Customer Reviews: Tony Bennett: MTV Unplugged
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on February 8, 1999
Tony Bennett has performed in every major city in every important country around the world, but there hasn't been a live documentation of his unique abilities until MTV:unplugged recorded him in 1994. I have the videotape and the laser disc of this same concert and they do not compare to the DVD! The seperation ,frequency response and front-to- back imaging are in a class by themselves; not to mention the performances from his 'sidemen' which are SOTA! But it is Tony Bennett who at his prime chose to do a concert that is in a class by itself. You owe it to yourselves if you think of yourself as a Tony Bennett fan already or you've had thoughts about getting into the 'standards' and who sings them best. Tony Bennett often refers to Frank Sinatra as the king of the balladeers, but he is being respectful to a national legend; when it is he who has got the musicians, recording engineers, MTV together to combine forces in a once-in-a-lifetime chance at performing. Some people have said that his small inclusion of K.D. Lang & Elvis Costello was a form of selling out, but I say it's to let the "MTV crowd" know that his music cuts across all generations and will continue to grow in attecptance with young people. What are you waiting for? This is the BEST jazz recording you will ever own! . . . Morris Zwerman
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on July 19, 2000
About six years ago I had the pleasure of seeing Tony Bennett in concert at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. Man, what a show he put on, backed by the Ralph Sharon trio. After that concert I ran out and purchased the "Unplugged" cd that Tony recorded while taping for MTV. I have never been a real fan of live recordings, but this one is exceptional. Tony has really flourished since young people have re-discovered his work, and even though he is getting older his work is still terrific.
The opening track "Old Devil Moon" gets the mood swingin' and the rest of the album fly's by until you find yourself wishing there was one more track. Of course Tony covers his signature tune "I left my heart in San Francisco" but he also adds duets with k.d. Lang and Elvis Costello. He also proves he still has what it takes by belting out "Fly me to the Moon" without the aid of a microphone.
Like all of us, Tony is getting older, but he still puts on a great show and sings every song with the same emotion he did years ago. I guess what I like about this album is that you can tell that Tony is enjoying what he's doing. He loves singing theses great old songs to a brand new audience. If you want a Tony Bennett album this is a very good one, and I definitely recommend it. No, it's probably not the best, but it is a lot of fun no matter how many times you listen to it.
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on April 20, 2003
To win the Album of the Year Grammy for an MTV Unplugged two years after Eric Clapton did with his classic unplugged album, to win the Grammy when acoustic shows were not near that much in vogue -- it must indicate something. And it does. Tony Bennett's comeback in 1990's could not have a better place to solidify.
Second only to Frank Sinatra on the all-time list of standard 'crooners', Bennett (67 at the time) was here singing his signatures and favourites accompanied by efficient Ralph Sharon trio, of which especially the pianist Sharon deserves special attention (listen to "I Love A Piano" or his glorious solo on "Steppin' Out With My Baby").
Bennett's shoes fit best on ballads, like "It Amazes Me", "It Had To Be You" and his signature "I Left My Heart In San Francisco". k.d. lang and Elvis Costello offer guest vocals on two subtle duets. Probably unrehearsed, as a nice misstep with Elvis shows.
Intimacy between Tony and the audience is almost tangible on this record. Tony sings, the audience cheers. Oh, what a night it was. Billie Holiday was right when she predicted a career for the young Italian-American Bennett back in 1950's.
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on August 24, 2000
he gets better with age. i have 3 cd's by mr. bennett: steppin' out, greatest hits and unplugged. the enthusiasm of the crowd and mr. bennett's method of treating the audience like an old friend makes it all worth while. some may say his voice isn't what it used to be but i totally disagree. his voice has the character of a seasoned pro who has made his mistakes and learned his craft to perfection. i envision mr. bennett as a long-time companion telling a story by the fireplace on a cold winter's night, a drinking buddy at your favorite watering hole or your grandfather bouncing you on his knee. there are few artists who can make even the gaps between words seem like a part of the experience but you will savor every fluctuation in tone from one of the masters.
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on March 24, 2002
My husband and I are Tony Bennett fans and really enjoy his music. ... What a pleasure it was to watch and listen to Mr. Bennett do his thing! He is a true professional. Yes, his voice has changed over the years but all true fans are quite aware of that. But to have seen and heard him perform was unbelievable. To think, after all these years, Mr. Bennet is as smooth as ever, maybe even more so. And man, can he crank it!
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VINE VOICEon September 22, 2006
"We're late, darling, we're late
The curtain descends
Everything ends too soon
Too soon." ~ Speak Low ~ Words & Music by Ogden Nash and Kurt Weill

Tony Bennett's "MTV Unplugged" is one of my earliest Tony Bennett recordings from my collection. I truly enjoyed Tony Bennett's live performances, which bring out the best in him. I've also watched this concert aired on MTV. Mr. Bennett, whose voice is one of the most distinguishable and remarkable voices in the music world, is a living musical legend. He has reached the pinnacle of his career and is one of the few who made it to the top echelon and maintained his musical status all these years.

