I Am Mina

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I Am Mina is not exactly just another Mina collection. Part of a multilingual triptych completed by Je Suis Mina and Yo Soy Mina, each CD serves as a generous compilation of the great Italian singer's many recordings in English, French, and Spanish (covering just three of the eight languages Mina has dabbled in at one point or another in her astonishingly prolific career). Each CD boasts the same stylish artwork by Mauro Balletti (whose artwork has graced Mina's covers for 40 years and has greatly contributed to turning Mina into a myth or icon), but in a different color, blue for I Am, red for Je Suis, and brown for Yo Soy. All in all, a great idea for a compilation realized with sheer class, and yet, from a musical point of view, I Am is a bit of a disappointment, at least the English volume. Most of these songs are standards translated into English, and most of them simply do not translate well --Portuguese speakers know exactly how this feels, as English versions of the bossa nova classics always make Brazilians cringe. Furthermore, Mina's readings of American jazz and pop tunes which close the collection are not particularly inspired. Mina is more than a great voice, but her unique personality does not come across well here; not in the way it does in Italian, or even in Spanish. This type of compilation is typically made in order to introduce the artist to a foreign market. It is hard to tell whether that was the original intention with the I Am/Je Suis/Yo Soy Mina series, but the end result is a compilation that would not necessarily appeal much to an international audience, but rather to Mina fans and avid collectors, who are presented with a bonanza of prized rarities, in the form of 45s, singles, and albums often never distributed in Italy. In conclusion, a godsend for Mina completists, but those who want to understand what her genius is all about should avoid these misleading portraits, and head straight for any of her albums or compilations in Italian, instead.

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