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French Music - Released March 24, 1971 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
You don't need to speak a word of French to understand Histoire de Melody Nelson -- one needs only to look at the front cover (with its nearly pornographic portrait of a half-naked nymphet clutching a rag doll) or hear the lechery virtually dripping from Serge Gainsbourg's sleazily seductive voice to realize that this is the record your mother always warned you about, a masterpiece of perversion and corruption. A concept record exploring the story of -- and Gainsbourg's lust for -- the titular teen heroine, Histoire de Melody Nelson is arguably his most coherent and perfectly realized studio album, with the lush arrangements which characterize the majority of his work often mixed here with funky rhythm lines which underscore the musky allure of the music. Perhaps best described as a dirty old bastard's attempt to make his own R&B love-man's record along the lines of a Let's Get It On (itself still two years away from release), it's by turns fascinating and repellent, hilarious and grim, but never dull -- which, in Gainsbourg's world, would be the ultimate (and quite possibly the only) sin. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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French Music - Released March 24, 1971 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
You don't need to speak a word of French to understand Histoire de Melody Nelson -- one needs only to look at the front cover (with its nearly pornographic portrait of a half-naked nymphet clutching a rag doll) or hear the lechery virtually dripping from Serge Gainsbourg's sleazily seductive voice to realize that this is the record your mother always warned you about, a masterpiece of perversion and corruption. A concept record exploring the story of -- and Gainsbourg's lust for -- the titular teen heroine, Histoire de Melody Nelson is arguably his most coherent and perfectly realized studio album, with the lush arrangements which characterize the majority of his work often mixed here with funky rhythm lines which underscore the musky allure of the music. Perhaps best described as a dirty old bastard's attempt to make his own R&B love-man's record along the lines of a Let's Get It On (itself still two years away from release), it's by turns fascinating and repellent, hilarious and grim, but never dull -- which, in Gainsbourg's world, would be the ultimate (and quite possibly the only) sin. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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French Music - Released November 18, 1976 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Even tolerant music fans shudder inwardly at the mention of the concept album, a largely prog rock genre that spawned many of the greatest aesthetic indiscretions of the '70s. L'Homme à Tête de Chou (The Man with the Cabbage Head) is a concept album and shares some of prog's general characteristics, but it's unlike anything emanating from rock's beardy depths. In the spirit of his 1971 masterpiece Histoire de Melody Nelson, Gainsbourg sets this album's brief tale amid a widescreen musical canvas. Whereas Melody Nelson was provocative without being explicit, the gravel-voiced Gallic lecher goes X-rated here -- albeit without sacrificing his poetic élan. In this morbidly comic song cycle the narrator's muse is Marilou, a black shampoo girl: during their ill-fated fling, he descends into unhinged obsession, beats her to death with a fire extinguisher and ends up in a psychiatric hospital (convinced his head has turned into a cabbage). Although the title track retains something of Melody Nelson's cool Baroque pop gravitas, Chou doesn't replicate that earlier record's alternately brooding and soaring melodic grandeur. Instead, it draws on an adventurously varied palette, spanning rock, country, disco, jazz, reggae, and funk. In places, the shifting styles match the different images or situations that Gainsbourg presents, sometimes without concern for subtlety: "Marilou Reggae" finds Marilou grooving to Caribbean sounds, while tribal rhythms on "Transit à Marilou" heavy-handedly signify her exotic sexuality. The songs are most satisfying when the relationship between lyrics and music is less literal, more evocative -- especially "Lunatic Asylum," where tympani, didgeridoo-like drones, dramatic organ, and insistent percussion soundtrack the protagonist's insanity. Elsewhere, subject matter and sound are divorced completely, the cheery funk of "Ma Lou Marilou" contrasting with the narrator's murderous thoughts. L'Homme à Tête de Chou is an underrated Gainsbourg album. Notwithstanding some dubious synth coloring, it's his second-best '70s release, ranking among his finest recordings. © Wilson Neate /TiVo
