Ex-Sonic-Youth bassist Kim Gordon adores her as does Julian Cope and the eccentric French mathematician Cédric Villani. The fact is that the music of Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes leaves no one cold. Those who heard the group and their expressively signing front woman in the 70s were either repulsed or addicted to their radical interpretation of progressive rock music. There was nothing in between. A small US label has now released three early LPs of the formation. We also like to try to snatch the eternal insider tip from oblivion.
In December 1999, Catherine Ribeiro was a guest on the talk show "Des mots de minuit" on France 2, where the 58-year-old singer presented her recently published book "L'enfance". She describes her childhood, her mother's lack of love, the fact that her parents beat her and imprisoned her, and the death of her little brother. In addition to presenter Philippe Lefait, the Canadian-French writer Nancy Huston is also present, but Ribeiro alone does the talking: with a strained gaze, hanging corners of her mouth and a heavy, deep voice, she displays the burden of a hard life. The three sit in a narrow, unadorned studio without an audience. In this sterile atmosphere, Catherine Ribeiro performs a chanson for the best: "Amsterdam", Jacques Brel's famous, coarse port scene. Accompanied by a pianist, she shows what her special gift is: to be able to let oneself go instantly in order to draw from oneself the deepest emotions that a song expresses and to hurl them towards the listener. Huston and Lefait seem lifeless next to the unleashed Ribeiro.
Her performance in the studio is only a hint of how she had turned her innermost outward in her collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Patrice Moullet. Their first joint album had been released thirty years earlier under the name "Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis". Until then, the Paris label Barclay had tried in vain to establish the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, who had been performing as a singer and writing her own lyrics since the mid-1960s, as a chansonnière or Yéyé interpreter. Even in seemingly carefree pieces like "Le chasseur" (1966), a certain melancholy was expressed, such as that which distinguished the songs of label colleague Dalida or German singer Alexandra at the same time. Also echoes of Brel, Édith Piaf and Léo Ferré can be heard from their early singles.
As a young woman Ribeiro played in films by Jean-Luc Godard and Mario Costa. In 1962, at the age of 20, during the shooting of Godard's "The Karabinieri", she met the 16-year-old Patrice Moullet, who used the stage name Albert Juross. A friendship developed between the two, which quickly became a love affair. The joint career was still a long time coming - and it almost didn't happen at all.