Album review: Message Personnel: 40th anniversary deluxe edition by Francoise Hardy

Message Personnel by Francoise Hardy
Message Personnel by Francoise Hardy
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Feted by Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, Francoise Hardy was a star in France by the age of 18. Her song Tous Les Garcons et Les Filles was subsequently a hit across Europe, selling more than two million copies and unusually for a song sung in French even denting the British charts in 1962.

She went on to represent Monaco at the Eurovision Song Contest, marry French pop star Jacques Dutronc, record more than 30 albums in a variety of languages and be regularly referenced in fashion and films.

Message Personnel dates from 1973 and is arguably one of her most complete albums. Michel Berger, husband of ye-ye singer France Gall, contributes the sumptuous piano ballad Premiere Reconetre while the dream team of Serge Gainsbourg and the composer and arranger Jean Claude Vannier combine in the sensuous rocker L’Amour En Prive, blessing it with a giddy string arrangement and driving electric guitar.

Hardy is at her melancholy interpretive best duetting with the Franco-Egyptian romantic singer-songwriter Georges Moustaki in L’Habitude and singing his arrangement of Beceuse by the Brazilian poet and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes alone.

The album’s crowning glory, though, is the title track, a half-spoken, hlaf-sung sad beauty of a song, co-written by Hardy and Berger. Forty years on it remains one of the best-known numbers in her repertoire.

This anniversary edition includes a bonus disc of singles, instrumentals and rarities – three of them in English and three in German. Rarely have lines as simple as “Words I’d like to tell you/I want to, I just can’t” sounded more intimate – or more desolate.

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