Jacques Brel


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Volume six in Barclay's career-consuming Jacques Brel CD series, J'Arrive is dominated by the 1968 Jacques Brel LP, which was the singer's last set prior to his retirement from active recording. Nine of the 19 songs are drawn from that set, although a dispassionate ear might well determine them to be the weakest on display, utterly out-performed by cuts drawn from elsewhere around Brel's last year's worth of releases. "Fils De," one of two songs drawn from 1967's Les Bon Bons 67 EP, is amazing, a spiralling, taunting dance which would soon provoke Scott Walker into one of his finest ever performances, "Sons Of." Three songs familiar from the American Le Formidable compilation, "A Jeun," "Mon Pere Disait," and "Le Gaz," are its equals, however, while the CD also presents four fascinating rarities, as Brel re-creates a quartet of his best-loved songs in the Flemish language. "Mijn Vlakke Land" ("Le Play Pays"), "De Burgerij" ("Les Bourgeois"), "Rosa," and "De Nuttelozen Van De Nacht" ("Les Paumes Du Petit Matrin") are delivered with extraordinary passion -- listening to them, one wishes Brel had made further such gestures. In the event, these songs remained unreleased until 1976, more than a decade after they were recorded, and their inclusion here -- even if you already own everything else on the CD -- renders J'Arrive an essential purchase.

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