Bad Reputation: 'Pierre de Gaillande Sings Georges Brassens' (Barbés)
Grade: A MINUS
In which a Paris-born, California-raised, NYC-based journeyman translates and performs definitive French chansonnier Georges Brassens. Absent Brassens' vocal brass and the actual phonemes he set his music to, you might expect a passable revivalist facsimile. But though the French has to be chewier, half these exercises in street philosophy and real-life parable give up bite enough in de Gaillande's intricate English -- try "Ninety-Five Percent," which is how often sex bores her, or "Don Juan," one of an unmatched group of unsung heroes. Even more important, Brassens was the rare music- second guy whose verbal blueprints laid out melodies that stand up on their own, and de Gaillande's diligence about following their syllabic patterns preserves tunes that will snake through your head days later. Since the problem with chansonniers is the words-first thing, which prevents them from signifying across linguistic barriers, de Gaillande has performed a major service. I wonder whether Arto Lindsay could do the same for Caetano Veloso.
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(Image: Bad Reputation/Barbés)