Jacques Brel

Le Plat Pays

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A CD compilation rounding up Jacques Brel's activities immediately following his departure from the Philips label in 1961 and his subsequent arrival on Barclay. Although just one studio album appeared during this period, Brel proved indefatigable when it came to cutting EPs, and Le Plat Pays compiles cuts from four, released between 1962-1964, together with all eight tracks from that solitary studio LP, Jacques Brel Accompagne Pas Francois Rauber et Son Orchestra. Several of the EP cuts were familiar from Brel's 1961 live album -- "La Statue," "Les Bourgeois," "Madeleine," and the carnival-esque "Zangra"; other highlights include Brel's tribute to his hometown, "Bruxelles," and the mocking "Les Berges," one of two cuts drawn from Brel's next album, 1964's Jacques Brel 6. Also remarkable is "Rosa," during which Brel seems set to do battle with a horde of suddenly intrusive cleaning ladies, but vanquishes their defiantly shrill charms within moments of the chorus kicking off. Perhaps the best song, however, is also one of the most unlikely, the almost childlike "Les Bon Bons," another extract from Jacques Brel 6. Mort Shuman, one of the most indefatigable of Brel's English-language interpreters, recorded an absolutely batty version of this same song on his first solo album; Brel himself would revisit it for an eccentric 1967 single. In its original form, the basic ingredients of both future versions wriggle seductively, in the gentle tinkling of bells, in the delicate melody of the piano and, above all, in a voice which taunts, teases, and absolutely seduces the listener with the promise of its title. Everyone, after all, loves bon bons.

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