This five-CD set enclosed in a metal box includes 100 songs which define Jacques Brel (1929-1978), the singer-actor, composer and poet. Some songs are recorded live, others in the studio. The order is chronological, from his 'Amsterdam' (CD 1), recorded live in 1964, to 'Les Marquises' (CD 5) in 1977, recorded in the studio. All in clear and brilliant sound. The accompanying booklet, in French, provides a mini biography, context for Brel's artistic and intellectual development, with many photos. However, no texts of the songs.
The booklet quotes Brel's parting words after his last concert appearance at the Olympia, the famed music hall in Paris, "Je vous remercie... parce que ca justifie quinze annees d'amour". He exposed his soul to the public in his songs, from his dislike of conformity (Les Bourgeois), to the nostalgia for his native land (le Plat Pays), to unrequited love (Ne me quitte pas), to his own mortality (le Dernier Repas). Satirical, often jocular, sometimes frustrated and angry, melancholic, reflective, always true to himself.
I grew up with his songs, and his words, and this set brings back many memories. Listening to his songs again, I was reminded how they are timeless, messages that still resonate today and will tomorrow. This set is a wide window looking into the heart of one of our greatest 'parolier-compositeur'. Merci M. Brel, et bonsoir.