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Holiday Gift Guide Review: Tony Bennett, “The Complete Collection”

with 29 comments

Welcome back to our Second Disc Holiday Gift Guide, in which we review some titles we might have missed over the past few weeks!  The titles we’re spotlighting in this occasional series just might be candidates on your own holiday shopping list!

Tony Bennett’s heart may be in San Francisco, but his soul can be found in a case measuring roughly 11 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches.  For within those modest dimensions is housed some 65 years of music, spanning 1946 to 2011, over 73 CDs and 3 DVDs.  And modesty might be one of Bennett’s musical bywords.  Nowhere in The Complete Collection (Columbia/RPM/Legacy 88697 87460-2, 2011) will you find the Bennett answer to “My Way,” “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” “I’m Still Here” or “If I Never Sing Another Song.”  There’s no grand statement here of the singer’s individuality or longevity, though both qualities are very much in evidence.  What you will find is Tony Bennett through good times and bum times, through jazz, swing, pop, rock and roll, blues, country, soul, cabaret, classical, and every other genre the consummate singer has touched upon in a legendary career.  (He did sit out disco.  Bennett, the recording artist, took a hiatus between 1977 and 1986.)  The release of such a collection is long overdue.  When Frank Sinatra was receiving complete box sets from RCA Victor, Columbia, Capitol and Reprise, and Dean Martin was being comprehensively collected by Bear Family, the catalogue of their fellow Italian-American compatriot in song was only being sporadically addressed.   Now, The Complete Collection is here, taking in recordings for Columbia, Roulette, MGM/Verve, Fantasy, Improv and Hallmark.  One of the most important bodies of work of any American musical artist is excitingly accessible, and preserved for generations to come in an attractive home.  So why is there a slightly bitter aftertaste to such a sweet prospect?  When we’re speaking of The Complete Collection, “complete” isn’t quite “complete.”  But Bennett himself has long followed Johnny Mercer’s edict to “ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive” (recorded on The Playground, or Disc 64, for those keeping tabs on such things) so I’ll follow suit.

Many of the fine, recent complete box sets produced by the Legacy Recordings team have been packaged in smallish cubes; Bennett’s set (like a previous one for Miles Davis) comes in the heftier size, sturdy and with a flip-top lid.  Each disc is presented in a replica LP mini-sleeve; each Columbia album is adorned with the same red label, with the musical-note-and-microphone artwork, and original record label logos are present for the non-Columbia albums, too.  This is all well and good, but what’s within the grooves counts most, and boy, does this music count…and soar…and swing…and explode with sincerity, intensity and vitality.  Just ponder for a moment now: there are 76 albums, or 1,020 songs, and over 20 of those albums are making their premiere CD appearances anywhere.  Only Bear Family’s comprehensive, historically-minded sets for Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney and others can approach this set in scope and stature.

Those new-to-CD albums mark the most immediate revelations in The Complete Collection.  Many of these albums deserve individual attention, but we’ll focus instead on two of the most eagerly anticipated.  Hometown, My Town (1959) was recorded with arranger Ralph Burns, a familiar Broadway presence from his orchestrations of such musicals as Chicago (still heard eight times a week in 2011) and Sweet Charity.  Despite its brief 6-song length, Hometown shows that Bennett was as capable as Sinatra at crafting a concept album encompassing a variety of moods.  The bustling, brassy street sounds of “Skyscraper Blues,” an extended multi-part composition, make way for the lush, wistful tones of “Penthouse Serenade” and then the swinging, upbeat-in-the-face-of-angst treatment of Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s standard “By Myself.”  The juxtaposition of melancholy and optimism is made clear by the back-to-back treatment of “I Cover the Waterfront” and “Our Love is Here to Stay,” and Bennett sums it all up tidily with “The Party’s Over.”  The brief Hometown is a fine prequel to Astoria: Portrait of the Artist (1990, previously available on CD) on which Bennett’s New York background again informs each track as he revisits his past (“When Do the Bells Ring for Me,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “A Little Street Where Old Friends Meet,” “I’ll Come Home Again.”)  He was supported on Astoria by the Ralph Sharon Trio and the orchestra of Jorge Calandrelli.

Another CD debut – actually, a debut, period – is the previously-unissued On the Glory Road (1962).  The song “De Glory Road” was written in 1928, part of the same spiritual tradition as the more familiar “The Lonesome Road.”  Bennett and his arranger and conductor Ralph Sharon built an entire album around this story of a former sinner who now sings “loud Hallejulah songs” on Earth.  Though not often singing explicitly of salvation, doesn’t Bennett continue to this day to spread the gospel of the Great American Songbook?  The other songs on Glory Road aren’t stylistically similar to the title song, but it does encapsulate Bennett’s positive message as the album’s closing track.    Though three of the album’s cuts (“Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” “You’ve Changed,” “Caravan”) were salvaged for 1964’s The Many Moods of Tony, the balance remained unreleased.  That later album’s title could have applied to the earlier album, as well, on which Bennett surrounds “De Glory Road” with the sounds of Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Kurt Weill, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.  No wonder he found salvation with a line-up of songwriters like that!

