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Brel Infiniment

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (30 Aug. 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Barclay
  • ASIN: B0001ZA1MG
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,667,532 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
isn't on this collection, more's the pity. Phil Connors quotes it in Groundhog Day when he's trying to show that he's familiar with nineteenth century French poetry & I was hoping to hear the song. And yes, the quote is genuinely "j'aimera" not "j'aimerai". Anyway, cool stuff. If you're not familiar with Brel you'll be surprised at how familiar many of the tunes are, in particular the originals for "Seasons in the Sun" (but sung in a much less mawkish manner than the translated 1970's cover single) and "If you go away".
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Format: Audio CD
many of the less-well-known tracks are even better than the more famous songs - overall, the disc with Amsterdam on it isn't a patch on the other
oh - and the translations are TERRIBLE!!! slightly amusing at times, but mainly confusing eg sans exigences translates as without emergencies
I love it
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8ed9b018) out of 5 stars 28 reviews
97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ef3fb94) out of 5 stars 10 Brel Treasures among 40 Songs, with Official English Translations 23 Sept. 2005
By JS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
For those of us using Brel's songs to help us learn or improve our French, it's important to understand the difference between this 2-disc set, released in 2004 on the DRG Records label (ASIN: B0002PUHGU) and the other version of Infiniment released in 2003 on the Universal Music label (ASIN: B0000AA8V2).

The songs themselves are the same. However, the DRG Records version includes official English translations of all 40 songs in the liner notes, along with English/French song titles. The original French lyrics are not included. The abbreviated song translations and excellent CD liner notes were done by Amazon.com Reviewer Thelma F. Blitz.

The Universal Music version includes song titles in French only, and French lyrics for tracks 2 through 6 of Disc 1 only. There are no lyrics at all for the remaining 35 songs, and no English translations of lyrics for any of the 40 songs.

To get all 40 songs in both French and English, one must purchase the DRG Records version of the Infiniment CD and a separate book of Brel's original French lyrics, such as "Jacques Brel, Oeuvre Intégrale" published by Robert Laffont S.A. in 1982 (ISBN 2-221-01068-X or -8).

You'll also want an excellent French-English dictionary to fully appreciate Brel's songs, and I can recommend none better than Collins Robert French Unabridged Dictionary, 7th Edition (ISBN: 0060748931). This French dictionary is the best one I have ever used over the past 30 years, it's truly magnificent. (See my review of it and the 13 images I placed there of dictionary pages).

The Songs on Disc 1:

"La Quête" (The Quest, Track 1, Disc 1) is better known as "The Impossible Dream". This is Brel's version of the song also crooned by Elvis Presley, Andy Williams and The Supremes, and originally created by Mitch Leigh and Joe Darion. I don't believe Brel's version is as satisfying as the original in English, however, at least for native English speakers.

Tracks 2 through 6 (Disc 1) are songs created in 1977, a year before Brel's death, but released for the first time by Brel's family through the International Jacques Brel Foundation in Brussels. Brel recorded these after part of one lung had already been removed due to lung cancer. Their release was somewhat controversial, at least with some of the musicians who worked with Brel over the years, because Brel had not finalized these recordings prior to his death. They felt that Brel's artistic vision would have been better served and better respected by keeping these recordings unpublished. On the other side, there was considerable demand for his last unpublished recordings and a lot of heartfelt gratitude towards the Brel family on the part of Brel fans around the world, who were ecstatic at this release of his previously unheard recordings.

Tracks 7 through 10 (Disc 1) had been previously released in 1977 on the Barclay label. Track 11 (Disc 1) is J'Arrive (I Arrive), which was previously released in 1968 on Barclay.

Tracks 12 through 15 and 18 through 20 (Disc 1) are in my view 7 of Brel's greatest songs of all, due to the elegant literary quality of his lyrics, the raw passion expressed in his voice, and the beautiful and haunting melodies and/or accompanying orchestrations.

"Quand On N'a Que L'amour" (When We Have Only Love, Track 12, Disc 1) is Brel's quintessential theme song (circa 1960) for idealistic young lovers who believe that love conquers all, in stark contrast to Brel's later more jaded songs, ranging from "Le Prochain Amour" (The Next Lover, Track 18, Disc 1) in 1961 to "La Chanson des Vieux Amants" (Song of the Old Lovers, Track 19, Disc 1) in 1967. "Quand On N'a Que L'amour" strikes a similar tone of optimism as another Brel song, "Au Printemps", which is not included in the Infiniment collection.

"Le Plat Pays" (The Flat Country, Track 13, Disc 1) is Brel's nostalgic homage to his home country of Belgium, sung with great affection. Although he grew up in Belgium, he spent nearly his entire musical career in Paris, France.

