Françoise Hardy and Her Contemporaries, album review

El Records

There’s always been something exotic about French pop, whether it’s Gauloises-enhanced atmosphere of a Charles Aznavour record or the knowing, sultry tones of Françoise Hardy.

And it is indeed Hardy who lends her name to this mixed collection of Gallic tracks. Sadly only two of the 31 cuts are by her although that includes one of her best songs, “Tom Meilleur Ami”.

Her “yé-yé” rival and one-time wife of Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan, has five tracks American hits always seem to sound slightly more sophisticated in French, so whether it’s her take on Bacharach and David’s “Baby It’s You” (“Baby C’est Vous”), her perky version of the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love”, or even her cute  rendition of Little Eva’s “The Locomotion”, Ms Vartan is a winner in my book.

After this, the collection loses its way slightly. Gillian Hills, a British singer who found fame across the Channel in the Sixties, impresses with the Aznavour-penned “Jean Lou”, but then  a mish-mash of only vaguely related tracks that take in everything from US starlet Sue Lyon’s “Lolita Ya-Ya” from the original film, to a couple of Fifties cuts by Jeanne Moreau and some vocal jazz from Les Double Six of Paris, make this a lost opportunity, I feel.

Amazon, £7.99