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Album Review

After half a century bringing rock & roll to the French-speaking world, Belgian born Johnny Hallyday released Ca Ne Finira Jamais ("It Never Ends") in 2009 amidst a farewell tour. While Hallyday may still be virtually unknown outside of the Francophone world, he is the closest thing France has got to a real rock star and while overblown at times, this 2009 album finally comes close to capturing true rock & roll. With over 40 studio albums under his Elvis-inspired belt, Hallyday delivers his entire repertoire of musical variety on Ca Ne Finira Jamais; from the traditional ballads his old fans will be craving such as "Emily" and "Etat de Grâce," to blues melodies reminiscent of those he adopted in his Nashville days ("Je M'arrête Là"). He even teams up with some young soul blood, singing with Joss Stone on "Unchained Melody" — a beautiful rendition of the song, but unfortunately one that is not included on the U.S. version of the album. One of his smartest moves may have been to enlist the help of the young pop singer Raphaël for the sentimental but sweet "Je N'appartiens Qu'a Toi" ("I Belong Only to You").

For those craving good, old-fashioned rock, Johnny Hallyday may never cut it, and he will undoubtedly retain his label as a great pretender. For those who understand his lyrics and are eternally grateful to him for introducing American rock & roll to a country inherently opposed to it, he will remain their very own King. For the latter group, Ca Ne Finira Jamais is full of everything one might desire; epic ballads, sweet love songs, and Hallyday's own version of the blues. For everyone else, it's worth a listen, but most likely won't stand out as anything exceptional.


Born: 15 June 1943 in Paris, France

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

France's first and only full-fledged rock star, Johnny Hallyday was still a distinctly French phenomenon, never achieving worldwide recognition (partially because a good chunk of his repertoire consisted of French-language covers of early American rock hits). Other French artists may have been influenced by rock & roll, but none was as beholden to the original sources, or as enduringly successful, as Hallyday. Moreover, his appropriations of Elvis Presley and James Dean captured the French imagination,...
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Ça ne finira jamais (Version deluxe), Johnny Hallyday
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