Duets:An American Classic
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In celebration of his 80th birthday, Tony Bennett performs 18 of his hits and favorite numbers with famous duet partners including Sting, Bono, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, and Tim McGraw -- all live in the studio with the master.
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Top Customer Reviews
Alas, Tony Bennett isn't the first to travel down the rocky duets path and he certainly won't be the last.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with like-minded artists getting together and indulging in an extracurricular jam sessions, but that doesn't mean that the results should be inflicted on the world at large. Rare is the occasion when such pairings are based on any consideration of style or legacy.
Frank Sinatra's 1993 "Duets" album, featuring collaborations with Gloria Estefan, Bono and Kenny G, was one of the low points of his career, made particularly excruciating by the ultra-slick production and the fact that the guest singers sang along to tapes of existing Sinatra performances.
Ray Charles's final album, "Genius Loves Company", featuring, among others, Norah Jones,the ubiquitous Elton John, Natalie Cole, Diana Krall and and Willie Nelson, may have flown off the shelves in the wake of the great man's death but it was hardly the elegant swansong that critics and long-standing fans had in mind.
Tony Bennett is too seasoned to make that mistake.
Though he rounds up the usual suspects ( Elton John, Sting, Bono, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall ), Old Big Tony remains in charge.
At 80, his chords aren't so nimble, but his phrasing and reading of the orchestra are effortless. Surprisingly, it's George Michael who comes closest to matching him here. For his signature song " I Left My Heart In San Francisco" : the piano becomes Bennett's partner for a wintry but eloquent swansong.
There's no disputing that Bennett, whose career spans five decades, boasts a fine body of work. It's also fair to say that his golden years are now behind him, which makes it all the more distressing that, to mark his 80th birthday, he should see fit to pair up with a series of young pups and bask in their leather-clad glory. Surely a party and a birthday cake would have been more than adequate.
This isn't the first time that Bennett has played the duets card. His last release, "A Wonderful World", a collection of songs associated with Louis Armstrong, was recorded with kd lang. Given that lang and Bennett are both gifted interpreters with pseudo-operatic voices, it made perfect sense and was widely praised.
By contrast, "Duets: An American Classic" smacks of an artist who longs to stay musically relevant. On paper, at least, it's an album that belongs to that dubious Grammy-grabbing genre in which pop and rock royalty put on a glitzy show of mateyness while conspicuously failing to push the envelope.
At 80, Bennett justly qualifies as "An American Classic." And he sounds like one on this starry duets set on which he's teamed with the so called SERIAL COLLABORATORS... a new generation of musicians, who have all but abandoned their own musical endeavours in favour of hitching a ride on those of older musicians..Read more ›
Tony Bennett's old-age pension CD is much less embarrassing than Frank Sinatra's post-70 Duets projects a decade ago. For starters, the ever-classy Bennett insisted on recording in the same studio with his "partners", even if it meant traveling to wherever they were across the globe.
This makes "Duets: An American Classic" better than similar projects even though it's no ''American Classic.'' (No problem -- Bennett's catalog is graced with plenty of American classics: "Cloud 7", "Perfectly Frank" and "Hot & Cool: Bennett Sings Ellington", to name just three).
On "Duets", there is noticeable interplay between the guests and Bennett -- sounding a bit huskier but still a singer's singer and endlessly charismatic.
He and Barbra Streisand sound comfy and flirtatious on the oft-recorded "Smile" and Bennett and James Taylor get into the playful spirit of "Put on a Happy Face".
Country star Tim McGraw is the big surprise -- not only that he's here, but that he sounds unrecognizable (and not half-bad) crooning Hank Williams' ballad "Cold, Cold Heart".
Naturally, a lot of this feels awkward. Paul McCartney sounds stiff and self-conscious on "The Very Thought of You". Juanes doesn't sound right on "The Shadow of Your Smile", either.The Dixie Chicks are largely wasted on "Lullaby of Broadway".
And Ms. Dion is over-the-top, as always, on "If I Ruled The World".
Perhaps if the arrangements and song selection weren't so slavishly locked into the Great American Songbook way of doing things, "Duets" would be of more interest.
3 *** just for my huge respect for Mr. Bennett.
Most recent customer reviews
A great addition to any Tony Bennett collection with favourite artists.Published 2 months ago by Diane G
A must have to add to your music collection if you are a crooner fan. Duets are incredible. Not bad for an 86 year old!Published 16 months ago by LL
Tony Bennet sings with a different person on every duet. He seems to know wh he can sing with. It's a wonderful mixture of every kind of music and voices. Read morePublished on May 17 2014 by Toni
Tony Bennett of course is great and many surprises with his guests. Classics given great respect and a pleasure to listen to.Published on July 11 2013 by George Edelstein