Dead Belgian. Love & Death: the Songs of Jacques Brel.

Mention of Jacques Brel in a rock context usually ends up praising Scott Walker although here in Scotland fans of a certain age will swear blind that Alex Harvey’s rendition of Next is somewhat akin to the Second Coming. However its nice to hear his songs delivered in a cabaret/chanson setting that can transport the listener to a cramped Gitanes ridden fleapit with a small orchestra crammed together in a ramshackle, parping and wheezy fashion. Strangely enough Dead Belgian hail from Liverpool, a place more commonly associated with sweaty beat cellars but they carry off this continental drift in fine fashion. With Fionnuala Dorrity delivering most of the lyrics in French folk not acquainted with Brel might be a bit lost for those familiar with the songs the translation will be easy. The instrumentation which includes guitar, ukulele, mandolin, accordion, saxophone, flute, clarinet and percussion captures the atmosphere perfectly. Vibrant and vital or sleazy and salacious as required it’s a great listen. All the usual suspects are present, Next (Au Suivant), Ne Me Quitte Pas, Amsterdam, Le Moribund, Jacky and My Death among others. A must for Brel fans it tempting to think that perhaps Dead Belgian can be persuaded to turn their sights on Georges Brassens next.

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