Customer Reviews: Sings The American Songbook, Vol. 1
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 27, 2007
At first glance one might question whether or not we really need another album of tunes derived from "The Great American Songbook". After all, if you have found yourself listening to recent albums by the likes of Rod Stewart then you just might wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place. But happily what we have here is the real deal folks. Columbia Records proudly presents this captivating new CD "Tony Bennett Sings The Ultimate American Songbook: Vol 1". This disc features 15 of the most beloved songs in the history of American popular music. The tunes are familiar and most people will even know the lyrics to many of the songs. What a refreshing idea!

As I indicated earlier, the tunes that have been included in "Tony Bennett Sings The Ultimate American Songbook" were culled from a number of Tony's LP's spanning the past four decades. For the most part what you hear is Tony Bennett in his prime and at the top of his game. You will certainly enjoy Tony's touching renditions of all-time favorites like "I'll Be Seeing You", "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Taking A Chance On Love". Likewise, Tony's swinging take on the venerable Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer tune "That Old Black Magic" backed by Dave Brubeck on piano and Paul Desmond on alto sax is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention Tony's outstanding 1964 recording of "It Had To Be You", a tune that was featured in the RKO motion picture "Show Business". I was also impressed by a couple of numbers that I was previously unfamiliar with including "She's Funny That Way" and "You'll Never Get Away From Me" from the Broadway musical "Gypsy". I am very pleased to report that there was not one weak track on this disc. I only wish that there were 25 tunes instead of the mere 15 that were offered on this one.

Now I am usually not very big on repackaged collections. And I do agree with some other reviewers who are extremely annoyed with the record company for putting a fairly recent photo of Tony Bennett on the cover of this disc. It would appear that this is a newly recorded album of standards. But for me at the end of the day it really doesn't matter. Tony Bennett is clearly one of the outstanding vocalists in the history of American popular music. He does justice to each and every one of the tunes included on this disc. "Tony Bennett Sings The Ultimate American Songbook: Vol. 1" would be an outstanding gift idea for people of all ages. This collection would bring back warm memories for older folks and also serve as a marvelous introduction to younger people of the best that American popular music has to offer. Highly recommended!
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Unfortunately, this CD of just some of Tony's hits gets some mighty deceptive packaging--like many other people, I initially thought these were new recordings for a new CD! Not so, I'm afraid. Although Tony is at his best for these songs, the CD merely is a compilation of songs recorded on CD and LP many times over the years.

The CD has several highlights, if you do wish to buy it--but just please understand that these are old recordings packaged in such a way as to lead people to believe that they're buying a CD of Tony's new recordings.

One clear highlight of this CD is "The Very Thought Of You." Tony sings his best; he never misses a note and his voice is full of energy and masculine warmth. The trumpet sounds great to make "The Very Thought Of You" a fine number.

In addition, listen for "The Way You Look Tonight;" this number has a great musical arrangement with percussion and piano; Tony sings this soulfully with all his heart. "That Old Black Magic" again features Tony at his best with the percussion and a jazzy musical arrangement to make this number shine!

"I'll Be Seeing You" showcases Tony's lyrics as he sings this with great sensitivity; and the piano works wonders for this number. "They Can't Take That Away From Me" has a great horn arrangement to complement Tony's strong vocals; and "Taking A Chance On Love" gets the royal treatment from Tony as he belts this out so fine.

The artwork of the liner notes, sadly, gives anyone with eyes the impression that this is a completely new CD. Buyers beware! This is a CD of recordings merely re-hashed for an extra few bucks in Tony's pocket. I am very disappointed.

If you're new to Tony Bennett and want to get to know his artistry better, then buy this as a type of lukewarm retrospective or compilation CD. Tony Bennett fans will be disappointed and hopefully not fooled by this tricky artwork and packaging. "True Blue" Tony Bennett fans should save their money and enjoy the CDs they already own with these very same recordings and more.

Sorry, Tony! No dice!

Two and one-half stars.
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BENNETT, Tony. Sings the Ultimate American Songbook, vol. I. Columbia. 2007. TB, voc, with. Ralph Sharon Orch and trio, Dave Brubeck quartet, Count Basie Orch.

