Various Artists

Café Après-midi: Azur

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Less adventurous listeners looking for a good jumping-on point in the Café Après-midi series would be well-served by considering Azur -- for this volume, compiler Toru Hashimoto once again scours the nooks and crannies of the Sony/Columbia vaults, coming up with the usual obscurities but also a handful of soft-pop perennials likely to strike a chord of recognition in anyone who's spent any time soaking in the sounds of oldies radio. Sagittarius' "My World Fell Down" and the Spiral Starecase's "More Today Than Yesterday" are AM classics by any metric, and they set the tone for a collection dominated by richly harmonic pop like Laura Nyro's "Sexy Mama," the City's "Snow Queen," and the Cyrkle's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore." There are other familiar favorites here as well, like Johnny Mandel's theme for the film M.A.S.H., "Suicide Is Painless," Stan Getz's reading of the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic "Aguas de Marco," and Bobby Scott's take on Cat Stevens' "Wild World."