If you look down to the credits, you'll see that Patrick Bruel's Greatest Hits release is entirely in French—yep, even She's Gone, which is not the Hall & Oates ditty—and that may at first seem a trifle offputting to English-speaking ears (and, no, that's not a mixed metaphor, y'all Grammar Police, it's a metonym!) but Bruel, an actor and musician who's HUGE in Europe (his 14 releases have racked up over 14 million units in sales) is one of those guys whose work is so well wrought that understanding the lyrics is at best a secondary concern: the gent's attractive vocals and instrumental backings speak in every language, a kind of cybernetic Esperanto.
Long ago, I passed over all kinds of LPs because cognizance of the lyrics was a must in order to enjoy the work properly. I didn't speak or understand the tongue, so why aggravate myself. However, one day I ran across the French groups Ange and Hydravion, the Italian Riccardo Cocciante, and a double handful of others, and was so absorbed by the music in whole that the vocals became just another element in arrangement, the words unimportant, the emotional content and delivery everything. That's the case here as well. It's not hard to see why Bruel is a triple threat: he's good looking, is an acclaimed thespian, and can write and perform in the musical arts with enviable expertise.
Maux d'Enfants approaches cabaretic art-music rather succinctly, and the middle eight shows the true root of rap music: Weillian sprechestimme (for the true first American aping, though, you might want to catch the salesmen / train-ride section of The Music Man). It also treads on the heels of prog, something I always enjoy. Bruel, however, hits all the bases, from impassioned heart-wrenching lament to joy to pensivity and rumination, all those and all points in between. He's accompanied by excellent backing musicians, none of whom are named anywhere. Hey, it's Sony, and you know how poor those bastards are! Damn multi-millionaires can barely afford their own personal jetliners any more, times are tough, so the extra pennies saved on cancelling proper attribution go to help them through the apocalypse, right? But, really, that hardly matters. It's the music, it's the music, it's the music, and Greatest Hits is a discovery.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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