We continue our journey with Bennett after the jump!

The box set’s biggest asset, beyond having all (or mostly all; more on that soon) of the artist’s repertoire in one place, is the luxury it affords in putting Bennett’s entire career in perspective.  The earliest albums find him still experimenting with that big, booming, often-bombastic voice in various settings, from intimate jazz (his work with sextet on his 1955 debut platter Cloud 7, or the stunning experiment in percussion-based vocal jazz on The Beat of My Heart two years later) to big band (two Count Basie collaborations in 1959) and lush orchestral backings (the Frank DeVol-arranged Long Ago…and Far Away, Alone Together and To My Wonderful One, all new to CD).  Bennett quickly learned how to use those golden pipes in service of his interpretive skills.  He teamed with sympathetic producers and collaborators, most notably the aforementioned Sharon, who understood the dynamics of his voice and were sympathetic to his search for the best material from the classic Tin Pan Alley tradition.  It wasn’t long before songwriters were hoping that the boy from Astoria would be the one to introduce their newest songs, too.  Among the songs (all present on The Complete Collection) introduced by Bennett on record in the U.S.: Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris’ “Blue Velvet,” Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s “The Best is Yet to Come,” “Firefly” and “It Amazes Me,” Johnny Mercer and Sadie Vimmerstedt’s “I Wanna Be Around,” Sacha Distel and Jack Reardon’s “The Good Life,” Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webster’s “The Shadow of Your Smile,” Leslie Bricusse and Cyril Ornadel’s “If I Ruled the World” from their musical Pickwick; and of course, George Cory and Douglass Cross’ “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

There’s an air of familiarity to many of these discs, with Bennett offering distinct renditions of so many recognizable songs on a nearly-unbroken string of fine albums dating from the early 1960s.  The Great White Way is feted on 1962’s Mr. Broadway (new to CD), while 1966’s The Movie Song Album pays homage to silver screen favorites.  The comfort zone evaporates, though, once we enter the mid-1960s when Bennett found himself face-to-face with rock and roll, and specifically with its champion at Columbia Records, Clive Davis.  Bennett had been on the label since 1952, and Davis made no secret of the fact that he found Tony Bennett’s career “in jeopardy” by the late 1960s, opining that “new vitality was needed.”  Keenly instinctual record man though he was (and is), he failed to realize that Bennett was carrying the torch for unassailable adult pop with sophisticated collections of the finest songs of past and present. Titles such as For Once In My Life (1967), Yesterday I Heard the Rain (1968) and Something (1970) all offer criminally unknown recordings that made it all too easy to remember why Frank Sinatra called Bennett his favorite singer. But Bennett and Davis didn’t see eye to eye.

Within three years of 1969’s controversial Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today! , the album which made the singer physically ill, Bennett was off Columbia.  (Even that album doesn’t seem too bad in context; as inappropriate as “Little Green Apples” and especially a half-spoken, half-sung “Eleanor Rigby” are, the singer does well by “The Look of Love,” “Something,” “My Cherie Amour” and “Live for Life.”)  A beguiling and odd take on Stephen Sondheim’s “Losing My Mind” makes Summer of ’42 (1971) a keeper, while “Easy Come, Easy Go” from his label swansong With Love (1972) could have described the singer’s situation.  (Both albums are new to CD, and fantastic treats, indeed.)

The Complete Collection chronicles the most difficult period in Bennett’s career, finding him shifting from Columbia to MGM then to his own label, Improv.  He teamed with Bill Evans for the first of two stunning piano-and-voice recitals on Evans’ label, Fantasy, before bringing Evans to Improv for their second collection together.  Bennett receded from view after the collapse of Improv, though he remains rightly proud to this day of the label’s accomplishments.  When he returned to Columbia (under new management!) in 1986, he was reinvigorated, not to mention clean and sober, and began the singular winning streak that continues to this very day.  Bennett’s “comeback” album that year was entitled The Art of Excellence; deserving though he was of that title in 1986, he epitomizes it even more so today.  It’s a joy to rediscover 1987’s Bennett/Berlin, a worthy successor to 1960’s Sings a String of Arlen as top-notch composer tributes.  Perfectly Frank (1992) and Steppin’ Out (1993) carve out their own niche as performer tributes, to Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, respectively.  There’s not a weak title in the post-1986 bunch, and taken together, they make it clear that Bennett didn’t stop evolving as a singer at any period.  He speaks today of working daily at his bel canto technique, and his commitment to his art remains inspiring.  So why, then, is Tony Bennett using The Complete Collection to apologize for a few perceived missteps?

