Monday, November 12, 2007

Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited

Franz Ferdinand & Jane Birkin, "A Song For Sorry Angel (Sorry Angel)" (YSI link)
Cat Power & Karen Elson, "I Love You Me Either (Je T'aime Moi Non Plus)" (YSI link)

Jarvis Cocker & Kid Loco, "I Just Came To Tell You That I'm Going (Je Suis Venu te Dire Que Je M'En Vais)" (YSI link)


Since we talked about cool in the last post, why not do one on one of the coolest men of all-time, Mr. Serge Gainsbourg? While most of my CDs from the man himself are back in Philly (find me a permanent apartment so I can bring all my music up!), I finally got a copy of this recent covers album by some of the biggest names in the indie world. I know what you are thinking, cover albums are always iffy, they never come close to equaling the original, always feeling like a bizarre hodgepodge. I'm not sure that this one completely escapes those problems, but it's far more successful than most. Best of all, it's a nice way to get into Gainbourg's music and spread the word, as most of the artists are well-known and each song translates the original French lyrics into English. I know, I know, that sounds like sacriledge. But, I'm as a big a Francophone whore as anyone and I didn't mind. It's cool to hear the lyrics in English and I think it leads to better interpretation by these UK and American artists.

Not surprisingly, the best interpretation for me features Ms. Chan Marshall a.k.a. Cat Power, Chanel spokesmodel and Pound for Pound muse. Here she does a duet with British supermodel Karen Elson on "I Love You Me Either" and it fucking rocks, in a sexy, perverse way that Serge would have loved. This was one of his most controversial songs when it came out in 1969, which sadly obscures how great it is. Franz Ferdinand join forces with French chanteuse, Serge's wife, mother of Charlotte, his duet partner on the above "Je T'aime Moi Non Plus," actress, model, icon, goddess Jane Birkin for a great, rocking version of "A Song For Sorry Angel." It's got a great give and take between Birkin and Alex Kapranos and loud and quiet parts. I could see this one working in a club or mix, good stuff. Finally, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker does the most faithful rendition of Serge, bringing a little of that cocky, swaggering attitude to "I Just Came To Tell You That I'm Going." It

There's also good covers by The Rakes, Portishead and Tricky and one of my favorites on the CD, Faultline, Brian Molko and Francoise Hardy's "Requiem For A Jerk." I'd recommend this one for anyone looking to get into Gainsbourg's music and/or long-time fans who aren't too uptight. You can grab this CD for less than $10, although I now realize that there's a domestic release with two extra tracks. [Must turn off music nerd part of brain, must not buy.] You, on the other hand, should give it a look, although it's 7 more dollars for those two songs. Or, might I recommend copping the gorgeous 2LP version Turntable Lab has for sale? You can never wrong with vinyl or Serge Gainsbourg.


Private Beach said...

It's a long time since I studied French, but wouldn't "I Love You Me Neither" be a more accurate translation of "Je t'aime moi non plus"?

Jack said...

Private Beach -

It's a good question; I'm at a rudimentary level of French right now, but I initially thought it looked wrong too. However, plugging "Je t'aime moi non plus" into Babel Fish, I got "I love you me either." Amazon and TTL also list it that way, as well as the disc itself. I'm not ready to concede yet, but it's not looking good.

Thanks for checking in, hope you enjoy the songs.

Jules said...

I wish I could help with the translation, but never has the French language been butchered as terribly as it has in my attempts to learn/grasp it. Therefore, I will just admire from afar ;)

I was just wondering, what would the two extra tracks be? Sadly, both links now appear to list 14 tracks, and that's the track number on my (European) version of the album as well...

Jack said...

Jules -

The two extra tracks are:

15) James Iha, The Ballad Of Bonnie and Clyde

16) Nathan Larson, Angel's Fall

Try this link for this expanded version of the CD:

Thanks for reading and even moreso for the admiration of my inaccurate French!

sphygmo said...

Yes, I agree, private beach. It's definitely a more accurate translation. I guess "me either" just makes more sense.