In 1977 Elton Motello did “Jet Boy, Jet Girl.” Catchy and fun and just slightly aggressive, it’s a questionable narration of a fifteen year old bitter over an older male lover and high on the daydream of bloodshed over said lover’s female interest. There were two lyrical variations – what I presume is a radio edit says “he gives me hell,” while the original says “he gives me head,” both with slightly different backing music and lengths.
It’s amusing to consider this scandalous premise and reflect on the rest of 1977. It was the year Elvis Presley died; the Sex Pistols were nixed from EMI over fashion and a televised cursing; the ultra conservative (and anti-gay) Focus on the Family was founded; and children’s cable programming was developing. The song’s controversy definitely stands the test of time, even for the two-thousand-teens. And this awkward European television appearance of the uncensored version charms the daylights outta me.
Then Plastic Bertrand did the same song, with randomized French lyrics, and it become a sensation, played in movies and clubs and all over the place. The true meaning has been difficult to translate, as indicated by many bloggers, forums, and lyric pages that conversated about it, usually reducing it to just fun nonsense in the end. So not only does it just have a general lighter feeling, it is nowhere near as heavy or violent.
Both Bertrand’s and the uncensored Elton Motello version allegedly have the same recorded backing track, and both were released around the same time. Getting to the bottom of who was first is where it gets strange, as some serious Wikipedia source hopping was a dead end. I consistently found mention of producer Lou Deprijck, but very vague elaboration. More fruitful sources revealed several oddities surrounding both artists and this song.
Thanks to Punk77, I find out that Plastic Bertrand was actually previously in the band Elton Motello. Yep… Also known as Robert Jouret of Hubble Bubble , he had gone by the name “Nobby Goff” as Elton Motello’s drummer on the Victim of Time album “Jet Boy, Jet Girl” was released.
Is it so weird that as a musician, he was in other bands? Of course not. But… it’s weird that everyone skims past the him being a part of the original version of the hit that made him famous. Everyone being press pieces over the decades, Wikipedia, and various interviews, even when Nobby Goff and Robert Jouret are mentioned in the same article.
In this blog interview, Elton Motello members Alan Ward and Mike Butcher mention Nobby Goff, Hubble Bubble, Robert Jouret, Plastic Bertrand, and Lou Deprijck, but still fail to use the opportunity to point out who was who:
“MB: What happened was that a producer asked us to do two songs for him — kinda punky songs. These two tracks were “Jet Boy, Jet Girl” and “Pogo Pogo.” And this same producer, a Belgian producer, wanted to do a French version, so that’s how Roger came to the studio, and that’s how we met him.”
“ATB: Explain Plastic Bertrand’s “Ca Plane Pour Moi.” Were you guys trying to clean up “Jet Boy, Jet Girl” to make it sellable, or was it taken from you? How did that whole thing happen?”
“MB: It was just the French version. Basically, they wanted a French version, so they took those backing tracks. And later, he branched off on his own thing, so that was basically that.”
So, they both did the same exact flipside, Pogo Pogo, credited to Deprijck again. Oh, and Bertrand covered Elton Motello’s “Sha La La La Lee,” AND Motello’s frontman Alan Ward produced his second album.
The Elton Motello Wikipedia entry states “the song was sometimes supposed to form the basis for Plastic Bertrand’s internationally successful hit “Ça plane pour moi”, with new lyrics over the backing track.” Um, yeah, does anyone whose listened to both really think these songs weren’t similarly derived? You couldn’t convince me otherwise. At the very end… it’s added that “Alan Ward confirmed in an interview for lexpress.fr in July 2010 that Deprijck was the maître d’oeuvre (master of work) of both songs.” (Good luck reading this French article translation without laughing.)
All of this just kind of makes me wonder about everyone, and what they had to gain from keeping Goff/Bertrand separate, and WHO gained from it. Plastic Bertrand clearly had the bigger hit, but that has since been reduced for him since it turns out Lou Deprijck was singing the whole time. Deprijck, was in fact also behind the recorded vocals despite decades of assumption it was frontman Bertrand. Not until the mid 2000s did he step up and say he provided the vocals. To Bertrand’s credit, he holds to it that Deprijck insisted they proceeded with this notion from the start and Deprijck has since made it look like he was ripped off. Maybe this is just a weird experiment to him.
Punk77 states “All of this is fishier than a tin of pilchards” in response to this Alan Ward quote:
“We have all been ripped off at some point in our lives but judging by the emails I receive my lyric has touched many more people and seems to ring a chord in many more hearts than the French one will ever do. That’s why I wrote it. If I was meant to be rich it would have happened. But I am rich in the knowledge that my thoughts will never disappear.”
Bear with me, y’all, this is my first infographic, mkay?
Strange indeed. Strange enough to shrug my shoulders and just listen to this Spotify playlist of every version of “Jet Boy, Jet Girl” and “Ca Plane Pour Moi” I can stand and not really finish this story.