Much has been made of the fact that The Complete Collection brings together 52 albums released on Columbia Records plus 11 albums for the Roulette, MGM/Verve, Fantasy, Improv and Hallmark labels.  Two of the remaining discs are devoted to rarities, and another six to a non-complete accounting of the Columbia singles.  The rarities are a mixed, if invaluable bag, dating between 1946 and 2003 and bookended with renditions of the Cab Calloway favorite, “St. James Infirmary Blues.”  The two rarities discs include some truly revelatory album outtakes (though yet more outtakes are are appended to the actual albums), duet collaborations, rehearsal takes, soundtrack performances, and live cuts.  The six volumes here of The Columbia Singles don’t actually purport to be complete, and indeed, they aren’t; a number of early tracks have been eliminated.  But there’s repeated mention in the box set of “ALL original albums” and “the first true complete albums collection.”  And for reasons that are not divulged anywhere in the text contained in the box set, two albums on the MGM/Verve label have been edited.  Bennett’s rendition of “O Sole Mio,” the Neapolitan standard composed in 1898, was a highlight of 1972’s The Good Things in Life (MV 5088) and a frequent selection in concert.  It’s nowhere to be found.  It’s equally puzzling that 1973’s Listen Easy (MV 5094) has been pruned.  Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “If I Could Go Back,” from their film musical Lost Horizon, was one of the emotional centerpieces of the album with a powerful vocal bringing out the nuance in Bacharach’s passionate melody.  On the album’s back cover notes, reprinted in full in the new box, Rex Reed mentions “that excitement explodes musically” on the song.  Yet it’s been unceremoniously dropped.  Both “O Sole Mio” and “If I Could Go Back” are referred to on the album artwork reproduced for this package.  At 85 years of age and an American icon, what could Tony Bennett possibly have to apologize for, if it’s true that he (or his management) requested these songs removed?  The omission of two songs out of hundreds only makes those songs conspicuous by their absence.  For a musician who has been so unflinchingly honest in his life and his song, such unacknowledged revisionism is out of character, and a bit of an affront to the serious collector shelling out such high coin for this lavish, once-in-a-lifetime collection.

Less troubling are the other omissions, though they’re still unfortunate.  Five early singles have been excised (“Let’s Make Love,” “Our Lady of Fatima,” “Kiss You,” “Beautiful Madness,” “Madonna, Madonna”) from the six discs of The Columbia Singles, likely because the singer has never grown comfortable with the material foisted on him by Columbia’s Mitch Miller.  Two sides of a criminally-unknown 1973 Philips single (“All That Love Went to Waste” b/w “Some of These Days”) weren’t unearthed, and there are a number of other studio guest appearances, CD-era bonus tracks and one-off songs that haven’t made the cut.  In the latter category is “I, Yes Me, That’s Who,” a beautiful Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn song that first appeared on CD on Columbia House’s The Great American Composers: Sammy Cahn (Columbia 2CS 2 8165) and deserves another airing.  Our lively discussion here at The Second Disc has produced a list of missing tracks which, to date, totals some 37 core studio tracks, 10 alternate takes and 10 duets.  Yet of those tracks, “O Sole Mio” and “If I Could Go Back” are the two that stick in one’s craw.  The target audience for a box with an MSRP of $400.00 is not the casual fan, but the dedicated collector who would (and did) realize that two albums have been abridged.  Even if the performances aren’t to Mr. Bennett’s liking (and he, after all, may be his harshest critic), wouldn’t a note of explanation have sufficed in the place of excision?  The vinyl editions of both albums still exist, and “O Sole Mio” has, in fact, been released on CD once before, on the Curb label.  The only result of surreptitiously cutting these tracks from The Complete Collection is to mar an otherwise-remarkable collection that nearly lives up to its title.

There’s one other minor gaffe, as well.  Bennett recorded “Sing You, Sinners” for the 1950 Columbia single 3-38989 as arranged by Marty Manning, and again for the 1955 single 4-40632, with Percy Faith’s arrangement.  However, even though the notes and track listing indicates the 1950 track on Disc 3, the 1955 track appears in its place.  (It’s heard a second time in its proper slot.)  Word hasn’t been received as to whether this unintentional error will be corrected in future pressings, or any replacement discs offered.

The 250-page hardcover, CD-sized book that accompanies the box set is handsome, featuring a one-page introduction by Bennett and a ten-page career summation by jazz historian Richard Golden of George Washington University.  The remainder of the book is dedicated to a discography of each disc, containing the original catalogue number, credits and front sleeve artwork.  Executive producer Danny Bennett and producer Didier C. Deutsch have enlisted a number of mastering engineers (Dae Bennett, Vic Anesini, Mark Wilder and Maria Triana) for this giant undertaking, but the sound quality is uniformly crisp and detailed, and many of the earliest tracks sound pristine and fresh.

Even notwithstanding the frustrating omissions, perhaps a different title for this monumental collection was in order.  Why?  The Complete Collection will doubtless be out of date, sooner rather than later.  For Tony Bennett shows no signs of slowing down; in his 85th year, his golden sun still shines on all of us.

