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A Supremely Wonderful Collection Of One Of America's Greatest Treasures.
on May 26, 2008
Aside from Frank Sinata, no greater singer has carved a niche in the collective soul of American popular music than Tony Bennett. For over 50 years, the man who entered this world as Anthony Benedetto has given us some of the best and most beloved recordings of timeless songs that to this day help define our deepest emotions and most important moments in our lives.
This 5 disc collection is a magnificent introduction into the world of Tony Bennett, containing some of the most beautifully interpretted renditions of our most cherished standards by great writers such as The Gershwins, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and other legends of the craft.
Discs 1 and 2 chronicle Bennett's rise to stardom in the early 1950s' to mid 1960s'. Tony proved to be a force of nature right from his first single release, "The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams," which still sounds as fresh and soulful as it did 54 years ago. Throughout the rest of the 1950s', Tony scored a string of hit singles that went on to become defining numbers in the Great American Songbook, including "Because Of You," (a wedding perennial), "Cold, Cold Heart" (a country hit for Hank Williams that Tony helped introduce to the pop world), "Blue Velvey," the timeless "Rags To Riches," "Sing You Sinners" and many other classic hits that he still does to this day.
Also from this classic era are lesser known but eqqually excellent albums such as "While The Music Plays On," the splendid "Ca, C'est Amour," the gorgeous "Lazy Sunday," "I Get A Kick Out Of You," (perhaps the only version that rivals Sinatra's defintive 1953 rendition), a magnificent "September Song" and a swingin' "Lullabye Of Broadway" with Count Basie.
The 1960s' continued to bare more fruit for Tony, including classics such as "The Best Is Yet To Come," "Tender The Night," "Once Upon A Time," the stinging "I Wanna Be Around," and the lush "The Good Life." It was during this period of productivty he cut what to me, are his two best songs.
The first is "I Left My Heart San Francisco," his 1962 hit and (deservedly) his most popular song, a melancholy slice of vintage Americana sung so passionately by Tony against a gloriously understated and utterly breathtaking Grammy winning arrangement by Marty Manning.
The other would be "When Joanna Loved Me," which ranks alongside Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin" and Darin's "Mack The Knife" as one of the most perfect recordiings in American history, a song that represents pure human emotion at its most raw and honest. Tony's singing on this song is sincere and heartbreaking, and remain so to this day.
Discs 3 and 4 mark a period of transition and eventually resurrection for Tony. By the mid 1960s', Tony's appeal began to dwindle, as hit singles had begun to dry up. He still cut quite a few certified classics (among them "Smile," "The Very Thought Of You," "For Once In My Life," and his personal favorite recrding, "I Do Not Know A Day I Did Not Love You"), but by the early 1970s', the music world wasn't as kind to Tony commercially. Artistically, however, Tony was still capable of churning out some excellent music. His collaboration with Bill Evans yielded such gems as "My Foolish Heart" and "But Beautiful," and he turned in a magnificent performance of the "Cabaret" classic "Maybe This Time."
By 1986, Tony had mounted a very successful comeback with "The Art Of Excellence," which yielded his beautiful performance of "How Do You Keep The Music Playing" and the playful and seductive "What Are You Afraid Of." His newfound sreak of good luck continuted with his Irving Berlin tribute, which yielded the beautiful "I Got Lost In Her Arms" and a haunting a capella take on "When I Lost You." Tony also scored a latter day classic with the beautiful "When Do The Bells Ring For Me."
Disc 5 chronicles Tony's 1990s' revival, when he helped introduce the wonderfuls tandrards of the past to a new generation and connected with young listeners and contemporary entertainers. Tony added yet another classic to his reusme with the Fred Astaire tribute "Steppin' Out With My Baby," and teamed with contemporary artists such as Diana Krall ("Alright, O.K., You Win"), B.B. King ("Let The Good Times Roll"), Ray Charles (the amazin' "Evenin'"), and two wonderful duets with k.d. lang ("La Vie En Rose" and "What A Wonderful World"). This disc is an excellent overview of his later years up to today, and Tony is still very much alive, well and performing.
This boxed set contains a superb booklet filled with great essays and rare photographs. The boxed set is affordable and the sound quality is superb. Do yourself a favor and purchase this magnificent collection as soon as possible.