This is Jacques Brel’s first ‘album’, released on 10″ 33.3 rpm in 1954. The album also goes by the name “1ère Série”.
Here we see Brel in his folk-esque phase, which sees him writing highly poetic and political songs – mainly focusing on morality and religion. The lyrics on this first album are dark, and one can see where Leonard Cohen took inspiration from (Brel’s staccato guitar picking on songs like ‘Il Pleut’ reminds me of ‘Avalanche’ from Songs of Love and Hate). Take a look at this following translation from the album’s first song, ‘La Haine’ (‘The Hate’):
Like a sailor I shall leave to party with prostitutes,
And should it make you cry it will delight my soul.
Like a novice I shall leave to pray to the Lord,
And should it make you suffer it will only make my prayers better.
Mixed with this are upbeat Gypsy Jazz songs such as ‘C’est Comme Ca’ and ‘Il Peut Pleuvoir’.
While none of the songs on this album match the quality of his later collaborations with Francois Rauber and Gerard Jouannest, this collection is an interesting insight into Brel’s early songwriting. The most significant songs on this album are ‘Grand Jacques’ and ‘Le Diable’, which are the perfect introduction to Jacques Brel’s catalogue.
Click the song title to view a new, poetic translation of the song.
- ‘La Haine’ (‘The Hate’)
- ‘Grand Jacques (C’est Trop Facile)’ (‘Great Jacques (It’s too easy)’)
- ‘It Pleut “Les Carreaux”‘ (‘It Rains “The Windowpanes”‘)
- ‘Le Diable (Ca Va)’ (‘The Devil (All’s Well)’)
- ‘Il Peut Pleuvoir’ (‘Let It Rain’)
- ‘Il Nous Faut Regarder’ (‘We Need To Look’)
- ‘Le Fou Du Roi’ (‘The Jester’)
- ‘C’est Comme Ca’ (‘That’s How It Is’)
- ‘Sur La Place’ (‘In The Square’)