Various Artists

Chansons de Légende [Box 1] [Disky 865402]

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The three volumes included here are the simply the packaged individual ones in the Chansons de Legende series for a slightly better price with no additional notes. This is, more than any set this writer has ever come across, a definitive anthology of the greatest singers France produced in the 20th century with three notable exceptions: Leo Ferré, Charles Aznavour, and Yves Montand. This can't be excused, but it can be overlooked in lieu of what is included here. Jacques Brel isn't here either, but he wasn't born in France. Each of the three discs starts off with a classic by Edith Piaf: "L'Accordêoniste," "Padam...Padam," and "La Goulante de Puvre Jean." From there comes a myriad of singers and songs collected together that deepens and widens the perception of the French popular song in the last century as interpreted by its greatest: Charles Trénet, Luis Mariano, Lucienne Delyle, Tino Rossi, Lys Gauty, Georges Guetary, Annie Cordy, Jean Sablon, Frehel, Line Renaud, Andre Claveau, Cora Madou, Maurice Chevalier, and others. The song selection is impeccable and each volume is more moving than the last, making volume three a veritable treasure trove of emotion, pathos, and soul. For longtime fans and collectors, this set conveniently puts into one place everything -- almost -- you need. For newcomers and semi-serious students of the genre, this collection and a record each by Ferré, Aznavour, Montand, and Brel (if you're feeling perverse, a best-of by Serge Gainsbourg or Juliette Greco would be nice to include) will cause you have a fine and stocked library of the form.

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