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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 24 August 2006
This double CD collection covers Francoise Hardy's recording period with Vogue Records 1962-1967. Hardy was only 18 years old when she recorded the songs for her first album in 1962; so it was very unusual that she was allowed to record so much of her own material; great thing she was, because she was ( still is ) a very accomplished songwriter. In fact most of her biggest were written or co-written by Hardy herself.

The song selections concentrate on her first 5 albums ( 1962-66 ) and contemporary singles and EP tracks. Her 6th much-acclaimed Vogue album "Ma Jeunesse Fout le Camp" is only represented by "Qui Peut Dire" and "Voila". Most surprisingly that her last Vogue original album ( in Frech language ) "Comment te Dire Adieu" is not represented at all.

Never the less, this is a great compilation featuring the vast majority of her best songs of the period - obviously some great songs had to be left out; simply because lack of space. I can't help mentioning just a few songs that are missing ( seek them out elsewhere!) . The 1964 EP-track "Jaloux" is one of my favourites, which I have not yet been able to find on a CD. The album tracks "Avant de t'n Aller" and "Je Pensais" would have been great additions as well.

These early recordings from Hardy which founded her reputation as the greatest French international pop-star of the 1960's have stood the test of time, and sound remarkably appealing after all these years; where the output by many of her contemporary colleagues like Cilla Black, Petula Clark, Connie Francis or even Marianne Faithful ( her sixties recordings!) often sound pretty dated.

If you are not familiar with the early years of Francoise Hardy's career this collection would be the ideal place to start getting to know her. Outstanding songs like "Le Premier Bonheur du Jour", "Le Maison Ou Ja' Grandi", "Ce Petit Coeur" or "Rendezvous Automne" are more than likely to hit you - actually most of these songs are!

The 16 pages booklet features some nice pictures and a short biography, but only sparse information about the songs themselves; where they were first released etc. Personally I would have loved to have a little more information about the recordings, circumstances around them etc.

Still, until the 4 CD box featuring her complete Vogue recordings is available again, this CD is indispensable!
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on 30 March 2001
Francoise Hardy signed to Vogue records in 1961 and delivered several albums of stunning material. This collection is the best of those recordings featuring orchestral contributions from Charles Blackwell, Johnny Harris, Jacques Denjean and Jacques Dutronc, and some of the best writing of French chanson, along with French interpretations of non French songs. The songs last only two or three minutes and are so accessible and instant that they come at you one after the other like beautifully presented bullets from a gun. Her voice sits as well with wonderful arrangements of sweeping strings and lush choirs, as it does with only a piano, guitar or harpsichord. This is a collection that is essential to anyone who is either not too familiar with French chanson and wants to be, or everyone who loves Francoise and wants to hear her presented in such a wonderful double album package. The booklet contains a great biography of Francoise written by Bob Stanley
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on 20 July 2004
I had only heard of Francoise Hardy after her duet with Damon Albarn on the track "to the end" on the 1993 parklife album, so I was curious enough to buy this album. I wasnt dissappointed with it either, these are 50 of the most chic and relaxing songs i have heard. There wasnt a single song on this 2 cd compilation that i didnt like. The fact that I cannot speak French wasnt a barrier to my enjoyment of the music and of her amazing voice. Also it is very good to have this on the car,when you are out driving in the summer months, brilliant!!
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VINE VOICEon 21 November 2005
I saw Francoise Hardy in concert some time in the mid 60's, and you can imagine what sort of an impression she made on my teenaged self. She has made other, more mature, more musically interesting and no doubt better recordings since the sixties, but this is the one to get if you want to go back to those glory days. This double CD is unbelievable value for money, even if most of the songs are a bit short by today's standards. The songs are mostly simple three-chord affairs, and the arrangements sound naive and dated - a bit like very early Cliff and The Shadows. Neither does the voice have a great deal of power, range or variation of tone. But who cares? Mlle Hardy does certain things well, knows what her strengths are, and plays to them. The voice is pure, haunting, and soooooooo relaxing. This is the easiest of listening. Don't worry if you can't understand French. In fact this is probably an advantage, as the words aren't the strongest features of these songs, and you're probably better off just imagining what they're about. Let's face it, they're not exactly Jacques Brel or Georges Brassens. But then you're not buying this album for intellectual stimulation; quite the opposite in fact. You're just buying it to bathe yourself in that lush voice and to wallow in memories of those golden times. And at less than seven quid you really don't have an excuse not to get this album.
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Some say that Francoise recorded her best music after she left Vogue in 1967, but this compilation covering her early music from 1962 to 1967 is of a consistently high quality with presentation to match. Regardless of the quality of her later music, the music here is what she is best remembered for. Francoise wrote most of her own material. Her voice had a limited range but Francoise knew that and wrote her songs accordingly and any lack of range was compensated by quality. She recorded English versions of some of her songs but none of those are included here. All fifty songs here are in French. Because I don't know any French, I don't understand the words but when music is this good, it's worth hearing anyway.
Francoise was clearly influenced by many different styles. Folk-pop is perhaps the main style but you will also hear elements of rock'n'roll, R+B and country here and there, as well as the influences of her own French heritage. The set opens with her debut hit, Tous les garcons et les filles, which sold over two million copes in France. In those days, France did not bother much with singles or albums – records were four-track EP's. Subsequent EP's all did well without matching the success of her debut. In 1964, Francoise moved to London and was rewarded with a UK top twenty hit - All over the world – here in its French version as Danse le monde entire, which opens the second CD. The Seekers also recorded the song and I wonder how big a hit it would have been if their version had been released as a single instead of Francoise's.
In the sixties, Francoise spent some time socializing with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. While her music is not as important as theirs, it has a certain Gallic charm all of its own.
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on 26 September 2015
Enchanting MOR in the echoey vein of the more
abstruse bits of Petula Clark and Sandi Shaw.
Francoise' first huge hit was, in fact, a Petula throwaway, 'Tous Les Garçon et Les Filles', given a typically early 6o's bouncy sheerness.
Her voice, tho..
Even this early on, it sets the temper straight away. Achingly cute, heart-destroyingly alluring, clear as crystal chimes.. Pretty lady, too.