This CD won two major well-deserved awards at the 1994 Annual Grammy Awards for "Album of the Year" and "Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance." In these recordings of twenty-two noteworthy songs, he was ably backed-up by Ralph Sharon Trio: Ralph Sharon on piano, Doug Richeson on bass and Clayton Cameron on drums. All the tracks were arranged by the singer himself and some by the trio. With his exceptional performances, Mr. Bennett proved that he has that ability to command respect from his audience. There was a very good rapport between the singer and the live audience. They were very responsive and so appreciative and Mr. Bennett can't stop saying to them . . . "You are beautiful!" He was in his late sixties when this album was recorded but there wasn't a bit change in the quality of his voice. Still so impressive!

One of my very favorites is his duet with k.d. lang, "Moonglow," which was performed in a subtle and relaxed manner.

"Heavenly songs seem to come from everywhere
And now when there's moonglow way up in the blue
I always remember that moonglow gave me you."

Three Gershwin gems made it to the repertoire of timeless standards, the duet with Elvis Costello "They Can't Take That Away From Me," "The Girl I Love" and "A Foggy Day."

Before the intro of "It Had To Be You," Mr. Bennett told the audience that he once asked Johnny Mercer from Savannah, Georgia (one of my favorite lyricists) what his favorite popular song of all-time was and he replied "a wonderful song written by a colleague of mine, Gus Kahn of Chicago - It Had To Be You." It's also one of my favorite standards.

"With all your faults I love you still
It had to be you, wonderful you
It had to be you."

Other stand outs are "Fly Me To The Moon," Irving Berlin's "I Love A Piano" (a fine-toned baby grand, a lovely Steinway), "Body And Soul" and "Speak Low," where there was an audience participation - you could hear their fingers snapping and enjoying the rhythm as Mr. Bennett sings awesomely.

Get this CD and enjoy listening to the live performances of a great singer! He's certainly a musical icon, a multi-Grammy awardee and a living legend. His music is timeless, and so is he.

Wholeheartedly recommended!
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on June 25, 2002
I've always enjoyed Tony Bennett's voice when I've heard it, but until I bought this album, I had never owned any Bennett music. This was a great intoduction. The choices of standards here are excellent, and ensure that we get to hear Tony singing without any poor material to bring him down. His backing band, the Ralph Sharon Trio, is wonderful. The audience is ebullient and keeps the energy high all the way through. And Tony is in great form despite his age - he hits all the high notes and his interpretation is dead on. I'm also an Elvis Costello fan, so his duet with Tony on "They Can't Take That Away From Me" was a real kick. All in all, Tony is about a zillion times more animated, entertaining, and talented than the rest of the dreck MTV puts out. On the album, Tony says he'd love to come back, and MTV should take him up on that.
My favorites: "Old Devil Moon," "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" (of course), "Steppin' Out," "Can't Take That Away From Me," and "Autumn Leaves."
Complaints: Yes, the applause is too loud. The whole world loves Tony Bennett, they don't need to reinforce that point with thunderous applause mixing. Also, I love K.D. Lang's voice, but I didn't like the duet she does with Tony on "Moonglow."
These complaints don't take away from a great album, though. If you want to get to know the great Tony Bennett, this is where to start.
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on January 8, 2015
One of my favorite Tony Bennett recordings and the live venue, which sometimes is not to my liking, is particularly well done. I especially enjoy his "Unplugged" rendition of "Fly me to the Moon", and the whole recording moves along while still allowing for Tony to shine in some of his standard ballads.
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on December 16, 2002
Having been to many Bennett concerts, I can attest to the fact that Tony swings in front of a live audience. If there is any one artist that can be credited with keeping jazz on the front page of the American popular songbook, it is Tony Bennett. What other pop artist sells albums accompanied by only a piano? (The Bill Evans recordings.) Here, Tony uses a trio to bring down the house. Yes, there are standards, but they sound fresh and alive. It's clear that both artist and audience are having a great time and this cd conveys that excitement. On one selection Tony gets "really unplugged"! This Grammy winning cd includes duets and a short drum solo for good measure. This concert was credited with the revial of the Bennett career and one listen will make you part of that. Great support from the Ralph Sharon trio and the appreciative audience inspires Tony's offer "to come back someday and sing all new songs." MTV take him up on that! Until then, I will be listening to this cd.
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on May 20, 2000
not only is tony bennett the best living singer of the great standards today, ralph sharon his pianist is the best backup pianist around. listen to him follow tony with riffs in majors and minors, never getting in the way but always enhancing the flow of the song. absolutely brilliant the way these two work together. this album is a must for people who love great music sung by a master and accompanied by a genius. enjoy!
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