At about 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon I fell into listening to my Serge Gainsbourg collection. I have no idea why. It just happened. Gainsbourg was a French pop singer-songwriter with a deep, seductive masculine voice and gritty look. His music was eccentric and edgy, and themes ranged from the tragic to the comic. His many public relationships, often with younger women, kept him ageless and egotistical.
What makes Gainsbourg's compositions and delivery so interesting, in addition to the sound of his voice, is how often his style changed. What begins as chanson-pop morphs into Franco-rock in the '60s and then erotic pop in the '70s and beyond. Jazz and Caribbean riffs and rhythms often were mixed in. His music remains quirky and never dull. Titles of his songs include Initials B.B. (for Brigitte Bardot), Bonnie and Clyde, Ford Mustang and Lemon Incest.
Later in life, alcohol caught up with Gainsbourg, often on television and particularly when he was a guest on variety shows with attractive female stars from France and the U.S. After his death in 1991, many of his songs were remixed by European disc jokeys, giving his seductive music and records a new life.
Here's Gainsbourg in 1960 singing his L'eau a la Bouche (Mouth Watering):
JazzWax tracks: There are several excellent compilations of Serge Gainsbourg's recordings. Among the best are Gainsbourg... Forever here (a two-CD set), and Love and the Beat here, though there may be some overlap.
PS: Catch my review in today's Wall Street Journal of the Bo-Keys new CD, Got to Get Back, which is available next Tuesday (go here). I will be posting about the album next week when you can buy it.