France Gall

Poupée de Son

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Twenty-three of her most popular recordings from 1963-1967, including eight Serge Gainsbourg compositions. No, this is not the kind of stuff you're going to play to impress your music critic friends, even at a time when lounge pop is undergoing a comeback. Gall had a thin voice that could waver off-pitch, and her songs were usually lightweight pop ditties, perfect for go-go-clubbing or mushy romantic scenes in summer movies. Therein, of course, is their charm: it's frequently catchy, and the arrangements sometimes have an irresistible dramatic verve, whether the smoky uptempo club ambience of "Laisse Tomber Les Filles" and "Dis a Ton Capitaine," or the fetching melodrama of ballads like "Quand on Est Ensemble" and "Les Rubans et La Fleur." The eclecticism can actually get a bit disorienting: "L'Amerique" alternates soca-like verses with a Dixieland bridge (with banjo), and "Jazz a Gogo" and "Le Coeur Qui Jazze" seem like serious attempts at straight jazz vocals and scatting. Gall's lower-register pass at the title phrase in the latter is priceless; she can't reach that low growly note, but she's going to drop her jaw and sound as cool as she can anyway. It's not all good, or even amusing; Gainsbourg's "Teenie Weenie Boppie" and "Baby Pop" are either among her most trivial efforts, or hatefully condescending crumbs for the teen market. On the whole, though, you have to admit it's a rather fun disc, with Gall's vocals exuding more fun-loving charm than many a more talented singer could.

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