The worst/best cover version of Serge Gainsbourg’s infamous ‘Je t’aime…’ that you’ll ever hear
04.21.2017
03:47 pm

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Music
Television

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Serge Gainsbourg’s infamous duet with Jane Birkin, “Je t’aime… moi non plus” (“I love you… me neither”) released in the “annee erotique” of 1969, had originally been recorded in late 1967 with Brigitte Bardot who the song was written for, a penance/apology from Gainsbourg for a disastrous first date. Bardot’s estranged husband, German photographer Gunther Sachs, got wind of the steamy song via reporters eager to drum up another scandal surrounding the sex kitten. The number’s orgasmic female moaning was said to be “audio vérité” (apparently at least half true, as Gainsbourg is alleged to have fingered the actress in the vocal booth) and Sachs demanded the release be pulled. The famously private Bardot begged her notoriously sardonic lover to withhold the song, prompting him to tell her “For the first time in my life, I write a love song and it’s taken badly.” Their original version would not be released until 1986.

Gainsbourg asked Marianne Faithfull, Valérie Lagrange and Mireille Darc (the model/actress perhaps best known for her role in Jean-Luc Godard’s Week End) to record the duet with him, but they all turned him down, until, as fate would have it, he was to meet his greatest muse, English model/actress Jane Birkin on the set of the film Slogan. Birkin quickly agreed, seething with jealousy over the idea of someone else singing this sexy chant d’amore with him. When “Je t’aime…” was finally released, the song was banned from radio play in Spain, Sweden, Brazil, the UK, Italy, and Portugal. Even in France, the song was forbidden to be played before the hour of 11 pm. Most US radio stations didn’t touch it, but still the song went on to sell over four million copies.

“Je t’aime…” has been covered—a lot. There are moog versions, parodies and recordings of the song by the likes of Nick Cave and Anita Lane (who also recorded it with Barry Adamson), Psychic TV, Giorgio Moroder and Donna Summer, Pet Shop Boys with artist Sam Taylor-Johnson, Einstürzende Neubauten, and by Placebo’s Brian Molko with Italian actress Asia Argento (who reversed the gender roles). And that’s a very partial listing. I think it’s also safe to assume that at this very minute and indeed during every future minute before time comes to an end, that there are at least two drunken fools in love singing “Je t’aime…” in a karaoke bar somewhere on the planet.
 

Serge Gainsbourg et Jane Birkin performing “Je t’aime…” at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

But probably the weirdest cover of “Je t’aime…” ever performed is by an enigmatic little old man by the name of Zvonimir Levačić or “Ševa” as he was known to viewers of Noćna mora (“Nightmare Stage”), the defiantly strange long-running live late-night telecast on Croatian television, which as far as I can tell was something analogous to an Eastern European version of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Ševa was one of the show’s most popular performers and according to his bio (unless Google translate was way off, which it think it might be in this case) was a bit of a war hero who was considered to be an intellectual and philosopher. Still he seems a bit more Richard Dunn than Slavoj Žižek to me.

Watch it after the jump, and no, this is NOT a recent Happy Mondays reunion…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Bowie, Bolan, dressing up & going out’: Boy George takes a personal trip through the 1970s
04.21.2017
09:31 am

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Music
Pop Culture

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September 1982: Hit rock ‘n’ roll singer Shakin’ Stevens can’t make his scheduled appearance on BBC chart show Top of the Pops. Panicked producers make the life-changing decision to fill the gap left by Shaky with an unknown pop group by the name of Culture Club. Minutes after the band’s debut television appearance on the show, phones start ringing at the BBC switchboard asking What the hell did we just watch?. Next day, newspapers run similar stories filled with offensive mock outrage questions: “Who is Boy George?” “Is he a boy or a girl?” Within weeks, Culture Club was number one and Boy George was the nation’s sweetheart.

But how did it come to this? Where did Boy George come from? What shaped the life of this brilliant, iconic “gender-bending” singer?

Well, these are some of the many questions answered by the lad himself as Boy George aka George O’Dowd takes the viewer on a very personal pop culture trip through the decade that shaped him—the 1970s.

The seventies are all too often dismissed by the more, shall we say, snobbish cultural critic as “the decade that fashion forgot,” ridiculed for its supposedly bad taste in fashion, politics, sex, music and hair. Yet for Boy George, the seventies was a “glorious decade…all about Bowie, Bolan, dressing up and going out.” The “last bonkers decade,” when the young teenage George discovered all these “amazing things… punk rock, electro music, fashion, all of that.”

