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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Je T'aime, Gainsbourg.
I don't speak or understand the French language, I stopped drinking alcohol 20 years ago and don't smoke BUT Serge Gainsbourg (almost as famous for his boozing and smoking as his music) is one of my great heroes. I love his music so much I got a tattoo of his face on my arm ...and for me Histoire de Melody Nelson is his finest 28 minutes. It's mystical, sexy, seductive,...
Published on 21 Sep 2003 by D. Stewart

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity
I'm not going to talk about the album -- a masterpiece of highest order -- this edition is obviously the labour of love with extra tracks and a beautiful packaging. So why is it that the DVD only has a dolby surround option? What audiophile (primary audience for the DVD surround mix?) is looking for this format and why wouldn't you at the very least have a DTS option? The...
Published 10 months ago by Adam Shaw


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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Je T'aime, Gainsbourg., 21 Sep 2003
By 
D. Stewart "duglas" (Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: L'Histoire de Melody Nelson (Audio CD)
I don't speak or understand the French language, I stopped drinking alcohol 20 years ago and don't smoke BUT Serge Gainsbourg (almost as famous for his boozing and smoking as his music) is one of my great heroes. I love his music so much I got a tattoo of his face on my arm ...and for me Histoire de Melody Nelson is his finest 28 minutes. It's mystical, sexy, seductive, dirty and even a bit vulgar. A concept album about doomed love for an English teenage girl, played by his greatest muse and partner Jane Birkin on the record and the glorious record cover. Birkin stands teasing in just blue jeans clutching a cuddly monkey to her breast. Jane told me in an interview that she placed this monkey in Gainsbourg's coffin with him when he died. The beautiful iconic cover would be worth the price of admission alone but the music is even more mesmerising. During the 60s, and still in in 1971, when this album was originally released, most people were content to make variations on a theme created by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Brian Wilson... but what Serge offered had a completely unique and individual voice. The gophic bookend tracks of the album Melody and Cargo Culte sound extraordinarily modern even today. There is great tenderness and melancholy in Ballade de Melody Nelson and Ah! Melody. Witness the sound of Jane Birkin laughing hysterically over the grooviest of 70s psych-grooves on En Melody. Birkin was actually being tickled by her brother Andrew Birkin while Serge had a tape running on record under her bed. Don't be put off by the short running time, length doesn't matter, it's what you do with it that counts.
Histoire de Melody Nelson is ultra cool, ultra sexy and ultra modern music.
Je T'aime, Gainsbourg.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It really is that good, 26 Oct 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: L'Histoire de Melody Nelson (Audio CD)
What you get here for your money is a guitar/bass/drums power trio playing groove based backings that veer towards the looser side of music, luscious strings that have never accompanied such a band in such a perfect way before or since, and a pervy frenchman trying it on with a young english lass.
This album is great. It's great in the way that Can and Faust are great. It's great in the way Miles Davis is great. Buy it.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A short album about lust..., 26 Jan 2006
This review is from: L'Histoire de Melody Nelson (Audio CD)
Serge Gainsbourg's L' Histoire de Melody Nelson is a 28-minute concept album that fuses elements of rock, funk, cabaret and lounge-jazz, with more subdued moments of poetry, atmosphere and orchestration. As a record, it pretty much sticks closely to Gainsbourg's key-themes, such as drunken debauchery, feckless seduction, and soul-destroying lust, with the singer managing to convey some truly heartfelt and heart-breaking moments of deep emotion within that intoxicating haze of excess, caricature and over-indulgence. The fact that it can be categorised as a concept album shouldn't put anyone off making the purchase (especially if you're already interested in Gainsbourg's work), with Melody really standing as one of the few song-cycles that manages to side-step pretension (a few others off the top of my head would include Astral Weeks, Song Cycle, Village Green Preservation Society, Promenade and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea), conveying an emotionally engaging story that is both fun and through-provoking, without feeling the need to indulge in ten-minute long instrumental pieces, or a message about nuclear war.
As with all Gainsbourg's work, Melody is a personal expression wrapped up in a guise of canny song writing, devilish arrangements and dips into pure lyrical melodrama. The central concept sees Serge stepping into the role of a middle-aged businessman, who develops some intense feelings of lust for English teenager Melody Nelson (...after he accidentally knocks her down with his car!!!). The album then goes on to chronicle the seduction and eventual relationship, with Serge narrating in a sleazy whisper - over an evocative and constantly free-flowing bed of acoustic guitars, subtle-pianos, heavy-bass riffs, pounding drums and waltzing orchestral flourishes - a doomed romance of innumerable proportions. It all sounds great to me... like a soundtrack to a film that was never made, with Gainsbourg conveying a multitude of character emotions (going from apathetic, to lustful, to gentle and perverted) that are always mirrored perfectly by those forceful musical arrangements. I'm not going to pretend that I understand every lyric that Gainsbourg croons (seeing as I only have a slight grasp of the French language), nor will I pretend that such rudimentary understanding is integral to the enjoyment of this album. For me, every single word spoken by Serge is understandable... because his voice is so packed full of warmth, character and charisma.
Like all the great albums, L' Histoire de Melody Nelson has a sound and ideology of it's own, which means that such notions of language and location are stripped away by the feeling that is instilled within the listener through the combination of the words, voice, soul and music (yes, yes... forgive the hyperbole!!). After all, aren't albums like Revolver, Pet Sounds, Let it Bleed, Astral Weeks and Blonde on Blonde just as potent and popular in France, Italy, Germany, etc, as they are in English speaking countries like here and in the U.S.? Think about it. There's also a detectable influence from this found on albums like the Great Escape by Blur (something suitably moody like The Universal, or even End of a Century from Parklife), as well as most of the 90's albums from Pulp (This is Hardcore has a definite Gainsbourg feel), The Divine Comedy's A Short Album About Love (something like In Pursuit of Happiness and I'm All You Need), the work of Nick Cave and Tom Waits, and of course, a track like Paper Tiger from Beck's great album Sea Change (so the album should be even easier to comprehend now than it was back in 1971).
My favourite moments from the album would be Melody, Ballade de Melody Nelson and Cargo Culte, though in all fairness, it is wrong to pick favourites!! This is an album that should be experienced from beginning to end in one unbroken sitting, as the listeners allow themselves to be drawn into the central relationship, consumed by the passion and melodramatic excess, and eventually spat out on the other side of heartache. Throughout the record, Gainsbourg is writing and performing (some of vocal delivery is more akin to acting than singing... as he creates a character, a mood and an emotion, etc) at an extremely high-calibre. The arrangements and overall band performance is great too, particularly the bass, which creates a deep and hypnotic groove that you could get lost in, and those strings, which suggest Latin and also middle-eastern influences, are perfect, managing to capture that grand old rainy day melancholy, in the most cinematic sense!!
L' Histoire de Melody Nelson is a fine album that has aged perfectly and makes a lot more sense now with the references of recent bands and pop icons dipping their toe into the seedy world of Serge, whilst mining a similarly libidinous path of excess on a road to emotional despair. Ultimately, the album shows Gainsbourg's influence on contemporary music and cements his reputation as a poet and performer far greater than the drinking, chain-smoking and on-camera propositions to Whitney Huston would suggest.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Histoire de Melody Nelson 40th Anniversary Edition, 21 Nov 2011
By 
OMG! It's got a plug! (Winchester) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
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This is the 40th Anniversary edition of Serge Gainsbourg's 1971 concept album about a middle-aged man (Gainsbourg) who becomes obsessed with a teenage girl (Jane Birkin) when he knocks her off her bicycle whilst driving his Rolls Royce. The unfortunate teenage girl, from Sunderland, later dies when a cargo plane she is travelling in crashes... Welcome to 'Histoire de Melody Nelson' and the genius that is Serge Gainsbourg.

Melody Nelson is the definitive Gainsbourg album and it needs little introduction - just the cover alone is worth the entrance fee. It has a sound all of its own and it still sounds timeless and effortlessly cool 40 years later. Credit for the unique sound must also go to Jean-Claude Vannier who co-wrote much of the music and is responsible for the arrangements, including the lush orchestral arrangements. The bass guitar dominates this album and together with the inventive use of the lead guitar & percussion, Gainsbourg's almost spoken vocals and Vannier's orchestral arrangements, it makes for an unforgettable listening experience.

This 2CD & DVD edition consists of the following:

CD 1: Histoire de Melody Nelson.
CD 2: Histoire de Melody Nelson outtakes.
DVD: (NTSC All regions): Histoire de Melody Nelson 5.1 mix & a 40 minute documentary.

The outtakes on CD 2 are all previously unreleased and are alternative and instrumental versions of the tracks found on the original album. There are two versions (vocal and instrumental) of the one new song, 'Melody Lit Babar'. Driven, unsurprisingly, by heavy bass and featuring trumpet, it's a decent upbeat number but it doesn't fit with the rest of the album and it's easy to hear why it didn't make the final cut. The alternative versions are not too far removed from the originals, but the subtle differences are noticeable. Most are preceded by very, very brief snatches of studio talk and, if you listen carefully, you'll even hear what sounds like Gainsbourg sparking up a Gitanes on the intro to 'Ballade De Melody Nelson'! The full track listing for the outtakes CD:

1. Melody (Complete Version)
2. Ballade de Melody Nelson (Alternative Vocals)
3. Valse de Melody (Alternative Vocals)
4. Ah! Melody (Alternative Vocals)
5. Melody Lit Babar
6. Melody Lit Babar (Instrumental)
7. L'hotel Particulier (Complete Version)
8. En Melody (Alternative Version (Instrumental))
9. Cargo Culte (Instrumental Version)

The excellent 40 minute documentary (in both French and subtitled English) on the DVD features contributions from Jane Birkin, her brother, Andrew Birkin, Jean-Claude Vannier and the original sound engineer, Jean-Claude Charvier. It also features archive footage of Gainsbourg and together they explain the inspirations behind the album and the writing and recording of it. There is also a separate five minute film about the album cover.

The sound quality is outstanding - there's no mention in the sleeve notes that it's been re-mastered, but it certainly sounds better than my 1990 CD copy - there is more space and clarity between the instruments. Disc 1 clocks in at just under 28 minutes and Disc 2 has a playing time just short of 34 minutes. Housed in a quality triple gate-fold digipak alongside a comprehensive booklet with liner notes in French and English, this is an exemplary reissue of this iconic album.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musical Genius, 13 Feb 2004
This review is from: L'Histoire de Melody Nelson (Audio CD)
It is little wonder that so many musicians - from many different countries - cite the late, great Serge Gainsbourg as a major influence. Aside from the attitude, the scandals, and all the drinking and women associated with any self-respecting musical star, his music and lyrics were so original, so out-of this-world, that one cannot fail to to see the genius therein. And 'Histoire De Melody Nelson' is, to my mind, his masterpiece. The sensuous vocal and words and the varying music come together to tell a story of doomed love with a young girl. So many different themes and ideas come together before the finale that it is hard to believe that so much has been packed into 28 minutes. When Gainsbourg died, the British Press remembered him more for his drinking and his naughty behaviour - but this album reminds us of just what a musical genius he was, and why he is such an icon in his home country.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gainsbourg's Testament, 5 Dec 2011
Of all Gainsbourg's wonderful compositions and performances, Histoire de Melody Nelson continues to be his most timeless, coherent work. Listening to this album isn't idle work: it requires you enter its soundworld, one that's beguiling and challenging.
As with the recent remastered release from Light in the Attic Records, the sound on this edition is fantastic, with an incredible clarity and depth; it's this depth of sound in Histoire which marks it as unique.
The bonus disc emphasises the original's unequalled perfection. As an expansion of the original it differs only slightly - there's only 2 previously unreleased tracks of 1 new song - and mainly features lengthier edits and a little studio chat, but all of it sounds excellent.
The clincher is the dvd, which sports a fascinating documentary about the "mystery" of Melody Nelson and tantalisingly brief glimpses of archive studio footage; perhaps these treasures would be included in full in the Super Deluxe edition? I may have to rethink this purchase...
An essential rerelease, pretty much definitive in itself, and a perfect introduction to Gainsbourg.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off by the running time, 23 May 2000
OK, its just under 1/2 an hour, and the idea of a french rock opera is not the most appetising I must agree but this is a classic and the only thing that irritated me was that a month after I bought it the BBC started using "Cargo Culte" as the music for their "Sportsman of the year" contest. A record this good you want to be able to introduce people to with no prior knowledge at all. And the Packagings Well Cool
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can hear the sleaze seep in to the lazer on your CD., 23 May 2001
This album is fantastic, with only one short coming, that being it's legnth. Just look at the album cover and thats almoust what you get, A sleazy yet romantic soundtrack to a seventies porn music, recorded by a master. If you have'nt heard this album, think Air mixed with The Stones sung by a man who's smoked far to many strong French fags. This is the soundtrack to any summer sessions, ever had.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Serge, 21 Feb 2014
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Really like this. If you know of Mr Gainsbourg then this album is a must. A comprehensive c.d and interesting DVD telling of the making of this album.
Go on YouTube and watch him. Interesting character, always smoking, always...and likes the odd drink, and lady!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 10 Nov 2013
By 
James Seymour (New Jersey) - See all my reviews
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This is a good intro to Gainsbourg and his melding of several different music styles into something entirely his own. This blu ray release includes a 5.1 mix and bonus cuts of alternate mixes making this disc a tremendous value.
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L'Histoire de Melody Nelson
L'Histoire de Melody Nelson by Serge Gainsbourg (Audio CD - 2001)
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