Various Artists

The Story of Chansons

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The French chanson -- the cabaret, orchestral-influenced music made famous by artists like Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet that predated the poppier sounds of Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg, and Jane Birkin -- has inspired countless singers, from Jeff Buckley to Nina Simone to Rufus Wainwright, just to name a few. The art form is celebrated here on EMI's The Story of Chansons, which lightly traces the history of the genre from its inception (Piaf, Josephine Baker, Maurice Chevalier, Trenet, etc.) through its later interpretations (Barbara, Juliette Gréco, etc.). It's certainly not a complete collection, and with the performers featured on only one song each, it's hard to know truly how they sounded, but it's a pretty decent introduction to the chanson nonetheless.

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