Written by Joe Marchese

December 22, 2011 at 10:25

29 Responses

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  1. excellent review… you hit every major point. I’m still listening to the set and loving it, although LISTEN EASY and GOOD THINGS IN LIFE piss me off big time…

    Simon Morley

    December 22, 2011 at 11:01

  2. Here is my slightly tweaked version of Simon Morley’s listing of tracks that are missing from the complete box set. I did this in MS Word, but it may not be in same format, when pasted in here:

    Tony Bennett
    “The Complete Collection – The Missing Recordings”

    Part 1: Studio Master Takes

    01 Let’s Make Love (17-Apr-50) Columbia 45rpm
    02 Our Lady of Fatima (14-Jul-50) Properbox 121 CD
    03 Kiss You (23-Aug-50) Properbox 121 CD
    04 Beautiful Madness (17-Jan-51) Properbox 121 CD
    05 Madonna, Madonna (11-May-54) Properbox 121 CD
    06 Friend’s Blues [Ralph Sharon; Tony only scats] (3-Jun-58) 45rpm (also Japan CD)
    07 How Long Has This Been Going On? (26-Feb-64)
    When Lights Are Low CD (Sony Velvet Box 69699 85807 2)
    08 All Of You (26-Feb-64)
    When Lights Are Low CD (Sony Velvet Box 69699 85807 2)
    09 We’ll Be Together Again (26-Feb-64)
    When Lights Are Low CD (Sony Velvet Box 69699 85807 2)
    10 You Can’t Love ‘Em All (26-Feb-64)
    Great American Composers: Jimmy Van Heusen CD (Columbia 2CS2 8164)
    11 What Child Is This? (1-Sep-67) Classic Christmas Collection (Sony CD)
    12 I, Yes Me, That’s Who! (20-Jan-70)
    Great American Composers: Sammy Cahn CD (Columbia 2CS2 8165)
    13 Fred (25-Jan-71)
    Great American Composers: Sammy Cahn CD (Columbia 2CS2 8165)
    14 All That Love Went To Waste (Nov 1973) Phillips 45rpm
    15 Some of these Days (Nov 1973) Phillips 45rpm
    16 I’m Just A Lucky So and So (15-Apr-77) Tribute To Duke CD (Concord CCD-4050)
    17 Prelude to a Kiss (15-Apr-77) Tribute To Duke CD (Concord CCD-4050)
    18 Capitol City (Nov 1990)
    Simpsons-Songs In The Key Of Springfield CD (Rhino 8122-72723-2 )
    19 I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart (May 99) Hot & Cool Bonus CD (CSK 46304)
    20 Something To Live For (May 99) Hot & Cool Bonus CD (CSK 46304)
    21 Love Me Tender (TV, 1994) Elvis, It’s Now Or Never (Mercury CD)
    22 Young at Heart (Duet – Shawn Colvin 1994)
    It Could Happen To You – Soundtrack CD (Columbia CK 66184)
    23 Always (1994) It Could Happen To You – Soundtrack CD (Columbia CK 66184)
    24 What a Difference a Day Made (1996)
    One Fine Day Soundtrack CD (Columbia CD CK 67916)
    25 I Get Along Without You Very Well (Sep 2001) Bill Charlap-Stardust CD (Blue Note)
    26 If Yesterday Could Only Be Tomorrow (2002)
    Divine Secrets Of Ya-Ya Sisterhood Soundtrack (Columbia CD: 5089592)
    27 Colors of My Life (2002) It Started With A Song (Cy Coleman CD Sony SK 89138)
    28 I Can’t Get Started (1991) Doc Severinson – Once More With Feeling (Amherst CD)
    29 O Sole Mio (9/11/72) “Good Things In Life” (Best Of T.B. – Curb CD: D2-77447)

    30 Lovers After All (2004) The Art Of Romance [Import ] Sony Music CD: 5187092000
    31 The Lady Sings The Blues (1977) The Songs Of Alec Wilder LP – Jazz Arc 19795
    32 Jingle Bells (2008) (Bloomingdale’s Exclusive & Japan CD – Swingin’ Christmas)
    33 Christmas In Herald Square (1995 arrangement)
    (Christmas With The Stars Columbia CD exclusively sold through Avon)
    34 Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (2001)
    Soundtrack CD: Rudolph & The Island of Misfit Toys
    35 Sing You Sinners (rec. 7/20/50) Properbox 121 CD
    Complete box incorrectly lists this on CD3-TR5 but it is the 1955 recording, repeated again as CD6-TR8.
    36 Christmas Song (1992) with The Manhattan Transfer
    Manhattan Transfer – A Christmas Album (Sony CD 0074645296821)
    37 If I Could Go Back (rec. 9/20/72) “Listen Easy” LP – track deleted from box

