Serge Gainsbourg is a name that one does not readily associate with the art of scoring movies unless of course you are a film music collector who is attracted to music from French movies, in fact I would say that Gainsbourg gained his reputation as a singer/song writer and a film maker rather than as a composer of music for film, with his BBC banned number one record with model Jane Birkin JE T’AIME MOI NON PLUS, springing instantly to mind.
However one only has to do a quick look up on the internet to see the impressive list of film score credits he has to his name. His film music career began in 1959, when he provided the music and title song for L’EAU A LA BOUCHE, performing the vocal himself for the soundtrack with a song that he co-wrote with Alain Goraguer, it is tracks from this score that open this magnificent three disc set. Opened by a slow bongo beat that is soon joined by a somewhat downbeat slightly samba orientated pace that acts as a perfect background to Gainsbourg’s distinctive vocalising. Track number two in this section is ANGOISSE jazz vibes are dominant here with trumpet saxophone and almost smouldering sounding brushed drums that are punctuated by guitar all work together to create an enticingly attractive cue. Track number three BLACK MARCH again utilises trumpet and easy tempo drums with a even more laid back clarinet and saxophone adding a touch of class to the proceedings. One year later he scored LES LOUPS DANS LA BERGERIE for film maker Herve Bromberger and here we are treated to two cues from that soundtrack, the first is actually the FINAL from the movie, again Gainsbourg creates a kind of easy listening type cue with piano, percussion, woodwind and underlying strings that are interspersed with brass and punctuated by double bass, as the composition proceeds that composers adds to it more and more instrumentation, trumpets taking on the central theme with woods and percussion giving support. Track number five is an infectious sounding CHA,CHA CHA, CHA, CHA DU LOUP, is one of those cues that just seems to be over far to quickly simply because it is so enjoyable.
In 1963, Gainsbourg worked on STRIP-TEASE the opening cue here is STRIP-TEASE sung by Julie Greco who delivers a seductive and alluring performance. The cues from this score I have to say are among my favorites on this compilation and that is certainly saying something as the entire collection is simply superb. In many ways when listening to the film music of Gainsbourg one cannot help but be reminded of the style of Legrand or other French composers such as Lai, Cosma and to a certain degree Magne and Delarue. Throughout the compilation we are treated to steamy jazz vibes are intertwined with dramatic yet romantically laced themes Gainsbourg creating a sound that although at times does sound familiar at the same time purveys an atmosphere that is highly original and above all entertaining and memorable.
The three disc set includes music from, thirty plus soundtracks, and if you are not familiar with Gainsbourg,s film music will hook you instantly on his infectious and pulsating rhythms that ooze big band charisma and lilting love themes that evoke the lush and lavish scores of vintage Hollywood, plus it will introduce you to the intimate musical works of this underrated composer and his unique vocals.
This is a compilation that I should image will be listened to over and over with music from movies such as CANNABIS, LA HORSE, MISTER FREEDOM, MANON 70, SEX SHOP, JE T’AIME MOI NON PLUS, MADAME CLAUDE, GOODBYE EMMANUELLE, MELANCHOLY BABY included, plus numerous others, it is filled with quality music and in this case its certainly a case of quantity and quality going hand in hand, Gainsbourg has a style that is all of his own, plus he also evokes affiliations with the music of composers such as Morricone, Mancini, Pisano, Fidenco, Polnareef, De Roubaix, Marchetti and many others who produced scores during the 1960,s through to the latter part of the 1980,s, again wonderfully presented by Stephane Lerogue and Universal France. highly recommended.