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Brigitte Bardot: The Best of Bardot

Album Notes

Was Brigitte Bardot a "good" singer, in the conventional sense? No. Was the material she sang in the 1960s especially deep or brilliant? No. But is this 19-track compilation of the cream of her 1963-1970 recordings a fun listen? Yes indeed. Although not the owner of conventional high-level vocal skills, Bardot invested her frivolous songs with a contagious sense of playful fun, and a refusal to take the music or herself too seriously. Certainly some of the tunes -- and their breathy delivery -- capitalize on her iconic sex kitten persona. But the guileless joy she projects is reminiscent of some of the early work by France Gall (one of the finest '60s French pop singers), though Bardot's voice is less girlish and more adult in tone. Like the better French pop of the 1960s, the tracks on this disc -- an "extremely selective compilation," the liner notes state, of a '60s discography that strung together "fine pearls and cheap imitations, scintillating gems and tawdry kitsch" -- have a likable giddiness that borrows from early-'60s girl group and twist rock & roll on the earlier sides, and bears a slight psychedelic influence on some of the later ones. It's a pretty versatile bunch, though, also venturing on occasion into melodic sentimental Continental ballads and (less successfully) theatrical chanson and vaudevillian territory. Some of the standouts, naturally, are found in the seven Serge Gainsbourg compositions, including the eerie Eastern-influenced "Contact" (arguably her most interesting recording), and "Harley Davidson," but also the famous Bardot-Gainsbourg vocal duets "Comic Strip," "Bonnie and Clyde," and "Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus." (The last of these, unreleased at the time it was recorded in 1968 due to nervousness over its sexually explicit nature, of course became a big international hit when Gainsbourg re-recorded it using Jane Birkin as his duet partner.) The numerous tracks to which composers Jean-Max Rivière and Gérard Bourgeois contributed, however, have their share of highlights too, even if they lack the strange edge of Gainsbourg's songs. [DRG's U.S. reissue of The Best of Bardot omits one track, "Je Reviendrai Toujours Vers Toi," from the version released in Europe, though no one seems to have told annotator Christophe Conte, who makes special mention of it.] ~ Richie Unterberger


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