Nana Mouskouri

The Best of Nana Mouskouri [20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection]

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With over 300 million albums sold worldwide, Nana Mouskouri is one of the select few who can rightfully wield the title of global citizen. A command of eight languages certainly serves to anchor her ongoing status as one of Europe's most popular all-time singers and, with a voice like hers, the praise is justified. Classically trained from a young age, Nana Mouskouri eventually developed a strong interest in jazz, blues, and pop (and got herself tossed out of Athens Conservatory because of it). The classical world's loss became the pop world's gain, and Mouskouri's career trajectory had her conquering Greece, Germany, and, by the early '60s, France (achieving the greatest number of gold records by a female artist -- ever -- in that country). Under the wings of a young Quincy Jones she finally began making headway in the U.S. in 1962, and since then, her popularity has only continued to grow globally. With over 1,500 songs (in ten languages!) in her repertoire, whittling it all down to a "best-of" is a daunting task. Hip-O takes up the challenge, and gives it a good shot with their 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Nana Mouskouri. It's a scattershot affair, with most of the tracks falling under a distinctly Western-centric bias -- but that's to be expected. No single-disc collection could sift through over 1,000 songs and succeed in being definitive. Instead, Hip-O focuses on Mouskouri's most recognizable (to Western ears) output -- sneaking in a few of her undisputed global hits ("Plaisir d'Amour," "Ta Pedia Tou Peria," and "The White Rose of Athens") in the process. The more Americanized selections aren't just filler, though. Her readings of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and her über-sexy version of "Love Me Tender" are actually highlights here. Those looking for a safe, approachable introduction to Nana Mouskouri's talents could do a lot worse than the 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection. Those searching for a more worldly overview of her career can look toward PolyGram's multi-volume Coleccion series (which breaks her output up by language and subject matter) or, more compactly, Mercury's fine Passport collection.

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