Jean Michel Jarre

Essentials & Rarities

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The third Jean-Michel Jarre compilation to contain the word "essential," this two-CD collection, released as a tribute to the late founder of his first record company, Francis Dreyfus, has perhaps more right to the title than either of the 1983 and 2005 sets. Apart from 1993's Chronologie and 1997's Oxygene 7-13, the ten albums he recorded on the Disques Dreyfus label are all covered on the first disc, from the three pieces taken from his 12 million-unit-selling 1976 juggernaut Oxygene, right up to his 2000 vocal-led label swan song Metamorphoses ("Gloria," "Lonely Boy"). His first three pioneering synth pop records and his 1982 live album, The Concerts in China, unsurprisingly make up the bulk of this disc's 15 tracks, but the likes of rugby world cup anthem "Industrial Revolution 2," the sample-heavy "Zoolook," and the underrated "Calypso 2" still show why he's widely acknowledged as one of the most influential French composers of modern times. As classic as these iconic instrumentals are, it's the second disc of rarities which will really intrigue his global army of fans. Listed in chronological order, the hodge-podge of pre-Oxygene material includes three previously unreleased tracks, "Happiness Is a Sad Song," "Hypnose," and "Black Bird," the first of which, along with 1971 single "La Cage" and B-side "Erosmachine" (which appear in both their original form and 2010 Vitalic remixes), was recorded with experimental '60s collective Groupe de Recherche Musicales, alongside six tracks from his deleted 1972 debut, Deserted Palace, and three cuts from his 1973 soundtrack to the Alain Delon-starring film Les Granges Brulees. Of course, the fact his three most recent noughties studio albums are ignored means that Essentials & Rarities isn't the definitive picture of Jarre's glittering 40-year career, but as an overview of his heyday, this is a well-selected affair which should offer something for both casual and hardcore fans.

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