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French Music - Released October 26, 1964 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The late French pop legend created one of the first ethno pop albums with this 1964 record, which employed heavy North African and Caribbean rhythms in the pop and jazz structures of his songs. Extraordinarily inventive in the canon of '60s Europop, Serge Gainsbourg remains the godfather of exotica and French pop decadence. Among his mid-'60s recordings, Gainsbourg Percussions is essential Gainsbourg, enhanced by Alain Goraguer's arrangements. The album contains the hit song "New York-USA" and nine of the tracks from this album appear on the compilation Couleur Café, which is a blessing considering the original version of this fantastic LP could be a little hard to track down. © Skip Jansen /TiVo
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French Music - Released June 15, 2015 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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French Music - Released January 1, 1989 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
There aren't many other French singer/songwriters out there who can hold a candle to the legend that is...Gainsbourg. The late legend looms large in the French cultural vocabulary, and modern Francophone pop wouldn't be the same without him. For those looking to understand why, this collection, released in 1989 (and again in 2001), is a good place to start. Sort of. It lacks the hits that he was known for, but captures -- in a live setting -- the attitude and panache that made him a true star. © Chris True /TiVo
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French Music - Released September 9, 1996 | Mercury (France)

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
A French craze for exotic rhythms and dances like the cha-cha and the mambo inspired Serge Gainsbourg to explore Latin and Caribbean rhythms at the outset of his career; Couleur Cafe collects 20 of these beat-driven recordings, which span from 1959 to work from as late as 1974. More than his jazz performances of the same period, the earliest songs on the set presage the direction taken on his pop records; in addition to the distinctly snotty attitude which pervades cuts like "Laissez-Moi Tranquille" and "L'Anthracite," the nine tracks taken from the 1964 recording Gainsbourg Percussions innovatively embrace African rhythms while focusing on the thematic concerns (specifically cigarettes, American culture and young girls) of his seminal later work. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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French Music - Released January 1, 1979 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
This is one messed up set. Dig the fact that this is Serge Gainsbourg in dread beat and booze. Aux Armes et Cætera is literally Gainsbourg on the rocksteady tip with Sly and Robbie, Flabba Holt, Michael "Mao" Chung, Ansel Collins, I-Threes, Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt, Sticky Thompson, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, and a bunch of French folks playing puff-the-ganja and help the white man in Kingston. Gainsbourg knew what he wanted -- a Lee Perry-styled dubber and dread outing -- and he knew the cats to hire to get it. It contains 15 cuts; some, such as "Javanise," are remakes, while others, ("Des Laids, Des Laids") were written for the session. The Jamaican studio musicians are solid, rocking it down the pipe dark, smoky, and deadly in their grooves. While Serge would seemingly be at a creative impasse, having been one of the whitest men ever to record a side, his tunes work here because he's allowed them to be completely transformed by the Rastas, and his vocals work because they are chanted rather than sung. This is weird, dangerous, and campy music, but it works like a charm. In its day this album was reviled: now it's the work of a visionary. Go figure, but if you dig Gainsbourg, this is for you. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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French Music - Released November 1, 2010 | Discograph

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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French Music - Released January 1, 2011 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

Released to coincide with the 20th anniversary of his death in 1991, Best of Gainsbourg: Comme un Boomerang is a two-CD retrospective featuring 47 tracks plucked from the extensive back catalog of France's most notorious musical enfant terrible, Serge Gainsbourg. One of hundreds of compilations that have attempted to summarize the unashamed provocateur's 40-year recording career, this Wrasse Records release is perhaps the most comprehensive since 2006's Anthologie, taking in material from his 1958 debut album, Du Chant a la Une!... ("Le Poinconneur des Lilas") right up to his 1987 swan song, You're Under Arrest (his cover version of Edith Piaf's "Mon Legionnaire"). With a track list helpfully compiled in chronological order, Comme un Boomerang showcases his ability to effortlessly shift musical direction, from the Boris Vian-inspired traditional French chanson "La Recette de l'Amour Fou," to