Serge Gainsbourg

Monsieur Gainsbourg Originals

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There is almost no one in the realm of popular music who is more charmingly filthy than Serge Gainsbourg ("Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus"'s heavy breathing comes to mind, and his duet with daughter Charlotte, "Lemon Incest," certainly raised a few eyebrows), but the world generally loves him for it. The "dirty old man" of French pop might have made some folks squirm in the past, but he was celebrated as much as he was maligned and his music continues to surprise and delight fans who discover him outside the boundaries of his '60s heydays. On the 15th anniversary of his death (in 1991), the Verve Forecast imprint offered up a tribute record for the man, Monsieur Gainsbourg: Revisited, featuring old collaborators like Jane Birkin, Françoise Hardy, and Dani, alongside pop star fans like Jarvis Cocker, Michael Stipe, Marc Almond, and the band Franz Ferdinand. The songs were meticulously translated into English for the tribute and offered many non-French-speaking fans their first opportunity to blush in the wake of Gainsbourg's frank (and, sometimes, tactless) hedonistic musings. Not all of the selections were culled from the sleazy/sexual portion of Gainsbourg's songbook, though, and that also meant that these same fans were hearing some of his more introspective, alienated, and melancholy tracks for the first time as well. This companion release, Monsieur Gainsbourg: The Originals, collects the original versions of the songs featured on the tribute (save for "Comme un Boomerang") and offers them up for further study. A good, solid spread of tunes for the neophyte Gainsbourg fan, The Originals has its merits as a decent compilation for diehards as well. The mastering is well done and the selections run the gamut -- from his early cabaret stylings to his soundtrack work and on to some of his more (ahem) adult material. Grab a pack of Gitanes, fill your glass, and enjoy.

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