L'Homme à tête de chou

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L'Homme à tête de chou
Serge Gainsbourg Homme chou.jpg
Studio album by Serge Gainsbourg
Released 18 November 1976[1]
Recorded Mercury Studios, London and Paris
August 16-21, 1976
September 14, 1976
Genre French rock, art rock, spoken word
Length 31:24
Label Philips
Producer Philippe Lerichomme
Serge Gainsbourg chronology
Je t'aime moi non plus
(1976)Je t'aime moi non plus1976
L'Homme à tête de chou
Madame Claude
(1977)Madame Claude1977
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]

L’Homme à tête de chou is a concept album by Serge Gainsbourg issued in 1976 on Philips.


L'Homme à tête de chou (1976) is a concept album by Serge Gainsbourg. Like its predecessors Histoire de Melody Nelson (1971), Vu de l'extérieur (1973) and Rock Around the Bunker (1975), the album received little attention when it was first issued.

"L’Homme à tête de chou" tells the story of a man in his forties falling in love with a rather free-minded shampoo girl. After the narrator meets the young girl at the barber shop where she works ("Chez Max coiffeur pour hommes"), we learn about their feelings for each other ("Ma Lou Marilou"), their erotic games ("Variations sur Marilou"), and ultimately about Marilou's murder by the narrator, turned jealous lover ("Meurtre à l’extincteur", "Marilou sous la neige"), and finally his decline into madness ("Lunatic Asylum"). Despite the fact that some songs, such as "L'Homme à tête de chou" and "Marilou Reggae", have been well received, "Marilou sous la neige" and the 8-minute epic "Variations sur Marilou" were both commercial failures at the time of their release, and waited several years before being found by a younger audience and recognized as masterpieces of French music.

"Ma Lou Marilou" is inspired by a section of the first movement of Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57, known as the "Appassionata" composed by Ludwig van Beethoven.

The album took its title from a sculpture by Claude Lalanne, wife of François-Xavier Lalanne bought by Gainsbourg.[citation needed]


Music genre[edit]

"Marilou Reggae" is the first reggae song by Gainsbourg. He revisited it on his 1979 album Aux armes et cætera.

Show Gainsbourg / Bashung / Gallotta / Clavaizolle[edit]

The choreographer Jean-Claude Gallotta created a contemporary dance show for Alain Bashung, with arrangements and additional music by Denis Clavaizolle. This project, initiated in 2008, was disrupted by the death of Bashung, who was to interpret the album on stage in a version slightly modified and completed by Denis Clavaizolle (to make it longer). Denis Clavaizolle tried in late 2008 to realize a satisfactory soundtrack during meetings and discussions with Bashung, with ambiances and sonorities inspired by The Doors, Mahler, and Captain Beefheart, to allow Gallotta to achieve the choreography project which he finally presented on 12 November 2008 at the MC2 in Grenoble.[3]

About the album, Denis Clavaizolle conceptualized the additional music and the arrangements and orchestrations as a movie soundtrack evocating tension, jealousy, sex, madness, violence all along the ballet: "je pense qu'il faut envisager cet album comme un scénario, et créer dans la musique les sentiments que l'on ressent dans le texte" ("I think this album must be seen like a scenario, and the music must reflect the feelings expressed by the words".

The cover album by Alain Bashung was issued on 7 November 2011, on Barclay Records and became his first posthumous release.


Critical reception[edit]

In 2010, the French edition of Rolling Stone magazine named this album the 28th greatest French rock album.[4]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Serge Gainsbourg.

No. Title Length
1. "L’Homme à tête de chou" 2:59
2. "Chez Max coiffeur pour hommes" 1:58
3. "Marilou Reggae" 2:11
4. "Transit à Marilou" 1:32
5. "Flash Forward" 2:36
6. "Aéroplanes" 2:36
7. "Premiers symptômes" 1:14
8. "Ma Lou Marilou" 2:41
9. "Variations sur Marilou" 7:40
10. "Meurtre à l’extincteur" 0:47
11. "Marilou sous la neige" 2:23
12. "Lunatic Asylum" 3:21



  1. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Serge-Gainsbourg-LHomme-T%C3%AAte-De-Chou/release/572787
  2. ^ Neate, Wilson. "L'Homme à tête de chou". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  3. ^ http://www.lemonde.fr/culture/article/2009/11/13/pour-l-homme-a-tete-de-chou-bashung-s-est-coule-dans-la-peau-de-gainsbourg_1266757_3246.html
  4. ^ Magazine Rolling Stone, n°18 February 2010, ISSN 1764-1071