Où sont les filles?

Où sont les filles? That’s the question. One of the filles is called Anne Camille, and she’s the one playing the Jane Birkin role in the new single by Paris-based foursome (one couple + two garçons) Où Sont Les Filles. They’re inpired by Serge & Jane, obviously, Air, Seb Tellier and lush 70s pop. How on target with this blog can you get?

Old video:


The idea looks so simple: ask a bunch of songwriters to compose a song about every Parisian arrondissement, then have famous actresses, singers and filles sourires favourites sing those songs. A female ode to the eternal city… I wish I came up with the idea, but alas, it was Nicolas Boualami Gaubiac who deserves all credit.

The result is a project called “ElleSonParis”. And the result is as exciting as it sounds

The songwriters are big names like Alex Beaupain, Thomas Roussel, Philippe Bresson, La Grande Sophie and Alain Chamfort. And what about the line-up! We have Juliette Gréco (!), Jane Birkin (!) Charlotte Rampling and Hanna Schygulla on one side and Zaza Fournier, Adrienne Pauly, Agnès Jaoui, Elisa Tovati, Irène Jacob and more on the other.

“ElleSonParis” is a musical tour through the arrondissements of Paris. They pay tribute to the Paris’ neighborhoods, all with their different character and own history.
Some of the songs are a bit so-so (one is not better than the high school musical level, but I won’t tell your which one…), but in general it is very nice trip into the City of Light.

Jane Birkin sings a song for the 16th arrondissement. A sober song with some with piano (or is it a  harpsichord?) called “5, Avenue Marceau”. Just in case you wonder: that was the home address of.. Yves Saint Laurent. And Chez Régine? We’ve all been there, no?

Jane Birkin – 5, Avenue Marceau
Adrienne Pauly – Chez Régine

Lou Doillon

I.C.U. is th first single from a new EP (out in June) by Lou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkin, half-sister of Charlotte Gainsbourg. Go HERE (or here) to see the video. Album’s out in September, produced by Etienne Daho, mixed by Phillipe ‘Cassius’ Zdar.

Lou Doillon – I.C.U.

Under the radar (10)

Serge Gainsbourg’s L’Homme à tête de chou is the underrated masterpiece in his catalogue, lesser known then ‘Melody Nelson’ but certainly not a lesser album. Just before he died, Alain Bashung worked on a ballet about the man with the cauliflower head. The videos for the ballet look interesting, the album was a bit of a letdown to be honest. Yet this is a great video for Bashung’s version of Variations sur Marilou. What I didn’t know, is that Serge-soundalike Rodolphe Burger recorded a live tribute of ‘Tête de chou’ in 2006. With help from Mick Harvey, Jacques Higelin and Fred Poulet. Last year, a registration popped up on Bandcamp, featuring extra tracks like a duet with Jane Birkin. I can’t believe it’s not Serge singing there.

Also on Bandcamp, an album by the British jazz band Les Effrontés. It says release-date February 4 2012, but you can stream and download it already. The band started out as a Jacques Brel coverband, with Paris-born Tiffany Schellenberg on vocals. They do two Gainsbourg-covers, the best is Black Trombone. The song, one of my favourite SG-tunes, gets a tango make-over that really works.

Rodolphe Burger & Jane Birkin – Dépression au Dessus du Jardin (See the original version by Cathérine Deneuve, and this version by Serge himself)

Les Effrontés – Black Trombone
(See Serge’s original here)

