Various Artists

Afternoon Tea Music

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The first entry in Universal Japan's Afternoon Tea series merits favorable comparison to the like-minded Café Apres-midi collections, scouring the same label vaults and back catalogs for the rarest and most well-done soft pop obscurities, bossa nova bits, and international groovers. And, like Café Apres-midi, the result is a breezy, effervescent collection of tunes that are the perfect musical backdrop for a lazy summer's day -- you could complain that Afternoon Tea is redundant by virtue of occupying the same aesthetic territory, or simply give thanks that so much wonderful music is still out there awaiting rediscovery. Highlights include the Spinners' "It's a Shame," Burt Bacharach's "Something Big," Serge Gainsbourg's "Pauvre Lola," and Roger Nichols & the Small Circle of Friends' "Love So Fine." And how's this for different -- the cover comes with its own beverage coaster.