CD Reviews

Music on the Web (UK)

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

[ Jazz index ] [Nostalgia index]  [ Classical MusicWeb ] [ Gerard Hoffnung ]

Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Tony Bennett – Young Tony

PROPERBOX 121 [4 CDs: 55:23 + 56:50 + 63:05 + 58:23]



Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
I Wanna Be Loved
I Cant Give You Anything But Love
Our Lady Of Fatima
Just Say I Love Her
Sing You Sinners
Kiss You
One Lie Leads To Another
Don't Cry Baby
Once There Lived A Fool
Beautiful Madness
The Valentino Tango
I Won't Cry Anymore
Because Of You
While We're Young
Cold, Cold, Heart
Since My Love Has Gone
Please, My Love
Blue Velvet
Silly Dreamer
Somewhere Along The Way
I'm Lost Again
Have A Good Time
Here In My Heart
Roses Of Yesterday
You Could Make The Smile Again
Congratulations To Someone
Anywhere I Wander
Staywhere You Are
Take Me
No One Will Ever Know
(I'm) The King Of Broken Hearts
I'll Go
Rags To Riches
Here Comes That Heartache Again
Someone Turned The Moon Upside Down
Stranger In Paradise
Why Does It Have To Be Me
Until Yesterday (Non E La Pioggia)
Please Driver (Once Around The Park Again)
There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
My Heart Won't Say Goodbye
Take Me Back Again
Madonna, Madonna
Not As A Stranger
Cinnamon Sinner
Old Devil Moon
I Fall In Love Too Easily
While The Music Plays On
Love Letters
My Reverie
Darn That Dream
Funny Thing
My Pretty Shoo-Gah
Give Me The Simple Life
My Baby Just Cares For Me
My Heart Tells Me
I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me
Lost In The Stars
Taking A Chance On Love
I'm Just A Lucky So And So
It Had To Be You
You Can Depend On Me
Love Walked In
These Foolish Things
I'll Be Seeing You
Without A Song
Just In Time
In The Middle Of An Island
Life Is A Song
Are You Having Any Fun ?
Jeepers Creepers
Poor Little Rich Girl
I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
Anything Goes
Growing Pains
Guess I'll Have To Change My Plans
With Plenty Of Money And You
Tony Bennett with Orchestras under the direction of Marty Manning, Percy Faith, Mitch Miller, Ray Conniff, Gordon Jenkins, Count Basie and his Orchestra; and small groups featuring Charles Panelly, tp; Dave Schildkraut, as; Ceasar Di Mauro, ts; Al Cohn, ts; Harvey Leonard and Gene di Novi p; Chuck Wayne, g; arr; Clyde Lombardi, b; Ed Shaughnessy, d.

rec. 1950-58


There’s a satisfying line of ascent in this four CD account of Tony Bennett’s early years. We go from the straining braggadocio of those first discs to the relaxed swing of his 1958 encounter with the Basie band. The tension here is between what he was told to sing and what he wanted to sing. Mitch Miller was a commercially astute man and he knew better than Bennett what would sell. The trouble is we’d now far rather hear what Bennett wanted to sing and not those grandiose or maudlin tear jerking ballads. Who in their right mind would sit twice through the lachrymose religiosity of Our Lady of Fatima, the cod-operatic strain of Just Say I Love Her or the blowsy blues-generic plod of Don't Cry Baby? This is pre-Bennett Bennett in my book with unsympathetically beefy orchestrations and pitched too high for vocal comfort. One of the features of the discs is hearing just how long a process this was. He took a long time to shake off the crypto-Lanza line, the Massenet transcriptions, the Neapolitan hues, and the horrible galactic female choirs. For a musician like Bennett all this stuff must have been a trial. Even into 1953 things were still inconsistent. Country and Western songs rubbed shelf space with novelty numbers, Debussy paraphrases were stubbornly paraded, and those damned spectral choirs were still there.

But by 1954 things had begun to take on a more conversational and relaxed drive. The strings in the big bands had always been stellar – for connoisseurs of such things we can note the names of violinist Felix Slatkin and cellists Frank Miller and Bernard Greenhouse, amongst a veritable orgy of talent. But the first inklings of his growing eloquence came in the small band sessions. Bennett had some superb sidemen with him – Al Cohn makes an appearance and Gene di Novi several. Lesser-known but fine players such as Charles Panelly, Dave Schildkraut and Ceasar Di Mauro also bump up the literacy quotient. The arrangers also change – Neal Hefti and Gil Evans start to appear and the level of sophistication rises. By the fourth CD Bennett is sounding sassy and confident. There’s one example of an appearance on the Nat Cole show – the only live track here – and then the whole album he made with Basie, Strike Up The Band. Together they take on standards and not-so-standard things, such as Noël Coward. The results, by and large, are laudable and one feels Bennett cresting the wave of personal and artistic satisfaction.

Proper’s documentation and standards are up to their accustomed high level. The booklet is useful and attractive with a full discography. The discs aren’t packed to the rafters but perhaps that reflects the amount of material available to them. But certainly admirers of Bennett can delve back to these early sides and follow his progression from the days of generic fodder to the emergence of the relaxed artist we so admire today.

Jonathan Woolf


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: