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John Greaves - Greaves Verlaine CD (album) cover

GREAVES VERLAINE

John Greaves

 

Canterbury Scene

4.00 | 1 ratings

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Alucard
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Green Fairy

Since his first records with Henry Cow John Greaves, has never stopped composing music, recording and giving concerts. He considers every new project as a challenge for himself and the audience. John Greaves lives now for quite a long time in France and his last record "Chansons", was built entirely around French lyrics, but was sung by Elise Caron. In concerts John sung sometimes a song of famous French chansonnier George Brassens himself, but Greave/Verlaine is the first record where John sings all tracks in French. The poems of French poet Paul Verlaine had already been set to music, the most famous being the Claude Debussy's melodies and in the 60's the record of Leo Ferré who recorded a double LP with poems by Verlaine & Rimbaud. Not an easy task to attack these "famous" poems.

The First contact with the record is the beautiful cover, a silver absinth spoon on red ground, a homage to the famous 19th century alcohol that was forbidden for his devastating effects, but inspired a lot of artists and was nicknamed the "Green Fairy", a whole program in itself.

The overall atmosphere of the eleven songs is heavy and down to earth, with John's deep voice, the distorted guitar of Jef Morin and the swampy drum sound on one side and on the other hand of the sound-spectre the beautiful soprano voice of Jeanne Added, the violins of Arthur Simonini and Dominique Pifarelly and Karen Mantler's harmonica. Somewhere in the middle range Scott Taylor's accordion and some eerie musical saw and Theremin playing by Fay Lovsky.

The moods range from the melancholic "la lune blanche" et "chanson d'automne" to the bal musette like "Streets" and "Beams" featuring Scott Taylor on accordion.. The absolute highlight of the record for me is "Le piano que baise une main frêle", one of these songs that give you the shivers every time you hear it with Jeanne Added and John singing together, John's heavy French pronunciation in opposition with Jeanne's delicate soprano. Awesome!!! This track on his own, in the line of "The Green Fuse"and "Kew Rhone", is already a classic John Greaves song. Two other outstanding songs "Chanson d'automne" with his melancholic atmosphere of falling leaves, one of Verlaine's most famous poems and "Triolet a une vertu" featuring again Jeanne Added and John on distorted vocals in a answer/question game.

The whole record is flawless and all tracks segue nicely one into the other, alternating slow and up- tempo atmospheres, unveiling with every listen another hidden aspect of the beautiful arrangements : already a classic record.

Alucard | 4/5 |

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