the bohemian jazz of "Black Trombone," to the psychedelic guitar pop of "L'Hotel Particulier," to the Sly & Robbie-produced reggae of "Aux Armes et Cetera" (his controversial interpretation of the French national anthem), and to the sultry electronica of "Sorry Angel." Alongside his signature tune, the sensual and scandalous U.K. chart-topping duet with Jane Birkin, "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus," there are also his famous collaborations with actresses Brigitte Bardot ("Bonnie and Clyde," "Comic Strip") and Catherine Deneuve ("Dieu Fumeur de Havanes"), contributions from his series of controversial '70s concept albums, the Lolita-influenced Histoire de Melody Nelson ("Ballade de Melody Nelson") and the Nazism-based Rock Around the Bunker (the title track), and his own recording of the innuendo-laden hit he penned for Parisian yé-yé singer France Gall ("Les Sucettes"). Casual fans who might be overwhelmed by its generous track list would be better off with the more streamlined Initials S.G. (2003) or The Originals (2006), but if you want to further investigate one of pop music's most eccentric figures, Comme un Boomerang is perhaps all you'll ever need. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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French Music - Released January 1, 1968 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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The Comic Strip compilation may be an ideal overview to Gainsbourg's pop oeuvre, but for those sick puppies interested in exploring his entire catalog, this collaboration with then-lover Brigitte Bardot is a good place to start. Many of his most infamous songs ("Bonnie and Clyde," "Comic Strip,") are here, and the lesser-known numbers achieve the same giddy decadence. Yes, the subject matter is transgressive, the performances often silly, but long after the initial shock wears off, Gainsbourg's work continues to surprise and delight. The sensuous melodies and sumptuous arrangements aspire to the visual; they are little technocolor movies in sound. Moreover, Gainsbourg was perhaps the only songwriter of an earlier tradition to wholeheartedly embrace the wild and adventurous spirit of '60s rock. Strains of the Who's garage/show tune fusion is discernible in "Bloody Jack." "Marilu" makes obvious reference to the Beach Boys' white-bread doo wop. Initials B.B. continues to sound as stylish and mod as it must have the day it was released. At 31 minutes, it is sure to leave both hedonists and former teenyboppers wanting more. © Daniel Browne /TiVo
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French Music - Released December 31, 2014 | BnF Collection

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French Music - Released October 30, 2015 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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French Music - Released January 1, 1973 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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Serge Gainsbourg's fascination with the noisier bodily functions has been well-documented, both by his biographers and by his own records. Who else, after all, would commission Sly & Robbie to lay down their earthiest, dubbiest reggae rhythm, then punctuate it with nonstop farting noises ("Evguenie Sokolov" from 1981's Mauvaises Nouvelles des Etoiles album)? Who else would write a novel about a gas-stricken painter who turns his body-burps to his artistic advantage? And whose else could conceive an album dedicated in its near-entirety to...well, the song titles tell that story: "La Poupee Qui Fait" translates as "The Doll That Goes to the Toilet," the title track documents the messier consequences of anal sex, and "Des Vents, des Pets, des Boums" means, simply, "Wind, Farts, Booms." "Titicaca" is, of course, smuttily self-explanatory. So, it's dirty, filthy, scatological fun, but it's all wrapped so smoothly, so sweetly, and so irresistibly seductively that even the backing musicians -- a team of crack English musicians led by Alan Hawkshaw -- were not aware what he was singing about. The melodies are as lush as any, the performances as immaculate, and the soundscapes as varied. Vu de l'Exterieur ranges from gentle rock to mild funk, from dreamy ballads to heart-stopping tunefulness, and it's all delivered so romantically straight-faced that one cannot help but shudder for all those suave non-French-speaking lotharios who woo their ladies with low lights and Gainsbourg. "Sensuelle et Sans Suite" might feel like a beautiful Beatlesque ballad, but that's where the resemblance ends. Lyrically, it laments -- you guessed it -- the barrage of flatulence that bedeviled a one-night stand. It is a joyful album and one of Gainsbourg's best, edging the critically acclaimed (but possibly overrated) Melody Nelson and possibly nudging Aux Armes Etcaetera. And higher praise than that would be difficult to find. © Dave Thompson /TiVo
