Monday, June 17, 2024

Review: Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s Grand “Love for Sale” Is the Booster Shot We Need So Badly Right Now


Tonight, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga‘s “Love for Sale” drops in all formats including CD, vinyl, streaming and downloads like iTunes. Listen, kids, you’d better hit that button and make it number 1. There are a lot of reasons.

He’s 95, she’s 35, this is unprecedented. Their first album, “Cheek to Cheek,” came to us in 2014. That’s when Tony told me they would absolutely follow up with a Cole Porter collection. “Cheek to Cheek” sold like crazy and won lots of awards, as it should.

“Love for Sale” is a crowning achievement for both of them, and Tony’s producer son, Dae Bennett. Working with the best musicians, they’ve made a lasting record of great beauty. If people are still listening to jazz in 50 years, “Love for Sale” will have to be at the top of every list.

Bennett is capping off the most remarkable career of all time, 70 years, all of our lifetimes, all of his. No other American singer can lay claim to his longstanding at peak quality. While Sinatra lurks out there as the Chairman of the Board, Tony is Chief Operating Officer of Jazz. The whole cosmic twist of his living this long was to prove a voice can only get richer as a heart grows deeper. Listen to him on some of these tracks, whether he recorded them six years ago or yesterday it doesn’t matter. The instrument is genuine. As much I have Frank’s “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” under mine, this new Gaga-Bennett duet is going to occupy a place there, too.

On first listen I’m focused on two tracks featuring Tony: “Dream Dancing” and “I Concentrate on You.” They’re lesser known Porter and sound fresher because of it. They bounce. Tony swings. He not only keeps up with Gaga, he outpaces her often. You can feel the energy he’s getting from her newness to the material. But for Tony, the piece de resistance is his solo number, “Just One of those Things.” I think this is the fourth time he’s recorded this song, who knows. But in 1969 he titled an album with this number, and going back there comparing to the new recording, Mr. Benedetto hasn’t lost a step. The earlier version is a younger man’s voice. The new one is a man who’s weathered all those things and come through it a winner. When Tony sings

When fortune cries “Nay, nay” to me
And people declare “You’re through”
Whenever the blues become my only songs
I concentrate on you
it’s enough to send you overboard. Many people declared he was “through” a long time ago. Guess who gets the last laugh?

Lady Gaga is a great jazz singer. I love her early music, the hit 45s, but I could listen to her sing like this for the rest of time. She’s done what Mariah Carey never bothered to do: she’s used her super powers for the good of mankind. If Natalie Cole were alive, she’d be Gaga’s only competition. With Tony she’s playful but never campy. This is a serious endeavor. Rosemary Clooney must be sending her signals from heaven. Rarely has there been a pairing that’s been so well matched. You know, she’s a good actress, Gaga, but you can tell she really gets a kick out of Tony. It’s very charming.

Gaga’s standout solo is “Do I Love You.” She has to compete with the ghosts of Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, and Vera Lynn. Who else would have the guts to take this on? This Stefani Germanotta doesn’t shy away from the challenge. She has nothing to fear in comparison. Gaga’s voice has all the vibrato and texture of the greats. You can’t imagine her every screaming again through a “Chromatica” or “Edge of Glory.” Why bother when you can do this?

Dae Bennett’s production on “Love for Sale” will win him another Grammy. He’s got the secret sauce to make this all come together. “Love for Sale” may be a cure for the pandemic. Please get the shots. But this is the extra booster we all need so badly.

Needless to say but A Plus. Plus.


story photo courtesy of Kelsey Bennett



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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