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Classic Album Review: Tony Bennett | Playin’ With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues

The jazz crooner's star-studded 12-bar outing is too safe, slick and predictable.

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This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


Tony Bennett may be the last of the big-time big-band crooners, but even at 75, he’s still working overtime to prove he’s the hippest cat in the room.

So, in an apparent bid to reconnect with the boomers who made his 1994 MTV Unplugged set so successful, ole Tone enlists the aid of VH1 mainstays like k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole and Sheryl Crow on this laid-back set of bluesy standards. All of which is nice and swell, except for the fact it’s too nice and swell — while the odd track like Evenin’ (with Ray Charles) and I Got A Right to Sing the Blues (with Raitt) might deliver the goods, the bulk of this 15-song effort is too safe, slick and predictable to get the job done. If Tony really wants to sing the blues, he should hook up with Delta demons like T-Model Ford and Paul (Wine) Jones. Then, at least, he can hang with the hippest cats in the room.