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|Single by The Lettermen|
|from the album Warm|
|B-side||"She Don't Want Me Now"|
|The Lettermen singles chronology|
|Single by The Manhattan Transfer|
|from the album Coming Out|
|B-side||"Helpless" or "Popsicle Toes"|
"Chanson D'Amour" ("Love Song") is a popular song written by Wayne Shanklin. A 1977 recording by the Manhattan Transfer was an international hit, reaching #1 in the UK Singles Chart, and Australia.
In 1958 the husband and wife team of Art and Dotty Todd were the resident act at the Chapman Park Hotel in Los Angeles. The duo had charted in the UK in 1953 with "Broken Wings" (#6) but were known in their native United States as veterans of the California lounge circuit; the Todds also sang on their own radio show. Art Todd recalls how Wayne Shanklin gave the duo the song "Chanson D'Amour": "Wayne Shanklin stopped us one day and said, 'I've got a great song for you.'" Shanklin produced a demo of Art and Dotty Todd singing "Chanson D'Amour" which was shopped to Era Records who released the demo track as a single. According to Art Todd: "The airplay was just sensational. This was just at the beginning of rock 'n' roll and the old-time DJs hated rock 'n' roll and they jumped on our song." Art and Dotty Todd's "Chanson D'Amour" was a Top Ten hit and reached #6 in April 1958.
Manhattan Transfer recording
The Manhattan Transfer remade "Chanson D'Amour" for their 1976 Richard Perry-produced Coming Out album. According to group member Alan Paul, Laurel Massé suggested the remake, and ended up singing lead: "We'd been recording all day and we hadn't gotten that far. Just as we were about to leave [the studio], Laurel shouted, 'Hey wait a minute, I've got an idea.' She used an Edith Piaf sound in her voice [to sing "Chanson D'Amour"] and we recorded it in one take." According to Laurel Massé, however, Janis Siegel sang lead on the recording, and the TV mime-sessions done to promote the song (such as that for Top of the Pops broadcast on 10 March 1977) support Massé's view.
Overlooked in the United States in its single release, the Manhattan Transfer's version of "Chanson D'Amour" became a European hit, breaking out on the charts in France at the start of 1977 to peak there at #8: the track subsequently became a hit in Germany (#20), the Netherlands (#6), Norway (#1 for two weeks) and Switzerland (#6). In the English speaking world, "Chanson D'Amour" afforded the Manhattan Transfer a chart-topping hit in the British Isles reaching #1 in both the UK - for three weeks - and Ireland in March 1977, with hit status also evident in Australia (#9), New Zealand (#14) and South Africa (#14). "Chanson D'Amour" would prove to be the Manhattan Transfer's most widespread international success, despite being largely overlooked in the group's native United States, where the track registered only on Easy Listening chart in Billboard at #16.
The Fontane Sisters recorded a version of "Chanson D'Amour" which charted concurrently with the Art and Dotty Todd version, with the Fontane Sisters version peaking at #12 and affording the group their last major hit (the group would have one more entry in the Billboard Hot 100: "Jealous Heart" at #94). In the UK both the Art and Dotty Todd and Fontane Sisters versions of "Chanson D'Amour" were issued along with domestic covers by Tony Brent and Steve Martin.
Also in 1958, Belgian singer Angèle Durand recorded a version which rendered the English lyrics in Dutch; this "Chanson D'Amour" would become Durand's signature song. Wendy Van Wanten would remake this version in 1998.
In 1959 a Finnish rendering of "Chanson D'Amour" was recorded by the vocal group Jokerit: this version was remade in 1977 - subsequent to the success of the Manhattan Transfer version - by Ami Aspelund and also by Lea Laven, and also by Silhuetit (fi) (album Jos Mulle Sydämesi Annat).
A version by cast member Mike Berry was central to the "The Pop Star" episode of the BBC sitcom "Are You Being Served?", first screened on 1st April 1985.
The song was remade by In-Grid on her 2004 album La Vie en Rose.
Song in popular culture
- The song is briefly excerpted in The Beatles song "All You Need Is Love".
- "Chanson D'Amour" was featured in the episode "The Pop Star", the 1984 series finale of the long-running British sitcom Are You Being Served?
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 337. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 637.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 144.
"When I Need You" by Leo Sayer
|UK number one single
(The Manhattan Transfer version)
March 12, 1977 for three weeks
"Knowing Me, Knowing You" by ABBA