    Part 2 – Issued Alternate Takes

    01 The Man That Got Away (1959) “Sings For Two” alt. – Forty Years Artistry boxset
    02 Everybody Has The Blues (1986)
    03 How Do you Keep The Music Playing (1986)
    04 The Day You Leave Me (1986)
    02-04 alternate takes – The Art Of Excellence (Sony Velvet Box 69699 85807 2)
    05 A Child Is Born (take #2)
    06 You Don’t Know What Love Is (take #16)
    07 Maybe September (take #8)
    08 You Must Believe In Spring (take #1)
    09 Who Can I Turn To (take #6)
    05-09 alternate takes – Complete Bill Evans – Tony Bennett (Concord FAN-31281)
    10 The Rules of the Road (Feb 26, 1964 alternate) “When Lights Are Low” sessions
    Essential Tony Bennett CD Columbia/Legacy 86634
    11 Skylark (10/28/59) [Version on complete box is new alternate take]
    Issued take on “Sings For Two” (Sony CD SMSP A 8242) and
    Fifty Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett Columbia/Legacy CD: C5K 92784
    12 Sold To The Man With A Broken Heart (1/19/57) arrangement without auctioneer
    Great American Composers: Sammy Cahn CD (Columbia 2CS2 8165)

    Tony Bennett
    “The Complete Collection – The Missing Recordings”
    .
    Part 3 – Duet Recordings

    01 The Lady Is A Tramp – with Frank Sinatra (1987) – Live at Bally’s
    02 I Left My Heart In San Francisco – with Judy Garland – Judy’s TV show
    03 When You Wish Upon A Star – with Jackie Evancho Target exclusive Duets II
    04 They Can’t Take That Away From Me – with Brad Paisley Target exclusive Duets II
    05 Steppin’ Out – with Delta Goodrum (Feb 2006) Australian version first Duets CD
    06 If I Ruled the World – with Wang Hom Lee (2006) Singapore version first Duets CD
    07 I’ve Got the World on a String – with Diana Krall (2006)
    08 Steppin’ Out with My Baby – with Michael Bublé (2006)
    09 New York, New York – with Andrea Bocelli (2011)
    Concerto, One Night In Central Park – Andrea Bocelli CD – Decca/Universal
    10 New York State of Mind – with Billy Joel (2008)
    Live At Shea Stadium – Billy Joel CD – Sony Columbia/Legacy CD 88697-85424-2

    01-02; 07-08 from Target exclusive edition of the first Bennett Duets Columbia CD.

    Part 4 – Miscellaneous

    01 We Shall Overcome [Tony – backing vocal only] (1970)
    Louis Armstrong and His Friends” LP, Flying Dutchman Amsterdam 12009
    02 We Are the World 25 (2010) Digital download single only
    03 “Mr. Broadway” (entire Stereo LP) – Boxset uses mono master
    04 “Rodgers and Hart – Improv Sessions” Overdubbed with Orchestra
    “On the Town” UK CD METRCD088
    05 “In Person with Count Basie” (studio session with overdubbed applause)
    Box set removed the overdubbed audience issued on original LP

    Kevin

    December 22, 2011 at 12:14

  3. The MS Word Version looks alot better, with use of bold print, better spacing and margins, etc.

    Kevin

    December 22, 2011 at 12:16

  4. Look for an email 25% off “In store only” Barnes and Noble coupon, then find a B&N store that has it. It works until 12/24.

    Kevin

    December 22, 2011 at 12:18

  5. Not a fan, but this review is so interesting because it’s so thorough and detailed and gives such an insightful overview of a remarkable box set and a unique career. The passion and knowledge of and for the performer is inspiring.

    Erik

    December 22, 2011 at 20:12

    • Thanks for your kind words, Erik. They’re very much appreciated.

      Joe Marchese

      December 23, 2011 at 10:09

  6. another missing alternate take:
    13. Taking A Chance On Love rec. 12/30/58 with Count Basie Orch for IN PERSON! On mono LP of I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN FRANSICSO (CL8669) alternate vocal, very diff from stereo version

    Simon Morley

    December 23, 2011 at 07:08

    • I am confused by this description, but do not have my albums or the discography in front of me. Is the missing alternate take of “Taking a Chance On Love” on the mono LP (only) of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”? [But not on “In Person”?]

      Often the mono LPs had a totally different recording of a song than the stereo LP, and not simply a mono mix of the same recording.

      Kevin

      December 23, 2011 at 09:49

  7. oh, btw Kevin, I have listened to the new box version of ART OF EXCELLENCE and the three alternate takes ARE there, the same ones substituted in the “velvet” box… so, the “missing” tracks are the original versions from the first CD issue of this album.

    Simon Morley

    December 23, 2011 at 07:11

  8. 38. Maybe This Time (live performance 2011) from THE BRIDGE SCHOOL CONCERTS 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, Reprise Records CD

    Simon Morley

    December 23, 2011 at 07:12

  9. Simon,

    I guess that we will need to wait to figure out the complete missing recordings, whether master takes, alternate takes, or “mix variations” (mono vs. stereo, dubbed/undubbed). Thanks for continuing this work on this new thread.

    I received another email from Barnes and Noble with a 25% off “In Store Only” coupon good until 12/24. If you can get your hands on this coupon and have a local store with the box in stock, you can get it. It does not work on-line.

    Kevin

    December 23, 2011 at 08:46

  10. I am imagining supplementary discs to the box, collecting the missing tracks, slipped into “mini-LP” CD sleeves retrieved from throw-away contemporary promo cds. The sleeves would have photos of Tony pasted over the garbage covers.

    At least one sleeve would use a photo of Tony in his “teen-idol” days, with the big hair and bigger eyes. You could get creative with the photo graphics.

    The “bonus CDs” might be arranged chronologically, rather than by “master-alternate-etc”

    I bet the bonus cds would fit into the big box.

    Kevin

    December 23, 2011 at 08:55

  11. Is the missing alternate take of “Taking a Chance On Love” on the mono LP (only) of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”? [But not on “In Person”?]Is the missing alternate take of “Taking a Chance On Love” on the mono LP (only) of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”? [But not on “In Person”?]

    THAT’S CORRECT

    Simon Morley

    December 23, 2011 at 12:47

  12. Joe,

    Great review — after reading it I immediately took the plunge and using Kevin’s tip got a good deal on this. Your knowledge and enthusiam for great music is very much appreciated. Keep up the fantastic work.

    Craig

    December 23, 2011 at 13:03

  13. Craig,

    Great!

    Go out and get that Barnes and Noble In-store-only 25% off coupon and find a B&N that has it in stock before Christmas!

    Kevin

    December 23, 2011 at 15:02

    • 33. Christmas In Herald Square (1995 Version/ different arrangement) (released on Christmas With The Stars Columbia CD originally sold through Avon)

      Is this different from the take on the’ Classic Christmas CD’ and the bonus track on the ‘Playground’ disc in the box set?

      James Pauley

      December 30, 2011 at 11:35

  14. 33. Christmas In Herald Square (1995 Version/ different arrangement) (released on Christmas With The Stars Columbia CD originally sold through Avon)

    Is this different from the take on the’ Classic Christmas CD’ and the bonus track on the ‘Playground’ disc in the box set?

    James Pauley

    December 30, 2011 at 12:18

    • No, it’s th same as the Playground bonus track!

      Tim Mann

      January 12, 2013 at 14:07

  15. As Simon’s listing has been cited in an Amazon review (no harm, I think James did good), I decided to try to put in a plug on Amazon’s page for this box for this website. I think it will pass Amazon’s censors as I did not include the web address itself.

    Kevin

    December 31, 2011 at 10:19

  16. 33. Christmas In Herald Square (1995 Version/ different arrangement) (released on Christmas With The Stars Columbia CD originally sold through Avon)

    Is this different from the take on the’ Classic Christmas CD’ and the bonus track on the ‘Playground’ disc in the box set?

    YES, IT IS

    Simon Morley

    January 4, 2012 at 13:34

    • Thanks Simon. So then the take from the “Classic Christmas” CD needs to be added to the list of missing tracks?

      James Pauley

      January 8, 2012 at 12:11

  17. One song was ADDED to the CD version. “Army Air Corps Song” was removed for the initial cd of “The Beat Of My Heart”. It has been restored on this set.

    viktor

    January 9, 2012 at 18:20

  18. Has anyone else had trouble with the “Alone Together” disc?The first box I received had a barely audible version of it. The replacement box I received had a second copy of Tony Sings for Two in the sleeve. I am listening to a third box. Sounds quiet to me. I’d best go back and listen. No other discs were flawed in the set except for both copies of Alone Together.

