Monday, April 02, 2018

Full Melody Nelson: Gainsbourg 90

As promised, here comes the second of two consecutive posts about two towering heavyweights seeing milestone b'days.
Today is what would have been the 90th birthday of the man who is, for many, the most influential and beloved musician in the modern history of France.
While he was alive and over the course of a meteoric, decades-long run, he pushed more boundaries and gave less fucks than almost any 20th century musician you could name... and that's quite a list.
He started out in the pre-Rock years in the latter half of the Fifties, mining the then-de rigeur Chanson style to the tune of hit after hit as the '50s became the '60s.
As time progressed and the decade's music evolved, so did he. Eventually he parlayed his budding film career -- he wasn't just a music person, but an actor as well -- into a sideline scoring tons of French films with some of France's most legendary arrangers like Michel Colombier and Jean-Claude Vannier.
In the mid-Sixties he began to infuse what he was doing with a lot of the psychedelic rock and funk sounds emanating from everywhere on Earth during that time -- creating an almost Chanson-Funk hybrid still-as-yet unchallenged for pure ecstatic weirdness -- with even more impactful results.
As he progressed he became the most globally visible and admired musician in France, with commensurate success in every corner of the world.
He also cursed a lot, wrote songs with really offensive words for female genitalia in the titles, dated/was married to some of the most gorgeous women on the planet (Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, to name the main goddesses to whom he was romantically linked), and smoked enough Gauloises and Gitanes to give Erik Satie blacklung.
One time, stumbling drunk on a late night talk show in the mid-'80s, he told Whitney Houston, right to her face on TV, that he would love "to fuck her". What's freaky is that I don't know that after the taping, he did not make good on his statement, with her full and enthusiastic participation.
Who Knows? What I do know is that if we all live to be 10,090, we will never in our lifetimes see a performer and a personality near the likes of Serge Gainsbourg.
What I have done to commemorate his 90th should fill a necessary need, for about 11 years ago an (unauthorized, but oh so very awesome) compilation of his (wild and intoxicating... and probably wildly intoxicated) best psychedelicized tracks from 1966-71 was issued by the bootleg Smoke Disque label in France. This was assembled largely from vinyl sources and went out of print almost immediately.
For a long time I have wanted to reassemble this masterly mix from the best possible, master-tape-based sources, and I think I have succeeded beyond any reasonable expectations. 
What was an hour-plus of music is now clocking in at over two-and-a-half hours, and has been expanded to include his most slammin' and iconic tracks covering his two-decade heyday of 1966-1986. 
I even sorted through all the tunes and straightened out the titles and arrangers, some of which were not accurate on the Smoke Disque mix and even on subsequent, legitimate issues of Serge's stuff.
Serge Gainsbourg
Les Années Prolifiques, 1966-1986

Les Années Psychédéliques

01 Requiem pour un Con (avec Michel Colombier)
02 Je n'avais qu'un Seul Mot à Lui Dire (avec Michel Colombier)
03 Sous le Soleil Exactement (avec Michel Colombier)
04 Pas Mal Pas Mal du Tout (avec Michel Colombier)
05 Chanson du Forçat (avec Michel Colombier)
06 Paris-Bombay (edit) (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
07 New Délire (avec Michel Colombier)
08 New Délire Again (avec Michel Colombier)
09 Bonnie & Clyde (avec Brigitte Bardot)
10 Première Blessure (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
11 Danger (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
12 Cannabis (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
13 Champêtre et Pop 2 (avec Michel Colombier)
14 Photographes et Relegieuses (avec Michel Colombier)
15 Boomerang (avec Michel Colombier)
16 Psychasténie (avec Michel Colombier)
17 Cadavres en Série incl. Batucada Meurtrière (avec Michel Colombier)
18 La Horse (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
19 L'Alouette (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
20 Carte Postale du Népal (excerpt) (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
21 Colin-Maillard (aka Transe Party des Hashishiens) (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
22 Breakdown Suite (avec Michel Colombier)
23 Jane B. (avec Jane Birkin)
24 No No, Yes Yes (avec Michel Colombier)
25 Evelyne (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
26 Cannabis-bis (final) (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
27 Western (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
28 En Melody (avec Jean-Claude Vannier et Jane Birkin)

Total time: 1:19:52
Les Années Éclectiques

01 Cargo Culte (avec Jean-Claude Vannier et Jane Birkin)
02 Comme un Boomerang
03 Un Cargo vers L'Afrique
04 Panpan Cucul (versionde alternatif)
05 Aéroplanes
06 Diapositivisme
07 Shush Shush Charlotte
08 Lunatic Asylum
09 Sea, Sex and Sun (avec Alan Hawkshaw)
10 Hier ou Demain (avec Michel Colombier et Anna Karina)
11 Tout Mou Tout Doux
12 Je Suis Venu te Dire que Je M'en Vais
13 Equateur (générique)
14 Premiers Symptômes
15 Les Locataires
16 Sex Radio Suite pt. 1 (avec Jean-Claude Vannier)
17 First Class Ticket (avec Jean-Pierre Sabar)
18 L'Homme à Tête de Choux
19 Titicaca
20 Transit à Marilou
21 Strike
22 Passage à Tabacco (avec Jean-Pierre Sabar)
23 Le Physique et le Figuré (avec Jean-Pierre Sabar)
24 Travaux
25 Zanzibar (avec Jean-Pierre Sabar)
26 Love On the Beat

Total time: 1:18:48

2CD expansion of the 2007 Smoke Disque label bootleg compilation 
Les Années Psychédéliques, 1966-1971
assembled from best possible sources and remastered by me
both CDs zipped together
I am pretty proud of this one... it took a lot of effort and brain/ear power to make it happen, but I think it's a tremendous improvement on the original and represents something worthy of the impeccable Serge Gainsbourg aesthetic imprimatur.
I shall return later this week with a much-deserved tribute to a fallen warrior-in-sound, but for now it's incumbent upon you to get into this double dose of triptastic Funk and Psych as we celebrate the one-off human being that was Serge Gainsbourg, born this day in 1928 and still smoking!--J.
4.2.1928 - 3.2.1991