Various Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited

Serge Gainsbourg was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, despite the fact that his public persona as a womaniser often trumped his brilliant discography. The potential for a group of inspired grade A musicians then covering their favourite Gainsbourg songs should no doubt be a winning combination. It’s a real quandary then in learning that Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited is hardly worth all of the excitement. The role call is fantastic, but unfortunately, that mostly remains in your preconceived notions. Franz Ferdinand team up with former Mrs. Gainsbourg Jane Birkin for "A Song for Sorry Angel,” which does its job, coming across like a halfway point for both the band and the inspiration, but it’s not a standout. The long gone but not forgotten Portishead, who seem like shoe-ins, instead turn "Requiem for Anna” into a dull, wearisome slow-burner. Perhaps the biggest mistake of all is Michael Stipe, going at it alone for "L’Hôtel” and converting the song into one big dullard reminiscent of R.E.M.’s last few records. The best tracks are those who get into the spirit of the concept and evoke Gainsbourg’s character as a showman. Jarvis Cocker and Kid Loco actually aim for the icon’s retro French pop sound and turn in something stunning. Cat Power and Karen Elson (Mrs. Jack White), as well try a similar technique on the once controversial "I Love You (Me Neither),” fully utilising those sexy whispers and the hushed Rhodes with glowing results. There’s an art to covering Gainsbourg, and unfortunately, most acts here just weren’t schooled on it because this flops more than it flaunts. (Universal)