Bad Reputation - Pierre de Gaillande Sings Georges Brassens
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Bad Reputation
Pierre de Gaillande Sings Georges Brassens
Barbes Records (

Seconds into the first track, this guy's voice reminded me of Leonard Cohen, which immediately got me listening very closely. But Pierre de Gaillande, who was born in Paris and raised in California, is a different animal. He dabbled in indie and folk rock in the states before deciding to re-connect with his Francophone roots. Once that decision was made, he chose as his focus Georges Brassens, a singer and songwriter iconic in France but not well-known elsewhere. Brassens' approach to songwriting is anything but mainstream, owing more to the rougher vagaries of 17th century French poetry than anything resembling pop trends. His songs can be as casually vulgar as "Ninety-Five Percent," which notes a particular woman's physical needs in mince-no-words detail, or on occasion, as genuinely heartfelt as "To Die For Your Ideas," which salutes those who do just that.

Sex and profanity are constants; no punches are pulled regarding politics, culture or religion and words like subversive don't begin to describe Brassens' style. Then again, unless you've heard the originals, there are only de Gaillande's versions to go on. With that in mind, I can safely assume that his painstaking English language interpretation and deadpan delivery do Brassens justice. And the stripped-down acoustic cabaret/jazz/manouche arrangements make damn sure that everything comes through loud and clear. I found Bad Reputation clever at first, before it quickly turned boorish and unrelentingly crass. But if a combination of Lenny Bruce, Jacques Brel and Django Reinhardt is your idea of a good time, go for it. - Tom Orr

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