Intoxicated Man (1995) and Pink Elephants (1997) are Mick Harvey’s interpretations of the songs of legendary singer, songwriter and poet Serge Gainsbourg and are the first major works translating Gainsbourg’s infuential work from French to English. The double CD collection will include two unreleased tracks, Dr Jeckyll and Run From Happiness.
Originally Harvey embarked on the project as a result of his own curiousity about the songs and particularly the lyrics. At the time of the original recordings Gainsbourg was little known outside classic works such as Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus (I Love You… Nor Do I) and Bonnie & Clyde. On this collection these classic works are presented alongside dozens of Gainsbourg’s lesser known yet equally intriguing and unusual compositions.
The vocal parts originally sung by Gainsbourg’s muses Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot and daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg are here sung by long time collaborator Anita Lane – other guests on the albums include Bertrand Burgalat, Warren Ellis, Nick Cave and David McClymont.
Mick Harvey explains, “Translating a great writer is like walking through a minefield and I set myself the difficult task of attempting to keep the places of rhyming, metre and meaning accurate to the originals. One or more of these elements is usually dispensed with in the translating of poetry and lyrics, but I did not want to iron out any of Gainbourg’s more aberrant angles or lose any of his especially perverse and peculiar touches.”
2013 saw Mick Harvey and his band perform the songs of Serge Gainsbourg at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs curated ATP festival. With January dates already completed in Australia, European dates are being set up for May/June 2014, details to follow.
The reissues coincide with the anniversary of Gainsbourg’s birth (2 April 1928) and follow Mick Harvey’s 2013 album, FOUR (Acts of Love), which was the former Bad Seed and PJ Harvey collaborator’s sixth solo studio album, and the follow up to 2011’s Sketches from the Book of the Dead.