Alright, let's get the hyperbole and summation out of the way first: this 24-track collection -- in wonderfully remastered sound -- is simply the best single-disc collection of Yves Montand's work available in the United States at the very least, and perhaps in the world. (The former stated simply because saying "in the United States" isn't saying much.) The "why" is simple: try to find "Let's Make Love" anywhere but on the soundtrack album to the film of the same name -- and yes, it's sung in English. Also, try to find his first cut "Dans les Plaines du Far West" or the Léo Ferré/ Louis Aragon surrealistic ditty "L'Etranger," or the partisan tunes "Bella Ciao" and "Amor Dammi Quel Fazzolettino" recorded during the Second World War in his mother tongue (Montand's real name was Ivo Livi). Like many of France's great artists, Montand was also a virulent anti-fascist and took part in the Resistance. As for this collection, Unreleased, Rare & Essential, his standard repertoire is here as well: "À Bicyclette," "Les Grands Boulevards," "Coucher Ave Elle," the Brecht-Weill number "La Chanson de Bilbao," "Sanguine, Joli Fruit," and "L' Amoureuse." These 24 cuts are a tour de force in French chanson, and a standard bearer of what was once the grand tradition of popular music in Europe.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek