“C’est une erreur, mais les joueurs, d’accordéon. Au grand jamais, on ne les met, au Panthéon…” or “It’s quite a shame, but those who play accordion. Never end up in the crypt of the Pantheon.”
The wise words of a famous French singer, songwriter and poet, Georges Brassens have been revived, translated and introduced to the English-speaking world through Pierre de Gaillande’s Bad Reputation Volume 2. Both a Parisian and New Yorker, de Gaillande has always been impressed by Brassens’ work and persona. He has felt the need to present his work outside of the borders of France. And I’m surely glad he did.
The covered tracks are permeated “debauched damsels and dirty old men,” as well as other Brassens’ signature characters.
Apart from being a virtuoso with lyrics that literally transformed the French language, Brassens’ happened to be quite a rebel in terms of what music should sound like. He loved to go against the current and the trend of his time. That was in the 1960s, when rock music was on the rise.
“Not musically, but his whole attitude. To play folk music in the way that he did at that time — refusing to embellish his poet-singer form with any modern production techniques — was, in and of itself, completely subversive,” says de Gaillande.
The album also features French accordionist Jean Jacques Franchin, who passed away shortly after the album was recorded. Therefore, the accordion-driven opening track “Dear Old Leon” is a bow to Franchin.
De Gaillande has explained “that Brassens never actually used accordions in his music and likely wrote the song as a bit of a nod to the players of an instrument that he may never have really liked.”
Overall, Bad Reputation Volume 2 truly is a masterpiece. The playful, catchy instrumentals are juxtaposed with dark themes, nostalgia and sentiment of a true bohemian. The album takes a walk down Parisian rue and captures its essence.
1. Dear Old Leon
2. Lament of the Ladies of Leisure
3. Give Them All a Kiss
4. In the Clear Water of the Fountain
5. The Wind
6. With All Due Respect
8. The Old Man
9. The Storm
10. The War of 14-18
11. The Codicil
Listen to live version of “Dear Old Leon” here!