Of course, there was the downside to all of this heady excitement: the political crisis, the three-day working weeks, the strikes, power cuts, mass unemployment, grim poverty, and racism. But George was too young to know much about any of this. He was too busy finding out about music and glamor and miming to Shirley Bassey in his parent’s front room. He was about to hit puberty. He felt different from the other kids and was looking for a sign that he was not alone in this gray suburban south London landscape.

Then came the sign he’d been hoping for: the day he saw David Bowie performing on Top of the Pops in 1972. That’s when George knew he wasn’t alone. The androgynous Bowie in his fire-red hair, make-up, and jumpsuit with his nail polished hand slung defiantly over Mick Ronson’s shoulder as they sang “Starman.” This was a sign that life could be extraordinary and was just an adventure to be gained.

Save Me from Suburbia is more than just Boy George telling his life story, it is an essential history of the events and pop culture that shaped a nation during ten heady years from skinheads and strikes to punk and Margaret Thatcher. George takes us on an utterly fascinating tour through the decade with a little help from his friends and accomplices like Rusty Egan, Princess Julia, Martin Degville (Sigue Sigue Sputnik), Andy Polaris (Animal Nightlife), and Caryn Franklin—and most revealingly his mother.
 
Watch Boy George’s revealing pop culture trip through the 1970s, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘And when he is come’: A treasury of unintentionally ‘dirty’ double-entendre gospel LP covers
04.21.2017
08:37 am

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Amusing
Music

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Last week Dangerous Minds brought you a gallery of the worst album covers ever created. It was a fine sampling, showcasing some of the best of the worst, but my own personal favorite genre of “bad album art” was under-represented. I’m talking about, of course, the private-press gospel record with double-entendre title.

Now, most of these records generally fall into two categories: titles about someone being touched and titles about someone coming, in one instance “quarts of love.”

Usually, the naïve graphics on the covers sell the unintentional jokes.

Below are some of my favorites. If I missed any, let me know in the comments!
 

 

 
Many more questionably-titled Christian album covers after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Jean Cocteau’s poem for Orson Welles
04.21.2017
08:16 am

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Art
Heroes
Literature
Movies

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Orson Welles by Jean Cocteau (from the frontispiece of André Bazin’s book on Welles)
 
Orson Welles and Jean Cocteau first met at a performance of “Voodoo Macbeth,” the all-black Shakespeare production Welles staged in New York in 1936 with funding from a New Deal program. They remained friends and encouraged one another’s rascality, according to Simon Callow’s account of the 1948 Venice Film Festival in One-Man Band, the third volume of his Welles biography:

He and the perenially provocative Jean Cocteau formed a sort of anti-festival clique, clubbing together to commit what Cocteau rather wonderfully called lèse-festival. [...] Together in Venice, the two men behaved like two very naughty boys. Welles shocked his hosts by ostentatiously walking out of the showing of Visconti’s uncompromisingly severe masterpiece, La Terra Trema.

 

Cocteau and Welles in Venice, 1948
 
Welles was a member of the Comité d’Honneur at Cocteau’s 1949 Festival du Film Maudit, at which both The Magnificent Ambersons and The Lady from Shanghai were screened. (Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks made its European debut there, too, and Artaud’s “Sorcery and Cinema” was first published in the festival catalog.) Cocteau contributed this sketch of his friend to the program for Welles’ The Blessed and the Damned, an evening of two one-act plays that opened in Paris in 1950:

Orson Welles is a giant with the face of a child, a tree filled with birds and shadows, a dog who has broken loose and gone to sleep in the flower bed. An active loafer, a wise madman, a solitary surrounded by humanity, a student who sleeps during the lesson. A strategy: pretending to be drunk to be simply left alone. Seemingly better than anyone else, he can use a nonchalant attitude of real strength, apparently drifting but guided by a half-opened eye. This attitude of an abandoned hulk, and that of a sleepy bear, protects him from the cold fever of the motion picture world. An attitude which made him move on, made him leave Hollywood, and carried him to other lands and other horizons.

Quoting some of the increasingly hysterical praise for Welles printed elsewhere in the program and then in the show’s reviews, Callow wonders: “At least Cocteau had the excuse of being an opium addict; what were these chaps on?”

Keep reading, after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment