For those who are unfamiliar, Serge Gainsbourg is (was) a French songwriter and performer who sang almost exclusively in his native language. Comic Strip focuses on pop material that he recorded between 1966 and 1969. If the age of the material or language puts you off, then I appreciate this opportunity to convince you otherwise. First of all, the French lyrics only add to the strange mystery of the music, while these songs sound remarkably contemporary. Imagine a pop song that consists of percussion loops and rhythm samples, recorded in 1967! The leadoff track "Requiem pour un Con" (translated as "Requiem for a Jerk") is just that, with a rhythm that sounds as if it were constructed by the most contemporary urban producer. Since he sings entirely in French, dweebs like me can't understand a thing except for the occasional American phrase that pops up - "Bonnie and Clyde", "Ford Mustang", etc.
Comic Strip can best be described as droll camp. Gainsbourg sings as though he were mocking the musical forms that he is embracing, giving each track a coy sexiness that permeates the entire project. In its time, "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus" (translated as "I Love You...Neither Do I") was considered so sexy that it was banned in numerous countries, while Brigitte Bardot (!) provides guest vocals on "Bonnie and Clyde". Imagine Ray Davies as an ugly, sensuous Frenchman with a taste for the theatricality of lounge music super-hero Esquivel, and you'll get a pretty good idea of what this collections sounds like. Throughout, Gainsbourg's songs sound like a product of the ambitious sixties (which they are), even though he ignores what everybody else was doing. Simply put, he was an iconoclast who hammered out a niche that is his alone. Pardon my French, but Comic Strip has a certain `gene se qoi'. A- Tom Ryan