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Tony Bennett – Duets II

Catherine May


With Amy Winehouse’s final recorded studio performance on it, the release of Tony Bennett’s Duets II has seen it become a must have album for Winehouse fans. But don’t let that fool you into thinking Body and Soul is all that the album has to offer. Oh no, Duets II features many, many more incredible collaborations.

In fact, it’s the other musical icon of the 21st Century who really steals the show. It comes as no shock that Lady Gaga gives an incredible performance, but what might surprise some listeners is the song choice. Far from the pop we’ve grown accustomed to, Gaga joins Bennett on The Lady Is A Tramp. Stripped back, Lady Gaga’s voice is allowed to shine for the piece of brilliance that it really is. There’s no need for her famed outfits or risqué lyrics – with Bennett’s soothing jazzy vocals as an accompaniment, Gaga’s vocals hits all the right notes and the natural laughter from Bennett midway through a lyric suggests that the recording process was just as enjoyable as the listening process.

Sticking to what she does best, Mariah Carey joins Bennett on When Do The Bells Ring For Me and softly seduces the listener (and Bennett) with her emotive vocals. Others on the album who don’t stray from what they do best include Josh Groban on This Is All I Ask and Michael Bublé on Done Get Around Much Anymore. The former shines with an atmospheric orchestral sound and the latter with its big brass band backing.

Andrea Bocelli’s offering on Stranger In Paradise keeps opera fans entranced, whilst Aretha Franklin shows her more subtle side in How Do You Keep The Music Playing.

As for Amy Winehouse? It’s hard to give an honest judgement that isn’t influenced by her untimely death. Her vocals are undeniably strong – a stark contrast to the weak person behind the voice. And as the song closes with the pair’s final blast the final repetition of the title seems particularly poignant. Winehouse truly did give her Body and Soul to her music and it’s clear she still had a lot more that could’ve been given in years to come.

When selecting just who would be joining him on this album, Bennett was clearly spoilt for choice. His name alone would have sold thousands of albums, but with everybody from Alejandro Sanz to Willie Nelson on the seventeen track album, it’s definitely one worth investing in.