Rain Dogs in the mist

Camille O'SullivanEarlier this year Tom Waits gave multi-instrumentalist David Coulter his permission to reinterpret his masterpiece Rain Dogs from 1985. Coulter, who worked with Waits on The Black Rider (1993) formed an outstanding band with singers such as Arthur H., Camille O’Sullivan, Stef Kamil Carlens, The Tiger Lillies, Erika Stucky and special guest Jane Birkin. Quite some reasons to go and see this extraordinary gig in Eindhoven yesterday. And after all, there’s simply no reason to not go and see Jane B. whenever she’s around. Unfortunately the show started late due to heavy fog as a result of which a lot of visitors arrived too late and so did some musicians. But as the show finally started, Jane Birkin was still stuck in foggy Rotterdam and unsure whether she would make it to Eindhoven, so announced the ringmaster. Fingers crossed, show starts.
First the beautiful Camille O’Sullivan came on stage with a raw and exiting performance. Seductive and mean she took us to ‘Singapore’ and Waits was immediately forgotten (sorry Tom). O’Sullivan was followed by The Tiger Lillies who probably shook Waits songs the most this evening with their pretentious interpretations of ‘Diamonds & Gold’ for instance. Kurt Weill wasn’t far away when they were on stage and that’s not always a good thing. Luckily Erika Stucky came to bring annoyment to the next level. In a positive way that is. The Swiss singer with her vocal tour de forces intrigued and made the show a bit less serious. Time to bring Stef Kamil Carlens, frontman of Belgium indie rock group Zita Swoon, on stage. He truely convinced with a couple of great songs like ‘Downtown Train’ and an outstanding version of ‘Blind Love’.
As the show continued with The Tiger Lillies again, I slowly started worrying whether Jane would show up in Eindhoven or not. Right then, miss O’Sullivan came on stage again and treated us with a marvelous and extreme tempting, hoarse version of ‘Hang Down Your Head’. The way we like it most over here at FS.
After that French singer Arthur H. could do his thing. The man with the raw voice that sometimes comes pretty much close to Tom Waits was bland and taking with his interpretations. A cool performer.
And then, finally, Birkin came on stage too. She defied and conquered the Dutch weather and was charming as ever as she started ‘Alice’, which is not a Rain Dogs track actually, but from Waits’ 2002 album, written for the play Alice. After that, she asked Arthur H. back on stage to do the last song on this very special Rain Dogs Revisited night: ‘Time’. This song turned into a very intimate and moving duet, worth ending the show with. And I still found no reason to not go and see Jane B. whenever she’s around.

Camille O’Sullivan – Hang Down Your Head
(London, 13-07-2011)
Erika Stucky – Union Square (London, 13-07-2011)
The Tiger Lillies – Diamonds and Gold (London, 13-07-2011)
Stef Kamil Carlens – Blind Love (London, 13-07-2011)
Jane Birkin – Alice (Eindhoven, 20-11-2011)
Arthur H. & Jane Birkin – Time (Eindhoven, 20-11-2011)

Transvision Vamp

Using Serge & Jane’s Je t’aime… moi non plus as a backdrop for your own song – Scottish rockers Texas did it (for Guitar song, see here) but until last week I wasn’t aware Transvision Vamp did it too, and ten years earlier. Who or what a ‘twangy wigout’  exactly is, I dont know. I guess that’s not the point of the song, that focusses on singer Wendy James adding as much air to her breathy vocals as possible. Which is nice. The song is on the third and last TV-album ‘Little Magnets versus The Bubble of Babble’ (1991), not a huge success (euphemism alert). They broke up almost right after the release. I saw Wendy and the band live once, a hard rocking show with James as the very blonde eyecatcher. Who sang really well, as I remember. She’s still active as a singer, as this MySpace shows. And still making that glammed up poprock, very able to sex up things with her lolita-voice. But I don’t hear songs as catchy as this one. Or this one.