"Mon Enfance" (My Childhood, Track 14, Disc 1), one of Brel's most passionate songs, takes a candid look back at what Brel describes as a quite unhappy childhood, accompanied by ravishingly beautiful accompaniment by piano, cello, "Ondes Martenot" (sounds like an American "singing saw") and orchestra that manage to convey a strong sense of nostalgia despite the misery Brel describes. The English translation is very abridged; for some reason some of the verses were not provided.

"Les Vieux" (The Old People, Track 15, Disc 1), evokes a ticking clock as a metaphor for the passage of time. It paints a grim portrait of life in the twilight years, set to the beat of a grandfather clock, a triangle and a small orchestra.

"Le Prochain Amour" (The Next Lover, Track 18, Disc 1) is Brel's world-wisened and world-weary evaluation of love: "...it's good to be in love... I know just the same that the next love will be my next defeat..."

"La Chanson des Vieux Amants" (Song of the Old Lovers, Track 19, Disc 1) is a wonderful nostalgic look back at a romance of 20 years: all the storms the couple has endured, and "the sweet tender marvelous love" that continues today even as their "the tender war" persists. To me, Brel's passionate singing and the wonderful piano and orchestral accompaniment evoke all the romance and nostalgia of a World War II era Casablanca, making this one of Brel's greatest classic songs.

"Ne Me Quitte Pas" (Don't Leave Me, Track 20, Disc 1) is Brel's most famous torch song, in which he uses exquisite imagery to press his suit with a girl who has already left him, descending in the end into abject desperation as he struggles to maintain a link, any link at all, with the object of his love. Frank Sinatra was moved to sing an English version of this song ("If You Go Away"), which unfortunately doesn't do justice to the stunning poetry of the French original. This version uses a gorgeous piano accompaniment and a soto voce orchestra in the background. The last verse adds a flute to the piano accompaniment. This is my favorite song of the entire Jacques Brel repertoire because of the power and the haunting beauty of the lyrics, Brel's impassioned voice and the evocative music!

Some Great Songs on Disc 2:

"Amsterdam" (Track 1, Disc 2) is one of Brel's most famous songs. It's about the sailors who disembark in this Dutch port and how they deal with the vicissitudes of their lonely lives and the dreams that haunt them once they reach the shore.

"L'enfance" (Childhood, Track 6, Disc 2) is a song from the 1973 French comedy film "Far West" directed, co-scored and co-written by Jacques Brel, who also acted in the film. This song evokes a much more positive view of childhood then "Mon Enfance", and suggests how maintaining some of the elements of childhood can enhance life even in old age.

"Marieke" (Track 13, Disc 2) is a nostalgic song about a first love that played out on the beaches of Belgium one summer in his teen years. It alternates charmingly between Flemish and French, the two national languages of Belgium.

Other highly recommended Jacques Brel CDs you can find on Amazon.com include:

Title (ASIN#) No. of Songs

Quand On N'a Que L'amour (B00000IYC9) 49 songs (3-CD set with 31 pages of Brel Photos and a 24-page Essay)

The Olympia '61 & '64 (B000BJ7D96) 30 songs with great English translations (2-CD set)

Grand Jacques (B0009NDDDY) 15 songs including "Sur la Place"

Vol. 1-Special Edition (B000042OFF) 16 songs

Les Flamandes (B000006UOA) 21 songs

Les Bonbons (B0000AKOLD) 14 songs

Ballades Et Mots D'amour (B00003Q56T) 30 songs

Vol. 1-Special Edition (ASIN: B000042OFF) 16 songs

Master Series: Jacques Brel (B0000046O5) 16 songs (same songs as on Vol. 1-Special Edition)

Volume 1 - Grand Jacques (B00000DXQY) 15 songs with "Sur La Place"

Grand Jacques Integrale 172 Titres (B000025BD8) 172 songs (10-CD set)

What's even more fabulous than the CDs, however, is the 3 volume DVD set released in 2003: Jacques Brel: Comme quand on etait beau. (ASIN: B0000AQJPR). The set includes 7.5 hours of live and staged performances as well as interviews and home video footage. Everything that the heart of a Jacques Brel fan desires to capture the essence of this very theatrical artist in a way that an audio only recording can not.

Also of great interest: the VHS video "Jacques Brel" (ASIN: B0001P1XG4), a video biography on the life and

music of Jacques Brel. Full length documentary features extensive live footage and interviews with Brel himself

as well as his daughter and associates. It is also available on DVD, but only from Films Media Group.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ef3fce4) out of 5 stars Brel Is One of The Greatest Song Writer/Singers In Recording History 15 Oct. 2005
By John Boland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As an opera lover, I usually don't appreciate singing artists who don't posses a superbly "beautiful" voice. But, M. Brel is an exception....a wonderful exception! He puts so much emotion and "drama" into his singing that you forget about the quality of his voice and you find yourself involuntarily focusing on the quality of his soul! He's that good!

