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‘Cannabis’: Take a big hit of Slim Twig’s Serge Gainsbourg cover for 420 Day

I’ve been fairly unabashed in my praise of Toronto-born rocker Slim Twig. Two of my very most favorite albums of the the past two years are his creative handiworks, A Hound At The Hem and its worthy follow-up Thank You For Stickin’ With Twig, both out in America on DFA Records. And so without any further preamble—you can read my past ruminations on Slim Twig here and here—it’s my great pleasure today, here on the sacred herbal holiday of 420 Day to debut this video for Mr. Twig’s slinky, smoky cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s ode to “Cannabis.”

Slim Twig goes casual at the bowling alley

Cannabis” comes from the soundtrack to a 1970 French film of the same name which actually stars Gainsbourg as well, portraying a hitman for the mafia who falls in love with Jane Birkin, the daughter of an ambassador. The original number was performed and written by Gainsbourg and orchestrated by his future Melody Nelson collaborator Jean-Claude Vannier. Cannabis, which was amusingly retitled French Intrigue for the puritanical US market, was uploaded in its entirety to YouTube. It’s in French, with no English subtitles, but you still get to see Serge as a gun-toting, rabbit-fur coat-wearing badass causing mayhem, smoking a lot of cigarettes and je t’aiming Jane Birkin as often as possible.

DFA have set up a special Weedtransfer site for legally purchasing “Cannabis” in digital or physical formats.

“In a scene like this, you get a contact-high!”


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Je t’aime… moi non plus’: The Interactive 8-Bit Audio Game!

Creator, Martin Bircher writes,

…moi non plus is an interpretation of Serge Gainsbourg’s song “Je t’aime… moi non plus” in the form of an audio game. By operating the joystick, the human components of the song can be controlled according to selected preferences.”

You may wanna turn down the volume if you’re at work. Lots of sexy moanin’ and a groanin’ going on here.

Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Histoire de Melody Nelson: Serge Gainsbourg’s psychedelic orchestral rock opera
06:09 pm


Serge Gainsbourg
Jane Birkin
Jean-Claude Vannier

Histoire De Melody Nelson is the great Serge Gainsbourg’s sexy Lolita-esque melodrama told in the form of a funky psychedelic rock opera, an album many (raises hand) consider to be his masterpiece.

The middle-aged narrator (Gainsbourg, doing that “talk singing” thing he was so good at) tells the tale of hitting a bike-riding British teenager, Melody Nelson (a role sung by his muse, Jane Birkin), with his Rolls Royce, and of their subsequent affair. In the end, Melody meets an untimely death in a plane crash and the despondent narrator sings of cargo cults and waiting for the return of the lost body of the “little animal” he was so in love with.

Not to white-wash it, the poetry, while lovely and oh so sad (En France, Gainsbourg is considered the equal of Bob Dylan in the lyrics department) is still describing statutory rape, with characteristic Gainsbourgian provocation (In 1985, he recorded a song called “Lemon Incest” with his then 12-year-old daughter, Charlotte).

Histoire De Melody Nelson has an amazing—and utterly unique—sound. It’s pretty much still to this day the cutting edge of what you can do with a rock group and an orchestra (no matter what The Moody Blues or Deep Purple might think). The way Gainsbourg and arranger Jean-Claude Vannier use the strings here is simply uncanny, providing a big influence on Pulp, Air and Beck (who later famously worked with Charlotte Gainsbourg). This innovative 1971 album is easily in the same class as Anglo-American contemporaries like Bitches Brew or Sticky Fingers. (Pitchfork named it #21 in the top 100 albums of the 1970s).

In 2011, Universal Music Group in France put out a box set of Histoire De Melody Nelson where the discs came in a hardback book about the album. I didn’t know about this until recently (my pal Adam Starr, a bigwig marketing exec at UMe told me about it), but when I found out that there was a DVD in the package containing a 5.1 surround disc of one of my favorite, favorite albums of all time, I had to have that sucker and I watched the mail like a hawk until it finally arrived on Tuesday. I was not disappointed. If ever there was an album tailor-made for the expanded sonic palette that 5.1 can offer, it’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, here remixed masterfully by Sebastien Merlet. I’ve probably already played it 30 times since I got it.

Oui, oui, Merlet did quite a good job with the multi-channel audio mix. The album’s slow-starting, languidly paced, seven and a half minute-long opening number “Melody” starts with just the bass and Serge “talk singing” in the center front channel. Gainsbourg’s deep voice is prominent in practically every song he ever recorded, but here it sounds like he’s standing in the room with you or sitting on your lap. Then the guitars start up in the right and left front speakers. The drums come in. It’s almost like they started recording and then the rest of the musicians sat down and started filling in as the music builds and builds. The mix takes its cue from the music and when the orchestra kicks in in full, it does so in the rear speakers, which had been reserved for, and waiting on, that moment.

