Photo credit: L.J.Spruyt / L.J.Spruyt Photography
“Harvey’s intimate understanding of Serge’s rich catalogue allows him to smother markedly different compositions… with a menacing Bad Seeds swagger.” – Uncut 8* review
Mick Harvey has unveiled the video for ‘Deadly Tedium’, his translation of Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Ce Mortel Ennui’. ‘Deadly Tedium’ is taken from Mick Harvey’s latest album of Serge Gainsbourg translations, Delirium Tremens, out now on Mute.
Says Mick Harvey, “The song ‘Deadly Tedium’ (Ce Mortel Ennui) was always on my radar as a possibility to translate. Being a kind of “anti” love song it’s typical of the more perverse aspects of Gainsbourg’s writing and atypical of songs about the breakdown of love and relationships and is loaded with dry, black humour.”
Watch the video, directed by Lyndelle-Jayne Spruyt, here: https://youtu.be/59R699WjO4k
Delirium Tremens is the third volume of Mick Harvey’s Serge Gainbourg translations and follows the recent reissue of the first two volumes – Intoxicated Man and Pink Elephants – as a double album in 2014. Following the reissue, Harvey began playing select shows in Australia and Europe (including shows at Primavera and London’s Union Chapel) and the enjoyment factor was so high it led inevitably to speculative discussions as to whether it was time to resume and expand the project.
Delirium Tremens brings us another wide cross-section of Gainsbourg material. From 1976’s ‘The Man With The Cabbage Head’ (L’homme à Tête De Chou) all the way back to early songs such as ‘Deadly Tedium’ (Ce Mortel Ennui) and ‘Coffee Colour’ (Couleur Cafe) from the late 50s and early 60s. There is even a version of ‘SS C’est Bon’ (Est-ce Est-ce Si Bon), from Gainsbourg’s controversial album Rock Around The Bunker, an album drenched in black humour and bad taste, coming as it does from a French man with Jewish ancestry.
In addition, Harvey presents a selection of five songs from the TV special ‘Anna’ (starring Anna Karina) – including ‘Don’t Say A Thing’ (Ne Dis Rien) – with the female parts here executed with enormous charm by Xanthe Waite who has been joining Harvey on his recent shows. The album is rounded out by a beautiful rendering of the late period Jane Birkin duet ‘The Decadance’ (La Décadanse) with Harvey joined on vocals by his wife Katy Beale.
Work began in late 2015 on what will be Volumes 3 and 4. Recording in Melbourne with his Antipodean-based core live band, 10 songs were tracked at Birdland Studios. The project then relocated to Berlin where a further nine songs were recorded with Toby Dammit (The Stooges, The Residents) and Bertrand Burgalat (of French label Tricatel) who was the string arranger on the first two volumes.
The resultant recordings served to whet Harvey’s appetite for more and almost immediately work continued back in Melbourne in order to have enough material to fill two new volumes. Along with Melbourne based musicians J.P.Shilo, Glenn Lewis and Hugo Cran, Harvey has enlisted a half dozen female singers to help complete Volume 4 which will be released as Intoxicated Women later in 2016.
DELIRIUM TREMENS TRACKLISTING
The Man With The Cabbage Head (L’homme à Tête De Chou)
Deadly Tedium (Ce Mortel Ennui)
Coffee Colour (Couleur Cafe)
The Convict’s Song (Chanson de Forçat)
SS C’est Bon (Est-ce Est-ce Si Bon)
I Envisage (J’envisage)
A Day Like Any Other (Un Jour Comme Un Autre)
A Violent Poison (That’s What Love Is) (Un Poison Violent C’est Ça L’amour)
More and More, Less and Less (De Plus en Plus De Moins en Moins)
Don’t Say A Thing (Ne Dis Rien)
The Decadance (La Décadanse)
Praise for Volume 1 Intoxicated Man and Volume 2 Pink Elephants
Uncut – “It’s a confident musician who messes with the legacy of a cultish iconoclast, but Harvey has serious form and so these records sound confident and casually eloquent…”
Record Collector – …the translations are masterful, retaining Serge’s rhyme schemes and meter without losing any of the lyrics’ meaning.”
The Quietus – “As an Anglophonic entry point – which was the initial intention – this re-release is the perfect preface to the stunning oeuvre of the sloshed genius.”