This is album from Belgian-born, French-adored Jacques Brel is a compilation of two of his mid-1960's albums.
A straightforward reissue of a 1966 LP, Les Bonbons was, and remains, a solid compilation of Brel's early-'60s output. At this time firmly partnered with cohorts Fran‡ois Rauber and G‚rard Jouannest, the songs on this album are full, rich, and orchestrated to the chanson's best advantage. Essentially a best-of the best so far, Les Bonbons layers the melancholy end of life ("Les Vieux") alongside the bullring's "Les Toros" and the oddly jarring "Les Filles et Les Chiens." This somewhat jarring comparison of man's best friend with man's main squeeze uses a rather annoying blast of organ to punctuate Brel's own rather understated delivery. "Le Dernier Repas," meanwhile, showcases a mad tom-tom beat and remains one of the singer's rather vehement responses to those who constantly criticized what they perceived to be his attacks on France's bourgeois. The title track is, of course, one of the highlights of the set. A roaring triumph in live performance, here, even without an audience to guffaw at Brel's spirited delivery, "Les Bonbons" is still a chuckle-worthy romp. Likewise, "Au Suivant," originally appearing on 1964's eponymous LP, is one of Brel's classics. A smash at the time of release, this unlikely story of a novice military conscript's travails at the beginning of training allowed audiences to feel the young man's pain, even as it took humorous pokes at his fears. It's a fine compilation, although with the onslaught of late-'90s/early-2000s CD reissues on the market, there are better to be had. The great reproduction of the original LP cover art is a bonus, for sure, but the content will be of little help to those fans who prefer their hits all in a row. ~ Amy Hanson