This centenary tribute is the definitive album of the inimitable chanson serenader, with 27 of his finest recordings, headed by the immortal La Mer. The ever-flamboyant Charles Trenet (1913-2001), known fondly as “Le fou chantant” (The Singing Fool), was singer, songwriter, actor and writer of six novels. He was, along with Chevalier and Piaf, the most celebrated French vocalist of the 20th century. After working pre war with Johnny Hess as the duo Charles et Johnny, he gained huge international success in his lengthy solo career. His poems made natural lyrics, and he wrote more than 500 songs, displaying a gift for melody and instinct for rhythmic emphasis that made him a composer of great imagination and vitality. He possessed a light baritone voice of individual, caressing softness, and impeccable diction together with a mastery of microphone technique. Above all, he had charm. Retrospective’s La Mer collates 27 of Trenet’s most characteristic numbers, nearly all of them his own compositions. Included are such ‘key’ songs as his celebrated theme song La Mer, Boum!, Mes jeunes années, which was sung at his funeral, Bonsoir jolie madame, Douce France (almost a second, gentler national anthem), L’âmes des poètes (At last! At last!), Que reste-t-il de nos amours? (I wish you love) and the exquisite Vous qui passez sans me voir (Why do you pass me by?). The sequence also includes such fascinating items as a 1941 story of La cigale et la fourmi (The Cicada and the Ant) on which he is accompanied by Django Reinhardt. All the songs reflect his unerring ability to touch the emotions, be they happy (Ah! dis ah! dis ah! bonjour) or sad (Seul depuis toujours).