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Archive for the ‘Serge Gainsbourg’ Category

Starbucks Serves Up Cocktails with Mel, Serge and Judy, and Folk with Nick, Sandy and Eliza

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Fall apparently wasn’t arriving early enough for the folks at Starbucks, so the international coffee giant moved it up – to this past August 25 – with the early arrival of its familiar fall drinks. But when ordering up that pumpkin spice latte, you might want to check out two recent musical offerings, both curated with the Starbucks Entertainment label’s customary care.

The simply-titled British Folk emphasizes the current crop of troubadours who currently follow in the footsteps of Nick Drake and Sandy Denny, both of whom are represented here with “Hazey Jane” and “Listen, Listen,” respectively. The British folk revival of the late 1960s – which also encompassed artists like Davy Graham, Martin Carthy and John Martyn, and groups such as Pentangle and Fairport Convention – clearly inspired the young singers on British Folk. Yet the compilation incorporates many sounds and styles, some more indebted to the rock side of folk-rock but all rooted in the love of traditional, acoustic music.

Modern spins on folk come from Stokes, William’s “In/Of the World,” Beth Orton’s “Call Me the Breeze” and Eliza Carthy (daughter of folk heroes Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson)’s “Train Song.” Johnny Flynn is heard twice, once with Laura Marling on “The Water” and once solo with “Lost and Found.” Sam Lee rearranges a traditional tune with “Goodbye, My Darling,” and Kat Flint offers a striking political comment with the bitterly ironic “Christopher, You’re a Solider Now.” British-American band Treetop Flyers’ 2013 “Things Will Change” taps into the strains of both countries’ folk-rock styles. The late Drake and Denny’s contributions still sound fresh within the context of these musicians who followed them.

After the jump: take a little time to enjoy a swingin’ Cocktail Hour with many famous names – plus we have track listings for both albums! Read the rest of this entry »

Gainsbourg’s Women: Ace Collects “Vamps et Vampire: The Songs of Serge Gainsbourg”

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Vamps et VampireWhen considering Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991), it’s often impossible to separate the provocateur’s art from his outré behavior.  The French songwriter, poet, actor and director was described by one journalist as “David Bowie, Mick Jagger and John Lennon rolled into one smoke cloud of controversy,” but it’s hard to imagine any of those rock icons at their most outrageous ever releasing anything like Gainsbourg’s duet with Jane Birkin, “Je t’aime…moi non plus.”  The song’s odd amalgam of steamy, erotically breathy lyrics and exclamations over an easy listening instrumental was quintessentially Gainsbourg, though the artist’s musical repertoire also encompassed jazz, rock and roll, disco, new wave, ye-ye pop and even the (more or less) traditional chanson.  And for all the envelope-pushing subject matter of his songs, his lyrics were literate, intricate and frequently poetic.  Gainsbourg has joined the illustrious ranks of Ace’s Songwriters series with the recent release of Vamps et Vampire: The Songs of Serge Gainsbourg.

Gainsbourg biographer Alan Clayson introduces this 25-track anthology with an essay posing the question, “Was he a misunderstood genius whose daring vulgarity, intricate double entendres and negative love ballads were relevant contributions to Gallic performing arts, or a cynical old lecher who was, as he said himself, ‘only interested in eroticism and money (in that order)?’”  Perhaps Serge Gainsbourg was both, but Vamps et Vampire allows his musical legacy to receive proper reevaluation removed from the salacious (if entertaining) episodes that made him such a constant presence in the French headlines over the years.

All but eight of the tracks here date from Gainsbourg’s prolific work in the (very) swinging sixties 1960s, with the collection rounded out by five songs from the 1980s, one from the 1970s and two from the 1990s.  As the title indicates, every track is performed by a female artist including the two most closely associated with Gainsbourg: his flames Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin.  Gainsbourg’s relationship with France’s greatest-ever sex symbol Bardot was short-lived, but produced memorable music including this collection’s “Harley Davidson” and “Contact,” both arranged by the esteemed Michel Colombier.  (Bardot duetted with Gainsbourg on the original “Je t’aime,” but it remained unreleased until 1986; Ace’s compilation pointedly overlooks the track in any version.)  Birkin, the Swingin’ London icon, actress and onetime Mrs. John Barry, enjoyed a relationship with Gainsbourg from 1968 through 1980 during which time they teamed up to produce some of the most remarkable work of their musical careers including his much-acclaimed 1971 concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson.  Birkin is heard here on 1969’s “Jane B” and 1983’s “Con c’est con ces consequences.”

After the jump, there’s more Serge, including the full track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 25, 2014 at 10:36