The Essential Tony Bennett [Columbia/Legacy]

by: Tony Bennett

Like most entries in Sony/Legacy's Essential series, 2002's The Essential Tony Bennett is an excellent, exhaustive retrospective of a lengthy, hit-filled career at Columbia. Although Bennett spent time at other labels -- particularly in the '70s -- he made his best-known and greatest recordings for Columbia, from the late '50s through the '90s, which is what provides the bulk of the material here. Though this skips through the '70s material, it does provide what amounts to Bennett at his best, whether it's on "Rags to Riches" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" in the '60s, or on latter-day classics like "Steppin' out with My Baby." Bennett surely recorded more great material than can fit on a two-disc, 40-track collection, but this contains the cream of the crop and it's hard to imagine a collection like this being executed better than this. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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