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Passport

Nana Mouskouri

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Album Review

The conceit of this double album-length set is that Nana Mouskouri is doing songs from different nations. However, even though Passport is a compilation recorded over a span of over a decade with a variety of accompanists ranging from Mouskouri's original backing group, the Athenians, to the easy listening specialists the Mike Sammes Singers, the albums sounds as if it could have been recorded during one lengthy session. Such is the strength of Mouskouri's jazzy, middle-of-the-road pop style that songs as varied as her biggest hit, "Never on Sunday" (here presented in its original Greek lyrics as "Ta Pedia Tou Pirea"), Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," and the traditional "Amazing Grace" end up sounding pretty much the same. Passport's worth depends entirely on the listener's tolerance for this kind of Eurovision Song Contest style of pop, but few people working in this style in the '60s and '70s were better than Nana Mouskouri. (Only the great Petula Clark comes immediately to mind.) Although perhaps better known in the United States for her lovely olive-skinned looks and trademark glasses than for her singing, Mouskouri's a genuinely superb jazz-pop singer with a bewitching voice and an ear for material that rises above the occasionally gloppy easy listening arrangements she's often saddled with. Unfortunately, there's more than a few of those arrangements on Passport, but there's also a number of truly impressive songs. Two particular standouts come from rare sessions with producers other than Mouskouri's usual collaborator Andre Chapelle. The countryish "The Loving Song," produced by American hitmaker Snuff Garrett, is a surprisingly solid take on the genre, but 1972's "Four and Twenty Hours," written and produced by the early-'70s British hit factory Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway, is one of Mouskouri's finest singles ever, a mature but remarkably catchy slice of AM radio fluff that predicts the sound that ABBA would take to the top of the charts later in the decade.

Biography

Born: 13 October 1934 in Athens, Greece

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Globally speaking, Nana Mouskouri is the biggest-selling female artist of all time. Her fluency in multiple languages — Greek, French, English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese — enabled her to reach audiences all over Europe, the Americas, and even Asia. Possessed of a distinctive, angelic soprano — the product of having been born with only one vocal cord — Mouskouri was sometimes described as Europe's answer to Barbra Streisand. Her repertoire was varied enough to support the...
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Passport, Nana Mouskouri
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