The Beauty Room "II"
The Best Of Celine Dion & David Foster

The Story behind the songs of MANDOO's "Sweet Bitter Love" by MANDOO

Our first album is a tasty blend of Soul, Funk, Jazz & Pop music and offers original compositions especially influenced by Californian stuff from the late 70's to early 80's. We’ve tried to stick to those westcoast colors throughout the whole project, emphasizing melodies, harmonies and arrangements, and searching to find our own and original sound that would echo our feelings on love, joy and pain. We’ve been listening over and over again to artists that have always guided our music: Bill Labounty, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Steely Dan, Mickael Mc Donald, Jay Graydon, Bill Champlin, David Foster, Pages, The Crusaders, Boz Scaggs, Kenny Loggins, James Taylor, Gino Vanelli, Hall & Oates but also Stevie Wonder, Donny Hataway, Bill Withers, Quincy Jones...

We tried to follow Jay Graydon’s advice who declared: “Try to look for memorable little secondary melodies, whether it be in horn parts, even a string line or a synth line or a guitar line. Little secondary memorable things help, like the frosting on the cake. But, if you don't start with a great song, obviously nothing's happening. You've got to have a very memorable melody to begin with and a good lyric, or nothing else much matters. Just try to pay attention to having the whole package as memorable as possible.” MANDOO

1. SUMMER BREEZIN’: We chose this track to open the album since it is the one that evokes California the most: a light atmosphere of sunshine, love, surf and the carelessness of youth. It also gives the general tone of the album and introduces its arrangements: efficient bass/drums/guitar, the importance of the horn section, backup vocals/rhodes/strings/piano for the harmony. We gave Dora Bailey, the author on the song, the music and just told her: you’re driving down the Pacific Ocean on Highway One. It ended up with a text that went far beyond our wishes.

2. HALF AN HUNDRED MILES: This second track which is of a more tortured and dark spirit .The text written by Audrey Lesieur tells the loneliness of a man on the road with his dog Mickey having to deal with his life and all the downsides of it. The chorus stays in mind « and I keep on driving down a road… » and takes us down the road 66 with a lukatherian solo guitar and a binary groove like the ones of Hall and Oates.

3. GLOW: « Glow » was inspired by the first Soul music songs we loved, especially those of Prince, Donny Hataway, James Brown… The arrangement stresses on a mix of timbres (backup vocals/horns/strings). It is built upon a constant triplet beat. The text is a love song, a couple looking back at its moments together. Some may find a little something of Mickael Francks in it…

4. THEN YOU CAME ALONG: First entitled « Jay », this track is arranged in a Jay Graydon kind of way (Nothing you can do about it , We’re in this love together or Breakin’ away). Bernard Purdie’s drum demos and the making of AJA (Steely Dan) were the stepping stones to the song (double shuffle beat, horn parts or synthesizer lead). « Then you came along » is a more intimate song that evokes moments of our lives and how it feels to discover true love.

5. ROSELYNE: The idea of this song comes from one of Pierre’s vocal recording with some beatbox and buzzing sounds. The mood is festive and it naturally turned out talking about the colorful Roselyne, Esther’s mother, whom as a captain would guid her crew with an iron first. The guitar line, the use of vintage keyboards (rhodes, hammond and clavinet) and female vocals (Esther) gives it a Steely Dan kind of touch. The groove of the song and the placements of the horns (solo trombone by Johan Blanc) echoe the funky sounds of Niels Langren or Roy Ayers.

6. WHERE ARE YOU: « Where are you » is the second ballad on the album. It is not just a love song but more a break up song. The groove of the guitar and the heady riff of the horns confer a Brazilian touch to the song from the very beginning. On the other side, the harmony of the keyboards and the strings impose a mellow almost sugary sound that contrast with the lyrics. It was the first song we heard played live by the horns recording a pre production that was too « synthesic »… probably one of our best moments during the making of the album.

7. SOMEDAY WE’LL BE BACK: The song came from a bass line played by Esther on the piano running through a latin-funk groove, almost Caribbean, in a Joe Sample, on Carmel, kind of way. It was conceived at a time when we were traveliing and playing in the West Indies (hence the sea sounds at the beginning of the song). « Someday we’ll be back » shows our affection for artists such as Pages or George Duke. The mix of groove-funk-caribbean sounds-westcoast (Nicolas Gorge recorded percussions such as the brasilian cuica or tibetan bells) confers the song an acid jazz touch (Incognito, Brand New Heavies).

8. SWEET BITTER LOVE: Title of the album, the song was first a ballad. But it was totally remodeled as the text was being written, ending up with a more festive, swinging tone. We chose a double-bass with a more « old school » brassy tone and the bass drum that strikes each beat reminds Harry Connick Jr’s first album. It is the most afroamerican song on the album going from Motown, Soul to New Orleans music.

9. ONE MORE LIE: This title ends the album. It is clearly cinematographical: heavy orchestration of the intro and the outro (the string background, the melodic line of the clarinet, the trombone and the bass), unexpected harmonies, catchy groove à la Bobby Caldwell that all serve a dark scenario: the story of a man having to face his reflection in the mirror everyday and wondering who he really is. During the chorus, the palm mute guitar refers to Steely Dan’s famous « Cousin Dupree ».


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