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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