Serge Gainsbourg & Offshoots - 27th Anniversary Mix
27 tunes to mark the 27th anniversary of Serge Gainsbourg's death in March 1991.
The Provocateur Extraordinaire.
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – Je t’aime (moi non plus)
Serge Gainsbourg – Le poinconneur des Lilas
Mick Harvey feat. Anita Lane – The song of slurs
Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot – Initials B.B.
Serge Gainsbourg – Mambo miam miam
Jane Birkin – C’est la vie qui veut ca
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – Ballade de Melody Nelson
Jean-Claude Vannier – La girafe au ballon
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Le chat du café des artistes
Mick Harvey – Intoxicated Man
Jean-Claude Vannier – Danse de l’enfant et du Roi des Mouches
Anna Karina – Roller girl (from the soundtrack of the film Anna)
Michael Stipe – L’hotel
Beck – Wave
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest
Serge Gainsbourg – New York USA
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – 69 Année Érotique
Serge Gainsbourg & Michel Colombier – La Horse (from the soundtrack of the film La Horse)
Mick Harvey with Channthy Kak & Xanthe Waite – Contact
Francoise Hardy – Comment te dire adieu
Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot – Bonnie & Clyde
France Gall – Poupée de cire, poupée de son
Serge Gainsbourg – Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais
Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem pour un con
Jane Birkin with Montreal Symphony Orchestra & conductor Noboyuki Nakajima – La Javanaise
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – La décadanse
Mick Harvey & Andrea Schroeder – Ich liebe dich (ich dich auch nicht)
1. Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – Je t’aime (moi non plus)
Only one place to start. A song that falls into the category of so familiar it's a cliché and yet still an all-time classic that bears repeated listening. Guitar stabs, woozy strings, winsome organ etc...It never gets old.
2. Serge Gainsbourg – Le poinconneur des Lilas
Possibly Serge's first classic tune and one that features regularly on Best of compilations. A great mix of French jazz and double entendres. Which were made transparent by Mick Harvey's brilliant translation some years ago...
3. Mick Harvey feat. Anita Lane – The song of slurs
...and from Harvey's first album of Gainsbourg covers. A satisfying menu of insults.
4. Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot – Initials B.B.
A rich pick from Gainsbourg's golden period of late 60s/early 70s setting the template of baroque orchestrations and lyrical provocations.
5. Serge Gainsbourg – Mambo miam miam
Important to remember that Serge was just as capable of making light uplifting pop music as serious-sounding psych workouts. From his second album in 1959.
6. Jane Birkin – C’est la vie qui veut ca
A lovley tune from Birkin's first solo album tapping into English folk music with signature arrangements by Jean Claude Vannier.
7. Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – Ballade de Melody Nelson
From the ageless masterpiece that is Histoire de Melody Nelson. A magical coming together of talent including again the arrangements of JC Vannier which take on the form of another character in the narrative of this concept album.
8. Jean-Claude Vannier – La girafe au ballon
From the vault of the man himself and featured on a compilation released some years back on the great Finders Keepers label called Electro Rapide. The trademark top end bass sound and shuffling drumbeat are the main wonderful features.
9. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Le chat du café des artistes
Like her father not a great singer by any means. But Charlotte Gainsbourg has usually picked very good collaborators. In this case Beck on writing and production. And the sumptuous arrangements - a homage to Vannier really - by David Campbell who is Beck's father.
10. Mick Harvey – Intoxicated Man
The title track from Harvey's first Gainsbourg album. Bringing us this killer line which highlights Serge's literary inclinations - "the pattern on the left lapel of my dressing gown, the creatures on the carousel in my living room."
11. Jean-Claude Vannier – Danse de l’enfant et du Roi des Mouches
Another beautiful psych pop confection from JC. The album L'enfant assassin des mouches was provided its concept by Serge. Flippant and inspired in equal measure.
12. Anna Karina – Roller girl (from the soundtrack of the film Anna)
Just to show that Serge was perfectly capable of looting pop's past for ideas. Here he takes The Troggs to town with the French actress for company.
13. Michael Stipe – L’hotel
One of the best Gainsbourg covers certainly outside of Mick Harvey's body of work. A wonderfully itchy electronic backbeat and Stipe's vocal is anguished.
14. Beck – Wave
I included this because it definitely draws on the Gainsbourg canon. David Campbell again produces stunning orchestrations to cap a symphony of sorrow.
15. Charlotte Gainsbourg – Rest
From CG's wonderful current album the title track. Again the collaborators. This one with Guy-Manu de Homem Christo of Daft Punk. I love the muted tone (check out the sound wave pattern if you can - it's about half the volume of most other songs). And though it's spelt like the English word it's meant like the French word "to stay". A love letter to her father.
16. Serge Gainsbourg – New York USA
A brilliant percussion with vocals creation high on the New York skyline. And a blatant rip off from Babatunde Olatunji's 'Akiwowo (Chant to the Trainman)'.
17. Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – 69 Année Érotique
The yang to the yin of 'Je t'aime'. On certain days (when the wind blows from the east) I actually prefer this song. Such a ruch of nostalgia and perfect pop music with an adge.
18. Serge Gainsbourg & Michel Colombier – La Horse (from the soundtrack of the film La Horse)
Of course Serge did an amount of film work too. Here's a fantastic psych workout with Michel Colombier from the 1970 movie of the same name. *Includes unexpected banjo solo.
19. Mick Harvey with Channthy Kak & Xanthe Waite – Contact
From Harvey's most recent and final Gainsbourg album Intoxicated women. Another brilliant psych pop update. Let's remember too the Cambodian singer Channthy Kak who died recently in a traffic accident.
20. Francoise Hardy – Comment te dire adieu
Gainsbourg's work for others is worth mentioning. In this case translation. A beautiful French adaptation of 'It hurts to say goodbye' written by Arnold Goland and which had already been recorded by Vera Lynn and others.
21. Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot – Bonnie & Clyde
A masterpiece obviously. A pop culture high watermark. A genius arrangement. Those call of the wild vocals. And BB. An underrated performer. Plus let's credit Serge in seeing this brilliantly droll performance in her.
22. France Gall – Poupée de cire, poupée de son
SG's flirtation with the Eurovision. 1965. Unusually for Eurovision winners (!), the lyrics play with the notion of the emptiness and incongruity of celebrity in pop music.
23. Serge Gainsbourg – Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais
A heartbreaking early 70s cut featuring the sobbing of Jane Birkin. Made all the more poignant in the way it acts as a premonition for their break-up. Gainsbourg explained in an interview that when things are going badly in your life you should write about joy. And when things are going well you should write about sorrow.
24. Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem pour un con
Another great collaboration with Michel Colombier from 1968. The undeniable drumbeat has been much sampled.
25. Jane Birkin with Montreal Symphony Orchestra & conductor Noboyuki Nakajima – La Javanaise
A beautiful late years version of the SG song. The original had a lovely youthful upbeat quality. This flips that into more of a mature swoon. A woman singing the song of her late former husband. It might be a bit soppy for some people but I find that very poignant.
26. Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – La décadanse
A companion piece to 'Je t'aime' with the trademark organ and guitar stabs. It's a song that suggests an ending though as opposed to a beginning or middle. It seems to suggest mortality.
27. Mick Harvey & Andrea Schroeder – Ich liebe dich (ich dich auch nicht)
For the sake of symmetry. And to mark Mick Harvey's contribution to the understanding of Serge. And simply a brilliant interpretation. The inspired choice of German. The song sounds like it was always in that language and belongs in it. Plus Andrea Schroeder's contribution does trump Jane Birkin's for me.