Birkin, Jane (and Serge Gainsbourg)

Band members               Related acts

- Jane Birkin - vocals

- Serge Gainsbourg (RIP 1991) - 



- none known





Genre: pop

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Je T'Aime

Company: Fontana

Catalog: SRF 67610

Year: 1970

Country/State: UK / France

Grade (cover/record): VG/VG

Comments: minor ring and edge wear

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 4589

Price: $20.00

Cost: $66.00


When I was in high school I remember a huge stink surrounding the Donna Summer song 'Love To Love You Baby'.  Radio stations, critics and parents were aghast over Summer's moaning and groaning sound effects (which were actually about as erotic as changing the oil in your car).  What makes it even funnier (though most American weren't aware of it), is the fact sometimes actress/wannabe singer Jane Birkin had already gone down this very path some six years earlier (and even though she couldn't sing to save her life, I'd argue Birkin did it with better results) ...


Birkin's original claim to fame was as an actress.  She appeared in a couple of early 1960s stage performances, which brought her to the attention of composer John Barry whom she promptly married.  She then moved into film, generating some notice with a brief nude scene in Michaelangelo Antonoino's 1966 murder myster 'Blow-Up'.  Divorced from Barry, in 1969 she moved to Paris where she started modeling.  She also met French singer/writer Serge Gainsbourg.  The two hit it off and Gainsbourg's suggestion recorded a couple of songs together.  'Je T'aime ... moi non plus' was originally written with Brigitti Bardo in mind, but Gainsbourg was apparently more than happy to have Birkin handle the female lead vocals.  Released as a single by Fontana, 'Je T'aime ... moi non plus' b/w Jane B.' (Fontana catalog number F1665) ended up generating a firestorm of controversy.


In hindsight it's hard to understand what all the fuss was about.  Gainsbourg couldn't sing to save his life and Birkin sounded like a five year old who'd just gotten a new Barbie doll.  Slapped over a melody that sounded like Procol Harum writing a bubblegum commercial, the combination of Gainsbourg's dumbsh*t croaking and Birkin's supposedly sexy whispering was hardly something to get excited about.  Still, not only did the song get denounced by the Pope (Italian police confiscated thousands of copies), but it succeeded in getting banned in Brazil, England, Spain, Sweden (?) and most American radio stations.  In the face of massive crticism the record's UK distributor Philips Records actually stopped pressing the single with the small independent Major Minor Records picking up distribution rights and subsequently enjoyed a # 1 hit with it.  As is usually the case, all of the resulting publicity merely served to send sales through the roof, briefly turning Birkin and Gainsbourg into international superstars.


It also provided the momentum for Fontana to shell out the cash allowing the pair to record a supporting album. 1970's cleverly titled "Je T'Aime" included the title track single and ten other Gainsbourg-penned selections.  To be honest, it's hard for me to decide whether Birkin or Gainsbourg was the lesser talent.  Both had a lot going for them.  As mentioned earlier, Gainsbourg had about as much musical talent as a bar of soap, while his croaking whisper of a voice sounded recalled a toad in heat.  Birkin was certainly easy on the eyes, but couldn't carry a tune to save her life.  Her squeaky, little girl voice got old really fast (check out the painful 'Jane B').  The fact that she seemed to be singing the French lyrics phonetically didn't exactly help, nor did Arthur Greenslade's overwhelming arrangements (though who could blame him for trying to bury Birkin and Gainsbourg in the mix).  While I normally try to highlight one of two tracks that are personal favorites, this time around I'm left to turn the spotlight on the album's funniest efforts.  By far the worst song on the album (and perhaps the worst song of 1970) was Birkin's hysterically inept ''Orang Outan' (it translated as 'Orangutang'). Why Gainsbourg wrote a song about a monkey is beyond me.  Why Birkin tried to sing it was equally mysterious.  Running a close second the goofy Charleston-styled ''18-39'.  Mind you it wouldn't be fair to only take shots at Birkin.   Gainsboug's attempt at Memphis soul 'L'Anamour' was so bad that it was actually good.  That;'s actually true for most of the album ... so bad it is actually good!

"Je T'Aime" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Je T'aime ... Moi Non Plus   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 4:25

2.) L'Anamour   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 2:39

3.) Orang Outan   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 2:25

4.) Sous le Soleil Exactment   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 2:48

5.) 18-39   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 2:49

6.) 69 Annee Erotique   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 3:19


(side 2)
1.) Jane B   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 3:05

2.) Elisa   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 2:28

3.) Le Canari est sur le Balcon   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 2:18

4.) Les Sucettes   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 2:28

5.) Manon   (Serge Gainsbourg) - 2:43


Gainsbourg suffered a fatal heart attack in March 1991.  In case anyone cares, Birkin has a modestly entertaining website:



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