There is a "language barrier" to overcome, though. He sings only in French. This is "good" and "bad". The positive is that the French Language is a "musical language" which "musical quality" adds to the beauty of the songs. The negative aspect is that we English speaking people find it difficult to know what the songs are about. And, what makes it frustrating is that it is difficult to find "accurate" English translations of the songs. The off -Broadway play, "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well....." has "translations" but they are grossly inacurate and almost useless. That is where this CD comes in. "Infiniment" 2004 (not the 2003 import) has good tranlations included with the CD. This is the CD to purchase as an "introduction" to the wonderful "ouevre" (works) of Jacques Brel. After you buy this CD, you may become quite intrigued by this artist as I did...enough so that you might want to invest in the 3 DVD set which is now out.... which will permit you to see and hear this wonderful artist. Bon voyage and bon appetite! :o) Enjoy! (One more thing, I just found out that the credit for the VERY WONDERFUL translations for this CD is to be given to Thelma Blitz of New York City who did them for the record company. Brava to Ms. Blitz! I hope she translates more of Brel's songs in the future.) Email:boland7214@aol.
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ef3fc54) out of 5 stars J'Arrive 17 Dec. 2004
By K. H. Orton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Nearly 25 years after his death, & there's finally a North American release of this great talent. I'd say he's neck & neck with Bob Dylan for being one of the most original songwriters of the late 20th Century. Though I've never seen him live, what performances I have seen via video were astounding. When he came to America to play Carnegie Hall in '65, he was described as an "electrical storm".

On record , he's still fierce, confrontational & straight from the gut. However, his introduction to many Americans may have come via the Shuman/Blau translations of the off-Broadway hit, JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE & LIVING IN PARIS. Sadly, they don't even come close to hitting the mark. Furthermore, they lack the bite, the wit & the bleak romanticism of the originals. Scott Walker released a gushing tribute in the late 60's and despite some fine moments, it still lacks the intensity of the real thing. Oddly enough, I became aware of Brel through David Bowie's 1973 versions of "Amsterdam" & "My Death". Which to this day, hold up well against any other English versions I've heard.

But like I said, none of that comes close to Brel spitting it out himself. He can be as bitterly mournful on "Ne Me Quitte Pas" as he is perversely sarcastic on "Les Bigotes". No translator needed.

This collection provides an excellent overview of his oeuvre, as well as finally providing some decent English translations for those who failed high school French. Though, a few personal favorites are omitted, I'd still say that this is the perfect introduction.

For the seasoned listener, the unissued tracks like, "La Cathedrale" & "L'Amour est Morte" will not disappoint. They are as haunting & pointed as his best known work.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ef3fb4c) out of 5 stars Brel's Major Hits--Original versions at Last 22 Jun. 2005
By Thelma F Blitz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
One thing the liner notes of DRG's Infiniment did not mention was that the original hit versions of Le Moribond, La Valse a Mille Temps, and Quand on n'a Que L'Amour, are on this CD.

If you own a two CD best of Jacques Brel on Barclay it contains 1972 re-recordings of these songs because Phillips refused to license the release of the originals to Barclay. The Fondation Brel was able to get hold of the original hits as well as early Phillips material such as Ca Va Le Diable and Il Nous Faut Regarder and put them on Infiniment.

While Brel can never be bad, a re-recording of a hit is an artist imitating himself and often doesn't cut it like the original . The excessive strings behind these new recordings lower the taste level instantly. The simpler , sometimes guitar only, purity is restored on Infiniment.
If you think you already have "all these songs" think again. The only other place to find the originals is on old Phillips vinyl or in a very expensive box set.
Ne Me Quitte Pas, however, is the 1972 re-recording done for Barclay. Perhaps even money couldn't buy the rights from Phillips or the Brel Family decided they liked the more recent one better. Gerard Jouannest' s piano opens it instead of the eerie electronic keyboard Martenot Waves.
The original hits ,plus the unreleased songs of 1977, plus liner notes with biography and short English translations of all songs at half the price of the European edition make the DRG Infiniment a great deal.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ede842c) out of 5 stars Beatiful and spine-tingling 14 Oct. 2004
By JoJo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
What an amazing collection! This album boasts wonderful liner notes and photographs, and the collection is stellar. The highlight for me is the "new" tracks at the beginning, especially "Le Cathedrale" and "Sans exigences," which were recorded shortly before his death. One can't help but be moved by the sound of a dying man singing his heart out. Also included are English translations of his lyrics...on a final note, I have other Brel import collections, and the versions of "Ne me quitte pas" and "Quand on n'a que l'amour" are slightly different, but wonderful nonetheless.
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