It’s been 35 years since Jacques Brel, a lifelong 80 a day man, died of lung cancer at just 49 years old. Like everyone else, I was turned onto him not by his own records but by Bowie, Scott Walker and Alex Harvey’s plundering of his songbook. Hell, I even liked Terry Jacks ‘Seasons In The Sun’. Yet the fact remains that no matter who it is, Brel’s humour, verve and honesty are seriously tamed by any translation into English.

   Despite writing and singing in French, if you dare to deviate from the Trad Rock path - the one that began with Bill Haley and ended with Nirvana - it’s easy to spot Brel’s craft and spirit in the likes of Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright and Marc Almond. And that’s just for starters! Sure, the language can be a barrier but you don’t have to understand everything literally to absorb the ideas and more importantly the feeling. After all, when everything else is stripped away isn’t that what lies at the heart and soul of all great music.   

 

1. Grand Jacques (C’est Trop Facile) / Grand Jacques LP February 1954

2. Quand On N’a Que L’Amour (If We Only Had Love) / Quand On N’a Que LP September 1956

3. Au Printemps / Au Printemps LP April 1958

4. La Mort (My Death) / La Valse A Mille Temps LP September 1959

5. Seul (Alone) / La Valse A Mille Temps LP September 1959

6. Le Moribond (Seasons In The Sun) / Marieke LP February 1961

7. Les Bourgeois (The Middle Class) / Enregistrement Public A L’Olympia 1961 LP October 1961

8. Les Toros (The Bulls) / Les Bonbons LP April 1963

9. Les Filles Et Les Chiens (The Girls And The Dogs) / Les Bonbons LP April 1963

10. Les Vieux (The Old) / Les Bonbons LP April 1963

11. Au Suivant (Next) / Les Bonbons LP April 1963

12. Jef (You’re Not Alone) / Ces Gens La LP January 1964

13. Mathilde / Ces Gens La LP January 1964

14. Amsterdam / Enregistrement Public A L’Olympia 1964 LP October 1964

15. Tango Funebre (Funeral Tango) / Enregistrement Public A L’Olympia 1964 LP October 1964

16. La Chanson De Jacky / Ces Gens La LP November 1965

17. Ces Gens La (Those People) / Ces Gens La LP November 1965

18. Fils De (Sons Of / Jaques Brel ’67 LP January 1967

19. J’Arrive / J’Arrive LP September 1968

20. La Quete (The Impossible Dream) / L’Homme De La Mancha LP November 1968

21. Ne Me Quitte Pas (If You Go Away) / Ne Me Quitte Pas LP June 1972

22. Les Biches / Ne Me Quitte Pas LP June 1972

23. L’Amour Est Mort (Our Love Is Dead) / Les Marquises LP October 1977