Serge Gainsbourg

Initials B.B.

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The Comic Strip compilation may be an ideal overview to Gainsbourg's pop oeuvre, but for those sick puppies interested in exploring his entire catalog, this collaboration with then-lover Brigitte Bardot is a good place to start. Many of his most infamous songs ("Bonnie and Clyde," "Comic Strip,") are here, and the lesser-known numbers achieve the same giddy decadence. Yes, the subject matter is transgressive, the performances often silly, but long after the initial shock wears off, Gainsbourg's work continues to surprise and delight. The sensuous melodies and sumptuous arrangements aspire to the visual; they are little technocolor movies in sound. Moreover, Gainsbourg was perhaps the only songwriter of an earlier tradition to wholeheartedly embrace the wild and adventurous spirit of '60s rock. Strains of the Who's garage/show tune fusion is discernible in "Bloody Jack." "Marilu" makes obvious reference to the Beach Boys' white-bread doo wop. Initials B.B. continues to sound as stylish and mod as it must have the day it was released. At 31 minutes, it is sure to leave both hedonists and former teenyboppers wanting more.

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