Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin - Jane Birkin-Serge Gainsbourg

(Je T'Aime... Moi Non Plus) LP

(Fontana, 1969 - Light In The Attic 2010)


“Gainsbourg was a complicated guy… and he must have known he had something sensational on his hands with "Je T'aime". He asked Birkin to record a new version with him, and she agreed, as she admits in the liner notes to Light in the Attic's new reissue of the Birkin/Gainsbourg album, only to keep him from singing it with someone else.

That a little bit of jealousy motivated it makes the final recording just that much more delicious. Where the Bardot version was pillowy, her vocal almost too humid, Birkin brings to it a playfulness that balances Gainsbourg's debauched deadpan. If you haven't heard it, it goes basically like this: She says she loves him, he enigmatically responds "neither do I," they matter-of-factly describe the rhythm of sex, and she very convincingly simulates a climax. It's a stunning song in every respect, from the dreamy organ to the strings that simulate billowing bedsheets to Birkin's goose-bumpy falsetto, and it caused quite a sensation indeed.

Thing is, we like to think of the 60s as a liberated time, when hippies convinced people that sex was okay, but it's not true. For most of the people still running things, this song was too much. Hell, I wonder what would happen if it came out today. Of course, "Je T'aime" was just one song from the album, and it gets the most ink for a reason, but there's plenty of other amazing stuff here, not least of which is "69 Année Érotique" ("69 Erotic Year"). Yeah, the title is a cheap pun, which is a classic Gainsbourg move, but the shuddering piano and snapping bass provide deep atmosphere for his sing-speak, and while we're at it, Arthur Greenslade deserves major credit for the opulent and moody arrangements on this record. The combination of Gainsbourg and Greenslade is nearly as sharp as Gainsbourg's collaboration with Jean-Claude Vannier two years later on his masterpiece, Histoire de Melody Nelson.” - Joe Tangari for Pitchfork