My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Brel was born in Belgium in 1929, though most of his music was recorded in French. Not much information can be found on the album, in fact I was even unable to discern what the proper track listing was for the original release. I used the discogs page, which has been reliable in the past. I then created a playlist on Rdio with this track listing. Fun Fact: His song “Le Moribond” was adapted to become “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks.
What I liked: When starting this album I initially thought, “Is this the one I’m not going to make it through?”. I was plesently surprised by it though. I can’t really say I enjoyed it enough to listen to it again, but it was good and Brel is an amazing vocalist. I liked the crowd engagement in the show and the sparseness of the backing orchestra was really nice.
I also feel like I was able to get the premise or emotion of each song even though Bruel is singing in French. Here is my guess for the first four songs:
1. “Amsterdam”: I feel like he is trying to convince me of something to do with Amsterdam. I don’t know what, but I buy it. (It’s about sailors who drink too much, eat sloppy fried cod, and hang out with unmoral women)
2. “Les Vieux”: I think it’s about love or loss, but probably the loss of love. (It is about “old people” whose lives have passed them by)
3. “Le Tango Funèbre”: This one seems a lot lighter and more playful. (It seems to be about people visiting his funeral and going over his earthly possessions. I don’t think I got the feeling of playfulness wrong though…. it seems to be deceptive that way).
“Le Play Pays”: This is the one I would say is about death (About a grey and extremely desolate flatland and northern sea.)
My Overall Thoughts: I wouldn’t seek it out, and I would skip it if it came up at random, but I still like it. Brel just has a quality on this album is really charming. I listened to some songs on his greatest hits with Erin and I didn’t get the same sense.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I do think this should be in the list… I think it has influence well beyond my knowledge of music that should put it there.
Rating (Out of 5): 3
Amazon Review (Out of 5):5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (36/46)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 78%