Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1971)
- Michel Assa --
- Francois Auger --
- F.R. David (aka F.R. Destrefles, David Explosion, Robert Fitoussi,
- Yves Chouard ---
- Dominque Perrier --
- Alan Winsniak --
- Les Boots (F.R. David)
- The David Explosion (F.R. David)
- King of Hearts (F.R. David)
- Les Trefles (F.R. David)
- Les Variations (F.R. David)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: Pink Elephant
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 20321
Best time to play: When you're looking for an excuse to not cut the lawn
Tunisian-born musical journeyman Robert Fitoussi (aka F.R. David, David Explosion, Gilbert Safrani), was the creative mainstay behind Cockpit.
Fitoussi's recording career started in the mid-'60s as a member of Les Trefles, who morphed into Les Boots. When Les Boots called it quits, in 1967 he struck out as a solo artist, recording as F.R. Destrefles and under a number of other names.
While there were no production or performance credits, based on the songwriting credits, David Explosion appears to have been a Fitoussi-led studio entity. 1971's "Cockpit" featured a largely original set of material with David and Michael Haubrich responsible for about half of the material. As lead singer David had an okay voice, though his heavily accented vocals made for some interesting lyrics. As an example, the first time I heard the album, I mistook 'Fifi' for 'Fifty' and 'Mr. Hardy' came off as sounding like 'Mr. Holy'. That said, David had a knack for penning material with commercial hooks. 'Eight Days and a Wake Up!' has always reminded me of The Zombies. The pro-environmental 'Father Machine' was simply a hoot, while 'May (You're a Woman)' sounded like a European Chicago. Even a goofy titled track like 'Mother Jacobs' came off as having commercial potential.
And here's where the plotline and marketing schemes got kind of crazy. For some odd reason, in Holland the album was released credited to Cockpit. The collection featured the same nine songs, but in a different sequence. The songwriting credits were also different, as was the cover art.
I'd owned the David Explosion LP for years and when I heard the Cockpit album for the first time, it was one of those odd deja-vu feelings. It took me awhile to figure out whey they songs sounded familiar to my belabored ears.
"Cockpit" track listing:
1.) Fifi (Michael Haubrich - A.Vitalis) - 3:24 rating: *** stars
With a catchy guitar and organ powered melody, the immediate impression I got from the rocker 'Fifi' was that I'd mistakenly put on a Shocking Blue album, though the fact it wasn't Mariska Veres singing the title over and over again quickly corrected that notion. And that was the main problem with this one - how many times did you want to hear them signing 'Fifi' ...
- 1971's 'Fifi' b/w 'Father Machine' (Butterfly catalog number BS 001)
- 1971's 'Fifi' b/w 'Father Machine' (Explosion catalog number 14.953 A/B)
2.) Bright Tomorrow (Phil Trim - A. Vitalis) - 4:24 rating: **** stars
With church organ and female chorus backing, the title track was another 'big statement' song. It's always reminded me a little bit of Elton John's 'Levon' and grows on you if given a chance. The song was released as the second Cockpit 45:
- 1971's 'Bright Tomorrow' b/w 'Lena, Lena' (Butterfly catalog number BS 10 008)
- 1971's 'Bright Tomorrow' b/w 'Lena, Lena' (Bellaphon catalog number BF 18056)
3.) Lena, Lena (Michael Haubrich - F.R. Destrefles) - 2:28 rating: *** stars
The weakest song on the first side, 'Lena Lena' was a pleasant, but forgettable ballad. The acoustic guitar backing was the best thing here.
4.) Eight Days and a Wake Up (Michael Haubrich - F.R. Destrefles) - 3:46 rating: **** stars
Even though it started with one of the year's least impressive drum solos, 'Eight Days and Wake Up' redeemed itself with a nice Zombies-styled vocal, complete with jazzy feel, insidiously catchy chorus, and some great guitar.
1.) Father Machine (Michael Haubrich - A.Vitalis - 4:05 rating: **** stars
Given the album was released in 1971 it was a given that you had to include at least a couple of 'statement' songs. In spite of the clunky pro-ecology lyrics, 'Father Machine' was great ... to my ears it had the same kind of guilty pleasure factor you'd experience from something like "Jesus Christ Superstar". Perhaps the best song on the album.
2.) Long Way To Go (Phil Trim - A. Vitalis) - 3:10 rating: *** stars
The only other non-original, 'A Long Way To Go' was an excellent radio-ready ballad. This one's driven me crazy for years given every time I hear the song it reminds me of someone else, but I've never been able to identify that act. Any help out there?
3.) Mother Jacobs (Portaliez - Dominique Perrier) - 2:10 rating: **** stars
With an odd song structure 'Mother Jacobs' reminds me of mid-1960s US light psychedelia ... One of my favorite songs on the album.
4.) Mister Hardy (Vitalis - M. Haubrich) - 2:25 rating: **** stars
As mentioned above, 'Mr. Hardy' was another one where the accent threw me. To be ears it sounded like 'Mr. Holy'. Not that it mattered. With a great Beatlesque bass line and orchestral arrangement, it was still a wonderful track. it was also released as the third Cockpit single:
- 1971's 'Mr. Hardy' b/w Eight Days and a Wake Up!' (Butterfly catalog number BS 016)
5.) Hide and Seek (Michael Haubrich - F.R. Destrefles) - 3:15 rating: **** stars
'Hide and Seek' found Explosion moving back towards a heavier pop sound, complete with a series of mind-jarring marching band segments - Imagine something out of The Shocking Blue catalog crossed with a bad acid trip and you'd be in the right aural neighborhood.
6.) May (You're a Woman) (Phil Trim - Yves Chouard) - 3:51 rating: **** stars
One of the few non-originals, complete with punchy horns and acoustic guitar solo, 'May, You're a Woman' sounded like a mid-1970s Chicago track. Surprisingly nice and would have sounded great on American top-40 radio.
All-in-all quite enjoyable and I suspect that had this been an American artist, it would be a sought after collectable.
Standout track: 'Father Time'
Released in miniscule numbers, the album did little commercially. Under the name Robert Fitoussi he took a job as a member of Greek keyboardist Vangelis Papathanassiou's touring and studio band and then a gig with a late-career version of Les Variations (replacing original vocalist Joe Leb). After Les Variations called it quits in 1975 Fitoussi relocated to the States for four or five years before enjoying considerable European success in the 1980s as a solo act under the moniker F.R. David.
In case anyone's interested, here's a link to the man's website: http://www.frdavid.net/index_en.html
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