"With this story, my first idea was to make it an exercise in rhythm." Film-director Jean Girault used to play bass in a jazz-group, so you can hardly fault the logic behind his definition of Les Grandes vacances. It was his sixth adventure with Louis de Funès (their association lasted for years) but, more particularly, Les Grandes vacances was the first De Funès project after a tidal wave known as La Grande vadrouille had invaded box-offices everywhere in France (drawing some seventeen million spectators).
To complete this first release of the full score for Les Grandes vacances, we absolutely had to have another Raymond Lefèvre score for Girault-de Funès, and so here you can listen to Jo. It's something of a paradox, because Jo is both the director's best film and also one of his least well-known works. Right from the opening title, the composer steeped himself in the rhythms and sound of Carnaby Street, and this inspiration irrigates his whole score (Cauchemar pop, Drague anglaise). With his orchestral technique Lefèvre took "Pop" out of his main theme and drew it into a spiritual, pastoral declension (Jeune fille au pair) or even into the universe of the western, with a version which sounds like a call to adventure and wide, open spaces (Chevauchée écossaise). Here and there, a few bursts of electric guitar transform de Funès into a cardboard silhouette.
When combined with his score for Les Grandes vacances, his music relates his association with Girault-de Funès as an intensely close bond; it explains how a composer, with thousands of notes and a certain altitude in inspiration, was able to understand a comic genius from the inside.
Forty years have gone by, but the comic genius still packs enormous firepower. So does the music of Raymond Lefèvre.