Transvision Vamp – Twangy Wigout

Jane Birkin & The Lilies

A few quotes from reviews of We Are The Lilies:’A collaboration between Sérgio Dias, founder of cult 1960s/70s Brazilian psychedelic group Os Mutantes, and French indie outfit Tahiti Boy and The Palmtree Family. Written and recorded in five days, their album is a blast, blending the French band’s twisty, intricate pop with Dias’s free-wheeling tropicalia. Jane Birkin and Iggy Pop, an apt mix of sophistication and wildness, pop up as guest vocalists.’ (FT)

‘Sounding every bit like a vintage Trevor Horn production, with beautifully descending Belle and Sebastian chords, raucous shout-alongs comparable to early Bees and some hysterical saxophones straight out of the Ian Dury catalogue, this is a slightly woozy house party album for when LSD gets in the punchbowl and revellers start getting into the first phases of debauched undress.’ (BBC)

‘The two big moments on We Are the Lilies come courtesy of special guests Iggy Pop and Jane Birkin (the actress/ singer most famous for her recordings with ex-husband Serge Gainsbourg), and both are most unexpected. The Iggy-assisted “Why?” is great fun, but almost only because he seems be having most of it (“Why do the French smoke? Why do Americans fight? Why do Brazilians dance?” he yelps over a spotty appropriation of a little Motor City rumble). Birkin’s “Marie” fares better with its stripped-down approach, channeling Blue-era Joni Mitchell with a bit of that perfectly flat-but-pretty French affectation.’ (Pitchfork)

The Lilies feat. Jane Birkin – Marie


Juliette Nourredine is releasing records since 1992, but this is her first feature on this blog. Because she’s covering Gainsbourg. Juliette’s hardly a fragile fille, and her style is more reminiscent of old chanson which is probably why I never really paid attention. But her cover of Serge’s Les dessous chics is good. The song’s about the effect of jarretelles, stockings and other fine lingerie. What are they hiding, and why? Serge wrote it for Jane, she recorded it on her Baby Alone in Babylone album. He himself did a live-version on the Zénith album (that fake audience gets me every time). It was covered a few times, I really like the Daho-Birkin duet-version.

Juliette – Les dessous chics
Serge Gainsbourg – Les dessous chics
Jane Birkin – Les dessous chics
Etienne Daho & Jane Birkin – Les dessous chics
Diane Dufresne – Les dessous chics
Garou – Les desssous chics

In other, Gainsbourg-related news: Parisian rapper/producer Saneyes made a very fine rework of Serge’s Manon. Go HERE to listen and/or download.

Joyeux Noel (1969 Slight Return)

Today, you buy the New Yorker, GQ, or Entertainment Weekly, but once upon a time, you had those poptastic magazines in which you found great stories by, let’s say, Romain Gary, Henry Miller, Alain Robbe-Grillet, or William Faulkner alongside with cool, though not too glossy shots of the most beautiful women of the world – of course naked, but nobody called it sexist then. Those were the Seventies, and actually, I once worked for LUI, cranking out literary reviews in my small bureau until my senior editor showed up in the evening to take me to those risqué parties on the second floor where I met some of the gals from the photo sessions … and, knowing that they were doing their job exclusively for the advancement of culture, they listened to us breathlessly while we were quoting from Verlaine and Mallarmé poems. Just a few years earlier, in December 1969, LUI even had had Jane on the cover, today still a perfect pic for Boxing Day. And while you’re watching, you might even be in for a little sermon by Cardinal Katerine.

Katerine – Jesus Christ Mon Amour

Marchet & Birkin

Jane Birkin (pictured) and Florent Marchet playing distant lovers in a song from the new (third) Florent Marchet, named after the airport Roissy. Or the chateau from Histoire d’O – my guess is that Florent’s playing with both meanings. Could be me, though. Florent first blipped on my radar thanks of Tous Pareil (see video  here, without the female voice alas) from his debut. He writes strong, atmospheric rocksongs, on the new album he adds some electronics that make him sound a little like New Order. There’s even an instrumental track on Courchevel. His voice is in the same hoarse category as Cali (and Ridan, and Tetard, and Patxi, you know the type). Makes you wonder if the French only like one type of male, and one type of female voice. But that’s probably a cliché.

Florent Marchet & Jane Birkin – Roissy