France Gall

Les Plus Belles Chansons de France Gall

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Fans of France Gall's sublime singles from the ye-ye era of French pop should probably tread lightly when venturing into her post-1970 work, as it has little in common with brassy and exuberant pop classics like "Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son" or "Nous ne Sommes pas des Anges." Les Plus Belles Chansons de France Gall, a 1994 compilation of Gall's 1975-84 material, gathers much of the best of Gall's later material, all of it from the era when her late husband Michel Berger was writing and producing all of her records. Berger's slick soft rock style (think Chicago or Neil Diamond) will turn some folks off, but those without an innate aversion to the style will appreciate the low-key arrangements and mellow songs. Ironically, although the material is arguably weaker than Gall's classic '60s hits, she herself clearly grew enormously as a singer after her teenage years; her voice is lower and stronger on these tracks, with a much greater tonal range and subtler emotional shadings. The slinky 1977 disco single "Musique" starts the proceedings, and the rest of the album finds Gall in a variety of musical settings from the era, from the Elton John-like piano rock of 1976's "Aime-La" to 1984's new wavey synth pop "Debranche." Berger's facile melodies and Gall's strong vocals, however, hold the disparate styles together and keeps the compilation from sounding like a random collection of bandwagon jumps. Proceed with caution, but proceed.

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