Rags To Riches by Tony Bennett

July 21, 2012

1953 came to end with Tony Bennett sitting on top of all three BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Charts with the third number one song of his career.

“Rags To Riches” found a mature Bennett with a voice that could soar. This brass laden track was a peppy and bright song that was perfect for radio play during the pre-1950s rock ‘n’ roll era.

Best Sellers In Store Chart – 11/21/53 – 6 weeks at #1.
Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart – 11/28/53 – 7 weeks at #1.
Most Played In Jukeboxes Chart – 12/5/53 – 8 weeks at #1.

Today, Tony Bennett is one of the last crooners of the early 1950s still active on the road and in concert. Coming to a theater near you.

Cold Cold Heart by Tony Bennett

April 28, 2012

Tony Bennett had his first number one hit during September, 1951, when his “Because Of You,” topped all three of the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Charts.

It didn’t take him long to have his second number one as his release of “Cold Cold Heart” replaced “Because Of You,” which gave him two in a row.

“Cold Cold Heart” will always be associated with Hank Williams who took it to the top of the Country Charts and it remains one of the signature songs of not only Williams career but of country music as well.

Tony Bennett recorded a straight pop rendition of this country classic. It reached the top of two BILLBOARD Pop Charts.

Best Sellers In Stores Chart – November 3, 1951 – 6 weeks at #1.
Most Played In Jukeboxes Chart – December 8, 1951 – 3 weeks at #1.

Bennett’s version sounds very different from Williams and a little dated today. It may not be the memerable version but it was one of the biggest hits of his distinguihed career.

Because Of You by Tony Bennett

April 26, 2012

Antonio Benedetto, born 1926, was fresh off serving in World War II as an army rifleman when he embarked upon a singing career. By 1950 he was signed to the Columbia label, for whom he would eventually sell tens of millions of records.

“Because Of You” was written during 1940 but gained attention by its inclusion in the 1951 film, I WAS AN AMERICAN SPY. It would become one of the biggest hits of Bennett’s sixty plus year career.

Released during mid-1951, it became his first number one hit and topped all three BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Charts. It would rank as the second biggest hit of the year.

Best Sellers In Stores Chart – Sept. 8, 1951 – 8 weeks at #1.
Most Play By Disc Jockeys Chart – Sept. 22, 1951 – 8 weeks at #1.
Most Played By Disc Jockeys Chart – Sept. 29. 1051 – 10 weeks #1.

At the age of 85, Tony Bennett still performs over 100 concerts a year.

The Best Of The Improv Recordings by Tony Bennett

July 12, 2011

Tony Bennett is an American music icon and one of the last of a generation of singers who came to prominence during the years following World War II. He has sold in excess of 50 million albums, won 15 Grammy Awards, and his popularity now spans several generations of music fans.

He signed with the Columbia label in 1952, and it proved to be his musical home for over 20 years. The British Invasion and the commercial dominance of rock ended his relationship with Columbia as he was resisting their overtures to change his style. He resigned with Columbia in 1986 and remains with them to the present day.

After leaving Columbia, he released albums for several labels but quickly formed his own label, Improv Records, during the mid-1970s. His albums for the label were artistically successful and critically praised. They were not to be as commercially successful as his work with Columbia, which would lead to the dissolution of the label after several years.

Improv only released 10 albums during its existence, with half being by Bennett. They were an eclectic lot featuring two albums of songs by Rodgers and Hart, standards featuring the Ruby Braff-George Barnes Quartet, orchestral arrangements by his music director at the time, Torrie Zito, plus a brilliant jazz duet album with Bill Evans. His entire output for the label was issued in 2004 as a four CD box set titled The Complete Improv Recordings.

The Concord Music Group has now gathered 16 tracks from his time with the label and released Tony Bennett: The Best Of The Improv Recordings, which will be released in conjunction with his upcoming 85th birthday. While all the tracks were previously released on the box set, this single CD serves to give a nice taste of one of the most artistic periods of his career.

His material during the last several decades has many times gone in a light jazz direction. He recorded two duet albums with jazz pianist Bill Evans and four tracks are taken from the second, Together Again, which was issued by his own label. “Make Someone Happy,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “You Must Believe In Spring,” and “Maybe September” are just Evans’ piano and Bennett’s voice and it doesn’t get much better than that.

The rest of the album is standards that fit his style well. Songs such as “Isn’t It Romantic,” “Blue Moon,” “As Time Goes By,” and “The Lady Is A Tramp” all undergo a transformation courtesy of his unique interpretations. The final track was a live performance of his most famous song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.” Recorded in May of 1977, it is a nice mid-career update of this eternal classic.

Tony Bennett: The Best Of The Improv Recordings is a fine sampling of an often lost period of his career. If you own the box set, this release in not needed, but as a stand-alone album, it resurrects some of the better material of his career that you may have missed.

Article first published as Music Review: Tony Bennett – Tony Bennett: The Best Of The Improv Recordings on Blogcritics.

I Left My Heart In San Francisco 45 by Tony Bennett

April 12, 2010

“I Left My Heart In San Francisco” is Tony Bennett’s signature and, in my opinion, best song. I would have bet anything that it was his highest charting but it just cracked The American top twenty reaching number 19 during August of 1962.

He topped the charts in the early 1950’s with such hits as “Because Of You,” “Cold Cold Heart,” and “Rags To Riches.” While he placed 31 songs on the charts between 1956 and 1967, only “In The Middle Of An Island” entered the top ten. His albums, however, sold in the millions and continue to do so today.

“I Left My Heart In San Francisco” is pre-Beatles easy listening/pop at its best. The phrasing is perfect and his voice was in fine form. The original recording remains one of the better ballads of the early sixties.