Pierre Bensusan is a musician's musician. The first time I saw him (which was in 1977 at a folk festival in the little village of Hoeilaart in Belgium), I was so knocked out I bought his first two albums on the spot.
Since then, of course, he has become world-famous, expanding his musical vocabulary all the while.
The pieces in this 1985 book, however, are all drawn from that earlier time, 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.
Along with scales and exercises there are 35 tunes, as follows. All are in DADGAD tuning except where otherwise indicated.
The Return from Fingal
Le voyage pour l'Irlande
Le lendemain de la fête (EADGBE)
Près de Paris (FDGCF)
The Ash Plant (FDGCF)
The Morning Dew (FDGCF)
La danse du capricorne
De Trilport à Fublaines (DGDGCD)
Maurice au pays des merveilles
Clementine, Mandarine et Reine Claude
Merrily Kiss the Quaker
The Pure Drop
The Flax in Bloom
Le moulin á parfums d'Emmanuelle
Le voyage pour l'Irlande (EADGBE)
Le lac des abbesses (DGDGCD)
The False Knight on the Road
Climats doux et tempéres
Suite flamande aus pommes
La marche du sonneur égaré
Sí Bheag, Sí Mhor
Au jardin d'amour
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum (CADGAD)
Most are from Pierre's first four albums:
7 from Près de Paris
5 from 2
11 from Musiques
6 from Solilaï
The pieces are arranged in order of difficulty (it's noticeable that all those from Solilaï come at the end).
As well as the above, there are recipes, advice, photos, poems from the author's wife, and much more. In fact it's not so much a music book as a total brain dump.
The transcriptions are, by and large, very accurate, but there are nonetheless some curious anomalies.
One is that "Le lendemain de la fête", given in standard tuning, was recorded by Pierre in DADGAD, and is given in that tuning on his DVD The Guitar of Pierre Bensusan, Vol. 1. It's certainly playable as written, but it doesn't sound quite right. What the explanation may be for this, I can only conjecture. However, "Le voyage pour l'Irlande", is given twice here, once in each tuning; so maybe it's just that Pierre plays (or has played) these pieces both ways.
Most annoying, however, is that the staff notation is written at absolute pitch, even when a capo is used, e.g. "Le lac des abbesses" in G capo'd at 4 is written in B. This makes the staff impossible to read without reference to to the tab, for the 15 pieces in which a capo is specified.
The key signature of "La marche du sonneur égaré" should be one sharp, not two; since although the key is D, the mode is mixolydian, and so the Cs are natural (as confirmed by the tab). However, there is the occasional C#, so, again, you have to check both the staff and the tab.
The book is conventionally bound and does not take kindly to being opened flat. My copy (about 20 years old) is falling apart. (Update 2010: I see that this has now apparently been fixed; but watch out if you buy an old copy second hand.)
This is one of the greatest guitar books I've ever come across, so much so that even the quirks mentioned above can't lead me to deduct a star. It's certainly THE greatest book on DADGAD, although Pierre Bensusan presents DADGAD Guitar comes close.
But it's not for beginners, nor for flatpickers. Also, if you can't read you may have trouble, especially if you don't have the author's first four CDs. In that case, or if you learn better visually, I would recommend the DVD mentioned above, along with Vol. 2. Both come with tab booklets.