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Putumayo Presents: French Cafe

4.3 out of 5 stars 87 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 11, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


Although far from definitive (no Edith Piaf in sight!), this enchanting compilation delivers a perfect aural snapshot of what spending a late summer afternoon in a French cafe actually feels like. The supreme elegance and understated approach that lie at the core of these 13 tracks will delight fans of sophisticated pop. As is the case with previous Putumayo releases, the sequencing is seamless, combining the endearingly old-fashioned flavor of George Brassens with the iconoclastic romanticism of George Gainsbourg and the sultry whispers of a youthful Brigitte Bardot. Better yet, the disc spends some valuable time introducing listeners to a new generation of French musicians who have embraced the traditional chanson format while incorporating fresh elements into the mix. Try the light-as-a-feather caress of female vocalist Enzo Enzo, the sweet playfulness of the electronica-informed Mathieu Boogaerts, and the irrepressible optimism of Paris Combo--a jazzy quintet that represents the French cafe ambiance at its cosmopolitan best. --Ernesto Lechner

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Fibre De Verre - Paris Combo
  2. Marilou Sous La Neige - Serge Gainsbourg
  3. Si La Photo Est Bonne - Barbara
  4. Juste Quelau'un De Bien - Enso Enso
  5. Je M'Suis Fait Tout Petit - Georges Brassens
  6. Elaeudanla Teiteia - Jane Birkin
  7. La Mer Opale - Coralie Clement
  8. Ondule - Mathieu Boogaerts
  9. Un Jour Comme Un Autre - Brigitte Bardot
  10. On N'a Pas Besoin - Paris Combo
  11. Mal O Mains - Sanseverino
  12. En Douce - Baguette Quartette
  13. La Fee Clochette - Polo

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 11, 2003)
  • Original Release Date: 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Putumayo World Music
  • ASIN: B0000DBJDB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,826 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rebecca Whiting on June 26, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Serge Gainsbourg (or Gainsbarre, as they call him in the Caribbean) is one of the creepiest musical perverts ever known. He's also one of France's great musical geniuses, so go figure. Putumayo had the guts to put him on the disc and the good taste to select a beautiful, melancholy, and touching song: "Marilou sous la neige".
How do you narrow down the brilliant Barbara to a single song? Everything about her was always just so: the right enunciation, hitting the notes perfectly, every hair in place, her make-up impeccable. Putumayo chose "Si la photo est bonne", and it fits right into the album without leaving me drooling for more (although more would be nice).
The collection is called "French Cafe", so you should have a pretty good idea what you're going to get. The question is, did Putumayo choose the tracks well? ABSOLUTELY. This is one of their real winners. It creates a perfect mood, laid-back and content, neither too melancholy nor too zealous.
Just the thing for cruising the Pacific Coast Highway through Laguna Beach, the sun and waves and palm trees and thirty dollar pizzas and rich ladies in high heels on the beach.
Or you might want to put it on while you houseclean, because it's not so brooding you'll collapse in tears among the cinders, but neither is it so vigorous you'll look like a overprogrammed robot. You'll just think: "Hell, why not vacuum in pearls?"
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Format: Audio CD
I chose to buy this CD because I was looking for a good collection of and introduction to French musicians (past and present). A major attraction of this album is the lengthy, detailed booklet it comes with that tells about each group or singer on the album and gives a rough translation of the lyrics in English. (Note: a complete translation in English is not provided, just a few lines) Summaries of the songs' subjects in English are provided, though. If you understand/can translate French, I highly recommend reading the lyrics because it just adds another dimension of enjoyment and appreciation of the songs. I was able to find the French lyrics to all of the songs, except for the last song, on [...]
While it is true that this album is most likely not an accurate representation of the music playing at French cafes today, it is still a great collection and introduction to some great French artists. I will definitely be looking into buying the albums of some of the groups/singers on this CD. The music is jazzy, light-hearted, and relaxing and has been playing and replaying in my stereo for days.
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Format: Audio CD
This cd was playing in a beautiful little shop in the Detroit Radisson Hotel recently. It caught my attention the second that I walked through the door and I ended up "keeping busy" in the store just so that I could listen to it. I listened to several songs and fell in love with it! I went through a long process to figure out what it was that was playing, as the hotel had different cds on automatic rotate throughout the complex and no one had any idea how to find out which one was playing. lol. I finally got the answer and was able to purchase it at one of the hotel shops! :) I am very pleased! It is such a relaxing dreamy cd. If I would have seen the case of it first, I would not have been drawn to it as it looks very "high pace, hustle and bustle" (I know I know, you can't judge a book by its cover!:)But the music on this cd isn't what I would have expected from seeing the cover. I love it! I am looking into the other cds in this series because it is so great! So far, the Brazillian one is also fabulous!
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Format: Audio CD
Putumayo presents another well-crafted collection of tunes evoking the mood of a particular place, in this case the much-romanticized street-side French cafe. An interesting aspect of this compilation is that Putumayo did their research and went for authenticity rather than an American idealization of what many would ANTICIPATE hearing at a French cafe. (The solo accordion pieces ain't here, folks.) You'll hear authentic French artists performing their best chops, not something Disney-esque or "Rugrats in Paris"-like. The result is a breezy, easy to listen to, largely club-jazz album that may make one want to whip out a hard baguette to gnaw on.

Paris Combo does a fine job on their two pieces, delivering smooth, low-key vocals backed by a serviceable jazz quartet. Serge Gainsbourg sultrily growls in his piece, evoking passion showing how his music reached superstar status in France (even recording a couple of albums with Brigitte Bardot, also featured here). Enzo Enzo's wispy vocals waft from one's stereo light and airy, emulating a musical breeze. Some may find a tune or two somewhat pretentious (as many things French can be easily deemed) but most of the songs are by-and-large quite discreet. One could almost imagine an alternate album title: French Lounge Lizard...


As with all Putumayo albums, the liner notes are so informative and interesting, they bear meantioning in a review. The clean, crisp production is in typical Putumayo fashion, very high.

FRENCH CAFE comes highly recommended for those who've been France and want an album that'll take you back. Also recommended for those in search of a change of pace album good for setting a low-light mood. Overall, an unobtrusive and enjoyable collection.
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