Renaud and I: a long story. I discovered him in 1989 with the opus Visage pâle rencontre public. I was 5 and he had already something like 25 years of career in songwriting and singing. His last LP, Putain de Camion, is a quite personal one (because of Coluche's death) and the selling were not that good. It announced the beginning of the end for the singer. Indeed he had become during the 80's a huge star, with a wide audience and great selling.
The story began in 1975 and this LP Amoureux de Paname (Paris' lover). At that time, he has the style of what we, French people call a "titi parisien" : some young and poor guy of the nearly suburb of Paris (faubourg Montmartre for example), with a very strong accent. He sang about this town he loves and the people who lives in its streets. With Laisse Béton (Give it up) in 1977, his style is the one of a "loubard", French mix between a tramp and a little gangster : no more cap, but leather jackets and motorcycles. But his songs are still the same : story of friends crew, girls, etc.
Musically speaking, his debut LP is very "frenchy": acoustic guitar, accordion, piano. But by the 80's, his style fit more with the period musical clichés: no more accordion, but keyboards and electrical drums. His first LP of the 80s, Le retour de Gérard Lambert sounds strongly rock. By the 90's and Marchands de cailloux and La Belle de Mai, he comes back to something closer that he used to play in the beginning of his career..
After a long break due to strong alcohol and depression problems, he came back with two good albums : Boucan d'enfer (2002) and Rouge Sang (2006). Those are quite good French chanson LPs but they's nothing compared to what Renaud used to be and represent. I'm a huge fan, but it's always nostalgic to remember what he was and what he is now. Sometimes, that hurts. But still. I love him.
And to finish, some listening. During those 35 years of career, Renaud wrote a lot of tracks deserving to be heard. On one hand hard lyrics, violent attacks against politicians of his time and one the other hand emotional songs, most of them written for his wife(ves) and his children.