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Serge Gainsbourg - Poet and Provocateur

  by Jon Rogers

published: 3 / 3 / 2010

Serge Gainsbourg - Poet and Provocateur
Label: El Records
Format: CD


Underwhelming and somewhat unnecessary compilation from ever controversial French singer-songwriter and lyricist, Serge Gainsbourg

It’s all too easy to form a clichéd image of France’s greatest, and most scandalous, lyricist Serge Gainsbourg. At the forefront of most British people there’s the 'Je t’aime... Moi Non Plus' where Jane Birkin got all hot under the collar and out of breath over a song about anal sex. And it caused the Vatican to make a pronouncement calling it offensive. Then there’s his reggae version of the French national anthem, 'Aux Armes et cetera' which caused the far right to issue death threats. If that wasn’t enough to gain notoriety there’s 'Requiem pour un Con' and not forgetting his duet with his daughter, Charlotte, 'Lemon Incest'. And he’d take full advantage of the latest pop Lolita that would appear on the scene, quite often still wet behind the ears. France Gall was only 17-years-old when she sang 'Les Sucettes'” (or Lollipops) and, supposedly, completely unawares of the punning lyrics playing off the French verb to suck. He could even cause offense even when he wasn’t writing. On a talk show in April 1986 he repeatedly said to his co-guest Whitney Houston: “I want to fuck you.” At times, especially later in life when he was self-destructing, he just went out to shock and gain notoriety and despite dating a whole host of beautiful women like Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin he was a horrible misogynist and no gentleman when it came to telling indiscreet stories about his sexual activities. But despite all the deliberate acts of provocation and outrage Gainsbourg was a master composer and lyricist, utilising numerous musical styles and had a sharp, lyrical turn that punctured middle-class mores in a similar fashion to poets like Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud. With a title like 'Poet and Provocateur' you’d think that this compilation might bring together his more outrageous musical statements. But where is 'Je t’aime..' or 'Lemon Incest' or 'Requiem...' Noticeable by their absence, really which is really missing a trick, especially when you give your album a title like that. Instead we get some of Gainsbourg’s lesser well-known songs, a smattering of live recordings and Juliette Gréco belting out some chansons. It’s all, well, rather underwhelming and the question has to be raised of what’s the point?

Track Listing:-
1 Serge Gainsbourg- Le Claqueur De Doigts
2 Serge Gainsbourg- La Nuit D'Octobre
3 Serge Gainsbourg- Adieu Créature
4 Serge Gainsbourg- L'Anthracite
5 Serge Gainsbourg- Mambo Miam Miam
6 Serge Gainsbourg- Indifférente
7 Serge Gainsbourg- Jeunes Femmes Et Vieux Messieurs
8 Serge Gainsbourg- L'Amour à La Papa
9 Serge Gainsbourg- La Jambe De Bois (Friedland)
10 Serge Gainsbourg- Douze Belles Dans La Peau
11 Serge Gainsbourg- La Recette De L'Amour Fon
12 Serge Gainsbourg- La Femme Des Uns Sous Le Corps Des Autres
13 Serge Gainsbourg- Le Poinçonneur Des Lilas
14 Juliette Gréco- Il Etait Une Oie
15 Juliette Gréco- Les Amours Perdues
16 Juliette Gréco- L'Amour à La Papa
17 Juliette Gréco- La Jambe De Bois (Friedland)
18 Juliette Gréco- Défense D'Afficher
19 Les Frères Jacques Le Poinçonneur Des Lilas
20 Alain Goraguer Et Son Orchestre- Du Jazz Dans Le Ravin
21 Alain Goraguer Et Son Orchestre- Ce Mortel Ennui
22 Pia Colombo- Défense D'Afficher
23 Hugues Aufray- Mes Petites Odalisques
24 Hélène Martin- Ronsard 58
25 Serge Gainsbourg And Alain Goraguer- L'Eau À La Bouche
26 Serge Gainsbourg And Alain Goraguer- Angoisse
27 Serge Gainsbourg And Alain Goraguer- Black March
28 Henri Crolla Et André Hodeir- Thème Du Générique
29 Henri Crolla Et André Hodeir- La Licorne
30 Henri Crolla Et André Hodeir- Janick And Jo
31 Henri Crolla Et André Hodeir- Cha Cha Cha Flores
32 Henri Crolla Et André Hodeir- Tension Mambo

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