Mick Harvey has been lurking in the background of independent music and film since the early 70’s. Perpetually over Nick Cave’s shoulder as a Bad Seed, matrimonial gift giver and neighbour Harvey has played sidekick on most of Cave’s monolithic body of work. He’s also scored several films including Eric Bana’s break-through role as psychopathic self-mutilator Mark Read in cult classic ‘Chopper’.
Intoxicated Women is a labour of love for Harvey, it’s the fourth and final instalment of a series of records devoted to the work of Serge Gainsbourg he began over 20 years ago. The famously filthy Frenchman was just as renowned for his song writing style as his often outrageous behaviour. He famous employed his pidgin English to tell Whitney Houston he would like ‘to fuck her’ live on French television. A divisive figure in his own time, his songs often sexually objectified young girls, they’re also almost exclusively sung in French.
‘Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus’ is undoubtedly his most well-known record, all sultry organ and orgasms, Harvey sets the tone by using it as the opening track but translating it into German. One of the most overtly, sexually driven songs ever recorded sung in perhaps the least enticing linguistic tongue on the continent ‘Ich Liebe Dich’ indeed.
For the most part the songs are fairly faithfully reproduced, the playing sways from subtlety to dramatic fervour just as seamlessly as on Cave’s recordings. There are a host of guesting female vocalists throughout this album really adding to its diversity.
The galloping ‘Puppet of Wax, Puppet of Song’ is a clear reference for The Last Shadow Puppets ‘Age of the Understatement’ while ‘Baby Teeth, Wolfy Teeth’ is perhaps a demonstration of what they were going for on their second record. There’s a palpable sense of emotion or feeling attached to each song on this record, whether it’s love, lust or just fun.
This is an excellent jumping on point for Gainsbourg’s work, an artist who drew direct comparisons between himself and God through the cigars he insists they both smoke. Adam Green, Jarvis Cocker, The Libertines and countless other songwriters have picked Gainsbourg’s pocket over the years. Harvey’s massive undertaking brings back into focus the work of one of the great tunesmiths, often overlooked just because he didn’t sing in English. Provocative, playful, nonchalantly sexy and enticing. Gainsbourg would surely approve.