Serge Gainsbourg

Love and the Beat, Vols. 1 - 2

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Although Serge Gainsbourg has already been served very well in the digital era by collections and reissues, his long and varied career benefits from this novel thematic compilation. Love and the Beat is divided into two discs, the first of which includes a rough compendium of his best-known songs -- "Comic Strip," "Ford Mustang," "69 Année Érotique," and "Ballade de Melody Nelson" (unfortunately, "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus" appears only in a new, serviceable remix). The second disc presents Gainsbourg as sonic chameleon, restlessly looking for new forms to chain to his slinky performances. As such, it travels many more miles than the first disc, traversing all the way from the languorous jazz-cafe years of the late '50s ("Du Jazz Dans le Ravin," "Coco and Co") to his Central and South American flirtations of the '70s and '80s (dub versions of "Lola Rastaquouère" and "La Nostalgie Camarade," plus a Brazilian samba track, "Les Sambassadeurs"). An odd collection of this sort is just the prescription for postmillennial listeners who would much rather hear Gainsbourg the musical polyglot than be subjected to a heavier dosage of his lightweight '60s French pop recordings. The five remixes included are mostly successful, since the compilers recognized Gainsbourg's obvious comparisons to the full-spangle European house on display by remixers like Dax Riders ("No Comment") and Moné (an especially slinky version of "Love on the Beat").

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