Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009



SwInGiNg LoNdOn


Jane Mallory Birkin OBE (born 14 December 1946) is an English actress, model, singer and film director who lives in France. She is best known for her duet "Je t'aime... moi non plus" with Serge Gainsbourg.

Birkin was born in London to David Birkin, a Royal Navy lieutenant-commander and World War II espionage operative, and Judy Campbell, an actress in Noel Coward musicals. Birkin's brother is the screenwriter/director Andrew Birkin. Her first cousin once removed was Freda Dudley Ward, a mistress of Edward VIII while he was Prince of Wales.

Birkin emerged in the Swinging London scene of the 1960s, appearing as one of the models in the 1966 film Blowup. In 1968, Birkin auditioned in France for the lead female role in Slogan. Though she did not speak French, she won the role. She co-starred with Serge Gainsbourg, and duetted with him on the film's theme song — the first of many collaborations between the two.

In 1969, she and Gainsbourg released the duet "Je t'aime... moi non plus" ("I love you... nor do I"). Gainsbourg originally wrote the song forBrigitte Bardot. The song caused a scandal for its sexual explicitness, and was banned by radio stations in Italy, Spain, and the UK. The song's fame is partly a result of its salacious lyrics, sung in French by both Gainsbourg and Birkin to a background of increasing sexual moans and groans from Birkin and culminating in her simulated orgasm at the song's conclusion.

This UK ban had TV show Top Of The Pops producers in a quandary as they always played the number one single. Controversially, they played the instrumental version which had been recorded by studio musicians Sounds Nice. This version was also a UK number 18 hit under the title of Love At First Sight.

Je t'aime made UK chart history in that on 4 October 1969 and the following week on the 11th. Je T'aime was at two different chart positions even though it is the same song, the same artists, and the same recorded version. The only difference was that they were on different record labels. It was originally released on the Fontana label, but due to its controversy, Fontana withdrew the record which was then released on the Major Minor label. Because there were Fontana singles still in the shops along with the Major Minor release, on 4 October 1969 the Major Minor release was at number 3 and the Fontana single at number 16. Also at that time it was the biggest ever selling single for a completely foreign language record.

Birkin also appeared on Gainsbourg's 1971 album Histoire de Melody Nelson, portraying the Lolita-like protagonist in song and on the cover.

Birkin took a break from acting in 1971-72, but returned as Brigitte Bardot's lover in Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were a Woman) in 1973.In 1975, she appeared in Gainsbourg's first film, Je t'aime... moi non plus, which created a stir for frank examination of sexual ambiguity. For this performance she was nominated for a Best Actress César Award.

Birkin starred in the Agatha Christie films Death on the Nile (1978) and Evil Under the Sun (1982), and recorded several albums, including Baby Alone in Babylone, Amours des Feintes,Lolita Go Home and Rendez-vous. She won Female Artist of the Year in the 1992 Victoires de la Musique.

She starred in two films directed by Jacques Doillon — as Anne in La fille prodigue (1981) and as Alma in La pirate (1984, nominated for a César Award). This work led to an invitation fromPatrice Chéreau to star on stage in La Fausse suivante by Marivaux at Nanterre. After this, she also began to appear frequently on stage in plays and concerts (in France, Japan, the UK and then the U.S).

In 1980 she worked with director Herbert Vesely on Egon Schiele Exzess und Bestrafung, appearing as the mistress of Austrian artist Egon Schiele, played by Mathieu Carrière.

Jacques Rivette collaborated with her for Love on the Ground (1983) and La Belle Noiseuse (1991, Nominated Césars best supporting actress). Additionally, she appeared in Merchant Ivory's A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998, also used her song "Di Doo Dah") and Merci Docteur Rey (2002), while Le Divorce's end title song featured her singing "L'Anamour", composed by Gainsbourg.

In 2006, she played the title role in Elektra, directed by Philippe Calvario in France.

Birkin's humanitarian interests led her to work with Amnesty International on immigrant welfare and AIDS issues. Birkin has also visited Bosnia, Rwanda and Palestine, often working with children. In 2001, she was awarded the OBE. She has also been awarded the French Ordre National du Mérite.

