Lady Gaga / Tony Bennett - Cheek to Cheek

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Coming off a fractious run as hip surgery curtailed a string of Born This Way concert dates, Cheek To Cheek initially raised a few eyebrows among Lady Gaga fans. Ultimately, however, the album, a collection of duets with legendary crooner Tony Bennett, proved a cathartic leftfield turn for pop’s newest queen, and marked the beginning of a new creative arc.

The genesis of the duets album lay in a New York charity gala held three years earlier, when the jazz legend met the contemporary superstar and asked her to record “The Lady Is A Tramp” for his upcoming second duets project. That collaboration turned out so well that the pair discussed a more ambitious project, but it would take time for their busy schedules to synchronize. It wasn’t until a 2013 reunion at one of President Barack Obama’s ceremonial balls that Gaga was ready to announce that the project was definitely going ahead, revealing the name of the record.

The 11 songs were all recorded live with a band, and introduced a richer, more authentic timbre to a voice people thought they had the full measure of. Cole Porter’s opening composition, “Anything Goes,” sets the scene perfectly with its playful, familiar melody and was a logical pick for the album’s first single, immediately dispelling rumors that the record would be an overblown indulgence. The fun the pair had making the tracks was evident in this recording and, more importantly, proved infectious.

Heavyweight vinyl produced by Streamline Records in 2014. Gatefold sleeve.

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