23 March 2006


Within the last ten years the resurgence of sixties Gallic Pop, once known as Ye-Ye music, has escalated beyond an inter-stellar dizzy height. What might have been a waning, embarrassing genre destined for a shelf life/death gathering dust amongst the Eurovisions of yesteryear, the 'jerk-beat' psychsploitation records of the latter day French-Disco had soon found new floor space in some of the most credible nightspots in London and Japan.

Without a shadow of doubt, the flagship LP with best odds on becoming a discerning household object was "Histoire de Melody Nelson" by one Serge Gainsbourg. An inimitable, 29 minute concept LP handcrafted by a bass-driven psychedelic rock group and a heaven-sent, 1001 piece orchestral and choral symphony. The album left hip-hop producers alongside progressive rock aficionados crying out for more and more for years to come. This LP was in a league of its very own... or was it?

The seldom-sung musical arranger for Melody Nelson has become one of the most enigmatic names in French-funk; lorded by many as the "French David Axelrod" Jean-Claude Vannier's name is the lesser-spotted, tell-tale seal of sample-friendly quality when it comes to crate-digging 'en Francais'. Suitably, when rumours amongst French record dealers claiming "the band who played Melody Nelson recorded a follow-up lp" became a legend of psychedelic folk-lore. Another unconfirmed rumour about JCV taking the remaining out-takes of the beloved Melody Nelson to create a promo-only experimental rock LP left sample hungry producers and DJs in turmoil...

For those in the know the answers to these mysteries lay flat between the anonymous gatefold sleeve of an undiscovered conceptual album bizarrely entitled "L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches" by a custom-built avant-rock entourage called Insolitudes. The rocking-horse manure treasure hunt began.

So here we have it. The mythical teen-tonic for all those suffering from Melody Nelson withdrawal symptoms. For record collectors looking for that special something, this LP contains the extra-special EVERYTHING. Peruse the following genres: Psychedelic, Classical, Soundtracks, Jazz, Hip Hop, Samples, Avant Garde, Funk. Then place a copy of "L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches" in each section.

History denotes that when 'our man in Paris' Msr. Gainsbourg first heard the initial bones of this LP he took his poetic pencil to paper providing bizarre liner notes, thus consummating the most extraordinary concept album of all time. The story "The Child Assassin Of The Flies" was to be included as the only information to grace the LPs highly collectible, concertina gatefold sleeve. The story in full is reproduced in its native-tongue on this very special re-release package. The CD also includes the bonus track "Je M' Appelle Geraldine", a beat heavy John Barry-esque track taken from Vannier's super-rare 7" EP "Point D'Interrogation".

DJs and Producers such as Jim O'Rourke, Stereolab's Tim Gane and David Holmes have spent sleepless nights in perusal of original copies of this perfect release and now regard it as 'One Of The Best'. Recent copies on eBay have commanded ridiculous price-tags, and is now one of the most sought-after articles amongst the vinyl hungry hip-hop community



number06 said...

OH YES ! since few years, i've a copy at home, but without the bonus tracks. So i know what i have to do now ! check out at Side-C there is an other collaborator of Serge Gainsbourg : Michel Colombier...Thanks again for your HQ posts !

Be Seeing You !

whoops said...

yes number06, the Finders Keepers reissue got bonus tracks (CD only) and the original LP cover, Jean Claude Vannier naked on the beach of "Le Touquet".
Thanks Bacoso for telling us about the story behind this incredible record, but i would like to point out that "Histoire de Melody Nelson" is not a 45-minute concept LP but a 29-minute one. It's not that i'm obsess with timing but everytime i listen to this record i'm always amazed about how much Gainsbourg and Vannier managed to put in less than 30 minutes.

bacoso said...

Cant believe i missed that 29 minutes is right of course. I cut and pasted this article from the excellent Finders Keepers website (i think !)so I have now amended the post

GeeeFlat said...

Hi there, thanks again for your amazing blog. Just a comment from a French. This enthusiasm for the french music is touching, but honestly, not a lot of people regard Serge Gainsbourg as highly as you do as a composer. He's a little melody maker, with his own interpretative style and a certain type of production, but that's about it really. poor pop with a suave attitude. the classically trained contemproary French such as vannier, can not be put in the same bag. There are numerous great french musicians which are different from the rest of the world due to the specific musical education system of "conservatoires" and they often are quite "exploratory" which is great. Satie, Boulez, Vannier, henry et al. (even JM Jarre). But they are not part of the poor pop movement ye-ye. ye-ye, is an approximate phonetic translation of "yeah-Yeah" that most French did not understand at the time. the movement was labelled ye-ye, because most of the pop production at the time was just poor covers of Anglo Saxon rock or pop tracks translated in french. With sometimes a couple of English words. Ye-Ye was and ironic labelling in self-deprecation. :). Gainsbourg was a bit beyond just Ye-Ye, but was never a great composer, and nor pretended to be one, he consider his song writing as a "minor art". We could not say that form Satie's music contribution. Nor from burt Bacharach's... The French have their style indeed, they can;t really rock, they certainly can not groove to save their life, byt they heave their own refreshing thing goign on, ans so does diversity... :)

iagogo said...

looks like this post is a couple of years old, but is there any chance you might upload the link again to in place of the dead Rapishare.de link?

Bacoso said...

link is dead - you can now buy the album here:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lenfant-Assassin-Mouches-Claude-Vannier/dp/B000776MCG/ref=ntt_mus_ep_wlb_dpt

Martooni said...

Facinating discussion! made me drag out Melody Nelson..

9 said...

Cheers for sharing!
This is my two pence.