    Brian Hargett

    January 18, 2012 at 21:29

  19. updated:
    ITEM# TITLE REC DATE BEST SOURCE
    1 Let’s Make Love 17-Apr-50 VINYL
    2 Our Lady of Fatima 14-Jul-50 PROPERBOX 121 CD
    3 Kiss You 23-Aug-50 PROPERBOX 121 CD
    4 Beautiful Madness 17-Jan-51 PROPERBOX 121 CD
    5 Madonna, Madonna 11-May-54 PROPERBOX 121 CD
    6 Friend’s Blues (Ralph Sharon; Tony only scats) 3-Jun-58 VINYL (also expensive JAP CD)
    7 How Long Has This Been Going On? 26-Feb-64 VELVET BOX CD OF WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW (SONY 69699 85807 2)
    8 All Of You 26-Feb-64 VELVET BOX CD OF WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW (SONY 69699 85807 2)
    9 We’ll Be Together Again 26-Feb-64 VELVET BOX CD OF WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW (SONY 69699 85807 2)
    10 You Can’t Love ‘Em All 26-Feb-64 GREAT AMERICAN COMPOSERS: VAN HEUSEN CD (COLUMBIA 2CS2 8164
    11 What Child Is This 1-Sep-67 NEW CD CLASSIC CHRISTMAS COLLECTION (SONY)
    12 I, Yes Me, That’s Who! 20-Jan-70 GREAT AMERICAN COMPOSERS: SAMMY CAHN CD (COLUMBIA 2CS2 8165
    13 Fred 25-Jan-71 GREAT AMERICAN COMPOSERS: SAMMY CAHN CD (COLUMBIA 2CS2 8165
    14 All That Love Went To Waste (Phillips) Nov 1973 VINYL Spotlight On Tony Bennett (UK) Philips 6641297
    15 Some of these Days (Phillips) Nov 1973 VINYL
    16 I’m Just A Lucky So and So (Concord Records) 15-Apr-77 TRIBUTE TO DUKE CD (CONCORD CCD-4050)
    17 Prelude to a Kiss (Concord Records) 15-Apr-77 TRIBUTE TO DUKE CD (CONCORD CCD-4050)
    18 Capitol City (from SIMPSONS CD) Nov 1990 SONGS IN THE KEY OF SPRINGFIELD CD (Rhino CD: 8122-72723-2 )
    19 I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart May 1999 HOT & COOL BONUS CD (CSK 46304)
    20 Something To Live For May 1999 HOT & COOL BONUS CD (CSK 46304)
    21 Love Me Tender (TV PERFORMANCE) 1994 ELVIS, IT’S NOW OR NEVER (MERCURY CD)
    22 Young at Heart – duet with Shawn Colvin 1994 IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU SOUNDTRACK CD (COLUMBIA CK 66184)
    23 Always 1994 IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU SOUNDTRACK CD (COLUMBIA CK 66184)
    24 What a Difference a Day Made 1996 ONE FINE DAY SOUNDTRACK CD (COLUMBIA CD CK 67916)
    25 I Get Along Without You Very Well Sep 2001 STARDUST CD (BLUE NOTE)
    26 If Yesterday Could Only Be Tomorrow 2002 DIVINE SECRETS OF YA-YA SISTERHOOD soundtrack (COLUMBIA CD: 5089592)
    27 Colors of My Life 2002 IT STARTED WITH A SONG (CY COLEMAN CD Sony Music CD: SK 89138)
    28 I Can’t Get Started (with Doc Severinson Band) 1991 ONCE MORE WITH FEELING, DOC SEVERINSON (AMHERST CD)
    29. O Sole Mio 9/11/72 from GOOD THINGS IN LIFE (Curb CD: D2-77447 — BEST OF TONY BENNETT)
    30. Lovers After All rec. 2004 recorded for ART OF ROMANCE, issued on Sony Music CD: 5187092000 — The Art Of Romance [Import version]
    31. The Lady Sings The Blues – 1977 from Jazz Arc LP 12″: 19795 — The Songs Of Alec Wilder VINYL
    32. Jingle Bells (2008) (Bloomingdale’s Exclusive Version), ALSO ON JAP VERSION OF CD SWINGIN’ CHRISTMAS
    33. Christmas In Herald Square (1995 Version/ different arrangement) (released on Christmas With The Stars Columbia CD originally sold through Avon)
    34. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (2001) Soundtrack CD: Rudolph & The Island of Misfit Toys
    35. Sing You Sinners (rec. 7/20/50) new box lists this recording as being on disc #3, track #5. However, it is really the 12/15/55 recording, which is repeated again on the new box as disc #6, track #8. Original 1950 version is available on PROPERBOX 121 CD
    36. Christmas Song (1992) with Manhattan Transfer from MANHATTAN TRANSFER A CHRISTMAS ALBUM (Sony CD 0074645296821)
    37. If I Could Go Back (rec. 9/20/72) for LISTEN EASY, only source is original vinyl LP on MGM/Verve
    38. Maybe This Time (live performance 2011) from THE BRIDGE SCHOOL CONCERTS 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, Reprise Records CD
    39. I Wish I Were In Love Again (rec. 1976) with arrangement by Torrie Zito. Issued on Improv 45 TB713 IMP-6976 (B)

