Remembering Anita Lane, Via Serge Gainsbourg and Bonnie + Clyde

Anita Lane was a rock star, at least in the way we believe a rock star should be. She took up with Nick Cave at just eighteen years of age, joined the insalubrious and infamously dangerous Birthday Party, moved with the lot of them from Melbourne to London in 1980, and then spent the next decade-and-a-half plying her trade as a mystery-shrouded chanteuse, ever a moving target, and making most of those movements “underground.” She collaborated in various forms with virtually every member of the band via their many and sundry side projects, intoning breathily and enigmatically over tracks by Kid Congo Powers, Einsturzende Neubauten, Die Haut and Mick Harvey.

The latter’s astonishing 1995 Serge Gainsbourg covers record Intoxicated Man almost made her famous(ish).

But she “disappeared” once again, as she was wont to do. Her equivocal 2001 solo album Sex O’Clock was the last recording she would deliver to the world – and Pop Matters at the time called her “the female Leonard Cohen.” News came today, April 28, that she had passed away, aged 61, though no known cause has yet been revealed. Loving tributes from the musical underworld have been posted all over social media.

It’s a sad reality, of course, that an artist such as she, who spent so much time lurking in the shadows, might only end up being discovered by a wider audience upon death. But for those whose record collections are absent of her work, it is vigorously recommended to seek out both of her solo efforts, the other being 1993’s Dirty Pearl. And we remember her here with a pair of tracks from the aforementioned Intoxicated Man, Harvey and Lane’s utterly breathtaking covers of Gainsbourg’s ‘Harley Davidson’ and ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, the latter a fittingly haunting tribute to the 20th Century’s most beloved outlaws.

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