Discovered by film director Roger Vadim, Cairo-born “British Bardot” Gillian Hills is best known for her roles in cult movies such as Beat Girl (1959), Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966) and A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick 1971). Her parallel career as a teenage singer/songwriter saw her record for the Paris-based Barclay label and, buoyed by her appearance in 1962’s Les Parisiennes and touring alongside Johnny Hallyday, Gillian enjoyed success on the burgeoning yé-yé scene.
Working with Paul Mauriat, Jean Bouchéty and Mickey Baker, Gillian’s recordings benefitted from superb arrangements and top-notch orchestration. Encompassing sentimental ballads, beaty numbers plus Gillian’s own well-crafted compositions, this 24-track “best of” comprises original material and cover versions. Aside from French Universal’s 2002 2CD set, Gillian’s catalogue has been largely overlooked - “Zou Bisou Bisou” is the only single CD currently available.
Having worked latterly as an illustrator, in 2012 the spotlight was once again thrown upon Gillian when ‘Zou Bisou Bisou’ featured prominently in Season 5 of Mad Men. This spawned a cover version by actress Jessica Paré and also saw Gillian’s recording played out in the coveted closing credits spot. Since then Gillian’s rendition has been used as the soundbed for an international Garnier campaign.
A deluxe DVD reissue of Beat Girl and a 2016 Q&A at London's Regent Street Cinema have served to reignite interest in Gillian, and to fire up her own musical ambitions. Courtesy of Alec Palao, “Zou Bisou Bisou” includes a new interview with the artist. Highly regarded by yé-yé aficionados, Gillian Hills is a welcome addition to Ace’s French pop compendium.