FS Rerun: Alain Bashung

When Alain Bashung hit it big in 1981 – Gaby oh Gaby was in the French charts for 54 weeks and sold a million copies –, they called him the „Johnny Hallyday de la New Wave“. Actually, the Gallic super-antistar who garnered eleven Victoires de la Musiques awards between 1985 and 2009, sounded all-too-often more like Paolo Conte merging David Bowie attitude with an unhealthy Dylan obsession, stadium rock style – including a whole lot of obnoxious Frenchican rock bummers (especially the Tom Waits/ Michel Sardou amalgam of 2008’s Bleu Pétrole), but also some significantly dazzling results, especially on 82’s Play Blessures, then teaming up with lyricist Serge Gainsbourg who probably would have liked to inflict these wounds himself: Combining lupine lamentos with No Wave splinters, this is French Rock’s Metallic K.O., with unmistakably hypnotic qualities.

Alain Bashung – J’envisage

Alain Bashung – Bistouri scalpel

Alain Bashung – Trompé d’érection

Pop Bâtard XVI: Never Mind, Serge

Tom Haggen – despite the English name quite obviously a Frenchman – is relatively new to the Gallic mash-up scene. His sexy blogsite presents some pretty entertaining fusion experiments, among them an extravagant amalgam of Serge’s ironic 1966 yéyé classic Qui est in, qui est out and … well, the chords (F5–B♭5–A♭5–D♭5)  that changed the world for a few minutes 20 years ago – Teen Spirit being the anti-perspirant that Kurt’s then-girlfriend, Tobi Vail, used to wear at the time. Kurt always claimed that he had had no idea the brand even existed; so better check your spouse’s handbag before sloganizing the revolution.

Tom Haggen – Smells Like t’IN!!! Spir’OUT!!!

Julien Doré & Françoise Hardy

French it-boy Julien Doré made a new album, you may have seen the very funny clip that goes with single Kiss Me Forever. The album has several Gainsbourgian touches, you may recall his cover of SG’s SS in Uruguay on his debut, and the clip for Les Limites (that referred to a video Gainsbourg made for Chez les yeye’s). The deluxe-version comes with a bonus-disc with English songs, made with his former band. I prefer the French tunes, like the (again) Gainsbourgian Golf Bonjovi, the song Glenn Close (JD likes namedropping, like Vincent Delerm) and the duet with Françoise Hardy. Doré apparently has a thing for grand dames, he duetted with Sylvie Vartan and on his new album he also sings with Algerian legend Biyouna. In this interview, Hardy states she had no clue what the lyrics for BB Baleine are about. Makes two of us.

Julien Doré & Françoise Hardy – BB Baleine

Gainsbourg, Intégrale?

The interesting part about the anniversary edition of Gainsbourg’s Intégrale box, is that it the title Intégrale is nowhere to be found. Only if you want to order it, you see the title. And then you can read the quite unfavourable reviews. The critique focusses on the omittance of songs like La Noyée and Le sable & le soldat, and the umpteenth rehashing of old material that every SG-fan already has on their treasured albums and earlier compilations. Understandable. How many SG-novices will buy a 160 euro box with 20 cds? Why omit songs that were on earlier compilations? Why is the personnel of later albums mentioned, but not the players on Serge’s first EPs? I got my box yesterday and I have to say I’m quite pleased with it. I think it looks good, I like the pictures and it has several songs I’d never heard: like the Les Papillons Noirs-duet with Bijou, some instrumentals and full version of Je suis venu te dire. Now, just who is that at the very end of the song? (It’s Jane Birkin, saying ‘Ah bien là, je peux pas faire plus que ça’, or ‘Hold it, I can’t go on anymore’) (Thanks Pierre)

There’s no obligation to buy. The stuff that you don’t have, will no doubt turn up on the internet. But the feeling to open up this box, see 20 cd’s, see the photos, flip through the booklet (all text in French, another mistake), I like how that makes me feel.

Serge Gainsbourg – Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais (full version)
Serge Gainsbourg – Je ne t’aime plus moi aussi (instrumental) (Is it me, or does this one sound more like Je suis venu te dire?)

In other news, I made a podcast for KX Radio with all kinds of Serge-tracks. Go HERE


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.

The Serge Gainsbourg Experience

Serge Gainsbourgs songs were translated to English before (by Mick Harvey on this two brilliant tribute albums, and later on for this album), there have been various tribute albums (one springs to mind), so what makes Brad Scott’s Serge Gainsbourg Experience worthwile? Not his looks. His throaty voice works in songs like Sorry Angel and I Just Come to Tell You I’m Going, and he gets vocal help from the fragile Celia. My guess is shes his French daughter, for she doesn’t sing with the same accent as Brad (and sounds really sexy in SS in Uruguay). Mick Harvey had that right icey, arrogant tone in his voice. Brad lacks this, so Bonnie & Clyde is more a screamfest then the brooding song it is in the Serge-Brigitte version. Other songs, like Contact, are turned up to 11 as well. Ma Lou Marilou is just silly with the sqeaky noises and off-key accordion. But I like Valse de Melody, in which Brad sounds a bit like Arno Hintjens. By the way, the English translations were made by Boris Bergman, who also wrote Aphrodite’s Child Rain and Tears. And Brad played bass with Bashung, Jacques Higelin and Arthur H. And he met Serge once. I envy him. A lot.

The Serge Gainsbourg Experience – Sorry Angel
BONUS: all other versions
Serge Gainsbourg – Sorry Angel
Jane Birkin – Sorry Angel
Bollock Brothers – Sorry Angel
Walkabouts – Sorry Angel
Franz Ferdinand & Jane Birkin – Sorry Angel
Jef Lee Johnson & Nathalie Richard – Sorry Angel

Comme un boomerang

In other news: a new compilation featuring inédits by Serge Gainsbourg will be released next month. A single, Serge singing Comme un Boomerang, is released today. He wrote the song for Dani‘s Eurovision Songcontest appearance in 1975, but it got rejected. She recorded it with Daho in 2001. Read all about it HERE. (Thx Bruno!)

See the tracklisting of the new box here. This is the official release of the Boomerang-demo by Serge. It was available on the interwebs earlier, here.

Serge Gainsbourg – Comme un boomerang
Dani & Daho – Comme un boomerang
Feist, Gonzales, Dani – Comme un boomerang
Etienne Daho – Comme un boomerang (live)

Les sucettes

Les sucettes, written in 1966 by Serge Gainsbourg for France Gall, is without a doubt the best song ever about a girl sucking on a anis-filled lollipop. You don’t need a dirty mind to get the sexual innuendo – though the underage France Gall had no clue. Nor did her minders. Or maybe they were in on the joke Gainsbourg pulled. France did not take it lightly, as this interview-clip shows (in short; she distrusted men ever since). Yesterday somebody asked me about Les sucettes covers. Were there any good ones? To be blunt; no. France’s version (and the duet-version with Serge in this video) was never topped. There are some pretty weird ones out there. I can’t decide which one is the most disturbing: this puppeteer-version, this (gay?) choir version or this Japanese rework (also posted below). This is from Japan as well, and again pretty outthere.
Below are a couple of versions I collected in the past years. I know there are more (a dull cover by Les Tres Bien Ensemble), but if you know of a really good one/odd one, please contact me!

France Gall – Les sucettes
Serge Gainsbourg – Les sucettes
Nezhnoe Eto – Les sucettes (Russian version)
FN Guns – Les sucettes (metal version)
Hanayo – Les sucettes (weird Japanese version)
Lio – Les sucettes (close-to-the-original version)
Jumpin’ Quails – Les sucettes (jumpstyle r&b version)
The Lovejoys – Les sucettes (loungepop version)
Hbsk – Les sucettes (electronic dreampop version)
Patrick Péronne – Les sucettes (cocktailjazz version)

Joseph Gainsbourg (Better late than never)

Christmas 2010 did already pass, I know, Christmas A Go Go already shut its door for this year, but luckily there’s always room for some Serge Gainsbourg paraphernalia here at FS.

In 1965 a television show started at ORTF in France called Dim Dam Dom, which stood for Dimanche, Dames and D(h)ommes. The show ran for six years until 1970 and intended to be informative and humoristic with musical intermezzi. It was presented by girls like Françoise Hardy, Mireille Darc, Nathalie Delon, France Gall, Marie Laforêt and Sheila.
In 1966 Dim Dam Dom made ‘Noël à Vaugirard’, a rather bizarre Christmas abattoir edition with a talking cow and donkey, singing nuns and Serge Gainsbourg as Joseph and Chantal Goya as Mary. Other appearances came from Guy Marchand, Sylvie Vartan and Jacques Dutronc.

Enjoy 17 minutes of Christmas strangeness here!

UPDATE: FS-reader Jan Willem recognised the music in the beginning of this movie, turns out it’s the ultra-cool Gil Evans:
Gil Evans – Where Flamingos Fly

FS Rerun: Bringing Sexy Back

This one appeared on FS in October 2008 for the first time. More about Sylvia Robinson here.

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 Baker – Parisian Holiday

Mickey & Sylvia – Love is Strange

Deep Throat version of „Love is Strange“

Sylvia Robinson & Ralfi Pagan – Soul Je t’aime

Sylvia Robinson – Pillow Talk