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Serge Gainsbourg




1. Requiem Por Un Con
2. Bonnie And Clyde (with Brigitte Bardot)
3. Initials B.B.
4. Comic Strip (with Brigitte Bardot)
5. Chatterton
6. Bloody Jack
7. Docteur Jekyll Et Monsieur Hyde
8. Torrey Canyon
9. Shu Ba Du Ba Loo Ha
10. Ford Mustang
11. Black And White
12. Qui Est In Qui Est Out
13. Hold Up
14. Marilu
15. Un Poison Violent, C'est Ca L'amour (with Jean-Claude Brialy)
16. Sous Le Soleil Exactement
17. Soixante Neuf Annee Erotique
18. Les Sucettes
19. L'anamour
20. Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus (with Jane Birkin)

A few years ago, rockers remembered the '60s as a sprawling, tie-dyed place where music was mightily amped and distorted. But lately that vision of the '60s has given way to a leaner, sharper, loungier slant on the decade; the nostalgia has shifted toward an impossibly cool bunch of impressions about a time when the foundations of all things modern underwent rigorous reconsideration. Enter, with the suave timing of an old Jean-Luc Godard movie, these reissues of Serge Gainsbourg and Francoise Hardy.

In France, a pop-crazed country wilder about ideas than pop music itself, singer/songwriter Gainsbourg flipped a '50s nightclub career of polite chansons into a long run of provocation inspired by U.S. rock & roll. When current listeners ¿ among them admiring bands such as Stereolab and Luna ¿ hear Gainsbourg's music today, it may occur to them that even punk-strength commentary doesn't always need to yell.

Couleur Cafe, Comic Strip and Du Jazz Dans le Ravin are generous and well-selected anthologies of Gainsbourg's work, organized more or less by genre. The first, which concentrates on his crisp Latin and Brazilian backing rhythms, includes period ditties like "Cha Cha Cha du Loup" and "New York USA," as well as more substantial songs from 1959 through 1975. The supermod Comic Strip, covering the delirious span of 1966-69, showcases his tempered embrace of Americana ("Ford Mustang," "Bonnie and Clyde") and climaxes with richly sexual selections like "Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus," from Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, a legendary 1969 album done with the star of Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up. Du Jazz Dans le Ravin, meanwhile, collects the brightly toned French pop jazz that Gainsbourg's often great bands and arrangers brought off with national fervor.

In 1967, Vogue reported that Gainsbourg looked like "a lean, sad and sarcastic wolf," and that's just what he sounds like, too ¿ always jumping into the fray of his forbidden ideas and snazzy settings dressed in a smoking jacket, never shy about twisting the core lushness of his nasal croon into a sneer, a leer or an altogether dubious whisper. No matter where his music went, the crucial constant ¿ and this is what the French and international rockers alike worship ¿ was an unwavering artistic point of view of Sinatra-size magnitude and focus.

On The Complete Vogue Recordings 1962/1967, an 83-song box set of all the tracks she recorded before 1970, the French singer/songwriter Francoise Hardy emerges with a quieter, although no less adamant, outlook. Throughout these four CDs, her music moves from the early rural simplicity of her first singles ("Oh, Oh Cheri," "Ton Meilleur Ami") to more sophisticated rock and orchestral efforts. The rockabillyish style that the mod French called ye-ye soon yields to more fully arranged pop backgrounds. One highlight is Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "L'amour d'Un Garçon"; over signature Bacharach-David brass, Hardy has no trouble commanding the harmonic changes and shadowy choruses.

Elsewhere, Hardy applies her complex midrange vocals to a wide array of carefully curbed rock ("Je T'Aime"), silken chamber pop ("Comme") and plush folk ("Je Veux Qu'Il Revienne"). A remarkable piece like "Ce Petit Coeur" has the feel of a much more objective Shangri-Las record. Hardy is always the natural, effortlessly musical singer, skipping the melodrama that, say, the English pop singers of the era often took to the bank. Her tone is cool, relaxed, a sonic distillation of the idea that patience exists as one of the world's deepest luxuries. Like Gainsbourg, she twists but she doesn't shout. (RS 755)





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