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Tony BENNETT (b. 1926) – While We’re Young
Sing You Sinners [2:11]
Because Of You [2:56]
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams [2:52]
While We’re Young [2:19]
Please, My Love [2:49]
Since My Love Has Gone [2:55]
Cold, Cold Heart [2:36]
Blue Velvet [2:59]
Have A Good Time [3:05]
Here In My Heart [2:48]
I’m The King Of Broken Hearts [2:55]
Rags To Riches [2:46]
Stranger In Paradise [3:02]
There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight [2:10]
Take Me Back Again [3:05]
Cinnamon Sinner [2:59]
Not As A Stranger [2:49]
Please Driver (Once Around The Park Again) [3:00]
Funny Thing [3:03]
Come Next Spring [2:41]
Original recordings made between 1950 and 1955 at various locations. ADD
NAXOS 8.120803 [57:09]


Tony Bennett’s career was made in the first five years of the 1950s, between the time he signed his first record contract in 1950 and the birth of Rock & Roll. This album does a solid job of capturing this part of his career, as it simply a collection of all of his early hits with nothing notable left out. Bennett first scored #1 in America with "Because of You", followed the same year with the Hank Williams penned country song "Cold, Cold Heart". "Blue Velvet", "Strangers in Paradise" and "Rags to Riches" were other early Bennett hits, all here. In fact, Naxos appears to have taken a lesson from rock and pop singers and truly made a greatest hits album, sans the title "Greatest Hits".

The selections are all unmitigated pop recordings, as this is Tony Bennett before he became a jazz icon. The majority of the songs display exactly what it was that made Bennett a star in the pre-Rock era. His voice rings clear and true, and the songs are lushly orchestrated. This is the easiest of easy-listening. By 1957 Bennett had left this type of recording behind, but at this point in his career he was making recordings that highlighted his ability to be a young heart throb.

He’s able to believably tell the story of many a young man. Or at least he can be in any stage of the cycle of love and be believable. He can be an angst-ridden young man with his heart broken in "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" or cocky heartbreaker in "I’m the King of Broken Hearts". He can be happily deluded of his chances with the woman of his dreams in "There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight", or begging for a second chance in "Take Me In Your Arms Again". He can even seem just a bit obsessed and lovelorn, though in a charming kind of way, while singing "Please Driver (Once Around The Park Again)". It does strike you how many songs are some form of love songs when confronted with this collection. Bennett seemed to do nothing aside from play the part of a lover in some capacity. Regardless, this is indicative of the era and of this stage of his career, and in the role of lover he displays a good deal of range and ability.

Recording wise, the sound is clean and crisp for the most part, even though at times it sounds as if Bennett is singing to an empty opera hall. There is nearly no audible noise on the album, though the fidelity is definitely indicative of the era. The arrangements are those full-string-section songs with big band era horns and rhythm sections that remind a listener of the Rat Pack.

This album is ideal for any listeners who want the early hits of Tony Bennett, either to experience the sounds of the pre-rock era or to discover his work as a young man. The recordings are lovingly restored. While the songs do tend to be fluff, it is the good kind of fluff. They’re timeless songs frozen in the innocence of 1950s entertainment.

Patrick Gary

 

 



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