Various Artists

Afternoon Tea Music: Orange Iced Tea

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What the Japanese Café Après-midi series did for coffee, Afternoon Tea does for tea time -- in short, the series provides the ideal soundtrack to wasting away the day lounging about, sipping a cuppa, scanning the newspaper, and soaking in the warmth of the sun. Still the only known CD series to include its own beverage coaster as part of every cover package, this Orange Iced Tea volume is a particular delight, balancing the series' trademark bossa nova obscurities with a liberal serving of lounge-pop treats from the '60s (Jack Jones' "Wives and Lovers"), the '70s (Jimmie Rodgers' "I'll Never Fall in Love Again"), the '80s (the Style Council's "Down in the Seine"), and the '90s (the Trash Can Sinatras' "How Can I Apply"). What's remarkable is how well this seemingly disparate collection of songs, which spans not just the decades but also the continents, hangs together -- proof positive that effervescent, gossamer pop never goes out of style regardless of its origins. Other highlights include the Cowsills' "We Can Fly," Nick DeCaro's "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," and Chris Montez's "Time After Time."

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