Jacques Dutronc

Et Moi et Moi et Moi: Jacques Dutronc 1966-69

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If Serge Gainsbourg was the Leonard Cohen of French pop music with his nicotine rasp and poetic obsession with sex, Jacques Dutronc was the Gallic Bob Dylan, though rather than struggle through an earnest early period singing protest songs, Dutronc opted to begin with the relative equivalent of Bringing It All Back Home. Dutronc's early hits were rough but clever exercises in European garage rock, with Dutronc and his band laying out a simple, tough vamp as he sneered his witty, pointed lyrics about a life lived amidst the chaos of the '60s with all the sweet venom he could muster. Dutronc became a major star in Europe, both as a musician and an actor, and he developed a potent cult following in England, but he never had a proper hit either in the United States or the U.K., doubtless because he wrote and sang exclusively in French. Forty-three years after his first hit in France, the British RPM label has compiled Et Moi et Moi et Moi: Jacques Dutronc 1966-1969, a sampler that focuses on his formative years as a French pop star. Sadly, RPM hasn't bothered to include a translation of Dutronc's lyrics, so many British and American listeners won't know exactly what he's singing about (even though Kieron Tyler's liner notes discuss the themes of his major hits), but the insouciant flavor of his music is clear on nearly every track. And like Dutronc's role models Bob Dylan and Ray Davies, he could write melodies strong enough to work even without their excellent lyrics, and his band had more than enough energy to make them fly (and the imagination to move with the musical times as psychedelia and hard rock entered the picture at the end of the decade). Et Moi et Moi et Moi is a splendid introduction to an artist who remains little known in English speaking territories, and the best stuff here makes clear those who parlez anglais have been missing something worthwhile.

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