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Side A

Music For Supermarkets Part 1 [3.52]

Music For Supermarkets Part 2

Music For Supermarkets Part 3

Music For Supermarkets Part 4 [7.54]

Side B

Music For Supermarkets Part 5 [3.44]

Music For Supermarkets Part 6 [5.44]

Music For Supermarkets Part 7 [3.47]

Music For Supermarkets Part 8 [3.45]

(Note: "Music For Supermarkets Part 3" was a demo for "Rendezvous Part 5", "Music For Supermarkets Part 5" was a demo for "Blah Blah Cafe" and "Music For Supermarkets Part 7" was a demo for "Diva".)

At the start of 1983 some young artistic friends of Jean-Michel asked him to provide (background) music for one of their forthcoming art nouveau exhibitions that was to be based on the theme of "supermarkets". Some of the items at the show were to be objects available from a supermarket transformed into art. Jarre amiably agreed to their request as he was always willing to help his friends and after consulting the exhibition's organiser (Georges Orrimbe) Jean-Michel went away to record the music between the months of February and May. It was during this time that he began to think that his music could be like a painting too with an artist creating a one off vision, a single (sound)sculpture of artistic ability. He called the roughly thirty minutes of music, Music For Supermarkets.

When he discussed his ideas about a one off recording with record company bosses they disagreed with him. Jean-Michel went ahead anyway and allowed the newly recorded music to be played at his friends' art exhibition (the Orrimbe Show). Since the artists of the exhibition were organising an auction of the paintings and exhibits after the exhibition Jean-Michel announced that his music would be pressed onto one solitary disc and sold at the auction just like the paintings and works of art would be. Polygram personnel were not happy. This was not how things were done in the music industry. After hearing the industry's views Jean-Michel was adamant and defiantly declared that the proceeds of the sale, like the proceeds from the other exhibits, would go to charity.

One single colour gatefold sleeve was printed with the front cover artwork designed and drawn by Bernard Beaugendre. The inside of the sleeve was a collage of eleven Polaroid stills depicting the process of making the album and a twelfth Polaroid space reserved for the picture of the resulting buyer. This pictorial idea was thought of by Jean-Michel himself. One single copy of the LP was pressed by M.P.O. of France in the presence of a legal persona grata and then upon Jarre's request all the items he suggested were associated with the recording were destroyed, except the master plates which were to be destroyed at the auction itself.

Contrary to belief, the first airing of any of the music from Music For Supermarkets (apart from the exhibition of course) was in fact when Radio 1 played the "Diva" like track during an interview with Jean-Michel Jarre one week before the auction. On the interview Jean-Michel talked about the recording and the forthcoming auction. He stated that the album's price would probably start at about five pounds and he had no idea how much the record might eventually fetch.

The auction was held on Wednesday the 6th of July 1983 at the Hotel Drouot in Paris. The event was broadcast on local radio and the LP was auctioned at about ten o'clock in the evening. As a prelude to the auction Jean-Michel gleefully destroyed the master plates for the album by fire (oxyacetylene torch to be exact) in front of the prospective buyers and members of the press. The bidding started at fifty Francs (about £7.25 in those days) and rose to a staggering 69000 Francs (around £10000). The winning bidder (rather wisely?) decided to remain anonymous.

Then to finally quell all the music industry's requests and pleadings he totally defied the norms of the record industry once more by allowing the complete album to be played on the radio. It was Radio Luxembourg (R.T.L.) who used valuable air time for this special exclusive. They interviewed Jean-Michel who promptly told the public to pirate the music if they wanted it and after that statement they played the album.

(The front cover of the album is pictured in the book. The inside of the gatefold cover is pictured in the official Jean-Michel Jarre biography by Jean Louis Remilleux. The texts that were specially written by Jean-Michel and which appeared on the back of the sleeve are reproduced below. The sleeve itself had the texts written in both French and English.)


July 6th, 1983: public sale of a new album which I recorded from February to May 1983 and which has been pressed in one single copy officially verified by a notary.

A single copy for a single buyer, like a painting with a single owner. Following the auction, this record will be broadcast on the radio one time only in its entirety. That will be the one and only chance to hear it and, if such be the case, to pirate it by recording it, except naturally, for the potential buyer.

In a time when everything is standardized, overbroadcast, a time when we are endlessly overinformed, saturated with sounds and images, it seemed to me worthwhile to demonstrate that a record is not only a piece of merchandise without value, infinitely multipliable, but it can be, like a painter's picture or a sculptor's bronze, an integral part of a musician's creation.

Francis Dreyfus, President of my recording company, has accepted the challenge of introducing a single album outside the usual channels, and in this way he shows that a business can be creative, can recognise the artist's identity and even be humouristic about it.

About one of his paintings called "Discs In The City" Fernand Léger said, "A work of art must stand the comparison with any manufactured object". I would rather say today that the progress of technology will put us in the opposite situation: step by step, manufactured objects will stand the comparison with works of art.

"Music For Supermarkets" accompanied the Orrimbe show at the Jean-Claude Riedel gallery from June 2 to 30 1983. Hurray for supermarkets! Our environment is a supermarket: crossbreeding of merchandise, blending of consumer and cashier, everything is for sale, everything is commonplace, everything fades, everything is altering - our food, our language, our roots. The supermarkets may well be the galleries and the museums of tomorrow. The music for everybody can also be be the music for each of us individually.


33 r.p.m. album composed and produced by Jean-Michel Jarre from February to May 1983 near Paris.

Timing 34'06

Outside recording on PCM F1 Sony Digital: Michel Geiss

Recording and mixing: Pierre Mourey and Jean-Michel Jarre

Cutting: Dyam Music - Paris

Artwork of outer sleeve: Bernard Beaugendre

Artwork of inner sleeve: Jean-Michel Jarre

The artwork of the inner sleeve consists of 11 Polaroid photographs illustrating the story of the making of the record, step by step, the 12th space remaining vacant for the buyer to put a picture of himself.

A single copy of this record has been pressed in Averton by M.P.O. in the presence of a bailiff.

The mother record used for the pressing will be destroyed in public at the auction.

Following the auction, the record will be broadcast once only on Radio-Télé;-Luxembourg


This article is taken from the The Unofficial Jean-Michel Jarre Biography book produced by Destination Jarre.

Essential Publications is a trading name of Burning Helix s.r.o.
Destination Jarre © Graham Needham & Wayne Davis
CyberNoise © Graham Needham

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Essential Publications is a trading name of Burning Helix s.r.o.
Destination Jarre © Graham Needham & Wayne Davis
CyberNoise © Graham Needham