Euro Groove is a collection of laid-back tunes from across the continent. As Putumayo fans have come to expect, this compilation brings together an eclectic variety of artists and songs that still fit together in a common theme. The theme this time is, obviously, “groove.”
And groove it does. It’s sassy. It’s funky. And it’s easy to focus on the music and vocals on their own, without distraction from the lyrics, since you probably won’t understand most of them.
The CD opens with “Destins et Désirs” ("Destinies and Desires"), a mellow song that sets the pace at a relaxed tempo. The song is performed by Toufic Farroukh, and features Jeanne Added on vocals.
The song is part lounge, part jazz, and part Middle Eastern, with elements of trip hop. It’s quite multifarious, drawing on Farroukh’s Lebanese background as well as his formal musical training in France, not to mention everything he’s apparently picked up along the way.
Many listeners will recognize Chumbawumba for their 1997 hit “Tubthumping.” Though they quickly came and went from the American pop spotlight, Chumbawumba has been around for more than 25 years.
The band makes an appearance on Euro Groove with “Jacob’s Ladder,” a bouncy Celtic tune with a message of political discontentment. The song references a World War II incident in which Winston Churchill chose to protect the Norwegian royal family rather than send a rescue mission for 1500 working-class sailors, who drowned as a result of the decision.
The song’s lyrics are full of classic anti-establishment language, complete with allusions to jumping on command: “You jump when you’re told to, through the open door/ And the king of Norway, he’s the man you all died for.”
Fans of “Tubthumping” may be surprised to learn that Chumbawumba has its roots in the anarchist punk rock movements of 1980s England. Many of their seemingly-chipper tunes contain political messages and harsh criticism of the powers that be. It makes me want to go back and listen to “Tubthumping” with a more critical ear. I always thought it was just a song about getting drunk and having fun.
My favorite song on Euro Groove is “Cette Fille,” a punchy song by French artist Martial. The guitar work is beautiful, and Martial’s vocal skills (he’s also in a French rap group) transcend the language barrier. I have no idea what he’s saying. But it sounds good. There is a lot of Celtic flair in this song, with a fiddle interlude that sounds like an Irish dance tune.
Euro Groove is like the melting pot that didn’t melt: Influences from across Europe’s cultural landscape compliment each other without merging together into something that all sounds the same. There is an upbeat feel to the songs that will inspire listeners to get up and dance. Good luck figuring out which steps correspond to Celtic-meets-Arabic-meets-Gypsy-jazz, though. It might be time to make up your own amalgamation, in the spirit of this hip and eclectic collection.