Les Négresses Vertes, formed in 1987, are a French music group who are best described as a fusion of world music and some aspects of alternative rock. Their particular musical influences were Algerian raï, Mediterranean and South American music and French café music.
Their tracks often feature accoustic guitar and accordion, as well as some tracks containing many other 'traditional' instruments such as piano and brass. Their style is fairly upbeat and energetic on the majority of their tracks, with unusual rhythms, vocals delivered with a generous dose of zeal and vibrant energy, and accompaniment melodies ranging from lilting and distant to eccentric and fast-paced. These two factors give many of their pieces a strong sense of direction.
Les Négresses Vertes arose from the alternative music scene in Paris. The original line-up included singer Helno (born Noël Rota in Paris, December 25, 1963 - January 22, 1993, also known as Helno Rota de Lourcqua), Jo Roz (also known as l'Ami Ro; real name Joe Ruffier des Aimes) (piano), Stéfane Mellino (guitar), Jean-Marie Paulus (bass), Gaby (drums), Matthias Canavese (accordion), Michel Ochowiak (trumpet), Abraham Sirinix (also known as Abraham Braham) (trombone) and Iza Mellino (backing vocals).
The original members were a group of friends, many of whom had not played their instruments before forming the band. The group's name translates as "green black women"; it arose from abuse hurled at them at one of their first concerts. They were initially signed to the independent Off The Track label, and released the punk protest song "200 Ans D'Hypocrisie" in response to their country's French Revolution bicentennial celebrations.
In 1989 they released their first album, Mlah, to good reviews in both France and the UK, where the single "Zobi La Mouche" just failed to reach the charts and where they toured and played the WOMAD festival. They also made a controversial tour of Lebanon. Their second album, Famille Nombreuse, in 1991, featured new drummer Zé Verbalito.
Helno was by this time struggling with serious heroin addiction, and Stéfane Mellino and Canavese replaced him as the main songwriters. Helno died at his parents' house on January 22, 1993.
Several members left the band after Helno's death, but Les Négresses Vertes continued around the nucleus of Mellino, Canavese, Ochowiak and Paulus. In 1995 they released the album Zig-Zague, followed by the live album Green Bus. By 2000's Trabendo, the group's style had shifted to a dub-orientated lounge style.
* Mlah (1988)
* Famille Nombreuse (1991)
* 10 Remixes (1993)
* An Aperitif (1994)
* Zig-Zague (1994)
* Green Bus (1996), live
* Trabendo (1999)
* Acoustic Clubbing (2001)
* Les grand deballage (2002) ('Best of' album)
* L'essentiel (2004)('Best of' album)
* À l'Affiche (2006)