from France named Geranium- the use of “Pouvoir” in this song actually refers to “power”, like a politician’s power, and there is even a rhyme in the chorus “pouvoir-connard” meaning “power-cons”. Thanks much for correcting my wrong translation, and for the additional info!
“Pouvoir”, was on the somewhat well-known comp LP from the 90’s entitled “Chaos en France Volume 2”. But as far as I know, “Fuck Off” has not been comped anywhere although IMHO it’s the better of two great tracks.
Now, there is some debate over how many copies of this 7″ were actually pressed. Just first know that it’s fucking rare and has gone for $300 or more on eBay. Some people say that 1,000 were pressed but given its high price tag that seems unlikely, unless there was some sort of scenario where most of the 7″s ended up in a trash can, were tossed in a field in the French countryside, or ended up lining bird cages or something. One old auction listing I found says that only 200 were pressed, and I tend to believe that estimate more given the record’s high price tag. I do not have a vinyl copy, just these rips. For years I struggled with a hiss-filled taped copy which was hard to clean up digitally and which I hesitated to post- thankfully the above mp3’s I recently acquired have clean, clear sound (I think they were ripped from a vinyl copy).
Didier has been playing guitar in a Colmar-based group called Mai-ak Affair that has apparently been around since 1997. It’s pretty mellow stuff that is not my cup of tea, though. Which of course means that no one else is allowed to listen to it.