It’s goddamned glorious... If you like 5.1 surround stuff, this is truly in the first ranks of that kind of release.

What is still somewhat little-known, even to fans of the album, is Melody, the half hour, shot on videotape visualization of the album created by Gainsbourg and director Jean-Christophe Averty, and starring himself and Jane Birkin. It was included in the career-spanning Gainsbourg DVD box set, Serge Gainsbourg: D’autres nouvelles des etoiles that came out in 2005. Now, of course, it’s turned up online.

Melody is quite something, a visual feast. First off, how do you go wrong with a soundtrack like this one? You don’t. And secondly, who was cooler and more elegantly wasted than Mister Serge Gainsbourg, hisself, circa 1971? (Keith Richards…? Maybe?). And my third point, Birkin was so freakishly beautiful then (and still is) that I could look at a still photo of her for 30 minutes, so when she’s actually moving onscreen, it’s just a bonus.

Trust me, this one is worth your time, rock snobs. If you’re not already a fan of Histoire de Melody Nelson, you will be…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Brigitte Bardot Sings’: Documentary featuring Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin

This French documentary from 1992 is an enjoyable overview of Brigitte Bardot’s forays into pop music. It features insightful interviews with Bardot, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, as well as dozens of clips of Bardot’s appearances in TV shows, Scopitones and movies.

Needless to say (though I’m saying it), Bardot was not much of a singer. But her willingness to poke fun at her sex kitten image and serve as a comedic and visual foil to the gruff machismo of Gainsbourg makes it easy to forgive her limitations as a vocalist and appreciate her sassy self-awareness. She’s having fun and so are we. One gets the impression that Bardot was perfectly content with her status as a pop icon, leaving the existential Sturm und Drang to her chain-smoking, brooding co-star.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Sex-Power’: Rarely seen French film about the Sixties with Jane Birkin

I love it when European directors try to wrap their heads around America in the Sixties. I’m thinking of Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, Godard’s Sympathy For The Devil and the film I’m sharing here, Henry Chapier’s Sex-Power. Revolution has never been sexier, more romantic, existential or just plain goofy when seen through the prism of the nouvelle vague.

Sex-Power is a sweet bit of candy-colored psychedelic fluff with an astringent dose of agit-prop militancy in its chewy center. While most of the film is in English there is occasional French dialog without the benefit of English subtitles, but you hardly need to know French to get the gist of what is happening. This is the tale of a young Frenchman who arrives in Northern California looking to forget a lost love (Jane Birkin) and ends up encountering various forms of feminine power as embodied by Bernadette Lafonte as Salome and Catherine Marshall as “la fille moderne.” The film moves through space and time in an impressionistic, lysergic dreaminess.

Directed by film critic and journalist Henry Chapier in 1970, Sex-Power has a lovely soundtrack by Vangelis and luscious cinematography by Edmond Richard.

Released the same year as El Topo and Zabriskie Point, Chapier’s film has some striking desert imagery that can’t help but recall those films. More than likely a case of cosmic synchronicity as opposed to influence, given they were all made at the same time.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Jane Birkin in a Woolite commercial directed by Serge Gainsbourg

If Jane Birkin is sellin’, I’m buyin’.

Directed by Serge Gainsbourg in 1976. And, yes, the voice over is by Serge.

From now on when I think of hand washables, I’ll be in a Birkin state of mind. Wooleet? Mais oui.


Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Melody’ a film starring Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin

Histoire de Melody Nelson, a 27 minute rock opera released on vinyl in 1971, is generally considered to be Serge Gainsbourg’s magnum opus, albeit one that is somewhat smaller in scale than most operatic masterpieces. It tells the tale of a wealthy middle-aged man who crosses paths with a younger woman, practically killing her when his car collides with her as she is bicycling, and his subsequent erotic obsession for the girl. At the time of its release, the music, lyrics and production of Histoire de Melody Nelson were considered innovative, adventurous and provocative and still to this day continue to enthrall listeners and influence countless musicians.

Dangerous Minds’ Richard Metzger has previously written about Histoire de Melody Nelson in his typically tantalizing fashion and you can read it here.

Melody, a film based on Histoire de Melody Nelson made for French TV, was directed by Jean Christophe Averty with Gainsbourg and his lover Jane Birkin in the lead roles. Averty’s visual style was acutely attuned to Gainsbourg’s surreal sensibilities and the fusion of film to music and lyrics works wonderfully.

Here is Melody in its entirety:

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Beautiful women of the 60s


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Serge Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life
05:07 pm


Serge Gainsbourg
Jane Birkin
Brigitte Bardot

My earlier detour to Tosh Berman’s site tipped me off to the forthcoming Serge Gainsbourg bio-pic.  Forthcoming in France, anyway—I’m not exactly sure when Serge Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life will see its American release.   Judging from the following NSFW-ish trailer, though, the casting seems pretty spot-on, and forget it’s all in French: much like Serge’s music, it doesn’t need much in the way of translation.

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment