Serge Gainsbourg / Brigitte Bardot

Bonnie and Clyde

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Bonnie and Clyde isn't actually a full-fledged collaboration between Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot; during their storied mid-'60s fling the two French cultural icons recorded just a handful of tracks together, only a couple of which appear here. Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile collection. In addition to the pair's "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Comic Strip," this album features earlier Gainsbourg numbers, as well as Bardot recordings of compositions by Gainsbourg and others. The moody title track alone justifies the price of admission. Bardot's vocals inject a wistful melodic dimension into Gainsbourg's sung-spoken account of the ill-fated gangsters, producing one of pop music's great duets. Gainsbourg was enthralled by American pop culture and the cabaret-style "Comic Strip" memorably exemplifies that orientation. His lyrics lure Bardot into his cartoon world and she provides the requisite onomatopoeic interjections ("Shebam! Pow! Blop! Wizz!"). In a similarly American vein, on "Bubble Gum," a Gainsbourg-penned Bardot single, she sings about love and candy over a plinky-plonk saloon piano evoking the silent film era. Elsewhere, Gainsbourg's Hollywood fascination takes a B-Movie turn, the camp "Docteur Jekyll et Monsieur Hyde" suggesting the Monks at the Eurovision Song Contest. There was always more to Gainsbourg's work than his love of Americana, though, and his incorporation of Afro-Caribbean rhythms was especially striking: "Pauvre Lola," for instance, percolates with an infectious beat. Despite much of this material's playful character, listeners also glimpse another side of Gainsbourg. During his career, he sang about Harley motorcycles and incest and composed a song that involved simulated farting, but he was also deeply cultured. In that vein, "Baudelaire" places the 19th century poet's "Le Serpent Qui Danse" in an unlikely tropical lounge setting. Of course, no Gainsbourg collection would be complete without a nod to his dissolute side, and "Intoxicated Man" fits the bill with its appropriately louche, swaggering groove.

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