Serge Gainsbourg

No. 2

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The late Serge Gainsbourg made a name for himself fairly early in his recording career with his combination of French cabaret music, bordello jazz, and drunken musique exotica. His second effort features Gainsbourg with a cigarette, appropriately seated at a worn desk littered with roses, a long-nosed 38 caliber placed squarely in front of him, and a quizzical, daring look on his puss that seems to say, "Can't figure it out? Of course!" Gainsbourg actually attempted singing in the early days, before his voice began to go and all he could do was whisper or rant his crazy poetry. Here he fronts the Alain Goraguer Orchestra on eight selections that are as typical of his oeuvre as Love on the Beat was nearly 30 years later. His topics are the seduction site of the jukebox on "Le Claquer de Doights" and a theme based on d'Alfred de Musset's "Night Doctor." There are also a couple of Latin-styled numbers in "Mambo Miam Miam" and "Indifferente," with a serious Stan Getz-aped sax solo in the middle eight (not to mention a crazy TV western theme as a cabaret song in "Jeunes Femmes et Vieux Messieurs"). This is truly the beginning of Gainsbourg's hepcat legend, and musically, for all the kitsch and gimmick, it comes across as totally sincere in its campy chariot. This is why we dig French pop, and this is why Gainsbourg holds sway with everyone from Nick Cave to Angie Stone.

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