Dead Belgian
Album: Love & Death: The Songs Of Jacques Brel
Label: Limefield
Tracks: 10

If your hanging out in the left field it surely won't be long before you bump into Dead Belgian, who, as the album title, implies are sort of a Liverpudlian Jacques Brel tribute band, a sort of Scouse-Gallic Take Thackery , if you like.

Dead Belgian are actually a four piece, Andy Delamere, Fionnuala Dorrity, Simon James and Matthew Wood that initially came together to perform the work's of Belgium's wittiest export back in 2007 and perform the songs very much with the passion that Brel did originally.

Naturally they've added their own flavours, for a start there's been a switch of gender at the front, with Fionnuala bringing a touch of the Edith Piaf to the proceedings and performing the songs with as much intensity, no easy feat considering the complexities of the arrangements and the need to really capture that nightclub sleaze feel.

There are compromises, some of the songs have been translated and performed in English, from my point of view a good decision. I actually prefer the French tracks, but with the frenetic pace of the album, hearing a couple of the songs in English takes some of the pressure off.

Even if you're not a French speaker there is still plenty top recommend this album. You may not fully understand the words, but there is no doubting a sense of debauchery contained in the musical narrative and there's a set of crib notes contained in the sleeve to help pull the whole together.

There are times when the album feels like a tribute to rakish behaviour, but with its references to venereal disease and addiction, no act really goes unpunished giving both Dead Belgian and Brel well if not the moral high ground certainly one step further away from the swamp.

I hit this album with very few pre-conceptions, approach with an open mind and you won't need to spend all that time in the left field. "Love & Death: The Songs Of Jacques Brel" is an excellent experience that I'm happy to recommend to anyone.

Neil King