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It would be difficult to properly represent the entire career of Monique Andrée Serf (Barbara) in compilation form. Serf wrote and recorded so many different kinds of songs between the 1950s and her death in 1997 that choosing 40 cuts to sum up the life and work of one of the most poetic and dramatic French songstresses after Edith Piaf is nigh on impossible. (It's good to remember that this woman's final album, Il Me Revient, released the year before her death, sold over a million copies in 12 hours.) That said, these 40 selections do provide hours of enjoyment for even the most casual listener. Along with fellow Belgian and comrade Jacques Brel, Barbara defined an era even as she was creating a new one. Whether it's "A Mourir Pour Mourir," "L'Amoureuse," "L'Absinthe," or "L'Homme en Habit Rouge," there is a sense of drama, tension, and joie de vivre present even in her darkest work. This is a recommended introduction to one of Europe's greatest musical artists.

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