À VOUS DE JOUER MILORD – François de Roubaix
Original Review by Craig Lysy
À Vous de Jouer Milord was a 1974 spy drama mini-series of six episodes directed by the famous French director Christian-Jaque. The national security storyline concerned the theft of design schematics for the new generation French tank, the AMX 30. Justifiably alarmed by the loss of the schematics, the government resolved to call back into service their retired agent Hubert de Pomarec (AKA Milord) played by Henri Piégay to regain the stolen plans. Christian-Jaque imbued the mini-series with a comic book sensibility and robust action scenes with his lead performing his own stunts. While entertaining, it received no critical acclaim.
Christian-Jaque and composer François de Roubaix had met through a mutual acquaintance, Nicole Gauduchon, a film editor. She submitted de Roubaix’s main theme for the credits, which delighted Christian-Jaque and earned de Roubaix the assignment. He recorded the entire score in his home studio on the Rue de Courcelles. De Roubaix employed an eclectic array of instruments to establish the soundscape of the mini-series, which included a drum machine, EMS VCS3 synthesizer, several keyboards, trombones, drums and electric guitar. He completely turns the genre on its head by providing a quirky non-dramatic electronica score, which plays against the traditional sensibilities of the spy thriller. For the series he provided an upbeat and electronica carried Main Theme, which animated Milord, the Andrabel Waltz, a theme for Milord’s boat and the primal Tank Motif, a pulsating synth statement which serves to animate the Tank.
We begin with “À Vous de Jouer Milord”, which introduces the Main Theme. It is a most unexpected opening that is paced by the steady pulse of the drum machine. This electronica-generated melody is light, unaffected and decidedly unexpected. The twinkling synth flourish that concludes this piece is an interesting embellishment. This theme is reprised in “Milord Refait Surface” with a little more animation and funk. While in the concluding “Bien Joué Milord!” it is embellished with an overlaid wordless male voice. “Andrabel” introduces the quirky if not somewhat demented Andrabel Waltz, a theme that animates agent Milord’s boat. The repeating theme, which lacks a B phrase, is carried by synth harpsichord with queer sounding synth embellishments, a steady drumbeat, vibraslap, wah-wah pedal effects as well as recurrent echoes of Barry’s James Bond Theme! “Titan” offers a repeating syncopated and rhythmic drum line with electronic keyboard and synth tremolo string effects. As it flows forward uncertain of its destination we hear a series new synth effects and bongo drums as music continually reinvents itself.
“Ève et Hubert” emotes with the soft jazz ambiance of a night club and features electronic piano, strummed bass and electric guitar. It is the type of melody that while clearly present, offers a pleasant listen that never intrudes. This soft jazz ambiance is reprised in “Filature”. “Balade En Char” grabs your attention with a dance like rhythm that prominently features trombones accompanied by mischievous synth and chattering bongos! Quirky, yet strangely enjoyable this cue is a fun listen. Well our amazing journey takes yet another twist in “Hubert Et Lilia” which opens with synth organ and a decidedly funky blues ambiance replete with electronic keyboards, strummed bass and electric guitar. In the more upbeat “Albert et Zouzou” we are treated to a yet another quirky dance-like cue, which features a simple repeating line replete with synth, electric piano, drums and a steady pulse.
The following three cues all feature de Roubaix’s Tank Motif. In “La Plongée Des Titans” we finally have a scene that features the missing tank! Rebouaix uses a throbbing low register synth motif to animate the tank. Electric piano strikes and a steady drumbeat convey the mechanical nature of the armored beast with chattering bongos along with bizarre synth textures once more joining the mix. Mid cue the music mutates to a quivering and dissociated expression of odd synth textures before resuming its former driving expression in a more propulsive and determined way. In “Les Trois Titans” the Tank Motif is emoted with much more energy and drive – the chattering bongos banging away! Late in the cue the music again mutates into a quivering and dissociated expression of odd synth textures. Lastly in “Exercices Commando” a steady drum cadence supports a low register synth articulation of the Tank Motif. The music picks up more steam and the relentless synth drive before once again down shifting into bizarre groaning synth textures and funky percussive accents. This cue is quintessential de Roubaix!
