This mammoth five-disc set is a wide-ranging overview of Serge Gainsbourg's career as a songwriter, composer, and arranger. It also showcases his ability to make actual singers out of actresses and models -- there are a few duets here with Brigitte Bardot, and others. Those who are encountering Gainsbourg for the first time will no doubt be intimidated by this set, it is a lovely package that moves basically in chronological order; but the three-disc De Gainsbourg à Gainsbarre set is more focused and a lot more affordable. 100 Plus Belles Chansons also presents the entire concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson album in its entirety, and includes all the "scandalous" hits such as "69 Année Érotique" with Jane Birkin, "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Ford Mustang" with Bardot, and "Requiem pour un C..." and "Lemon Incest" with daughter Charlotte, to name just a few. These tracks aside, the many sides Gainsbourg cut as a film composer, hit songwriter, and genuine iconoclast across genres as wide as cabaret, jazz, blues, rock, reggae and disco -- all of them mastered with his own trademark -- are here as well. For the seasoned Gainsbourg listener, a collection like this is indispensable and the context is terrific. ~ Thom Jurek
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