Thursday, March 01, 2007

226. Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire De Melody Nelson (1971)

Track Listing

1. Melody
2. Ballade De Melody Nelson
3. Valse De Melody
4. Ah Melody
5. L'Hotel Particulier
6. En Melody
7. Cargo Culte


This is a truly amazing album. Serge is years ahead of his time here, this is an album which almost sounds more like something by Air for example, than something made in 1971. This is a really short album, clocking under half an hour, and this makes it an even more precious little gem.

What we have here is nothing less than the most perfect concept album ever done. The tracks are beautiful poetry as well as amazingly played. There is a distinctively funky beat to the tracks, and Serge speaks over the music dripping with pervyness and tenderness as well. Serge was smart enough to make this an album which is suite like, the tracks are joined not only by the lyrics but by the musical themes themselves.

This is a reworking of the Lolita story, a man runs over a girl with his Rolls and falls in love with her. It has a tragic ending of course, and in independent poems he tells the story of the forbidden and torrid love. I starts with a song about the Rolls with a beautiful bit about the Rolls mascot, the Spirit of Ecstasy and end with an equally amazing track about the Cargo Cults of Papua New Guinea. Seems weird? It is, and still it makes sense, Melody dies in a cargo plane and Serge becomes one with the people of the secluded Islands of New Guinea, waiting for the godlike cargo planes to drop his everything back to earth.

Yes, it is a pretty sick album, an ode to pedophilia but with such brilliance and beauty that it makes a perfect little album. Buy it, really, from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Cargo Culte
2. Melody
3. L'Hotel Particulier
4. Valse De Melody

Final Grade



* "Melody" is the default author name and "Nelson" is the default password in Six Apart's Movable Type weblog software (which had the working title of "Serge", after Gainsbourg).

* British rock band Placebo recorded a cover version of Gainsbourg's "The Ballad Of Melody Nelson", which was released on a compilation of cover versions with their Sleeping With Ghosts album.

* In 21st october 2006, Vannier conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra, Crouch End Festival Chorus, a children’s string quintet plus the inimitable musicians Dougie Wright, Big Jim Sullivan, Herbie Flowers and Vic Flick from the original recordings in the Barbican Centre Theatre, London. Brigitte Fontaine, Laetitita Sedier from Stereolab, Jarvis Cocker, Badly Drawn Boy, The Bad Seeds’ Mick Harvey and The Super Furries’ Gruff Rhys take it in turns to sing for the performance of L’Histoire De Melody Nelson’.

Cargo Culte:


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