Today marks the final initial picks of one of our members. But there’s no need to feel too sad about it. We’ll have an infusion of new tunes soon enough (when people get their picks in). As it stands today’s pick is :
Serge Gainsbourg’s “Du Chante A La Une”.
You should do a little reading on Serge, because, seriously, any guy like this who nabs a woman like this and produces this is doing something right in his life. I think most of it can be explained by the fact that he’s French. You don’t really need any more than that.
So here’s the Wikipedia on Serge : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Here’s the Wiki on the Album: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
And, here’s the playlist:
|Serge Gainsbourg – Du Chante a la Une: 2 stars
Precon: Creepy French guy so…creepy French music?
Favorite Track: La Recette
Sounds like a joke for the most part. Maybe it’s a cultural/temporal difference. Maybe it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, playing on French stereotypes. Maybe it’s just because I heard Lovage first. I like some of the jazz backings when they’re not too cartoonish. The singing can be annoying. It’s like he’s channeling Pepe Le Pew. I guess that was the point, to make a whimsical, over the top album of love songs, but it doesn’t really tickle my fancy.
|Pre-Conceived Notions: This was a little of both a curiosity pick and a listened to before pick. By that I mean that about a month ago, I was in need of a replacement after I discovered that our player unexpectedly (and inexplicably) did not have Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks”. I was bummed, to say the least, and still haven’t heard that album, but on a lonesome Saturday, as I was watching movie trailers, I came across a trailer for a film about the life of Serge Gainsbourg. I had seen it once before but it had gone in one eye and out the other. This time it stuck. I fell down the Wikipedia rabbit hole, as it pertained to Mr. Gainsbourg, went and found his first album to listen to, with the intent of moving on after that. I was surprised and fell instantly in love with the album. If anyone saw this blog post earlier (http://www.sufficientcynic.com/2011/08/hip-cat.html ) they’d have an inkling that this was my pick. I figured I’d see how a foreign-language album would go over with others since we’re mostly about curiosity and the undiscovered here in Record Club.
After Listening: I love this album a little more every time I listen to it. It shows that music isn’t necessarily just about anything lyrically-based, that the atmosphere and the arrangement are just as important. Despite my 8 years of French (and a minor in college at that) I didn’t listen to this as any sort of Francophone. I’m terribly moderate at best, and laughable by actual French standards, but being unable to translate a song isn’t that big of a deal to me. Most of the time, the lyrics wouldn’t a) sound as good and b) wouldn’t make nearly as much sense in a secondary language as they do in the language they were written for. The rhymes really only work in French and I feel like Gainsbourg’s delivery and the distinctly French style do all the rest. This is an album that sounds like Audrey Hepburn films, summer nights in front of cafes, smoky rooms, and parties where everyone is being increasingly sarcastic and witty. It’s pre-mod dresses with fringe on them and cigarette holders; Fosse meeting Frank Sinatra and slinking through an evening with a glass of red wine. Hearing it from an outsider’s perspective might even, in some ways, have been the draw for me. It makes me feel like a more exotic, interesting person, just for having listened to it.
Favorite tracks: I’m randomly a big fan of “La Jambe de Bois” which as much as I can translate into English is “wooden leg”. I mean how wonderful is that?! It’s like a warped marching song, with a wonderful piccolo-sounding breakdown and snare drums. It’s decidedly unlike anything else on the album. There’s also a song on here simply called “Alcohol”. Serge Gainsbourg, I think I understand why you made all the ladies swoon.
Least Favorite Tracks: None…I’d listen to all of them over and over again, particularly at parties. And I would instantly think differently of someone if I found out they had this gem of an album hidden among either their vinyl, cd or digital collection.
Overall: 4.7 pretty close to perfect. A couple of more listens will probably put it there. I just like the way I feel when I listen to this album.
|Preconceived Notions: uhhh..it’s French? Thank you Captain Obvious.
After Listening: Wow it’s really French. Like the whole record. Some might be turned off that the whole thing is in another language, but I like it. It enables one to focus on the music, and how the actual cadences and accents of a different language can be their own music. Most of the album is upbeat, and with a short run time- this is probably perfect for an introduction to a music where you don’t speak the language (I’d say I got about 35%-thank you highschool French) as one can get burned out with constant exposure to a foreign language. All that said, I’m a little underwhelmed by this record. First the good stuff…I like the tone color of the clarinets, the timpanis, the saxs and other assortments of horns. It’s like a French swing era record, a contemporary of such America jazz artists as Monk, Ellington, and Miles Davis. It’s smooth, but emotional. My criticisms stem mainly from the language barrier – it is nice to listen to the music as is, and French has a flow all of its own to appreciate. But as I went back and researched this album a little, it appears Gainsbourg is considered a lyrical genius…so I’m missing out on pretty much all of that strength. And stripping that away, the music on this record melts a little into itself- taken at a very high level it’s sort of all one up-tempo swing, and since the music is accompanying lyrics, not allowed to develop in a strictly instrumental setting (like an Ellington or Davis), it becomes the victim of having to conform to traditional verse/chorus/bridge forms.
Favorite Tracks: “Le Poinconneur des Lias” – The opening musical run with the clarinet is nicely executed, and the rhythm of the song is that standard train track rhythm- which makes sense considering the song is about a ticket puncher on a train. There really is some beautiful chord work going on in the lusher moments of the song…but these are brief and always yield to the rhythm.
No least favorite Tracks…
Overall 3.2 I am hesitant to give this thing a score at all really – superfluous as I usually believe them to be, this one has a solid case to be filed as “incomplete”. It’s a required re-listen for me, since I do believe the language barrier on this is a problem. With other artists, where they aren’t so respected lyrically, and where the music might be more diverse I would be willing to just not research it and take the music of the voice as is…but again, for this it feels like cheating it. I love the tone colors of the instrumentation on this, what brings it down to me are a lot of similar rhythms and tempos – which sort of close off the music at points when they have to keep the same tempos for formulaic verses and choruses. I highly suspect with time I will appreciate the record more-and I’m glad I was exposed to this….C’est dommage. Je ne parle beaucoup francais.
|Serge Gainsbourg – Du Chant a la Une!
Preconceptions: Have only heard this dude’s name, never his music. Thought he was an actor. I imagine he’s cool for some reason. I’m clueless.
After Listening: No idea what this dude is singing about, but the sound of it gives me the impression that whatever he’s saying is gonna score him so major league lady action. That much I’m kinda sure of. This is pretty awesome party music, as well. I’d dig it if this came on at a party. Good times, Serge
Favorites: La Poinconnieur des lila
Overall: 4 stars
|Serge Gainsbourg- Du Chante A La Une
Pre: Serge is that French guy.
Post: Yeah, he’s FAF (French as F)
Overall: Je ne parle pas Francais so since I can’t comment on the lyrical content, I am going to do my review in images: