Given the fact that his recording career spans over 55 years and that he has always enjoyed collaborating with other artists, it’s somewhat surprising that it has taken Paul Anka all of this time to come up with his first album of duets with other artists. “Duets” consists of 14 tracks and most of which were recorded well in the past.
As can be expected from a hodgepodge collection, “Duets” is a mixed bag. Dolly Parton is not the kind of singer you would expect to be effortlessly paired with Anka but their duet on an early ‘70s tune penned by him, “Do I Love You? (Yes, In Every Way)” is exceptional. The same can be said for another odd coupling–Anka and Leon Russell on “I Really Miss You.”
I never realized how similar current nasal balladeer Michael Buble sounds to Anka until hearing them team up on the classic, “Pennies From Heaven.” Part of the fun here is guessing who is singing and my guess is that these guys were in on the joke as well.
The best track here is Anka’s duet with Peter Cetera, “Hold Me ‘Til The Morning Comes,” that was recorded in 1983 and was Paul’s last record to crack the Billboard Top 40 singles chart. Their emotional lyrical pleas to try to save a relationship that apparently has had high peaks and deep valleys deeply resonates. It should have been a bigger hit than it was.
There is nothing truly unlistenable here but his duets with Tom Jones (“She’s A Lady”) and Frank Sinatra (“My Way”) are rather flat which is unexpected considering that Anka had a hand in composing both songs.
Paul Anka has also been busy on the literary front as well as his autobiography, “My Way” (St. Martin’s Press), has just been published. He gives lengthy accounts of his early years as an “American Bandstand” teen idol and later in the book observations of hanging with the Rat Pack in Las Vegas. He also details the travails that he had with Michael Jackson and his production team when he worked with him on “This Is It,” a track that appears on “Duets.” Based on the end result it’s clear that it wasn’t worth the aggravation of dealing with the late mercurial King of Pop.
Paul Anka has always been a good listen and now he is a good read as well.