So I've been in bed for four days with one of the worst colds I've had for ages. Time to catch up on some Christmas CD releases, and to bless you with my thoughts so you can rush out and buy them for yourself, or even make use of the excellent new Amazon MP3 service.
First up - Tony Bennett's latest, A Swingin' Christmas, with the Count Basie Band. Well, on seven of the eleven tracks anyway. And there's gripe number one, right there. The CD is at its best with the Basie band swingin' away (I'm sorry, I find that apostrophe as offensive as you do, but it is in the title) and TB croonin' (presumably) over the top.
Tony Bennett is about 96 now, I think. And frankly, if my voice holds out anything like that well, I'll be a happy man. Sure, he occasionally barks when he can't reach a note/forgets a melody, and things that would have worked 20 years ago (OK, 40) sometimes sound forced. But he is remarkable. You are listening to an old man sing - but to an old man sing, this is not like the groanings of Ol' Blue Eyes (they all loved those apostrophes, see) in his dotage.
Gripe number two: track three clearly doesn't belong on this CD. It has strings, a completely different vocal sound, and worst of all (Camillofan will appreciate this) eight bars of Toots Thielemans. 'Nough said.
Gripe number three: only thirty seven minutes of music. I guess TB had to get back to the rest home. Still, taking away the four minutes of track three, it is thirty three pretty good minutes of classy, relaxing lounge Christmas music.
3.5 stars (out of five)