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Album Review

Has there ever been another like Léo Ferré? At almost 85, Ferré continued to compose, conduct, produce, sing, dramatize, paint, draw, and generally evoke the eternal creative spirit of France. This compilation of tracks from 1960-1974, while tiny in the scope of his career, is nonetheless a stunning introduction to the vast reaches of his talent. Most Americans will never even have heard his name, let alone his recordings, but Francophiles will smile knowingly when the notion of his visage crosses their minds. Universal's anthology compiles the classic Barclay tracks on one CD full of deep, rich beauty, startling excess, romantic joie de vivre, wanton passion, incendiary revolutionary fervor, poetry from the country's best-loved and most-hated bards folded inseparably into the body of his songs, and a rough-hewn grace that no single voice has ever been capable of. Ferré sings like an angel in his gorgeous tenor, but he may be the angel of Satan. Here are the rants ("La Vie D'Artiste"), the tragedies ("C'est Extra"), rock & roll with zoo ("La Solitude"), and the unbearably beautiful love songs ("Avec la Temps"), illustrated deftly with strings, pianos, guitars, clarinets, and whatever it takes to make the moment of the song the eternal one, the only moment that ever mattered. There are 14 selections here that prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that not only is Ferré the greatest French singer and songwriter, but that he deeply influenced Jacques Brel and Scott Walker, as well as perhaps the romantic side of Jackie Leven. For fans of Divine Comedy, Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, any of the aforementioned artists, or Nick Cave's later material, this is a revelation waiting to happen. For those of you already in the know, these 14 tracks will be like old friends, assembled in a new way to offer a further earth-shattering commentary in the nature of the conflicts and treasures in the human heart.


Born: 1916 in Monaco

Genre: French Pop

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Although little known in English speaking countries, Léo Ferré (1916-1993) is a monument of French chanson, revered throughout the francophone world. A singer, songwriter, author, composer, and even orchestra conductor, he is mostly remembered for songs like "Avec le Temps," "Les Anarchistes," and "Jolie Môme." His career began in the cabaret and took him through four decades and a number of styles, but his best...
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Léo Ferré - EP, Léo Ferré
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