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French Music - Released October 1, 1984 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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1984's Love on the Beat will forever be one of Serge Gainsbourg's most memorable recordings, but not for its musical quality. First and foremost it is the album that gave us the notorious, now infamous, single "Lemon Incest," with its equally scandalous video featuring Gainsbourg on a bed with his scantily clad 12-year-old daughter Charlotte performing the song. It is also the only American recording made by Gainsbourg, recorded in New Jersey with Billy Rush and synth king Larry Fast providing most of the synth programming. Finally, it is notorious for its feminine screaming on the title track, adding a double entendre to the word "beat" in the title. Yes, she's screaming as if she's being beaten within an inch of her life and loving it. Sigh. Such is Gainsbourg. Musically, the aforementioned tunes -- the first of which is set to Chopin's Etude No. 3 -- are nothing special, and the rest are nowhere near as compelling as his best material. This is New York slick new wave production with Gainsbourg doing his best to be lecherous. Phase shifters and sustain boxes, tightly compressed sound and Gainsbourg's lewd poetry intoned over the artificially beat heavy mix. But this doesn't make it a bad record; just not one of Gainsbourg's better ones. If the production would have been toned down a notch, and the canned funk scaled back a bit, this album might have been a remarkable one. It feels as if Billy Rush and Larry Fast created this sound world for Gainsbourg based on what they though he should sound like if he were recording in America in the mid-'80s, not what he did sound like as himself. It's a fun record in a messed up, cocaine-drenched, post-disco kinda way. And "Lemon Incest"? it's one of a kind; a shiny, synth-heavy kitschy rhythm track layered with keyboards and Charlotte's cracking whisper attempting the same passion her mother, Jane Birkin generated with Gainsbourg on "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus," and it comes off as sick, cheap, and somehow strangely compelling. If you add Gainsbourg appearing on the cover in drag, you've come up with perhaps his strangest record -- and that's saying something. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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French Music - Released September 1, 1958 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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French Music - Released February 26, 2021 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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French Music - Released January 1, 1961 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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As early as 1961, Serge Gainsbourg was one of the most extraordinary artists of the French pop scene, and during the first part of the '60s the crooner produced a series of outrageously brilliant albums with producer/arranger Alain Goraguer. One of his most intoxicating amalgams of jazz and pop styles, L'Etonnant Serge Gainsbourg comes highly recommended to fans of '60s French pop. An utterly essential early document of Serge Gainsbourg while he was still a mildly respectable man -- but that's not say there aren't hints of his notorious decadence in this early work. © Skip Jansen /TiVo
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French Music - Released January 1, 1979 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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This is one messed up set. Dig the fact that this is Serge Gainsbourg in dread beat and booze. Aux Armes et Cætera is literally Gainsbourg on the rocksteady tip with Sly and Robbie, Flabba Holt, Michael "Mao" Chung, Ansel Collins, I-Threes, Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt, Sticky Thompson, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, and a bunch of French folks playing puff-the-ganja and help the white man in Kingston. Gainsbourg knew what he wanted -- a Lee Perry-styled dubber and dread outing -- and he knew the cats to hire to get it. It contains 15 cuts; some, such as "Javanise," are remakes, while others, ("Des Laids, Des Laids") were written for the session. The Jamaican studio musicians are solid, rocking it down the pipe dark, smoky, and deadly in their grooves. While Serge would seemingly be at a creative impasse, having been one of the whitest men ever to record a side, his tunes work here because he's allowed them to be completely transformed by the Rastas, and his vocals work because they are chanted rather than sung. This is weird, dangerous, and campy music, but it works like a charm. In its day this album was reviled: now it's the work of a visionary. Go figure, but if you dig Gainsbourg, this is for you. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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French Music - Released June 22, 2020 | Diggers Factory

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