Paul Anka

Duets

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Released as a tie-in to Paul Anka's 2013 memoir My Way (really, would an Anka autobiography bear another name?), the 2013 collection Duets attempts to illustrate the depth of Anka's career through song, letting the singer/songwriter indulge himself with duet partners both expected and unfamiliar. There is a degree of posthumous trickery here -- he sings "This Is It" with Michael Jackson and "My Way" with Frank Sinatra, two vocalists long deceased by the time Anka assembled this album -- but Anka is such a creature of show biz that this sleight of hand doesn't much matter; arguably, it even enhances the splash and glitz of this deliberately showy album. There may be a little too much modernity on Duets -- Anka succumbs to Auto-Tune here and there, including on "Find My Way Back to your Heart," the only solo song here -- and there's the odd sense that he's trying to appeal to every possible audience that may exist in 2013, although nothing here could conceivably be played on modern radio. Instead, Duets plays like a fantasia of pre-MTV pop, songs designed for maximum radio play even when there are no outlets for that sound. There are some pleasant moments here, to be sure -- many of them play like throwbacks to 1990, including Tom Jones' new take on "She's a Lady" -- but it's a sound that belongs to past that's long since gone.

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