JANE BIRKIN - ARABESQUE

JANE BIRKIN - ARABESQUE

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Released: 24/03/23

As a bit of a Serge Gainsbourg obsessive, this live tribute album to ‘Gainsbarre’ by his former life and artistic partner, Jane Birkin (captured at the Olympia Theater in Paris in 2003), released on vinyl here for the very first time, is happy news indeed. I actually have a signed CD (ask your parents) of Arabesque from the mid 2000s, which my friend Ben gave to me as a present after he met Birkin at some work thing or other. That he got to meet her, and not me, is totally fine. It's fine. Honestly, it's fine. Anyway, listening again to this stunning record, I find myself imagining what it must have been like to see this performance in person, for in the hands of Birkin and a quintet of Arabian musicians (including the violinist Djamel Ben Yelles) these classic tracks are remade as stunning North African folk-exotica. So, ’Elisa’ becomes a stately, elegaic ode to heartbreak; a virtuosic, lithe ‘Couleur Café marries Caribbean and Latin percussion; and ‘Valse de Melody’, from Melody Nelson, is rendered as a profoundly moving lamentation. For anyone who has ever wondered why Birkin is regarded as French royalty, Arabesque and the equally brilliant forthcoming reissue of Enfants d'hiver are stellar examples.