Marc Almond

Jacques

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    9
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Recorded on and off over three years, through all sorts of record company and band changes, and ultimately released independently when no major label would take a chance on it, perhaps the most striking thing about this labor of love is its general consistency. Much more than that, though, Jacques turns out to be one of the best single-artist tribute records yet recorded; certainly it was anything but a commercial cash-in, given how its subject, French singer/songwriter Jacques Brel, had little more than a cult following in the English-speaking world, most notably through Scott Walker's various cover versions. Remaking two songs done earlier in his solo career, concert standby "If You Go Away" and "The Bulls," Almond adds on ten other songs, whose subject matter alone is testimony to Brel's abilities with lyrics both personal and political. The classic Willing Sinners lineup is mostly present throughout (Martin McCarrick's abilities with the accordion especially come to the fore here), with plenty of orchestral players as well, serving the Gallic cabaret/pop tunes well. The most striking performances include the worker's lament "The Lockman" and the astoundingly beautiful and lush "The Town Fell Asleep," certainly one his best-ever recordings. In the end, though, singling out songs from this remarkable album is nearly impossible; without any question, it's an out and out triumph.

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