Tony Bennett

Blue Velvet [Prism]

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Although the photograph on the album cover depicts a mature, gray-haired Tony Bennett, the recordings on this budget-priced British compilation come from the early days of Bennett's career. European copyright law as of 2003 released into the public domain recordings made more than 50 years earlier, and Prism Leisure took advantage of that to make transfers from Bennett records of the early '50s, slap a couple of 1990s photos on the CD covers, and issue this unlicensed collection. Nine of Bennett's first ten chart hits are included, among them the chart-toppers "Rags to Riches," "Because of You," and "Cold, Cold Heart." But, unlike Prism's usual procedure, the CD is not filled to near the brim, so it cannot even be recommended on the basis of quantity. It contains a mere 15 tracks and runs less than 42 minutes. Often during those minutes, the listener will hear the clicks of the old records coming through on the tracks. This is doubtless one of the cheaper Bennett collections on the market; it is also one of the worst.