Nana Mouskouri ‘Happy Birthday Tour’ (Universal/Wrasse) 3/5

mouskouriThe rimmed glasses and sultry Mediterranean looks have changed little over the years and Nana Mouskouri is something of a unique phenomenon in that she has actually outsold the Beatles and Elvis Presley combined by basically interpreting other people’s songs in a variety of languages other than her native Greek. This compilation, that ties in with her eightieth birthday celebrations and a soon to begin late September UK tour, confirms what a polyglot Mouskouri has been and she delivers in French, Spanish, English, German and even Latin. There are some surprising inclusions that reveal an interest in the singer-songwriter tradition of Latin America on Pablo Milanes’ ‘Yolanda’ while the anarchist French singer Léo Ferré is adequately covered on ‘Pauvre Rutebeuf’. Equally of interest is an interesting cover also of Edith Piaf on ‘Schau mich bitte nicht so an’ and for English language fans the early classic from Joni Mitchell, ‘Both sides now’, is reprised as is Don McLean’s ‘And I love you so’. Clearly this is not roots music from Greece and one should not pretend otherwise, but her Greek songs, co-written by long time orchestral leader Manos Hadjidakis, are enjoyable to listen to and attest to an inquisitive musical mind from her debut back in 1958.

Tim Stenhouse