The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Playing For Keeps: Cate Le Bon's Favourite Albums
John Freeman , September 4th, 2014 11:33

With her UK tour just started, singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon tells John Freeman about how an attitude of playfulness runs through her 13 top LPs

Serge_gainsbourg_1409828981_resize_460x400

Serge Gainsbourg - Histoire De Melody Nelson
Well, it seems a bit silly to try and sell this album because it speaks for itself. It's one of the most perfect pieces of music ever made. When I started going out with my partner ten or 11 years ago he was obsessed with this record and would play it over and over. Initially it was all "this is so cool and Serge is so sexy" and the overall sound is amazing for such a short record. But then you realise that it is so minimal in a way; aside from the orchestration there is a juxtaposition of a really simple instrumentation and then these wild, beautiful string arrangements which is just incredible.

However, despite all the other instruments, I discovered how important the bass guitar is from playing this record. For years after listening to Histoire De Melody Nelson the bass guitar was my favourite instrument.

The story within the lyrics came later as I delved deeper into the album. You get over one thing that you find fascinating and then the lyrics are something else – the whole concept of him running over Melody Nelson. What is it – 26 minutes long? It's just perfection. You have a song like 'Valse De Melody' which is like a Disney song; just strings and Serge and you become wholly aware of how important the tracklisting is on these songs for the album to be fully realised. I think it's one of the best records ever made.

It's one of those records I always think of when I try to finish making an album. I start to take everything unnecessary off what we have recorded. It's a record of simplicity.


If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.