She has collaborated with artists such as Feist, Beth Gibbons from Portishead, Bryan Ferry, Brian Molko from Placebo, Franz Ferdinand, Manu Chao, Brett Anderson from Suede, Mickey 3D, Françoise Hardy, Cali, The Divine Comedy, The Magic Numbers, Paolo Conte, Beck, Rufus Wainwright, Benjamin Biolay, Keren Ann, Yann Tiersen, Alain Souchon, Les Negresses Vertes, Johnny Marr from The Smiths, Zazie, MC Solaar, Miossec, Yōsui Inoue, Étienne Daho, Alain Chamfort, Jimmy Rowles, Goran Bregović, Sonny Landreth, The Soundtrack of Our Lives and many others.

Birkin recorded the song "Beauty" on French producer Hector Zazou's 2003 album Strong Currents.

The cover art of Have You Fed the Fish? by singer-songwriter Badly Drawn Boy, (which features her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg on backing vocals),

features her image.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Major Lance was born in Winterville, Mississippi, probably in 1939. (Major Lance was his real name; "Major" was not a nickname or a stage name.) As a child, Lance relocated to Chicago, attending the same school as Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler.

In the mid-1950s, Lance formed a group, the Floats, and became a featured dancer on local TV. The Floats broke up before ever recording any material, and Lance went solo.

His 1959 Mercury debut release, "I Got a Girl", was written and produced by Mayfield, but his career did not take off until he signed with OKeh Records in 1962. For almost all of his early work on OKeh, Curtis Mayfield acted as writer and Carl Davis as producer.

After an inital flop single, "Delilah", the Curtis Mayfield-penned "The Monkey Time" (1963), reached number two on the U.S. Billboard R&B chartand number eight on the corresponding pop listings. The Mayfield/Davis/Lance partnership continued with further hits. These included "Hey Little Girl", a Top 15 R&B and pop hit later that year, and "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um", (1964) which reached number five on the pop chart.The latter song also reached number forty in the UK Singles Chart in February 1964.

Over the next eighteen months, Lance continued to record more singles, nearly all of which reached the R&B Top 40, but only a handful of which — "The Matador", "Rhythm" and "Come See" — were pop hits. "The Matador", incidentally, was written by Carl Davis, Billy Butler and Lance, and would be the only top 40 pop hit of Lance's career not written by Curtis Mayfield.

Mayfield stopped writing for Curtis by the end of 1964, though various Mayfield-written tracks were released as Major Lance singles into 1965. Mayfield's "Come See" would be Lance's final top 40 pop hit in 1965.

Through 1965, Lance recorded songs by a variety of writers, including Van McCoy, Billy Butler and Gerald Sims. Lance's 1965 recordings were produced by the team of Carl Davis and Gerald Sims, but aside from "Too Hot To Hold" (#32 R&B, #93 pop), they met with minimal success.

Following personnel changes at OKeh in 1966, Lance was sent to work with producer Billy Sherrill in Nashville, Tennessee, and recorded material written by a wide range of songwriters, including Dan Penn. Out of this work with Sherrill, only the Penn co-write "It's the Beat" was a Top 40 R&B hit.

Lance then worked with a number of other producers during 1966 and 1967, with only "Without a Doubt" (produced by Gerald Sims) scraping the R&B charts in 1968. He left OKeh shortly after that single, moving to Dakar Records the following year, where he had the R&B hit "Follow the Leader." Within a year, Lance moved to Mayfield's Curtom Records label, which resulted in the singles "Stay Away From Me (I Love You too Much)" and "Must Be Love Coming Down."

Lance had less success after breaking his relationships with Mayfield and OKeh, releasing records on several record labels into the early 1970s, including Osiris Records, which he set up with Al Jackson. To capitlaize on his success in the UK's Northern Soul scene, Lance moved to the United Kingdom for two years beginning in 1972.

After a one-shot return to the R&B charts in 1974 with an updated, re-recorded version of "Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um", Lance's recording career began to go into decline. Beginning in 1978, he served a four year prison term for cocaine possession.

After his prison term ended, Lance returned to recording and live performance, but he made few performances (and no studio recordings) after a heart attack in 1987. He died in 1994, at the age of 55, as a result of heart disease, in Decatur, Georgia. He was interred at Washington Memory Gardens Cemetery in Homewood, Illinois.