Albums of Influence #2: Rendez-vous (1986) by Jean-Michel Jarre

I first got into Jean-Michel Jarre when I was in my early teens back in the mid 1980s. If my memory is reliable–ahem–I believe it was after watching “Rendez-vous Houston: A City in Concert” on BBC2 in 1986. This was a life-changing experience for me. I had never seen or heard anything like it. Watching a musician combine music and visuals to create a spectacular display on the skyscrapers of a modern city, in fact using that city as a stage, transported me to another place.

Rendez-vous Houston: A City in Concert (1986)
(c) Patrick Burke from Atlanta, GA, United States – Rendez-vous Houston

You can find the concert on YouTube now. Unfortunately the picture quality isn’t great but it’s better than nothing. I checked if there was a dvd release but it isn’t currently available. That’s a shame, as I would love to see a cleaned-up HD version.

Rendez-vous is the eighth studio album by Jarre. It was released in April 1986. Not as well known as his more famous albums, notably Oxygene (1976) and Equinox (1978), it’s a tremendously atmospheric piece of music which would be the perfect soundtrack to any of the great movies set in space. Listen to it on headphones and let the music create the best science fiction movie never made–only in your head!

The last track on the album, “Last Rendez-Vous (Ron’s Piece),” was originally going to include a saxophone part recorded by American astronaut Ron McNair on the Space Shuttle Challenger. At the time, it would’ve been the first piece of music recorded in space. Tragically, Challenger exploded 73 seconds after lift-off killing the entire crew. Jarre dedicated the track to Ron McNair and the other astronauts on board Challenger. On the album, the saxophone part is played by French saxophonist Pierre Gossez.

American astronaut Ron McNair

[From Wikipedia]
‘In April 1986, Jarre performed the large-scale outdoor concert Rendez-vous Houston in Houston, Texas, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of Texas. The show attracted a then-world-record live audience of 1.3 million people. The concert was originally to have included a video projection of Ron McNair’s performance, recorded in space.’

04/05/1986 – Laser beams and visual images were projected as high as 70 stories on several Houston skyscrapers. A stunning fireworks display accompanied the performance. Downtown Houston’s laser show, ‘Rendezvous Houston: A City In Concert’, at the Houston International Festival on April, 1986, featured Jean-Michel Jarre’s music.

4 thoughts on “Albums of Influence #2: Rendez-vous (1986) by Jean-Michel Jarre

  1. Great blast from the past. He’s quite an artist and creative force, and I haven’t listened to that album since my late teens! As a kid I remember older relatives having the albums Oxygene and Equinox, and I would marvel at the record sleeve designs for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s actually the first time I’m hearing of Jean Michel Jarre but it does sound spectacular! Something about his songs reminds me a lot of Kravinsky too hahaha But the visual treatment of their music is indeed spectacular and I think artists today understand it more than ever. I saw Imagine Dragons in concert a couple of years ago and what they did on stage really gave their performance an unbelievable edge hahaha Thanks for sharing! šŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds cool! Yeah, it’s weird how I’m getting back into Jarre. I recently bought a CD version of his first album “Oxygene”. It also contains parts 2 and 3 from 1997 and 2016, which I’d no idea he had released. All good stuff. It’s hard to believe the original Oxygene came out in 1976!
      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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