Mick Harvey announces details of a new album, Delirium Tremens, out on 24 June 2016. It has taken 20 years for Mick Harvey to resume his project of translating Serge Gainsbourg’s songs into English and June 2016 sees what for many is the long hoped for continuation of the series, Volume 3 – Delirium Tremens.
After the reissue of the first two volumes – Intoxicated Man and Pink Elephants – as a double album in 2014, 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.
The intervening years have, of course, been full of activity and dozens of releases including four solo albums and several albums as a member of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and in collaboration with PJ Harvey. So what led to the rekindling of interest in the songs of Serge?
“Many of the songs I have recorded are ones I had hoped to translate the first time I approached this material but I just thought they would be ones that were too hard to translate. But once I sunk my teeth into the task I found they were no more problematic than most of the songs from the first two albums.” says Harvey. “The whole project has just been enormous fun to be honest.”
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.
Delirium Tremens was recorded in Melbourne with Harvey’s 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.
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.”