Serge Gainsbourg – Intoxicated Man: 1958-1962 (El Records)


Intoxicated Man is a comprehensive look at Serge Gainsbourg’s first four albums, plus a host of singles, soundtrack work, live recordings, and covers of Gainsbourg material by other singers from that era. Although best-known for his later acts of provocation and musical sleaze, these recordings are far less radical than anything else in Serge’s lengthy canon. While it may be better as a historical record of his formative years, it’s still a highly enjoyable romp through his roots in jazz, chanson, cha-cha, and orchestral pop. As the chronologically ordered set crosses into ’62-’63 on the second disc, you begin to hear some touchstones of Gainsbourg’s later sound peaking through, especially on his fourth album (given the highly imaginative title of No. 4). It ends with fourteen same-era Serge covers from artists like Juiliette Greco, Pia Colombo and Petula Clark which are nice enough, but I’d trade them in a second for more Gainsbourg originals.