A welcome tribute to Bécaud
Compilation Et maintenant
Souchon, Hallyday, Bruel and Lama, plus younger stars like Renan Luce and Olivia Ruiz have reworked fourteen songs by Gilbert Bécaud, collected on the album Et maintenant. A triumph.
It looked like Gilbert Bécaud had slipped out of our minds. Few choose to sing his songs nowadays, unlike the frequent cover versions of Brassens, Brel and Gainsbourg released by all kinds of artists. The Star Academy crew did take up L’Orange, but there’s been little occasion to hear Bécaud’s songs since.
Thankfully, Et maintenant has arrived to fill the gap. Like other great musical pioneers, Bécaud now has his own tribute album featuring a prestigious cast including Johnny Hallyday, Alain Souchon, Julien Clerc, Olivia Ruiz, Eddy Mitchell and Patrick Bruel. The most surprising thing is that the CD hasn’t come out on Bécaud’s usual record label, EMI, but with its competitor Warner Music.
The title track, Et maintenant, marks a kind of comeback. It was the number that Johnny chose to end the concerts of his Tour 66, and now for the first time he has recorded it in the studio. Some of the songs on this compilation are obvious tributes to an impressive trailblazer interpreted some of today’s great singers– like Serge Lama on La Rivière, Eddy Mitchell with Je t’appartiens and C’est en septembre by Julien Clerc, who once played support act to Bécaud.
The international dimension of Bécaud’s work is also reflected in Anggun’s version of Let It Be Me, Ayo’s The Day the Rains Came Down, and Luz Casal singing Je reviens te chercher. And it’s surprising to see just how at ease the young contemporary generation is singing Bécaud, with voices like Alex Beaupain on L’Absent, Olivia Ruiz on Les Tantes Jeanne, Lynda Lemay’s Mes mains and especially Renan Luce singing Dimanche à Orly, which bears an astonishing kinship to the sombre realism of the original version.
The odd little ruse peppers the album, like the perfect duet between Bénabar and Gérard Darmon on L’Indifférence or Alain Souchon’s little sketch on Alors raconte, but it’s a positive input: we discover that Gilbert Bécaud’s songs were not just a source of inexhaustible liveliness, and that with his wordsmiths (Pierre Delanoë, Louis Amade and Maurice Vidalin), he drummed up a magical songbook that is still well worth plunging into.
Compilation Et maintenant (Warner Music) 2011
Translation by: Anne-Marie Harper