Her backing musicians are slick but understated (and they are RIGHT at the back). A twangy guitar here, a reverberating Hammond organ there, fleet-footed tiny strings everywhere.. Charm by the shed-load.
She whispers ballads like she's reciting ethereal poetry; she crushes wee little pop songs til there's only moist crumbs; she coolly slices up 'big' Bassey-type numbers like a pastoral butcher.
Her style would give a modernist a seizure; 1o seconds in and you couldn't be anywhere else but the 6o's, yet it all has a crisp up-to-dateness that leaves today's piping chumps in her whirling wake.

Her life is interesting - but you'll need to buy and read the sleeve-notes. A quite ridiculous name-dropping cascade of the good, the bad, and the so-out-of-it-we-don't-really-know. When Bob Dylan starts writing poems about you, you're doing more than a few things right.

You could cut glass with this height of sharpness. Like all the best art, it won't leave you alone once you've begun unraveling. And this collection just comes in waves, proving it's sprightly qualities over and over again.

'The Vogue Years' is practical and common-sense joy. It comes in at just a midget's wink under two hours, but the time flashes past.
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on 1 June 2007
By making a generic statement like that, "The Man in Grey" is unkind and falls into the class of all talk big month non-achievers. Anyone who has ever heard of French sixties France Gall songs would not have made a statement of "most 60s French singers couldn't carry a tune in a bucket". I own these Francoise CDs, don't speak a word of French but thoroughly enjoy them. They contain many songs that will bring you back sweet memories of those long, hot, lazy summer Sunday afternoon of doing nothing and total relaxation. Many songs will stay in your head for ever and you will find that you want to listen to them over and over. This CD set contains songs that are also in Francoise's "Les Chansons D'amour" CD but many more and hence is a better buy.
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on 5 June 2010
Recently browsing the web, I stumbled on Francoise Hardy's "All Over The World" ('Dans le Monde Entier' in French) from the mid-60's, and it all came back....... the haunting melody , beautiful singing voice... everything. Still get goosebumps listening to it. So I browsed through all her other songs.
Result? Purchase of the double CD collection of 'Vogue Years'. Now I realise what an accomplished singer-songwriter she became and still is.
Considering all the songs were written in the 60's it's remarkable how many of them still sound fresh - e.g. "Le Temps d'Amour", "Je changerais d'avis", "Voila", "La Maison ou j'ai grandi" "Ce petit Coeur"

In common with all these is Francoise' beautiful pure French singing voice. It really doesn't much matter if your knowledge of the French language is only basic - it's almost an advantage. I don't think there has been anyone in the UK who really comes close to her 'sound', with the possible exception of Marianne Faithful or Judie Tzuke.
Anyone wanting to listen to the songs of her early singing career started should certainly buy this collection. The account (though brief) of her early background and the song which launched her into superstardom in France - "Tous les garcons et les filles.." is a great accompaniment whilst you are listening to the tracks - some of which have become quite addictive.

(PS I don't necessarily agree with some of the comments listed above regarding her voice not suiting live concerts. Probably in a large 'Arena', her voice would become 'lost' up there in the ceiling amidst the crowd noise. Maybe her singing style would better suit a small venue where her music could be listened to by her dedicated fans who would just want to 'listen'. But who am I to say..)

B Jones

The Vogue Years
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on 8 November 2008
I'm surprised this has got such superb reviews and bought it on the strength of these.

I've previously bought Messages Personnels and Comment Te Dire Adieu which have some of the tracks from this album and whilst they're still good on this album, I find them much harsher recordings of the songs. If I'd heard this album first, perhaps I'd have given it 4 or 5 stars too, but having listened to the other recordings of these tracks, I haven't ended up listening to this album beyond the first few attempts. I wouldnn't give it less than 3 stars as it's still a good album, just a disappointing recording of the songs. If you're considering buying this, it may be worth comparing tracks from the other albums in somewhere like HMV where you can hear them both before buying.
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on 15 November 2015
If you want a large selection of Francoise early recordings...this is a must. Two CD's with a varied compilation of many of her early hits on these two CD's. Such a competent singer with a varied range and a sensitive feel for her material. I think the re-mastered tracks are very well done the sound quality is excellent.
I was travelling on the Paris Metro some years ago looking at my Paris Guide Map...trying to find the Hotel, I was staying at. Suddenly a very attractive young lady...asked me..'What are you looking for..?'
I told her the name of the Hotel,,,and she said I know it, It is on my way, you can come along with me. I thanked her and as we walked along, I asked her name. Francoise...she replied, and yours....Paul, I said. Looking at her dark brown hair..and such a radiant smile.I told her where I lived in England...and she told me she like London.
We walked to my Hotel...and we shook hands and said...Goodbye.
It was some time later...I realise, I has been walking the Streets of Paris with....Francoise Hardy. Who was going to the Paris Offices of her then Recording Company, which was near my Hotel.
A real gentle young lady, with such grace and charm....which has been self evident in her long singing career.
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