The Essential Guide to Jean Michel Jarre Compilation Albums

If you were paying attention, you may remember me musing previously on the somewhat bewildering array of compilation albums by Jean Michel Jarre (or Jean-Michel, as he appears to have finally settled on styling himself). Circumstances sadly require that we revisit the topic, this time in tabular form for completeness.

In the interests of simplicity, I’ve opted for the short English titles here.

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Oxygene 2 (1977) * * * * * * *
Oxygene 4 (1977) * * * * * * *
Oxygene 6 (1977) * * * * *
Equinoxe 1 (1978) *
Equinoxe 3 (1978) * * *
Equinoxe 4 (1978) * * * * * * *
Equinoxe 5 (1978) * * * * * *
Equinoxe 6 (1978) *
Band in the Rain (from Equinoxe 8) (1978) * * *
Magnetic Fields 1 (1981) * * * * *
The Overture (from Magnetic Fields 1) (1981) *
Magnetic Fields 2 (1981) * * * * *
Magnetic Fields 4 (1981) * * *
Magnetic Fields 5 (1981) * *
Orient Express (1982) * *
Fishing Junks at Sunset (1982) * *
Souvenir of China (1982) * * * * *
Arpeggiator (1982) * *
Ethnicolor (1983) * *
Zoolook (1983) *
Zoolookologie (1983) * * * * *
Wooloomooloo (1983) *
Diva (1983) *
Second Rendez-Vous (1983) *
Fourth Rendez-Vous (1986) * * * * *
Last Rendez-Vous (1986) * *
Revolutions (1988) *
London Kid (1988) *
Industrial Revolution (1988) *
Calypso 1 (1990) * *
Calypso 2 (1990) *
Calypso 3 (1990) *
Computer Weekend (1991) *
Moon Machine (1991) *
Eldorado (1991) *
Globe Trotter (1991) *
Blah Blah Cafe (1991)
Chronologie 4 (1994) * *
Chronologie 6 (1994) *
Oxygene 8 (1997) *
C’est la Vie (2000) *
Bells (2000) *
Gloria, Lonely Boy (2000) *
March 23 (2002) *
Aero Opening (2004) *
Aero (2004) *
Aerology (2004) *
Aerozone (2004) *

The most essential of the Essential albums

The only reasonable thing to do is to try to score each album. The first thing to look for on a compilation is “the hits”, but this didn’t seem to be readily available, so I’ve had to base this on the UK charts, concluding that his biggest hits are roughly as follows:

  1. Oxygene 4 (#4, 9+2 weeks)
  2. Fourth Rendez-Vous / Rendez-Vous 98 (#12, 5+6 weeks)
  3. Oxygene 8 (#17, 3 weeks)
  4. Oxygene 10 (#21, 2 weeks)
  5. C’est la Vie (#40, 2 weeks)
  6. Equinoxe 5 (#45, 5 weeks)
  7. London Kid (#52, 3 weeks)
  8. Revolutions (#52, 2 weeks)
  9. Chronologie 4 (#55, 2+1 weeks)
  10. Tout est Bleu (#79, 1 week)

One point will therefore be awarded for each of those. This is clearly a little unfair, so let’s also award a point for each of these arbitrarily selected “famous” tracks:

  1. Oxygene 2
  2. Magnetic Fields 2
  3. Souvenir of China

Since everybody loves an exclusive track or two, one point will also be awarded for any new material, up to a maximum of two per compilation. Let’s see what that gives us so far…

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Hits 2 2 4 7 2 3 3
Bonus Hits 2 3 2 2 2 3 3
Exclusive tracks 0 0 2 0 2 2* 0
total carried forward 4 5 8 9 6 8 6

* Although Essentials doesn’t contain any new material on its main disc, the bonus Rarities disc does, and it deserves some extra points for the bonus disc anyway.

Any compilation worth its salt should always contain a reasonable cross-section of existing material. We should therefore award points for each album that was available at the time of release. These will be distributed as follows:

  • Over 90%: 10 points
  • 80-90%: 9 points

… and so-on. Since The Concerts in China is one of Jarre’s most iconic works, this has been counted as a studio album in this instance. This gives us:

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Total from previous table 4 5 8 9 6 8 6
Number of studio albums represented / available 4 / 7 5 / 8 8 / 11 10 / 16 9 / 16 9* / 17 8 / 17
Album Points 6 7 8 7 6 6 6
Total Carried Forward 10 12 18 16 12 14 12

* Again, this includes the tracks from the first two albums, which are included only on the Rarities disc. If this seems a little unfair, don’t worry – we’ll penalise it later for its playing time.

This next test might be a little unfair to the early albums, but we need to ensure each decade is fairly represented. In an attempt to award points in accordance with Jarre’s popularity, let’s award points as follows:

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Total from previous table 10 12 18 16 12 14 12
Includes tracks from 1969-1976 (1 point) 1
Includes tracks from 1977-1983 (5 points) 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Includes tracks from 1984-1992 (3 points) 3 3 3 3 3 3
Includes tracks from 1993-2000 (3 points) 3 3 3 3
Includes tracks from 2001-2015 (1 point) 1 1
Total carried forward 15 20 26 27 24 32 23

Finally, it definitely isn’t fair to listeners if you don’t try to squeeze as much as possible onto each disc, so we should subtract points for wasted space on each disc. Entirely arbitrarily, anything released after 1990 loses a point for each full minute below 78 minutes; and anything released from 1983-1990 loses a a point for each minute below 60.

The Essential Jean Michel Jarre / Musik aus Zeit und Raum (1983) The Essential (1976-1986) (1985) Images (1991) The Essential Jean Michel Jarre (2004) Aero (2004) Essentials (from Essentials & Rarities) (2011) Essential Recollection (2015)
Total from previous table 15 20 26 27 24 32 23
Duration 50:08 48:35 72:12 66:20 73:35 70:11 74:17
Points lost -9 -11 -5 -11 -4 -7 -3
Grand total 6 9 21 16 20 25 20

From this, we can conclude that the 2011 Essentials & Rarities collection, for all its imperfections, is the one to go with for now if you’re looking for a Jean Michel Jarre collection with the word ‘essential’ in the title.

You may also find the Beginner’s guide to Jean Michel Jarre helpful.

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One thought on “The Essential Guide to Jean Michel Jarre Compilation Albums

  1. Pingback: Flop? The Best of Erasure’s Compilation Albums | Music for stowaways

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