La Chanson de Jacky is one of Jacques Brel’s best known compositions, certainly here in the UK, thanks to the fact it has twice been taken into the singles charts in 1967 and 1991, both as cover versions:-

mp3 : Scott Walker – Jackie
mp3 : Marc Almond – Jacky

Both versions are an absolute hoot, both have much to offer in terms of enjoyment and style and both are well worth a few minutes of your time for a listen. If pushed, I’d say I preferred Marc Almond’s version for the bravado shown by him and the production/arrangement/mixing cohorts of Trevor Horn, Anne Dudley and Youth in throwing absolutely everything at it to turn it into a genuine camp classic which has stood the test of time.

Having said that, it is worth noting how Scott Walker’s version, which of course I’m way too young to recall, was banned by the BBC because of words like ‘queers’, ‘virgins’ and ‘opium’, and yet such was his popularity at the time that it sold enough copies to reach #22 despite next to no airplay.

A wee snippet of trivia for you.

The b-side of Scott’s single was one of his own – the writing credit is given to Scott Engel which was the name he was born with – and is a wonderfully OTT effort complete with the singer bringing in the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra to give him the sound he was looking for:-

mp3 : Scott Walker – The Plague

What many perhaps hadn’t noticed when Marc took Jacky to #17 is that five years earlier he had included this on his covers EP, A Woman’s Story:-

mp3 : Marc Almond – The Plague

Oh and I also discovered while doing my research that Jacques Brel had also, in 1986, been given the cover treatment by the eccentric and occasionally brilliant Nick Currie, who records as Momus, and in doing so offered his own twisted and very personal and incredibly clever take on things :-

mp3 : Momus – Nicky

Cute… a stupid ass way


6 thoughts on “CUTE….IN A STUPID ASS WAY

  1. I love both of these cover versions, but the first I knew of Jacques Brel was from Bowie covering ‘Amsterdam’. I then herd Terry Jacks doing ‘If You Go Away’ and was really interested. Then I heard that The Beatles had based ‘Norwegian Wood’ on his sound.

    By 1982 I was spending my holiday doing the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, really overdosing on stuff. The one play I really wanted to go and see was called ‘Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris’. If I remember correctly, he’d snuffed it three years earlier, but you get the gist. Just as Lorca’s ghost lurks in Granada, Brel’s influence was still there.

    The play, a musical of his life with his songs, was fantastic. One of my favourite memories. A few nights later I was in an Indian restaurant with my wife and saw the cast at another table. I thought I wasn’t talking too loudly when I said, “Isn’t that Jacques Brel over there?”, but must have as I heard someone from another table saying “Isn’t he dead?”

    The night we had gone to see the play was actually the night before it started, but we were offered a pair of tickets for the last night of a band called Ras Messengers, a Nayabingi troup with a bass guitarist dressed in full military kit like Haile Selassie. We were told there was no bar, but we could bring drink with us. We took a carry out, enjoyed some fantastic music, and the bass player having eyed our beer all night, soon joined us at the end of the gig. The band had offered to stay and discuss their rastafarianism to anyone interested. What a night, and I had thee Brel thing to look forward to the following night!

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