Thursday, October 6, 2011

TONY BENNETT ACT 2

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett
Mr. Bennett, I feel like a schmuck. A few weeks back, I wrote you expressing how much I enjoyed your new album “Duets An American Classic”, and my disappointment your collaboration with pop sensation Lady Gaga didn’t make the final cut. When I purchased the album at Barnes & Noble, I didn't know that you released two duet albums. Gay Talese didn’t mention that in his New Yorker article.. 

I overlooked the second one because both have the same cover art. Anyway, Mr. Bennett, I picked up “Duets II” Monday, and I like it way more than the first one. But—this may sound crazy—I can’t explain why at the moment.

I listened to the second album non-stop for three days. I was thrilled you opened the album with your duet with Lady Gaga. The version of “The Lady is A Tramp” is a killer. I haven’t followed Gaga’s career much. I watched an interview she did with pop writer Toure’ on MTV, and I saw some of Gaga’s recent HBO special.

Strip away the outlandish outfits. Take away the lavish over the top production, and the scantily clad dancers and what you have underneath is a woman who can sing her ass off. I mean sing better than any—male or female pop star—I ever heard. Gaga could’ve been big in R&B, country & western and jazz if you wanted to. Mr. Bennett, we both know all the big money is in pop stardom.

As much as a liked “The Lady is A Tramp” it wasn’t my favorite duet on the album. (It was in the top five). My absolute favorite is your collaboration with Amy Winehouse on “Body and Soul”. Mr. Bennett, for the life of me I can’t figure out how Winehouse was able to sound exactly like Billie Holliday. It was as if Winehouse channeled Holliday’s spirit. Could you sense that when you were recording with Winehouse? Man, she was scary good. Holliday and Winehouse were great singers who led trouble lives.

My other favorite is your duet with country icon Willie Nelson on “On the Sunnyside of the Street”. How did you and Nelson pull it off? How sweet the duet was caught me off guard. You and Nelson are from different points of the music spectrum more so than the other singers on the album. 

 Mr. Bennett, there’re plenty more breathtaking selections on “Duets II”. For example, your duet with Sheryl Crow, Queen Latifah, Norah Jones, John Mayer, Faith Hill and Natalie Cole are off the chain.

The only gripe I have with “Duet II” is you using an orchestra on every selection. The album still would’ve been killer if you had decided against using the orchestra. The collaborations were that awesome. So Mr. Bennett, there you have it. You made two killer albums with many of the best singers in the music business. That was some feat you pulled off.
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