“Cap Au Large” is dichotomous cue that features quite simply an amazing la danse bizarre. Animated by synth piano, eerie synth effects, strummed bass and drums, this cue takes us on quite an interesting journey! At 1:15 we shift gears and move up-tempo. The dance is now joined by a silly wordless male chorus and crazy drum accents as we revel in this comic realm. “Angoisse Sous-Marine” is a textural effects cue that offers a broad range of synth sounds, which serve to create an almost alien-like soundscape. “Base Alpha 13” opens with a soft jazz line carried by a funky electric piano and synth chords. At 0:58 we speed up atop chattering bongos, pulsing rhythms and synth chords as the melodic line dissipates into a series of odd textural effects. “La Messe des Espions” plays as a solemn religioso piece one would associate with a funeral parlor. The melodic line is carried by solo synth organ without accompaniment. “Un Tank Pour l’Aventure” is truly twisted and decidedly quirky! The music is carried by upright piano, electric piano, drum percussion and a odd array of synth textures.
In “Lilia’s Jerk” we get some attitude as a cocky drumbeat ushers in a funky jazz piece that features electric guitar, bass and synth trumpets. With “Bossabotage” we return to a soft jazz vibe carried by a mellow electric guitar with support from strummed bass and tenor percussion. Well with “Hubert de Katmandou” we get some rock attitude going on the strings of a wailing electric guitar. The piece is edgy, propelled by some good drum work and brings in some funky energy. “Le Village en Otage” is another dichotomous cue where we are treated to a broad range of synth sounds, bongo drums and upright piano. The music opens with some laid back jazz, which shifts at 1:00 into a more methodical textural rhythm that features interplay of electric keyboards. At 2:05 bongos join in and we begin an apparent ascent to crescendo, which instead dissipates and gives way to the synth pulses of the Tank Motif! This is one strange, through the looking glass clue! We end our journey with “À Vous De Jouer Milord”, a source cue performed by Martin Circus where we see Milord entertaining fellow spy Eve, on board his yacht Andrabel as he tries to seduce her.
Allow me to thank yet again Cyril Durand-Roger and Laurent Lafarge of Music Box Records for restoring a truly engaging and unique score. The sound quality is excellent and the resurrection of over 60 minutes of unreleased music most welcome. This electronica effort by François de Roubaix is a journey of many twists and turn, which perfectly displays his singular talent for experimental and avant-garde writing. I must say that this score is an acquired taste well suited for those eager to take the road less travel and explore non-orchestral scores. If you like electronica, jazz, and funky rock scores, this is a score for you. For fellow orchestral score lovers like me, I say expand your horizons and take this obscure 1970’s French score for a spin! You will be pleasantly surprised.
Buy the À Vous de Jouer Milord soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store
- À Vous de Jouer Milord (Générique) (1:50)
- Andrabel (3:27)
- Titan (2:35)
- Eve et Hubert (3:30)
- Ballade eEn Char (2:09)
- Hubert et Lilia (2:01)
- Filature/Albert et Zouzou (3:21)
- La Plongée des Titans (5:35)
- Cap au Large (3:37)
- Angoisse Sous-Marine (2:13)
- Base Alpha 13 (2:03)
- La Messe des Espions (2:07)
- Milord Refait Surface (2:43)
- Un Tank Pour l’Aventure (3:22)
- Lilia’s Jerk (2:51)
- Bossabotage (3:16)
- Les Trois Titans (2:55)
- Hubert de Katmandu (1:34)
- Exercices Commando (4:08)
- Le Village en Otage (4:07)
- Bien Joué Milord ! (2:25)
- A Vous De Jouer Milord (Générique De La Série Télé – Remastered 2004) (performed by Martin Circus) (2:54)
Running Time: 65 minutes 40 seconds
Music Box Records MBR-008 (1974/2012)
Music composed by François de Roubaix. Album produced by Cyril Durand-Roger and Laurent Lafarge.