Monday, 28 January 2013

Songs and Souvenirs of Serge

Jane Birkin performed in Glasgow on Saturday. And I couldn't go. Nah Nah! Not fair!

She was appearing at the Glasgow film festival backed by a band of handpicked Glasgow musicians singing a selection of Gainsbourg-penned numbers. Before the performance they screened a short doc titled Souvenirs of Serge.
"A rare glimpse into the personal life of Serge Gainsbourg by the woman who knew him best: his lover and creative collaborator, Jane Birkin.
Few figures in the history of popular music have left more of an enduring legacy than Serge Gainsbourg. Across a career that spanned three decades, Gainsbourg left his mark on jazz, pop, funk, rock, reggae and more, while becoming the greatest musical star France had ever seen.
Souvenirs of Serge reveals a different side to the man. Compiled from Super 8 footage taken on holiday with Serge and the kids in the 1970s, Birkin creates a unique and intimate portrait of her passionate love affair with this charismatic and conflicted man. Moving and painfully honest, Souvenirs of Serge is a small but total tribute to a beautiful, doomed relationship that would define both their lives forever."
This seems to have been the UK premiere for the film, and it has only shown at selected film festivals so far (blurb taken from the Melbourne International Film Festival site). There's scant info about it and I couldn't find even a teaser or trailer video out there on the internet...

Does anyone know if it will have an official release?

Someone who might know more is Mr Duglas T Stewart who spoke to Jane about her protection of Serge's legacy for the Scotsman. There's a real warmth and candour between the 2 of them in the interview which you can read here >>

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

L'Amour à la Chaîne pt.17

This was to be my inaugural post of 2013, however it has now taken about 2 weeks to finish composing, and it has been well-and-truly bumped down the list.  I had it clear in my mind that I had no intention of heralding the new year by blowing hot air about how grand resolutions to keep the posts coming and write more regularly for you, my handful of readers. But the lesson has been learned and the stock has been taken, and nowadays I have even less time to devote to hollering into the ether in the vain hope that more people will hear me. Soooooo.....

Instead I shall get on with the next instalment of la Chaîne.

Cast your minds back, dear readers, to my previous link, and that dastardly Invisible Man was getting a bit too touchy feely with his wandering hands, musically aided by Monsieur Andre Popp...

Back in 1967, a young greek chanteuse by the name of Vicky came in fourth representing Luxembourg at the 12th Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna. The song was 'L'Amour Est Bleu' and it was co-written by Andre Popp and Pierre Cour. The song has been covered by everyone from Jeff Beck to Johnny Mathis, and was a number 1 hit record in the US when Paul Mauriat released an easy listening version in early 1968.

Favourite recordings round our way are Claudine Longet's swoonsome version, and this more recent(!?!) electronic Europop cover by Future Bible Heroes (one of many projects led by the sickeningly prolific genius and indisputible Eeyore of lo-fi indie pop Stephin Merritt)

Future Bible Heroes - Love Is Blue
[this was released in 1997 on the Lonely Days ep (Slow River Records), which is out of print. There are 2nd hand copies out there, current market value £10-£13]

L'Amour à la Chaîne: what will be the next link in the chain?
Leave your suggestions and reasons in the comments.
Jacques Dutronc - L'Amour à la ChaîneFrançoise Hardy - Je Changerais D'Avis > Les 5 Gentlemen – Cara-Lin > Add N To (X) – Monster Bobby > Serge Gainsbourg – Le Poinçonneur des Lilas > Les Shades – Orage Mécanique > Gillian Hills - Rentre Sans Moi > Zombie Zombie - Psychic Harmonia > Michel Polnareff - Qui a Tué Grand'Maman? > Christine Pilzer - L'Horloge De Grand-PèreViolaine - J'ai Des Problèmes Décidement > Dutronc - Dodecaphonie > Fabienne Delsol - Ce Jour LaJohnny Hallyday - Son Amour Pour Un Jeu > Miss Kittin & The Hacker - L'Homme Dans L'Ombre > Andre Popp - L'Homme Invisible > Future Bible Heroes - Love Is Blue > ?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Swing when you're winning

On my jaunts around the interweb, I also heard the pitter-patter of Clothilde's mischievous chansons, which have been collected together, in all their Germinal Tenas-produced, intricate glory, for a long-overdue retrospective, French Swinging Mademoiselle 1967, to be released on Born Bad Records (on vinyl and CD if rumours are to be believed) in February or March this year. If you can't wait for the physical release, you can download it in all manner of digital formats from the Born Bad Recs BandCamp page, or you can preview it and buy it via the handy little player below...

