Perverse Manon, Country Style

volecovThough being one of the finest bands ever to follow the paths of the Byrds and especially Gram Parsons into so many jingle jangle evenings, Motor City’s Volebeats are still virtually unknown even to most country rock aficionados. On their 2004 outing Country Favorites they also proved a surreal kind of humour covering songs by Parliament, Abba, Slayer or Barry White twangy-style. Their version of Serge G’s Manon, erstwhile title song of the stylish Deneuve flick Manon 70, transports the original’s ragged ambiguity clandestinely to the Seen It All Bar – that place where all the pale riders gather when they come to Paris, Texas.

Volebeats – Manon

Bonus: Serge’s original, of course, plus Marina Celeste’s breezy, ultra-sexy Brazil style version from her Cinéma Enchanté album. Hush, hush, sweet Manon.

Serge Gainsbourg – Manon
Marina Celeste – Manon

Giovanni Mirabassi – Manon
Lulu Gainsbourg & Marianne Faithfull – Manon

10 Sexiest Women in French Music Today (2)

Though our no. 2 is from Brunette County, she’s always been candidate for the fairest of all seasons. Ah, Marina.

2. Marina Celeste

Marc Collin’s cover band project Nouvelle Vague was even a bit goofy when it started back in 2004, but the girls were pleasantly exhibitionistic, and their lounge versions of Too Drunk to Fuck or Ich möchte ein Eisbär sein were surely genius for a sweltering, if all-too ephemeral moment. Among the Nouvelle Vague filles, Marina Celeste had the most sophisticated aura, combining superchic, tendresse and a late summer sense of Mediterranean saudade – reflected and refined on her solo albums Acidulé, Cinéma Enchanté, or The Angel Pop, all about the eternal theme of „sighing sighs, holding hands“, as American songwriter Johnny Mercer put it all those years ago. At FS headquarters, everybody has a crush on Marina, and according to a British reviewer, she recently performed at East London’s Cargo club in her slip only. As if her voice weren’t enough. But you’re right: Wished we’d been there.

Marina Celeste – Le Vent dans les Voiles

Under the Radar 6: Jasmin Tabatabai

Germany’s adult pop fashion of the hour is the coffee table recycling of songs from the 20s to 40s – think Tukur, think Alsmann, and German actress Jasmin Tabatabai makes no exception. On her recent album Eine Frau, released last September, she covers songs by Hollaender, Tucholsky and others, all cushily bossa- or jazzified – by and large what Diana Krall or Norah Jones do, with less production value. Probably for reasons de chic, her lieder album also contains a French composition, La chanson d’Hélène, originally written by Philippe Sarde and Jean-Loup Dabadie for the 1970 movie Les choses de la vie. While the rest of Tabatabai’s album sounds, well, somewhat menopausal, her version of Hélène isn’t even that bad – just as clean and empty as a tumbler from a desolate dishwasher.

Jasmin Tabatabai – La chanson d’Hélène

Extra: Romy Schneider’s classic film chanson (w/ Michel Piccoli), plus a bunch of other worthwhile versions, including an English language one.

Romy Schneider – La chanson d’Hélène
Marina Celeste – La chanson d’Hélène
Francoiz Breut – La chanson d’Hélène
Berry – La chanson d’Hélène
Youn Sun Nah – La chanson d’Hélène
Dream Makers – Helen’s Song