Casino de Paris (1985)
A Heady Mix of Euro-Jazz and Disco.
Prior to receiving this double album all I knew about Serge Gainsbourg was that ‘dirty’ song he recorded with Jane Birkin when I was still in short trousers; so I was partly underwhelmed and partly intrigued when I received this double album CD.
“1-1-2-3-4” someone says into the microphone before a funky band get into a cool groove over the next couple of minutes; then there is a cheer from the audience as they recognise Monsieur Gainsbourg, who enters the stage. While the band remain as tight as a ducks bum and as cool as an icicle; things rapidly went downhill for me as Serge sings in French and my CSE French (failed) rapidly let me down.
Then; in a ‘light-bulb’ moment; I decided to treat his voice as an extra instrument; as you would with World Music and I soon became embroiled in a rather good album.
Obviously the songs don’t make a lot of sense when I can’t understand the stories involved; but Gainsbourg’s quintessentially sexy Parisian accent made a two hour drive go by in the blink of an eye.
Once I’d relaxed and the car was on ‘auto,’ songs like Harley Davidson; Ballade de Johnny-Jane and I’m The Boy (which features some uber-funky Chic style guitar) had my shoulders twitching in time.
I’m still not sure what Nazi Rock and Lemon Incest were about; and I’m quite happy in my ignorance, but they are here too on Side 1.
If I understand correctly this album has been released before; but this version includes previously unheard songs like Aux Armes Et Cetera, Des Laids Des Laids, Kiss Me Hardy and Docteur Jekyll Et Monsieur Hyde all of which will no doubt have fans queuing around the block.
Album 2 is in the same groove; with Serge never actually ‘singing’ in the manner I would expect; but more talking into the microphone; but I have to say when he regales us with My Lady Héroïne and later Marilou Sous La Neige I have to admit to feeling a little bit hot under the collar! I’m not that way inclined; but I can certainly see why the ladies like a French accent.
There are two more ‘exclusive’ songs here No Comment and Hmm Hmm Hmm; both are eminently danceable in their own ways; but not the strongest tracks here.
In a perverse way my favourite track; and certainly most memorable is the reprise of Harley Davidson which becomes Harley David (Son of a Bitch) which is every bit as good as you would expect; but at 9 minutes long; the joke does wear thin.
The concert closes with a mind boggling 15 minutes Jazz-Funk workout called Love on the Beat; which sounds uncannily like Level 42 with Sacha Distell singing.
Not my normal ‘thing’ but an interesting couple of hours in the car; and again today as I listened while typing.
One for connoisseurs of French Disco-Jazz methinks.
Serge Gainsbourg – 2 April 1928 – 2 March 1991
Released October 30th 2015