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Swing Mademoiselle, Swing!

Passing by the always impeccable Filles Sourires site, I was oh so grateful to Monsieur Guuzbourg for heralding the arrival of Swinging Mademoiselle Volume 3.   I've been out of touch with most of the outside world (as the present dearth of blog posts testifies) - one of the side effects of having a small person to look after - so the news gave me a tiny flutter of excitement at the prospect of some hitherto unheard yé-yé delights to please my ears and my itchy, dancing feet.

Some of you may remember how I got in a bit of a lather about that Girls In The Garage Vol 12, regarding it as the 3rd part of the Swinging Mademoiselle series (not to be confused with the pale imitation Swinging Mademoiselles - note the pluralisation and beware - CDs), being that it was compiled by the same person: an elusive monsieur by the name of Sasha Monett.

Here's what he says of this latest edition:
"The world has changed a lot in the 10 years since the release of volume 2, and I can say (in all modesty) that the term Swinging Mademoiselle has basically become a genre in itself, designating the instantly recognizable sound of French pop with female vocals, recorded from 1965 to 1968.  
This is the third and -- I emphasize -- the final volume, because there will not be any more. Sorry, friends, but three is enough (or four, because you can include Girls in the Garage volume 12 in this series). This time, I’ll present artists who are much more obscure than those in previous volumes. It’s a difficult task, because in today’s ultra-connected world where everything is three clicks away, nothing remains truly « obscure ». It’s a daunting task, but I’ll try anyway."

I'm waiting patiently for my vinyl copy to arrive from France, but he very kindly forwarded me the mp3 files, and they're keeping me warm in this snowy weather. The first few listens suggest he's certainly delivered on his promise: a quick cross-reference of my own mp3 and vinyl library brings up only 2 duplicates (Valéry - 'Vous Dansez Mademoiselle'; and Dorine - 'Pêches à la crème'; which were both on Ultra Chicks 6, I think). The rest is pure, uncharted vintage Femme-pop joy: from the slightly sleazey doo-wop naiveté of Michelle's 'Viens petite fille', to the psyched-out baroquerie of Christine Moncenis' Serge Franklin-penned 'Sensation'.

In the absence of any time to write a gushing review, Sasha Monett, I doff my cap to you!

The vinyl pressing is limited to only 1000 copies, and there's no digital or CD release on the cards as far as I know, so you should order your copy now - my tip is to get it direct from source if you're in Europe, or from Dionysus Recs in the US.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Scott 70

Scott Walker is 70 years old today. Happy Birthday sir!

We'd like to think he will be celebrating in his own atypical way - perhaps capturing the sound of concrete falling from a great height; or close-mic'ing a rack of ribs and getting a classically-trained percussionist to punch out a syncopated rhythm on it, until his poor hands are bleeding.

Now, I'd be more than happy to post any, or all, of Scott's unbeatable Jacques Brel re-workings, but instead I've chosen the Scott-penned title track from The Walker Brothers' oft overlooked "electronic" studio album of 1978 Nite Flights.

I like to imagine this as some kind of bleak soundtrack, as a hulking propeller plane cruises over a smog-laden industrial town somewhere in north-eastern Europe. Kraut-disco rhythms, glacial synthesized strings and Scott Walker's haunted moan... It belongs up there with Bowie's 'Berlin trilogy' both in terms of its chronology and its sound (so much so that Bowie eventually covered it in 1993 on his Black Tie White Noise album), and I've even heard Eno pondering on why the album never became the blue-print for all contemporary music. Imagine them doing a Scott Walker themed X-Factor... I'll leave that one hanging in the air.

The Walker Brothers - Nite Flights

[despite a re-issue in 2007, the Nite Flights album is quite hard to pick up, and there are copies out there priced up to £109! Though weirdly you can pick up a 3-CD Walker Brothers collection, which apparently includes the whole album for under a tenner from S*insburys of all places!]