It was the Infiniment compilation that gave me the wider story around Jacques Brel, until then he was just a guy that was an influence on Scott Walker, Jarvis Cocker, David Bowie, Tom Waits and many other musicians that I dug. I knew a few of the songs, but that double-disc and its notes provided the real proof. I have to say though, hearing Olympia 64 – now – and of course for the first time feels magical. I had not, until just recently, heard any of Brel’s original albums – just the compilations and so many cover versions – Nina Simone and Bic Runga and all of the guys I mentioned in the first sentence and many more besides.
There’s something about this set – his second album, his second album recorded at the Parisian concert Hall – Europe’s answer to Carnegie Hall.
At this point Brel was king – already. And you could hear it.
A master at singing a song in such a way that the performance sells the emotion.
I’m loving how these albums from the 50s and 60s that I have never heard previously are standing up, delivering. More than that they’re magical. And this is yet another example.