Tony Bennett - Playing With My Friends

Robbie Williams, what the hell do you think you're playing at? We still love you but releasing an album comprising of covers from the great crooners of yesteryear is not only tantamount to commercial suicide but artistically a huge mistake. You simply don't have the range darling or the class to carry it off with any degree of credibility. Leave it to the experts lad, masters of their craft like the silver tongued master of ceremonies himself, Mr Tony Bennett. He may be old enough to be your grandfather but he can still carry a tune with finesse. Tony was hip again recently when graced us with his presence on MTV with his unplugged performance which introduced him to a whole new generation of admirers. Beavis and Butthead were so shocked by his appearance that one of them enquired "Is that old dude wearing a mask".

Playing with my Friends OO-ER missus indeed!!! His friends are the cream of American singer songwriters. "I've Got A Right To Sing" is the first of many duets. Bonnie Raitt joins Tony on a blues flavoured jazz number, which is  laid-back smooth and timeless. The two voiced melt into each other seamlessly to the sound of a hammond organ and a wonderfully played slide guitar. Blues legend BB King brings his classic sound to "Let The Good Times Roll" on this celebration of a joyous and uplifting composition.

"New York State Of Mind" is even more relevant and meaningful after the September 11th atrocities. Its suitable low key affair with Billy Joel tinkling the ivories. The track also includes some lovely whistling which is lost in today's musical climate. Diana Krall is special guest on "Well alright, ok you wing" which is in keeping with the high quality of performances which is what we've come to expect from the great man. Toothy rock chick Sheryl Crow lays down a sexy vocal for "Good Morning Heartache" which features a sultry saxophone solo with an atmosphere of smoky jazz clubs.

So if you're tired of these young whipper snappers cluttering up the charts and radio playlists then re-discover the dulcet tones of Tony Bennett. He's a living legend.

Nicholas Paul Godkin