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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Vanessa Paradis

MUSIC REVIEWS

Vanessa Paradis-Au Zenith (Barclay/Universal-France)

In the United States, Vanessa Paradis is probably best known as Johnny Depp's live-in girlfriend.  Other people may know her as the Chanel model or an actress.  But in her native France, she is an institution. 

Paradis first made waves when she was only 14, with her 1987 international hit single "Joe Le Taxi."  That single was a huge hit in just about every country but the U.S., and the song and accompanying album M & J made her a star.  Since then she has worked with musicians like Serge Gainsbourg and Lenny Kravitz.  In fact, Vanessa Paradis, her 1992 English language album which was written and produced by Kravitz, was not only a spectacular album, but it was the strongest set of songs Kravitz has come up with in his entire career... and yes, that is including all of his own albums. 

This is Paradis' second live album, and frankly, 1994's Vanessa Paradis-Live is a little better and includes several of the same songs.  But Au Zenith still makes a nice career overview for this French star. 

The concert take on "Joe Le Taxi" has lost a little of the jailbait sexiness of the original, and yet the smooth backing of Paradis' crack band (led by Steve Nieve, formerly of Elvis Costello's Attractions) makes the song sound better than it ever has.  Pop gem "Sunday Mondays" skips along with a groovy retro vibe.  "Dis-Lui Toi Que Je T'Aime" sounds unbearably striking and introspective.  Paradis pulls off a quite credible take on Lou Reed's New York nightlife underworld anthem "Walk On the Wild Side."  The screeching and cooing push-and-pull of "Tandem" sounds like aural foreplay.  The smooth and swaying bossa nova beat of "St. Germain" goes down like a tropical drink at a Riviera cafe. 

There are some obvious omissions (how could they skip the spectacular Motown homage "Be My Baby?") but Au Zenith is a terrific way to pass the time until Paradis' next album... particularly since she usually takes several years between studio albums.  (8/02)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2002 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 8, 2003.

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Copyright 2002 PopEntertainment.com, All rights reserved. Posted: March 8, 2003.