2015 is the centenary of one of the best-loved, most charismatic singers of the twentieth century. For some that singer is Billie Holiday, for others it's Frank Sinatra: but for many more, especially in the French-speaking world, it's the legendary Edith Piaf. 1915-2015, a vinyl-only Best Of collection, establishes the case for Piaf's status beyond doubt.
This album is just one of a series of releases that celebrate this great singer's centenary. A double CD collection, five classic Piaf albums on vinyl and a career-spanning limited-edition box set of 20 CDs and one 10" vinyl album are also available. 1915-2015 is a strikingly-designed, limited edition, picture disc with excellent sound quality thanks to remastering of the tracks. It does a fine job of projecting both the power and the subtlety of Piaf's voice and gives more than a hint of her charisma.
The 4 foot 8 inch tall Piaf was affectionately known as the Little Sparrow, a name given to her by nightclub owner Louis Leplée. Her life story bears an uncanny resemblance to Holiday's, sadly including their early deaths: like Holiday, Piaf's voice is distinctive, instantly recognisable and stunning in its emotional impact.
These ten tracks, recorded between 1947 and 1960, include most of Piaf's best known songs and act as superb showcases for the Piaf voicewhether it's the romance of "La Vie En Rose," the mix of jauntiness and sympathy she displays on "Milord," a dramatic rendition of "Autumn Leaves" (sung in English) or the defiance and determination of what is probably her most famous song, "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien." Piaf even manages to lend a sense of dignity to "Les Trois Cloches"a maudlin, saccharine number that, recorded as "The Three Bells" by The Browns, became a US #1 hit in 1959.
There are some impressive instrumental performances on 1915-2015sadly, most of the individual musicians are uncreditedbut some of the backing vocal and orchestral arrangements haven't dated too well. No matter, Piaf towers above them all.
La Vie En Rose; Les Trois Cloches; Hymne À L'Amour; Padam, Padam; Autumn Leaves; L'Accordéoniste; L'Homme À La Moto; Mon Manège À Moi; Milord; Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.
Edith Piaf: vocals; Les Compagnons De La Chanson vocals (2); L'Ensemble Vocal Raymond Saint-Paul (3); Marc Bonel: accordion (6); Jacques Liébrard: guitar (6); other musicians uncredited.
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