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Thursday, May 15, 2003

Review - The Rough Guide to the Music of France

Artist: Various Artists

Posted on Thu, May 15, 2003 at 4:00 AM

A month ago, when this CD was released, I was so incensed by the anti-French sentiment gripping the U.S., I was chomping at the bit to praise this multigenre collection. I would write the review while slugging back some "cöte du rhone", eating some "camembert" on a croissant, watching "Alphaville" and wondering if Canada might not be so bad, because dammit, the French are "supposed" to be contentious peaceniks and that's why pointy-headed liberals like myself love 'em. Of course, if you think about how stupid "freedom fries" sounded then, you know it sounds even stupider now, after the mob mentality calling for boycotts of Gillette and Vivendi has dissipated. Accordingly, the moral imperative for people with brains left to support all things French has diminished as well, and though I may still love the wine, the cheese and the movies, as far as I'm concerned French music is still best left to the French (and, of course, those unfortunate French Canadians). Nothing -- save a somewhat odd song by Edith Piaf -- on this collection saves the Gauls reputation for galling music. Songs here that aren't focused on the somewhat acceptable French forms of folk and "chanson" are ample evidence that there's still one area where America's cultural imperialism is acceptable. There's scant proof here of the burgeoning (and consistently satisfying) DJ/electronica scene, nor of the multicultural stew that bubbles up from the minidiaspora that Paris has become. Nonetheless, bad music is one cliché that the French will probably never shake.

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