January 21, 2024 06:36PM
Music sucks in Pattaya. Old farangs sing to HOTEL CALIFORNIA and bar girls dance to boy band love ballads, while Thai bands play dinosaur rock for drunken tourists.

Nothing wrong with a bad reprise of SMOKE ON THE WATER, except I once lived in nightclubs and bars in which music meant more than a tune you can sing while drinking beer with your mates, hoping the Viagra will work with your new missus. Pattaya certainly doesn’t have a bar close to Max's Kansas City, where you could see the Jam, MC5, or Iggy. Not even close.

None of the geezers here care, because most Pattaya farangs are too low-class only listened to what was playing on their car radio. Muzak for their 9-to-5 existences and none of them ever heard Serge Gainsbourg's HISTOIRE DE MELODIE NELSEN.

And that's too bad, because this 26-minute masterpiece set a highwater mark in 1971. Don't ignore the French lyrics, even if there are no subtitles. They are sexy, especially with Jane Birkin's breathy interpretation. Her daughter might have been sexier on LEMON INCEST. Dig the guitar and bass. The two musicians weld a groove unattainable in this modern world on pre-packaged CDs. Serge told his tale of Lolita sans the fear of moral outrage. This concept album wiped the floor with the Beatles' SARGENT PEPPER.

They were no longer a band, but they must have spun Serge's LP and said, "We fucked up."

Horrible to know you will never write anything as good as LE BALLADE OF MELODIE NELSEN.

Worse is to copy the LP like Beck.

No talent plagiarist.

Because he’s no Jean-Claude Vannier, who arranged the 33 rpm disc For Serge, who was the ugliest man in Christendom, yet ended up with Jane Birkin as his love. The two of them might have Jimmie Page to play lead guitar. That's the rumor, but the riff sound nothing like his solos with Led Zeppelin or the Yardbirds. Understated and raw.

Leaves you asking for more.

And you only get 26 minutes of a young girl on a bicycle, a crash with Rolls-Royce, defloweration and a dirge about Melodie dying in a plane crash.

Not 9/11.

Genius and I advise anyone with any musical taste to pick up this chef d'ouvres.

'Une poupee qui perd l'equilibre, la jupe retroussee sur ses pantalons blancs'. (A doll who lost her balance, her skirt pushed up over her white leggings) wasn't getting any radio play in Biblebelt America.

Not that year or any year.

But I got it on right then and there.

Midnight. Gin-tonic. Dark outside.

Melodie Nelson.

The LP should have been a big hit, except Gallic superstars have continually failed to dent the US charts with the exception of the Singing Nun with her 1963 hit DOMINIQUE. The language is a problem. No teenager wants to dance to music whose lyrics need subtitles.

Tant pis or too bad, because French music has produced hundreds of great songs by Alain Bashung, Jane Birkin, Manu Chao, Julien Clerc, Etienne Daho, Jacno, Jacques Dutronc, France Gall, Françoise Hardy, Indochine, Marc Lavoine, Vanessa Paradis, Les Rita Mitsouko, Alain Souchon, Les têtes raides, Tahiti 80, Téléphone, Sylvie Vartan ad infinitum.
And of course the legendary genius of Serge Gainsbourg, whose 27-minute LP THE BALLADE OF MELODIE NELSON ranks as one of the greatest rock albums of 1971, if not all time. The concept of Gainsbourg colliding with a nymphette's bicycle was a homage to LOLITA. The music on this album contained a consistent stream of atmospheric guitar complimented by a solid bass. The album notes never gave credit to the musicians and I searched for years to find their names. Their identities remained a mystery for decades.

>Finally someone added them to Wikpedia.
# Alan Parker - guitar
# Herbie Flowers - bass
# Douglas Wright - drums
# Alan Hawkshaw - piano
# Jean-Claude Vannier - arrangements, Orchestra Director
# Jane Birkin - vocal parts (and posed for front cover art)

A belated thanks for the hours of listening to a gem.

To hear the prelude of Melodie Nelson go to the following URL

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