Various Saint-Germain-des-Prés Café IV

Compilations that cater to the coffee shop dwellers are so incredibly played out that it’s almost embarrassing to own in your collection, but don’t let the title of this French series put you off. Still squeezing the lounge angle for a few more drops, the Saint-Germain-des-Prés series is one of the finer compilations that are still relevant in this post-"nu-jazz” world. The usual suspects are all there though, including three contributions by Koop who have somehow managed to spread their sole album so thin that it’s becoming transparent. Marlena Shaw teams up with Nathan Haines for the incredibly funky "Squire for Hire” that threads a hip-hop beat through a full-on horn section as the legendary soul singer talks jive, making for the premature highlight of the record, which gives an early climax as only the second track. As well as riding some upbeat funk and house numbers, the fourth edition of this series slows the pace with a rather lovely ballad from Beady Belle which makes way for the classic "High Noon” by Kruder & Dorfmeister, getting back to the topic of material making the rounds. Another blast from the past appears in the form of Nicolette’s seductive voice teaming with a classic break beat for a snippet of "No Government,” giving this compilation one last whimper before closing out a predictable mix. Still, it’s one that contains just enough quality worthy of a few spins while you sip your espresso. (Wagram)