Jacques Dutronc

L' Opportuniste

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Nearly equalling its predecessor, Jacques Dutronc's third album tends to shift the focus a little more from content towards image. By this time, the artist was highly regarded in France for his unruly nature and unpredictable stage antics, dressing immaculately in a time when peace and love required a different sort of costume. The cover art for his albums must have added to his popularity, as many of the pictures were taken by Jean-Marie Périer, in-house photographer to the French pop magazine Salut Les Copains. From the front, back, and inside of the laminated gatefold covers of his LPs, the singer's combined elegance and goofiness shone in all their glory. Anne Ségalen was again Jacques Lanzmann's co-writer, if only for half of the songs. Among them is the centerpiece and title track of Dutronc's third album, L'Opportuniste. The song illustrates another aspect of Dutronc's iconic status with the French public: it matches his teasingly nonchalant delivery to thought-provoking lyrics. Stating that he's open to communism, socialism, and capitalism, he declares himself an opportunist on the spot, one who likes parties in general (political as well as festive). The '90s being the days of large scale political turmoil in France, the devil is in the details: was Dutronc making a political statement here or demonstrating boundless nihilism? It doesn't matter, as the familiar mixture of garage rock (the sublime "Je Suis Content") and orchestral pop (the moving "Proverbes"), balanced by deranged vaudeville ("Le Roi de La Fête"), smoky jazz ("Les Vangaugains"), and even a children's song ("La Leçon de Gymnastique du Professeur Dutronc") serve as welcome diversions. This transitional album helped to cultivate Dutronc's image into a new romantic type of character. While both "Comment Elles Dorment," off his second album, and the title track to the EP, "J'Aime Les Filles" from 1967, could have been viewed as indications of things to come, the breezy romantic ode to love "Amour Toujours Tendresse Caresse" completes the picture. Within a year's time however, the ill-advised Dutronc would overdo things by taking to yodeling on "L'Hotesse de L'Air" for his eponymous fourth album, 1970's Jacques Dutronc. [The following is important with regard to detailing Jacques Dutronc's discography. All seven albums he made between 1966 and 1975 lack a proper title. To keep them apart, the third album is equally referred to by its original year of release (1969), the first song on the album (&"À Tout Berzingue") or either one of the title tunes to the preceding EPs "A Tout Berzingue," "L'Opportuniste," or "La Seine." Furthermore, the content of these three EPs matches exactly with the 12 songs present on the third album.]

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