Pierre Barouh

Viking Bank

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Pierre Barouh is a true renaissance man: actor, soundtrack composer (he co-wrote much of the fabled score to A Man and a Woman with Francis Lai), director, label head (he owned the estimable Saravah label, home to Brigitte Fontaine and others), and on occasion, singer/songwriter. His first solo album since 1971's Ca Va, Ca Vient, 1977's Viking Bank sounds rather like a more straightforward (not to mention less pervy) version of Serge Gainsbourg's '70s work. Like Gainsbourg and Fontaine, Barouh was one of the few French pop artists of the era who didn't move into a sugary middle of the road style, but Viking Bank is less experimental than his contemporaries' work. In fact, with its blend of acoustic guitars, strings, and keyboards, plus the gentle lope of the sweet and memorable melodies, the closest comparison is that Viking Bank sounds uncannily like a Francophone version of Paul McCartney's Ram! Furthering the McCartney parallels, Barouh even throws in a cute but catchy duet with his wife Dominique Barouh, the almost childlike and borderline sugary "La Nuit des Masques." [The CD reissue adds two tracks, most notably the excellent bossa nova homage "Perdu."]

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