Gainsbourg was preoccupied with sexual gratification and not for nothing did he record La Décadanse. I knew his salacious UK No.1 with Jane Birkin, Je T’Aime, Moi Non Plus, his celebration of under-age sex, Histoire De Melody Nelson, and had seen the live talk show with Whitney Houston where he said, and repeated, that he wanted to bed her. However, until now, I had never seen him perform.
This double-DVD package contains nearly five hours of Serge Gainsbourg. There are 80 performances and several interviews (with English subtitles). Some performances have not been seen before, but as the rest have only been on French or Swiss TV, they were all new to me. No video of Je T’Aime, Moi Non Plus exists and the chat with Whitney isn’t here, but this is astonishingly comprehensive. What’s more, the performances are shown in full with no talk-overs and the picture quality is excellent, though nothing can be done about Gainsbourg’s looks. You look at him and wonder- how did this man have so many conquests?
The DVDs include a complete performance of the Histoire De Melody Nelson album, the on-the-bed video of Lemon Incest with his 13-year-old daughter Charlotte, his reggae updating of the French national anthem, two songs with Brigitte Bardot and several with Jane Birkin including 69 Année Erotique. There are performances of La Javanaise from 1963, 1966 and 1968 and rarely has someone aged so rapidly. The contrast between him and Jacques Dutronc on Les Roses Fanées (1974) is startling – not, of course, that he was bothered. Catherine Deneuve looks bemused as she combats Gainsbourg’s advances in Dieu Fumeur De Havanes. His careless handling of his young son in Hey, Man Amen, simply because he won’t put down his Gitane, reveals a lot about him.