Songbook is a collection of cuts from various albums by Bennett, dating back to the tail end of the Fifties. It’s mostly good stuff –no, fine stuff—with a few exceptions. The best cuts are with Ralph Sharon, his musical director for who knows how many years, either his trio or an orchestra. The worst are (1) a duet on “Moonglow” with k. d. lang which doesn’t ignite –more importantly, it doesn’t showcase lang’s unique talent as an interpreter of songs, and (2) a cut with the Mitch Miller Orchestra backing Tony up. The problem with the latter is that Miller was a hack who fit every song into the same cookie cutter mold. Tony’s voice is gorgeous and his ability to interpret songs so high that Miller doesn’t ruin the cut, but a Ralph Sharon Mitch Miller certainly wasn’t. There is one other hitch on the album, a cut labeled as performed with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, including Paul Desmond. It must be a mislabeling –to the best of my knowledge Brubeck never recorded with a guitar player, and if he had, it would have been with someone like jim Hall, who wouldn’t have produced such bland chording behind the piano, and there is no alto sax, and thus no Desmond on the cut either. For that matter, the drummer doesn’t match up with what I know of Joe Morello either. It’s not a big deal, though, and this is basically a rewarding album, offering a historical retrospective of the classy singing of one of our national treasures.
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on December 9, 2014
I must admit, I did not keep this CD for myself, I gave it to a friend for her birthday and she was so happy to receive it !! Like me, she is a fan of Tony Bennett and this is a collection she did not have. Thanks for the opportunity to be able to get this for my friend , Amazon. We enjoy listening to this music together.
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on July 21, 2014
What's not to love about Tony. He's the quintessential singer....timeless. His career spans decades and is still going strong. There aren't many celebrities who can say the same. The songs on this album are, of course, found on other albums, all of which I have. But there are a couple of new ones (for me, anyway, which is a surprise) so I am delighted with my purchase. It's a must for any Tony Bennett fan.
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on April 24, 2015
Great album. Be advised it's a live album, so if you dislike live recordings, you're not going to like this one. However, this is a nice range of recordings that shows off Tony's virtuosity in the best of all performance. Highly recommended.
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on September 30, 2007
After several weeks of inquiry prior to the release, and after careful
inspection of the CD (gleaned from the fine print on the back of the CD),
I can now confirm that this "new" CD is merely more of the same--another complilation CD of the "Great American Songbook." To say that this "new CD" is an unfortunate disappointment is a gross understatement. Adding insult to injury is the crytic nature in which it is marketed--nowhere is there a reference to the fact that these are previously released songs--as noted above--the only way this is ascertained is by looking at the release dates (in the fine print) on the back cover. Not to mention in the several stores I was in, attempting to here a sample, the players indicated the CD was not scanned and could not be played? Why I wonder? Moreover, all descriptions of the CD on line make mention that these songs are derived from Mr. Bennett's many works, not noting that they are the actually works--previously released--not re-makes from an older, wiser, more skilled Mr. Bennett.

Given the above, what is the point in this CD? Save for the obvious intent to dress up old material and get a double dip in profit. If you are truly interested in these songs, purchase the albums from whence
they came. Complilations rob the listener of the intended moods set by the organization and concept of the particular album. All this material has already been re-released--get the actual albums and listen to these songs as they were intended to be heard.

This is what causes me such consternation, if it was the intent of Mr. Bennett and Columbia to release a definative "Songbook" series (as is clear by the labeling of Vol. 1--suggesting more volumes to come)
why not release everything in a complete box set, akin to the massive Sinatra box sets.

In sum, this complilation is merely more of the same, it's lackluster and an extreme let done after Mr. Bennett's stellar album "The Art of Romance. Moreover, I fully support celebrating Mr. Bennett's legacy and major contributions to American Standards, however Mr. Bennett is the last of the Breed, he is still in good voice, and his efforts should be concentrated on continuing to add to the Great American Songbook, not repeating it.

Sorry Piasan, this CD is a major let down. We expect more from you.

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on November 17, 2015
This is a compilation of tracks from many different periods of this legends career.The thing that is amazing is that his voice is as good or better today as it was is decades past. These are wonderful songs.
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on April 20, 2015
Good compilation of songs. Audio quality is good. I was some what disappointed when I first received the CD, and realized it was just a compilation of all previously recorded selections. I was under the impression that it was an all new studio recording.
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on September 28, 2007
When I first looked at this cd in the store I really felt this was a brand new CD newley recorded. I read the fine print to find out it was not. To my knowledge not one song is newley recorded.

I feel this is just another way for the record companies to take advantage of the public and make a fast buck,and at top dollar yet!. Puting an older picture of Tony's picture on the CD jacket almost fooled me.

Mr. Bennett is a great artist and should consider going into the recording studio and recreating these songs with a full orchestra. Put on your old Bennett cds and save your money for now.

Ed Meyer
Clermont Florida
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