Rufus sings Serge

Rufus Wainwright sings Serge Gainsbourg’s Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais on the album by Serge’s son Lulu. Not the first time Rufus sings in French, and not the first time he sings a song that relates to Serge. It’s one of the few highlights on the From Gainsbourg to Lulu album. The music and arrangements are okay (love the Brazilian touch of l’Eau a la bouche), but having Iggy Pop singing in French has never been a good idea (remember?), Shane McGowan in French is godawful and the less that’s said about Lulu’s singing voice, the better. The Ballade de Melody Nelson-duet between Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp is so-so (I will do a post on Melody Nelson-related samples and covers later) and  Scarlett Johansson can act, but she sure can’t sing. Marianne Faithfull is an acquired taste, yes, but ‘Manon’ fits her quite good, I’d say. Still, it’s a disappointment. You can save up for Charlotte’s double-album, to be released in December.

Rufus Wainwright – Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais


RIP Sylvia Robinson

Sylvia Robinson passed away today. In her honour, and ’cause it’s such a brilliant version, here’s a re-up of Sky’s post about Sylvia’s cover of Je t’aime…moi non plus.

In the so-called 1972 porn classic Deep Throat, a notably sleazoid threesome featuring Dolly Sharp, Jack Byron and Jack Birch is scored with a delirious funk/ soul track titled Love is Strange. The original version was recorded in 1957 by r&b duo Mickey & Sylvia – i.e. Mickey Baker, the hottest session guitarist of his time, who eventually bought a ticket to France and never came back, and Sylvia Robinson, who at least went temporarily to the Paris of her mind.

In 1973, she recorded a cover of Serge & Jane’s Je t’aime, released on the aptly named Vibration label, transferring Gainsbourg’s spirit to the sultry mood of Spanish language moanings. Her partner in cooing was salsa singer Ralfi Pagan, who provided the Latin lover feel, while Sylvia seemed to practice for her smash hit of the same year, Pillow Talk, a premier bedroom anthem foreshadowing Donna Summer’s disco orgasms. In short: Soul Je t’aime wasn’t perfect, but a sexy mother of a song.

Jack Birch, the stud from „Deep Throat“, became father of Hollywood star Thora Birch („American Beauty“). Ralfi Pagan was murdered during a tour in Colombia, while Sylvia founded Sugarhill Records in the early 80s, becoming the mastermind behind seminal pre-hiphop outings like the Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight: She even played bass on the recording.

Mickey & Sylvia – Love is Strange

Sylvia Robinson & Ralfi Pagan – Soul Je t’aime

Sylvia Robinson – Pillow Talk

Serge at the Hollywood Bowl

On August 28, to be exact. At the KCRW’s World Festival. A programme and a line-up that makes me want to go there…I can’t but if you can you should! There will be a lot of Serge songs and the legendary album Histoire de Melody Nelson will be performed in full with orchestra and guests. Director will be Jean Claude Vannier himself, French composer, arranger and longtime Gainsbourg collaborator. Among the guests some artists “have” something with Serge like Beck (who produced Charlotte Gainsbourg’s “IRM” album) and of course Lulu Gainsbourg. The others are pleasant surprises to me: Ed Droste (Grizzly Bear), Victoria Legrand (Beach House), Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl (The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger), Mike Patton (Faith No More) and Nika Roza Danilova (Zola Jesus). Good to see that apparently Serge still inspires a new generation of artists…
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger made a cover of  “Comic Strip“!

Marième Ndiaye

Yet another brand new Gainsbourg-cover, France Gall’s Laisse tomber les filles is re-vamped by Canadian singer Marième Ndiaye. Who has Senegalese roots and is called the ‘black pearl’ of Quebec hiphopband CEA (who used a big part of Initials BB for a song). Her solo-debut sports hiphop-, soul- and some African-influences. Laisse tomber les filles isn’t the only cover, there’s a version of Françoise Hardy’s Tous les garçons et les filles, and Mitsou’s Dis mois dis mois. Jean-Pierre Ferland, writer of Le chat du café des artistes (covered by Charlotte Gainsbourg on her last album), turns up for a duet. Old meets new, meets urban styles, and blends in quite easily. I’m not saying Marième is breaking new grounds, but she has a pleasant voice, looks great and her music is sunny. That’s how we like it here at FS HQ, when the rain pours down. Summer’s what you make it.

Marième – Laisse tomber les filles
(see video)

Hannah Schneider

Gainsbourgs Black Trombone is one of his best songs, but the jazzy song was seldomnly covered. Only a handful reprises, now we can add this sensual version by Danish jazzy singer Hannah Schneider. Her bio tells us she worked with several well-known writers, and that this song was featured in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Hannah has a pleasant voice and likes to colour her songs with 80’s styled electronica and jazzguitar. Shanghai, who provided the music on this track, is a Danish duo.

By the way, if you’re from Norway, Sweden, Finland or Denmark and want to keep me posted on the filles-front in Scandinavia, please do! Chisu, PMMP, Veronica Maggio, Annika Aakjaer, Säkert!, I love ‘m all! Here’s a Scandinavian singer-playlist I made on Spotify.

Hannah Schneider – Black Trombone

Requiem on a balafon

A German vibraphone-player and a Malinese balafon-player doing a cover of Gainsbourg’s Requiem pour un con. Found it on Blundetto’s blog, loved it instantly. It’s all in that indestructable beat, the remarkable sound of the vibes and the balafon (the instruments are related, see Kouyaté and Neerman play live here). The reprise is on K&N’s upcoming new album. You do know Serge’s original, don’t you?

Kouyate & Neerman – Requiem pour un con

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

Baby pop

A Dutch version of France Gall’s Baby Pop, a song written by Gainsbourg. A pleasant surprise, I wasn’t aware it existed. It was the b-side to the only single Eindhoven-born Leontien Snel made in the 60s. See ReadySteadyGirls for some background. Many thanks to @LatoUno and of course @Frans_s for unearthing this gem. Anyone who saw the Gainsbourg-Vie Héroique movie (and if you’re a regular visitor, I’m sure you saw it), remembers the kind of cruel scene with Sara Forestier playing France Gall, singing Baby Pop totally out of tune to a bemused Gainsbourg, played by Eric Elmosnino. The only other cover of Baby Pop that I know of, was made by French singer Antoinette. If you know of other versions, please send me (guuzbourg (a) gmail) an mp3!

France Gall – Baby pop
Sara Forestier (as France Gall) – Baby pop
Leontien Snel – Baby pop
Antoinette – Baby pop