Tony Bennett

Sings the Ultimate American Songbook, Vol. 1

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A different sort of Tony Bennett compilation than the usual, Sings the Ultimate American Songbook, Vol. 1 packages 15 performances, spanning five decades, that comprise, from Bennett's brief notes, "A revolution in popular music that will never be topped." (He's speaking, of course, about the American songbook and not his performing career.) While listeners won't find "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" or even "Cold, Cold Heart," the names of the composers -- Porter, Kern, Gershwin, Mercer -- are familiar, as are the song titles. Still, compiler Didier C. Deutsch chose some very obscure performances to illustrate Bennett's take on the Great American Songbook, including a ghostly "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" from 1958, "Ain't Misbehavin'" from 1964, and a 1971 version of "That Old Black Magic" with help from Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond (the first two make their wide CD debut here). Of course, there are plenty of familiar items as well, including "The Way You Look Tonight" (from the 1997 film My Best Friend's Wedding); two songs from his 1993 Sinatra tribute Perfectly Frank; and "Anything Goes," although this version comes from a 1962 live album. The happy result is a compilation that can be enjoyed equally by long-time devotees as well as first-time fans.

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