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Serge Gainsbourg en concert (Live au Théâtre le Palace, 80)

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Album Review

It's difficult to rate any collection of Serge Gainsbourg's music as less than classic, since there is scarcely a thing, in all the years he recorded, that is less than stellar, depending on your point of view. Many might feel this double set from Universal deserves a higher — perhaps even perfect — grade for its impeccable selection of 36 tracks from gamut of Gainsbourg's career. And while no one can argue with track selection, this reviewer can take (minor) issue with the manner in which the tracks are sequenced and their complete lack of documentation and context. To begin any two-CD set with "Marilou Reggae" is surely not the best place to start, particularly when followed by the ultra-camp "L'Ami Caquette." It would have been better if the set had begun with "Couleur Café" or even "Comic Strip" and eased into the more obscure material. Also, placing the years these tracks were released might have helped the uninitiated listener understand better what it was Gainsbourg was trying to put across. Still, the tracks themselves are well-chosen: "69 Annee Erotique," "La Fille au Rasoir," "Cargo Culte," "Ballade de Melody Nelson," "La Javanaise," "Nazi Rock," "Pamela Popo," "Good Bye Emmanuelle," and of course, "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus," among others. There are tracks from every period and almost every album, with the curious omission of tracks from Love on the Beat. There are so many fine, decadent dance tracks here, so many libidinal excesses reflected inside catchy rhythms and over-the-top lyrics, that the collection is impossible to ignore despite its flaws. And, given what exists in terms of Gainsbourg's retrospectives out there, this is simply the best two-CD collection available.


Born: 02 April 1928 in Paris, France

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Serge Gainsbourg was the dirty old man of popular music; a French singer/songwriter and provocateur notorious for his voracious appetite for alcohol, cigarettes, and women, his scandalous, taboo-shattering output made him a legend in Europe but only a cult figure in America, where his lone hit "Je...
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