There's a long tradition in France of pop records made by even the most famous actresses. (Imagine the idea of a new CD by Julia Roberts, or Jennifer Lopez. Oh wait....) Of course, most of them are utterly ghastly examples of formulaic middle-of-the-road pop, but more than a few actresses have produced some classic records. Foremost among those is Brigitte Bardot. The often-naked blonde sex kitten was probably the most famous French actress of the '60s, and is easily one of the most iconic faces of the era. Perhaps surprisingly, Bardot's records are more than credible, and her four entries are the best on this disc. (Bardot's very best song, the 1968 psychedelic freakout "Contact," is unfortunately not included here; it can be found on most of her many best-of compilations.) Her most famous song, the Serge Gainsbourg duet "Bonnie and Clyde," is, of course, one of the album's highlights. (Rarity fans note: The version included here is an interesting 1986 remix of the 1967 original.) Gainsbourg figures prominently throughout this disc; actually, all four contributions by his ex-wife Jane Birkin are Gainsbourg compositions, 1978's "Ex-Fan des Sixties" being the highlight, and the two each by Isabelle Adjani and Catherine Deneuve are all Gainsbourg tunes, with both singers dueting with the legendary singer/songwriter and all-around creepy guy. Even Gainsbourg's daughter Charlotte is represented by two tracks written by her father, including the infamous 1984 duet "Lemon Incest." Given that Gainsbourg's own compilations tend to overlook his songs for other artists, Actrices contains some essential stuff for Gainsbourg fans. Non-Gainsbourg highlights include one of the only tracks actually included in a film, Jeanne Moreau's simple and delightful performance of "Le Tourbillon" from the nouvelle vague classic Jules et Jim, and two great late-'60s pop tunes by Mireille Darc.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason