This LP is by the famed French singer Jaques Brel.
A jumbled up reissue of the 1968 original J'Arrive, which arrived at a time when Jacques Brel had pretty much receded into the background, having retired in 1967 as a full-time chansonier. But that's not to say that he wasn't writing spectacular songs -- he was. After the smashing successes of the earlier "Ne Me Quitte Pas," "Les Bourgeois," and "Chanson de Jacky," however, these later, less orchestrated compositions have become lost within the canon. With a set split between the two quintessential Brel styles -- peppy chanson and introspective ballad -- there's a little something here for everyone. "Regarde Bien Petit" is stunning, sweeping and delightfully punctuated with Midsummer Night's Dream touches, as is "En Enfant," leaving the upbeat "Vesoul" and "Comment Tuer L'Amant de Sa Femme Quand On Ete Eleve Comme Moi Dans la Tradition" to balance nicely. Fans of Marc Almond's brilliant renditions of Brel's best, meanwhile, will recognize and delight in "J'Arrive" and "L'Eclusier." While bonus tracks have been tacked on to nearly all Brel reissues thus far, the real gems in this incarnation are two cuts from Brel's film work. The first, "L'Enfance," comes from the 1973 film Le Far-West. A French/Belgian production, the film follows Brel in the guise of a cowboy on a journey through modern America's West as he tries and succeeds in building a utopian Old West town. The second bonus track comes from the cast LP of 1968's L'Homme de la Mancha, with Brel's powerful re-tooling of Don Quixote, staged at Paris' Theatre des Champs-Elysees. "La Quete," known to English-speakers as "The Impossible Dream," is by far one of Brel's finest and most stirringly passionate performances ever. Sung solo, the emotion that Brel imparts through this performance would be hard pressed to be duplicated by any one, in any language. ~ Amy Hanson