The Best of Jane Birkin is a comprehensive overview of her sporadic, inconsistent recording career, drawing highlights from her studio albums and adding several live tracks for good measure…
1999's A La Legere was Jane Birkin's first album to be recorded with no input whatsoever from Serge Gainsbourg, but his absence – perhaps surprisingly – did not show. Indeed, it emerged as one of her most beautiful recordings yet, a transitional set, yes, but also a confident one. Philippe Lerichomme's arrangements are spellbinding throughout, while songs the quality of "Les Avalanches," "Trouble," and "C'est Comme Ca" would have dignified any of her earlier, more feted albums.
Brit-born actress and recording artist – and longtime French resident – Jane Birkin may have gained fame and fortune as being the protégé – and the greatest love – of composer, director, and national French hero the late Serge Gainsbourg, but her long reign as cultural heroine and quirky pop vocalist has been the result of her own toil and sweat. One would never consider that the lanky, ever-thin Birkin, she of the slightly flat, shaky voice, could have this sort of longevity, but the Europeans are far different from Americans and far more embracing than Yanks.
This collection of vintage 1960s orchestral pop from the master of surreal Gallic eroticism includes kitsch masterpieces like "69 Annee Erotique" and Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg's chart-topping "Je T'Aime (Moi Non Plus)," in a procession of jazzy instrumentals accompanied by Gainsbourg's throaty, Gitanes-coated vocals and the pertly sexy interpolations of his stunning wife.
This is the classic 1969 album that Serge and Jane Birkin cut together, and every track is a groovy French classic of the sort that made Serge a legend! The arrangments are amazing, and feature some of the weirdest instrumentation ever heard on a pop record – especially one that was as successful as this. The tracks are insane, and even though the lyrics are in French, you'll be able to get more than enough of them from the sexy interpretation! Highlights include "Je t'aime… moi non plus", "69 année érotique", "Jane B", "Elisa", "Orang Outan", and "Manon".
In many ways Etta James resembled a female Ray Charles in her unerring ability to tackle (and sometimes combine) all of the strands of American popular music, from rock & roll to R&B, blues, country, gospel, jazz, and pure pop and soul, while still maintaining a distinct feel and sound that was all her own, and she did this throughout a five-decade career that is impressive for its consistency. This 25-track set (mostly drawn from her time with Chess Records) is hardly definitive (it doesn't have classic James' tracks like "Anything to Say You're Mine," "Don't Cry Baby," "Something's Got a Hold on Me," or the girl group pop of "Two Sides (To Every Story)," for instance, or any of her late-career blues tracks), but it does do a good job of spotlighting James' range and versatility by collecting sides like her signature "At Last," the soul-pop masterpieces "Tell Mama" and "I'd Rather Go Blind," and saucy versions of Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" and Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On," all of which offer ample proof that James was one of the best singers of her generation – in any style.