Each week the hosts of Sinking Radio play an official You Set the Scene pick. My pick for this week's show is Serge Gainsbourg's "En Melody." Who is your pick for sleaziest dude in rock 'n' roll? Roth? Ozzy? Keith Richards? Plant? Any member of the Crue? I'll take Gainsbourg over all of them. One look at this cover (or one listen to "Lemon Incest") and you know what kind of Grade A scumbag he was. I mean, maybe not on the same level as Polanski, but pretty damn bad.
I've known Gainsbourg's music for a long time, but was first introduced to this record about seven years ago. I became an instant fan. It's been on my mind again because Light In the Attic, one of my favorite reissue labels, just gave it the remastered treatment. The record's a concept record about an old bastard falling for a very young girl. That's Jane Birkin on the cover and performing on the record.
Like any concept record, it's tough to pick just one track to play. When most people think of this record, I'm sure (after the cover and subject matter) the strings are one of the first things that come to mind. Beck has certainly used the record as an inspiration. While "En Melody" does feature an interesting string arrangement, it's not very representative of the rest of the record. Gainsbourg doesn't speak/sing, Birkin doesn't sing (but does moan) and it's the funkiest track on the album.
Many people probably find the over-the-top provocative subject matter a little silly, but this is still an influential and fun listen. Well worth picking up the reissue....