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Pierre Bensusan 2 is an eclectic mix of songs and instrumental pieces exploring both contemporary, French and celtic traditions, a cross-over with Free Jazz, quite innovative with a strong atmosphere throughout. Le Roi Renaud was Pierre's hit song.
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Since then, of course, he has become world-famous, expanding his musical vocabulary all the while.
The first 4 albums, however — before the effects pedals and so forth, when his main influences were easily discernible to be the notable guitarists of the English folk revival, particularly John Renbourn, Nic Jones and Martin Carthy — these remain my favourites. Pierre has published the music of many of these pieces in The Guitar Book.
"2" contains some gems of French folk music:
"Le Roi Renaud" is about a wounded king coming home from the wars. His mother tells him that the Queen has given birth to a son. But the King dies in the night — he's been disembowelled. The Queen Mother and courtiers try to keep the news from the Queen. The latter asks why the valets are crying, she's told that a beautiful horse has drowned, and so forth. Eventually she finds out, and implores the earth to open and swallow her up. Of course, it obligingly does so.
"Belle je m'en vais en Allemagne" is the familiar story of a man about to go off to war, and the efforts of his girl to stop him. This song builds beautifully, starting with just the drone of a bagpipe against Pierre's double-tracked voice, then bringing in the guitar, then two more bagpipes in counterpoint.
It's immediately followed by "Le conseil de guerre", about a soldier being court-martialled and shot. So French folk music appears to be just as gloomy as that of the British Isles.
All this, and brilliant instrumentals, too. "Le lendemain de la fête", in particular, is a miniature masterpiece.
And I'm SO glad that this reissue has the wonderful picture from the cover of the LP, instead of the boring photograph the first CD reissue had.
Summary: absolutely outstanding.