Customer Review

140 of 159 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He's Still the Best, And He's Still Here...Appreciate Him, Will You Please?, September 20, 2011
This review is from: Tony Bennett: Duets II (Audio CD)
Is it any surprise that Tony Bennett presides over this collection of songs like a loving parent, nurturing each of them to ensure beauty results? No, of course not.

Indelibly present and in fine, oaken voice, his turn of phrase is expressive as ever. In fact, Bennett's warmth and charisma are still so strong they sometimes obscure the presence of his duet partners who simply do not have hearts as big as his to offer listeners.

"Duets II" is much like the initial 2006 duets collection in that it is a glossy, sugary-sweet excursion into smoothed-over pop vocal performances with Mr. Bennett's skills guiding the way, singing life into all the nooks and crannies whether or not he and his given duet partner are a suitable pairing. His personality and status as America's foremost singer of songs must guide the way.

Of note is his work with the late Amy Winehouse on "Body and Soul," a heartbreaking, apt tune for the chanteuse's final recording. Both are in their element, and the result is fraught with unrequited longing and slow-burning desperation. It is a fortunate teaming of two great talents bathed in instant pathos in its reminder of how fleeting art, like life, can be. Winehouse's voice was a fine instrument indeed, and "Body and Soul" showcases it.

Duet partners who earn their keep on this collection include k.d. lang, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Natalie Cole, Andrea Bocelli, Faith Hill, Lady Gaga, Queen Latifah, Josh Groban and Alejandro Sanz, whose passion fills the timeless "Yesterday I Heard the Rain."

Hill, in particular, sounds so enchanting alongside Bennett on "The Way You Look Tonight" that a full album collaboration between the pair would be a welcome prospect. "Speak Low" with Ms. Jones is absolute perfection - a simmering, wistful track that remains a Bennett concert staple and is ideally suited to Ms. Jones' brand of hush-hush, late-night intimacy.

lang and Bennett duet on the evergreen, lovely "Blue Velvet" with exactness and care - apt considering their longstanding friendship - while Lady Gaga oozes energy and pep on the sprightly "The Lady is a Tramp," a three-minute slice of giddy fun which underscores her theatrical personality as well as her bold, caffeinated vocal ability. Bennett is clearly delighted to be recording with her, and their chemistry is refreshing. Clever, praiseworthy choices of material help Groban and Latifah sound just as welcome with Bennett at their side.

Unfortunately, "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" with Aretha Franklin is a squandered opportunity. Sung with profoundly moving emotional transparency by Bennett, both on record and in concert, it is not suited for Franklin's melismatic turn of phrase in which the lyrics often take a back seat to drama and flourish.

Elsewhere, Sheryl Crow is unengaging on "The Girl I Love," just as she was singing Cole Porter in "De-Lovely" back in 2004 - her voice is much more suited to her own contemporary material. John Mayer has little presence next to Bennett on their selection, and Michael Buble sings on "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" with his trademark bland, self-interested swagger that runs a very thin emotional gamut. The upside is that it underscores the value of Bennett's versatility and self-effacing nature.

Charles DeForest's "When Do the Bells Ring for Me," one of Bennett's finest recordings, is presented here as a spellbinding duet with Mariah Carey that ends the disc strongly. The pair should have recorded long ago. Although the song itself is not in Carey's key, both vocalists accommodate one another graciously, and magic results.

"Duets II" certainly has the feeling of "product" - after all, Sony has invested great time and money into it, with only the highest promotional blitz and many of today's biggest, sparkliest stars alongside Bennett. Despite this it still has the warmth and feel of a genuine Bennett album due to his love, obviously still in the highest abundance, for the best songs ever written.

Certain retailers carry exclusive versions with bonus tracks, so do your homework.
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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 20, 2011 9:24:05 AM PDT
Good review -- informed, informative -- belongs in the "spotlight" (I say). Tried to leave a "helpful" vote; alas this very "comment" makes me your "fan" and under Amazon's "New Reviewer" rankings/voting system, fan votes don't count. Go figure. Just had to say "kudos" the only way I can, for a balanced and beautiful review.

Mark B of the frozen North

Posted on Sep 20, 2011 10:55:46 AM PDT
Rebecca says:
I wanted to get this album anyway, but this review makes me want it even more!!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2011 6:15:17 PM PDT
Rudy Palma says:
Thank you Mark. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2011 6:15:36 PM PDT
Rudy Palma says:
rz, I'm very glad, you will surely find much to enjoy on it. :)

Posted on Sep 21, 2011 6:27:20 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 23, 2012 8:14:45 PM PDT]

Posted on Sep 21, 2011 7:17:49 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2011 11:37:44 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 21, 2011 11:38:32 AM PDT
Rudy Palma says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Sep 21, 2011 1:32:31 PM PDT
Ben says:
this review makes me want to go out to the record shops and get this album as soon as possible!!!

thank you so much for such a thorough and well-balanced review i have ever seen. bravo Mr. Palma!

Posted on Sep 22, 2011 7:04:05 AM PDT
WHEN ENTERTAINERS 'TALK POLITICS' . . .

When he was speaking with Howard Stern, Tony Bennett spoke `from the heart.' When he apologized on network television (Canada's K.D.LANG at his side) Mr. Bennett read from a prepared statement (since posted on Facebook).
Bennett stopped by the radio host's Sirius XM program on Monday and the conversation turned political when Bennett told Stern that, as he was being honored at the Kennedy Center in 2005, then President Bush revealed to Bennett that he "made a mistake ... about the Iraq war."
Prompting this from Howard Stern: "You gotta eliminate war, but what do you do with these terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center?" To which Bennett replied, "Who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists, or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don't make a right."

Bennett continued that he wasn't on board with the statement that those who attacked started the conflict. "They flew the plane in, but we caused it. We were bombing them, and they told us to stop."

The singer has since posted a prepared statement on Facebook to "clarify" the comments he made on Stern's show, and to apologize if they were "misconstrued."

"I am so grateful to be an American and as a World War II veteran, I was proud to fight to protect our values, which have made America the greatest country on the planet," the 85-year-old singer says in the statement.

"There is simply no excuse for terrorism and the murder of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks on our country," the statement continues. "My life experiences -- ranging from the Battle of the Bulge to marching with Martin Luther King -- made me a life-long humanist and pacifist, and reinforced my belief that violence begets violence and that war is the lowest form of human behavior. I am sorry if my statements suggested anything other than an expression of my love for my country, my hope for humanity and my desire for peace throughout the world."

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 22, 2011 10:36:07 PM PDT
Rudy Palma says:
Thank you, Mark. I would like to add that I believe Tony and any entertainers of fame or note should be allowed to voice their opinions on politics, and I think it is simple-minded and, how shall we say this?...dumb, to opine that entertainers should "just" entertain, and leave the politics behind it. That is just plain wrong. If people out of the public eye are allowed to share their opinions, why can't those in it do the same? It's not their fault more people are listening to their comments. They still have the same right as anyone else to voice their opinions.
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