OK, the packaging of this CD is cheap and nasty (it *is* a Music For Pleasure release after all, and that imprint was never renowned for its elegant aesthetics), and it may not be apparent from a cursory glance that these are live recordings. But live they are - and also wonderful, giving some measure of indication as to why Piaf, alongside Garland, was on her day arguably the greatest live female singer and performer of the 20th century.
Virtually all of Piaf's most celebrated songs are here, providing a useful counterpoint to the recorded versions. On the subject which has already been touched on by previous reviews of the inclusion of the English version of, for me, Piaf's greatest achievement of all, 'Les Amants d'un Jour' - yes, of course the original French version is a heartbreaking masterpiece, which is also available on any number of Piaf collections. The English version is much less easily-found, and it would be the worst kind of precious musical snob who would deny that it has a beauty of its own. 'Who am I to care, one more love affair? Love is nothing new, I have work to do' somehow encapsulates a whole life in 18 words. (Interestingly, this version explicitly makes Les Amants a heterosexual couple, while the more ambiguous French lyrics make no such reference).
This album usually seems to be available for peanuts, and in my opinion wouldn't be at all a bad place to start for anyone new to Piaf who may not at first necessarily want to fork out a larger sum for a more sophisticatedly* presented and comprehensive collection. *(If this word exists, it looks kind of wrong!)