Jacques Brel had many successes in France but his international appeal owes much to Rod McKuen, who translated many of his songs into English although some people don't like those translations. Scott Walker (of the Walker brothers) recorded many English versions of Jacques' songs, usually via Rod McKuen's translations. Whether you like the English versions or not, this compilation allows you to hear the songs in their original form, exactly as Jacques wrote and recorded them. Jacques only recorded in French, refusing to record in other languages.
Here you can find the original versions of Ne me quitte pas (If you go away), Le moribond (Seasons in the sun) and La chanson da Jacky (Jackie) as well as Jacques' cover of The impossible dream, the only song here that Jacques didn't writ. Also here are the hits that made Jacques popular in France and sustained that popularity including Quand on n'a que l'amour, La valse a mille temps, Les bourgeois and Les flamandes. There are many other excellent songs here, all performed superbly, although even this double-CD cannot include every notable track..
A massive undertaking, Quand On N'a Que l'Amour reissues in roughly chronological order, on ten compact discs, all of the material recorded by Jacques Brel for Barclay and PolyGram between 1955 and 1972 – basically his entire career, except for the album recorded one year before his death. From Brel's earliest recordings – including his first hit, the title track – on volume one (subtitled "Grand Jacques"), the box moves into his peak period, the late '50s and early '60s, with famous songs like "Ne Me Quitte Pas," "La Valse à Mille Temps," "Les Vieux," "Jef," "Mathilde," and "La Chanson de Jacky." A pair of highlights are the two live albums Brel recorded at the Olympia, Paris, one in 1961 and another in 1964; both are masterpieces of dramatic yet often ironic French pop. In sum, though this enormous box set is obviously no place to begin for neophytes, the collection does indeed offer more experienced fans a lot of room to grow into Jacques Brel's music. And though Brel's charms are difficult to understand, especially for those with a language barrier to cope with, his dynamic singing and playful arrangements make a difficult task much easier.
The booklet that comes with this excellent compilation contains extensive liner notes (in French, of course) describing Jacques' career in detail. This outstanding compilation, containing all the really important songs, provides an excellent overview of Jacques' career.
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