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Jean-Michel Jarre - Essentials & Rarities CD (album) cover


Jean-Michel Jarre


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3.26 | 8 ratings

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3 stars 3 stars really. Jean Michel Jarre dedicated this compilation to his dear friend and record company leader Richard Dreyfus who died in 2010. CD one ("Essentials - new HD mastering from restored original tapes") contains tracks from each album, and doesn't much differ from numerous other Jarre compilations. The opener is the delicious 'Souvenir Of China'. Debut Oxygene gets more space than others, three tracks (Parts 2 - the biggest hit? -, 4 and 6). The order is not chronological; otherwise it probably would nastily show how his music became worse as it went more techno-poppish, at least in my opinion. Albums like Zoolook and Waiting For Cousteau are not up to the level of his first albums, nor are the chosen tracks here. But a decent compilation nevertheless. It ends with a fine 8- minute 'Space of Freedom' which was one of the few new tracks for me.

The bigger interest, especially for an advanced Jarre listener, lies in the second CD: "Rarities - Pre-Oxygene early works; 16 unreleased & rare tracks". Considering that Oxygene was released in 1976 and Jarre began making music of his own already in the late sixties, this is a very intriguing hidden field to reveal in this width. And we're talking about real rarities. Some of them have been released on very obscure occasions and the most of them never before.

The first notion is how experimental young Jarre was. 'Happiness Is A Sad Song' (1968) is actually Musique Concrete and pretty listenable at that. There's an instrumentation info to each track which also helps to form a deep picture of his evolution. He was a French equivalent to what was happening in Germany's so called Berlin School (Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Agitation Free, etc), studying the possibilities of the latest electronic technology. Compared to e.g. Klaus Schulze, Jarre was more interested in melody. The tracks remain shortish, so they're relatively accessible. The portion of melody would naturally become much bigger in his albums. In these recordings (where he uses for example VCS3 and Farfisa) he interestingly sounds closer to Krautrock than later on. Solo works of Edgar Froese could be a good comparison. You can only wonder why his debut didn't appear years earlier.

The curiosity value of this set is obviously very big if you're into Jarre and Electronic Music. I'm not even a fan (I'm much more fond of Tangerine Dream from the Virgin era onwards, Klaus Schulze and Vangelis, than Jarre), so I was happily surprised how bid deal of this CD was not only listenable but even quite good. Thanks to this set, I decided to listen to more of his albums. And yes, Oxygene and Equinoxe - parts of which I had heard in various compilations - were better than I had thought.

Matti | 3/5 |


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