A Submerged Seed
A reissue of a duo of tribute albums (1995’s Intoxicated Man and 1997’s Pink Elephants), this collection is absolutely bursting at the seams. If one wasn’t privy to the albums when they were originally released, and is only coming to them now with this reissue, be prepared. There’s a lot to listen to hear, and not merely in terms of quantity. Clearly, lots of care went into these versions of classic Serge suave. This wasn’t a project where a casual fan decided to do a few workouts of some unknown gems– this was clearly a labor of love. Mick Harvey, whose off and on working relationship with the one and only Nick Cave has prompted almost as much memorable music for himself as for the latter, produces versions of these classic songs that are not only created with care, but also with the kitschy swagger of the originals.
With this reissue, which adds two unreleased tracks, it is clear that even two full length albums were not enough for Harvey’s meditation on the iconic Gainsbourg tunes. The classics like “Comic Strip,” “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Harley Davidson” are all here, with singer Anita Lane slipping into the feminine voice role for the project. These are not purely re-imaginations of the originals, as the elements that one might associate with the Gainsbourg tunes are here: the breathy vocal work, the lush but upbeat orchestrations, among others. However, Harvey’s touch is present throughout, as one need not look much further beyond the opening track, “69 Erotic Year” with its opening bass rumble that is likely very familiar to those who have followed the various Cave/Harvey collaborations.
Still variations, such as the fairly reserved take on “Lemon Incest” give the project a unique vision, as do the aforementioned addition of two unreleased tracks, the darker tinted “Dr. Jeckyll” and the windy “Run From Happiness.” These two give the consumer reason enough to trade in the separate albums for this single collection and keep it as a delicately crafted companion piece to the original Gainsbourg recordings.