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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grand Jacques, 27 Nov 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Integrale (Audio CD)
To mark the 25th anniversary of Jacques Brel's death, this set is an extremely generous, beautifully presented collection of all 15 of Brel's offically released albums, plus a bonus 16th disc containing 12 previously unreleased early radio recordings. The whole lot comes in a fantastically presented box designed to look like a giant tin of sweets, which ingeniously pays homage to Brel's classic chanson "Les Bonbons". All CD's are faithful to the original packaging of the albums and contain full lyrics (even for the unreleased tracks). There is also a beautiful hardback book (with awesome photographs) to accompany the set and serve as an overall guide to the collection.
14 of the 15 CD's contain bonus unreleased or hard-to-find chansons, the most notable being those on the CD of Brel's swansong album "Les Marquises" (1977) which contains no less than 5 previously unheard songs from the original sessions. These bonus songs are sublime and, for a Brel lover like myself, feel like uncovering a chest of gold. Brel left strict instructions that the unreleased songs should not see the light of day after his death but hey, that's what Kafka told Max Brod, and few can doubt that Brod did us all a favour.
Jacques Brel's chansons are timeless; they can be moving, amusing, beautiful, grotesque, scathing, cinematic, but are always devastating. It is not necessary to understand French to appreciate his work; the emotion conveyed is so authentic and universal that you can intuit what Brel is saying so much of the time - his anger, contempt, pity or his unsentimental plea for redemption. This ultimate collection is superb value for money and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Here are the details of the albums contained in the collection:
Grand Jacques
Quand on n'a que l'amour
Au Printemps
La Valse a mille temps
Marieke
Olympia '61 (Live)
Les Bourgeois
Les Bonbons
Olympia '64 (Live)
Ces Gens-la
Jacques Brel 67
J'arrive
L'homme de la Mancha
Ne Me Quitte Pas
Les Marquises
(Finally, if you are reading this review as an already-converted Brel lover, visit Amazon.fr where you can purchase a simply outstanding 3-DVD collection of 7 hours of footage of Brel in interview and performance).
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Above stars!, 26 Nov 2003
By 
Merilahti Kristiina (Finland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Integrale (Audio CD)
I got this one from Amazon.fr and I am very, very pleased! Of course it was a bit expensive and of course I had some Brel-CD's already, but here it is: everything he ever sang + almost 30 songs that haven't been published for decades or at all, such as the five songs meant for Brel's next album that never came (those five songs can be found on 'Infiniment' also, if this packabe feels too pricy to get them) and 'Le pendu' that was made for a Belgian (?) TV-show, everything remastered for a better sound and all the CD's resembling the original records.
In fact, don't be fooled by the description here: there are in fact 16 CD's, one comes inside the booklet and there are those inedited ones. I learned new things about Brel after being 14 years a fan, when I heard the earliest recordings for the first time, just young Brel and guitar. One of my favourite songs, 'Sur la place' was known to me only as an early version with Rauber's arrangement and orchestra, but I found out, there was an earlier one, with just the guitar. And it's easy to hear, what a difference it made for Brel to get rid of the guitar and start singing backed by Rauber's orchestra.
There is no point in naming songs. They are all there, almost everything you can think of. Brel did compose a couple of songs for other people, and they are missing. But that really means five songs or less. There's the music for 'L'homme de la Mancha', the live recordings made in 1961 and 1964, the last album with it's blue skies and white clouds.
All the records contain the lyrics and original cover pictures. And the book inside is like a scrap-book: with pictures of Brel, with quotations from his interviews and writings, mostly arranged to fit the songs mentioned chronologically. Some quotes comment on the songs, some just the general idea or theme. They are interesting, though the book seems at first messy. The last pages contain Brel's life story. And everything is in this handsome package, safely tucked inside. In fact, it's surprisingly large. The sound quality was good enough for me. The release of this box is a great thing. Maybe the only thing one might miss is some video footage - now that many new CD's seem to contain videos. After all, there's some footage from his concerts and Brel really was someone, who had to be seen live to truly appreciate him fully.
My day was extremely happy, when I got this. And anyone who loves Brel will appreciate this. There aren't enough stars in this system, so ********************** (and some more...)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of the Best... Brel will never die...., 9 April 2006
By 
Marc Philippens (Bruxelles, Belgique) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Integrale (Audio CD)
I'm a fan of Jacques Brel since I was an 8-year old boy. My mother tongue is flemmisch but i can assure you it was Brel who taught me my first french words.. through his songs. Each and every one of them is a jewel. The way Brel descibes scenes... you just feel it, he makes you enter a world in a way no one else can. I'm happy to live in Brussels and to often visit places he used to go to. This makes you 'get in touch' with his world even more. The box is rather expensive, that is true, but you get something for your money. Almost on each CD there are bonusses you don't have when you buy the cd's seperately. There's even a CD with his very first recordings done in a - flemmisch - radio studio of Radio Hasselt (now this is Radio 2 Limburg) They gave him his first chance. Brel never forgot this. And we, we will ever forget Brel.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Jacques, 2 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Jacques Brel (Audio CD)
Jacques Brel is the finest singer-songwriter Belgium (not France) has produced in the XXth century. His lyrics are powerful, compelling and beautiful. The word "poem" is more accurate than "song" to describe his work in my view. This compilation gives a good introduction to the artist, but you should not hesitate to buy the full collection (with text books) in order to get to know Brel's work. Powerful!
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