Duets

Performers Frank Sinatra

November 19, 2013 | Compact Disc

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As a marketing concept, Frank Sinatra's comeback album Duets was a complete success. A collection of Sinatra standards produced by Phil Ramone, the record wasn't a duets album in the conventional sense -- Sinatra never recorded in the studio with his partners. Instead, the other singers recorded their tracks separately, sometimes in different studios, and the two tracks were pasted together to create the illusion of a duet. In the case of several duet partners, including Bono and Barbara Streisand, this means they rely on camp as a way of making their performances interesting. Sinatra, meanwhile, is oblivious to all of the vocal grandstanding, simply because he recorded his tracks well in advance of their contributions. The result is a mess. Not only do the vocalists never mesh, but the orchestrations are ham-fisted and overblown, relying more on bombast than showmanship. Furthermore, Sinatra's performance is uneven; occasionally his voice is remarkable, but just as often it is thin and worn. Nevertheless, Duets was a gigantic hit, selling over two million copies and becoming Sinatra's single most commercially successful record, though it's easily the worst he released during his lengthy career. Duets rose to number two on the pop charts because of its masterful marketing strategy. The album was promoted as a piece of nostalgia, primarily to baby boomers but also to Generation X as a piece of kitsch. Both approaches ignore the emotional core of Sinatra's music, which is evident on only one track -- "One for My Baby," which was essentially a solo performance introduced by an instrumental from saxophonist Kenny G. Perhaps if Duets remained true to the essence of Sinatra's music, it would have been more effective, but as it stands, the album is only admirable as a piece of product, not a piece of music. [For the 20th Anniversary of Duets, the 1993 album that was Frank Sinatra's last studio album (and, accordingly, his last big hit), record was released as a Deluxe Edition that also contained its 1994 sequel Duets II. These two records were combined once before, back in 2005 as Duets & Duets II: 90th Birthday Limited Collectors Edition, but this is distinguished by bonus tracks: the original Duets contains a version of "My Way" with Luciano Pavarotti and a "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) with Tom Scott, while Duets II has a "My Way" with Willie Nelson, "Embraceable You" with Tanya Tucker and a version of "Fly Me To The Moon" with George Strait.The Super Deluxe Edition arrives in a 12X12 box set and contains a 20-page booklet, the two expanded CDs, Duets and Duets II on vinyl, then a DVD containing the original Electronic Press Kits and promo videos from the release, plus some new interviews.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Format: Compact Disc

Released Date: November 19, 2013

Number of Discs: 2

UPC: 602537544929

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Duets

Performers Frank Sinatra

Format: Compact Disc

Released Date: November 19, 2013

Number of Discs: 2

UPC: 602537544929


Title Track Time
1.Lady Is a Tramp --
2.What Now My Love --
3.I've Got a Crush on You --
4.Summer Wind --
5.Come Rain or Come Shine --
6.New York, New York --
7.They Can't Take That Away from Me --
8.You Make Me Feel So Young --
9.Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry/In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning --
10.I've Got the World on a String --
11.Witchcraft --
12.I've Got You Under My Skin --
13.Medley: All the Way/One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) --
14.My Way --
15.One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) --
1.For Once in My Life --
2.Come Fly with Me --
3.Bewitched --
4.Best Is Yet to Come --
5.Moonlight in Vermont --
6.Fly Me to the Moon --
7.Luck Be a Lady --
8.A Foggy Day --
9.Where or When --
10.Embraceable You --
11.Mack the Knife --
12.How Do You Keep the Music Playing?/My Funny Valentine --
13.My Kind of Town --
14.House I Live In (That's America to Me) --
15.My Way --
16.Embraceable You --
17.Fly Me to the Moon --

Editorial Notes

As a marketing concept, Frank Sinatra's comeback album Duets was a complete success. A collection of Sinatra standards produced by Phil Ramone, the record wasn't a duets album in the conventional sense -- Sinatra never recorded in the studio with his partners. Instead, the other singers recorded their tracks separately, sometimes in different studios, and the two tracks were pasted together to create the illusion of a duet. In the case of several duet partners, including Bono and Barbara Streisand, this means they rely on camp as a way of making their performances interesting. Sinatra, meanwhile, is oblivious to all of the vocal grandstanding, simply because he recorded his tracks well in advance of their contributions. The result is a mess. Not only do the vocalists never mesh, but the orchestrations are ham-fisted and overblown, relying more on bombast than showmanship. Furthermore, Sinatra's performance is uneven; occasionally his voice is remarkable, but just as often it is thin and worn. Nevertheless, Duets was a gigantic hit, selling over two million copies and becoming Sinatra's single most commercially successful record, though it's easily the worst he released during his lengthy career. Duets rose to number two on the pop charts because of its masterful marketing strategy. The album was promoted as a piece of nostalgia, primarily to baby boomers but also to Generation X as a piece of kitsch. Both approaches ignore the emotional core of Sinatra's music, which is evident on only one track -- "One for My Baby," which was essentially a solo performance introduced by an instrumental from saxophonist Kenny G. Perhaps if Duets remained true to the essence of Sinatra's music, it would have been more effective, but as it stands, the album is only admirable as a piece of product, not a piece of music. [For the 20th Anniversary of Duets, the 1993 album that was Frank Sinatra's last studio album (and, accordingly, his last big hit), record was released as a Deluxe Edition that also contained its 1994 sequel Duets II. These two records were combined once before, back in 2005 as Duets & Duets II: 90th Birthday Limited Collectors Edition, but this is distinguished by bonus tracks: the original Duets contains a version of "My Way" with Luciano Pavarotti and a "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) with Tom Scott, while Duets II has a "My Way" with Willie Nelson, "Embraceable You" with Tanya Tucker and a version of "Fly Me To The Moon" with George Strait.The Super Deluxe Edition arrives in a 12X12 box set and contains a 20-page booklet, the two expanded CDs, Duets and Duets II on vinyl, then a DVD containing the original Electronic Press Kits and promo videos from the release, plus some new interviews.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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