Marc Almond

Absinthe: The French Album

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Initially recorded with some of the Jacques sessions but then completed in 1990 after the final break with longtime collaborator Annie Hogan, Absinthe can't quite equal the brilliance of Marc Almond's Brel tribute; as a loving overview and celebration of many other French songs that provided him inspiration, though it's a more than fine release. Featuring pianist/arranger Martin Watkins, Almond's partner during his early-'90s acoustic tours, on most of the tracks, the covers of such artists as Juliette Gréco, Leo Ferre, Barbara, and Charles Aznavour (plus new musical interpretations of poems by Sartre and Rimbaud) run from swinging nightclub fare, such as the wickedly enticing opener, "Undress Me," to emotional drama sessions of the most theatrical degree -- and why not? It is Marc Almond. The sexual extremism of "The Slave" inevitably calls to mind the sensual darkness of the Violent Silence EP, as does "Incestuous Love." "A Man" grooves suavely and powerfully, while the spotlight-on-the-singer version of "Yesterday When I Was Young" closes out the collection well. In the end, more of a curiosity than Jacques, but an enjoyable one.

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