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S​é​r​é​nade à la Mule

from Jean​-​Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline by Jean-Jacques Perrey

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Before he was called to New York in 1960 to demonstrate the Ondioline for virgin American ears, Perrey recorded two EPs of material for French label Pacific Records. The first, Mr. Ondioline, presented an unforgettable front cover, Perrey donning a dark hood with small slits for the eyes and mouth in an attempt to conjure up the record’s mysterious titular figure. Later on when Perrey appeared as “Mr. Ondioline” on the Captain Kangaroo show, he did so without the hood, presumably to spare the children, and perhaps some adults, deep distress.

The second Pacific Records EP, released in 1961, was entitled Ondiolinorama and was pressed in such small numbers that it is now exceedingly rare, and greatly prized by Perrey collectors. Both EPs were comprised of Perrey’s arrangements of other composers’ works, including established tunes such as ‘Nola’ and ‘Lover’ (the pair of these given a guitar-based multitrack treatment years earlier by one of Perrey’s prime inspirations, Les Paul).

The number from Ondiolinorama presented here is ‘Sérénade à la Mule’ (‘Donkey Serenade’), and it was written by Rudolf Friml, Czech-born composer of operettas, musicals, and songs for screen. First heard in the film adaptation of The Firefly, it was originally written by Friml for the stage in 1912, the melody having become one of his most enduringly popular when Perrey chose to record it almost fifty years later.

The version presented on this compilation was transcribed and restored from a work reel of 1/4” tape sourced from Perrey’s personal archive.


from Jean​-​Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline, track released January 1, 1960
Jean-Jacques Perrey - Ondioline


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Jean-Jacques Perrey Switzerland

Jean-Jacques Perrey (1929-2016) was an alternative pop visionary, pioneer of rhythmic tape-edit sampling techniques, and virtuoso of the rare French electronic musical instrument, the Ondioline.

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