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La Belle Epoque Ensemble – “French Cafe Music of The Opulent Era” – [Tradition]


Traditional tunes from pre-WWI France, performed by the ‘Belle Epoque Ensemble.’ Couldn’t find much about this LP, other than that it’s out on Tradition, the folk label once run by the Clancy Brothers. I’m estimating a late 60s/early 70s release for the record, but the actual recordings may be older. Some tracks are a cappella, but most have light, airy instrumentation on acoustic guitar and piano, with some wind instruments here and there. Male and female solo vocals, supplemented by a male chorus. The subject matter generally reflects the prosperity and optimistic spirit that supposedly predominated during the Opulent Era; I guess this is like late-nineteenth century French top 40. Many of these are call-and-response drinking songs but there are also some more somber-sounding ballads. The tracks on which the woman sings tend to be the more interesting. You can sometimes hear the basis of what French popular music was to become during the 20th century. An interesting piece of musical history at the very least.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on March 19, 2014 at 4:43 pm
  • Filed as 12-inch,International
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