1001 Albums You Must Hear (and Blog about) Before You Die

My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die

956. Jaques Brel – Olympia 64

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%


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This entry was posted on March 28, 2014 by and tagged , , , , .

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