    MISSING ALTERNATE TAKES
    1. The Man That Got Away rec. 1959 from SINGS FOR TWO, alt issued on the FORTY YEARS: ARTISTRY box set
    2. Everybody Has The Blues,
    3. How Do you Keep The Music Playing
    4. The Day You Leave Me
    #2-4 recorded for THE ART OF EXCELLENCE (1986) all alternate takes issued on the “Velvet Box” COLLECTION version of that album in 2006 and the new box has the same alt takes. The original takes are available on the original 1986 CD issue only.
    5. A Child Is Born (take #2)
    6. You Don’t Know What Love Is (take #16)
    7. Maybe September (take #8)
    8. You Must Believe In Spring (take #1)
    9. Who Can I Turn To (take #6)
    #5-9 alternate takes from second Bill Evans album, TOGETHER AGAIN, issued on CD COMPLETE TB/BILL EVANS RECORDINGS (Concord FAN-31281)
    10. The Rules of the Road with Ralph Sharon Trio, alternate take rec. February 26, 1964, different from version finally issued on WHEN LIGHTS ARE LOW, alt take can be found on ESSENTIAL TONY BENNETT CD Columbia/Legacy 86634
    11. Skylark, rec 10/28/59. Version on box is new alt take. Previously issued take found on SINGS FOR TWO, Sony Music CD: SMSP A 8242 and Columbia/Legacy CD: C5K 92784 — Fifty Years: The Artistry of Tony Bennett
    12. Sold To The Man With A Broken Heart Columbia rec 1/19/57 different arrangement (without auctioneer accompaniment) GREAT AMERICAN COMPOSERS: SAMMY CAHN CD (COLUMBIA 2CS2 8165
    13. Taking A Chance On Love rec. 12/30/58 with Count Basie Orch for IN PERSON! On mono LP of I LEFT MY HEART IN SAN FRANSICSO (CL8669) alternate vocal, very diff from stereo version
    14. There’s Always Tomorrow (rec. 1976) with different vocal than the released version. Issued on Improv 45 TB713 IMP-6976 (A)
    15. Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love), alternate vocal on THE BEST OF TONY BENNETT, Curb CD D2-77447

    MISSING DUETS
    1. The Lady Is A Tramp (1987) -with Frank Sinatra *A bonus live duet from Bally’s that was issued by Columbia on the Target-exclusive edition of the first Bennett Duets CD.
    2. I Left My Heart In San Francisco-with Judy Garland *A bonus live duet from Judy’s TV show that was issued by Columbia on the Target-exclusive edition of the first Bennett Duets CD.
    3. When You Wish Upon A Star-with Jackie Evancho (Target exclusive from Duets II)
    4. They Can’t Take That Away From Me-with Brad Paisley (Target exclusive from Duets II)
    5. Steppin’ Out (duet with Delta Goodrum) rec. 2/2006 and released on Australian CD version of DUETS)
    6. If I Ruled the World (duet with Wang Hom Lee) rec 2006 and released on Singapore version of DUETS)
    7. “I’ve Got the World on a String” (2006)- duet with Diana Krall was issued by Columbia on the Target-exclusive edition of the first Bennett Duets CD
    8. “Steppin’ Out with My Baby” – (2006) duet with Michael Bublé was issued by Columbia on the Target-exclusive edition of the first Bennett Duets CD
    9. New York, New York (2011) live duet with Andrea Bocelli from Bocelli’s CONCERTO, ONE NIGHT IN CENTRAL PARK CD, issued on Decca/Universal
    10. New York State of Mind (2008) live duet with Billy Joel from Joel’s LIVE AT SHEA STADIUM, Sony Columbia/Legacy CD 88697 85424 2

    Simon Morley

    January 24, 2012 at 09:32

    • I have 2 songs that were from the bonus CD of Sings Ellington:Hot and Cool that I purchased back in 1999,
      not certain of the retailer that had the disc – Barnes and Noble, Borders or Tower is most likely: they are “I Didn’t Know About You” and “All Too Soon”.

      Bill A

      October 7, 2012 at 16:09

  20. @Brian – you are correct, ALONE TOGETHER is mastered at a very low volume level

    Simon Morley

    January 24, 2012 at 09:40

  21. Simon Morley

    November 13, 2012 at 07:57

  22. I’m a year behind as I just got this set this Christmas, but I have a sort-of addition to the list. But first, I concur with Bill A about those two tracks (“I Didn’t Know About You” and “All Too Soon”) being on a bonus disc to Sings Ellington: Hot and Cool, as I have that disc too. I don’t know where I got it either, but it could be any of those three places Bill mentions.)

    My sort-of addition–and from what I can tell, this hasn’t been noted elsewhere, including on Brian’s blogspot link–is that there is an alternate take of The Bad and the Beautiful on the 1999 Rhino re-release of Tony Bennett & Bill Evans Together Again. Note though that Sony presumably left it off the box set–even though all of the other alternates and extras from that release are on the album–because TONY DOESN’T SING ON IT! (He doesn’t sing on the main version of it either, but since it is track 1 of the album, obviously they wanted to at least leave that.)

    Other than that, after a careful review of all of my TB CDs, I can’t find anything else to add. That blogspot page is impressive!

    steveinphilly

    December 29, 2012 at 15:26

  23. Great review. Just one thing – “Smile” on the singles discs is the wrong take. They put the track from the Movie Song Album in instead of the chronologically correct 1958 Ralph Burns arranged single.

    Tim Mann

    January 12, 2013 at 14:11


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