French Cafe Serge GainsbourgFrench Cafe

French Cafe: Serge Gainsbourg

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French Cafe
Various Artists

Genre: French chansons
Year: 2004
Country: France
Official Site: French Cafe
Details: Tracks & Audio
Label: Putumayo
While French cafes have their own place in cultural traditions one would be hardpressed to find any cafe in Paris or Marseilles that would be playing this music. This is a great CD of French chansons and gypsy jazz that meets the needs of an American generation starved for culture and malnourished on the frothy but empty pseudo coffee culture of Starbucks.

The songs included in this collection are a great intro to anyone unfamiliar with 60's greats like Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin as well as newcomers like the jazz driven Paris Combo. "Marilou Sous la Neige" by the controversial Gainsbourg is one of his tamer songs. In addition, two of his lovers and creative women in their own right are featured on the album. The sultry Jane Birkin covers Gainsbourg's "Elaeudanla Teiteia" with her silken voice while sexpot Brigitte Bardot mines the jazzy melancholy and pain of goodbyes on "Un Jour Comme un Autre". The humiliation of love is explored on French icon George Brassens' "Je M'Suis Fait Tout Petit", a simple but charming guitar-driven melody.

The newer music includes Enzo Enzo's "Juste Quelqu'un de Bien", which has more of an Esquivel/modern lounge feel. Paris Combo offers two songs here in the vein of gypsy swing hero Django Reinhardt on "Fibre de Verre" and "On N'a Pas Besoin". Also paying homage to Reinhardt is singer Polo on the track "La Fee Clochette", a song about his quest for a muse. Coralie Clement, who does for chansons what Madeleine Peyroux did for Patsy Cline, sings the cool "La Mer Opale".

Once again, Putumayo succeeds in putting together an eclectic collection of songs that pleases both neophyte and native ears.

  Anji Milanovic

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