Duet Albums Or, the End of Your Career

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Remember this: Send in your check or money order now and we’ll send you one duet album each month. Cancel at anytime. Operators are standing by…

By Peter Gerstenzang

Remember that story a few years ago about Oscar the Cat? Oscar, who lived at a Rhode Island nursing home, always seemed to know which resident was going to die next. If he approached you and curled up in your lap, you needed to do the grim stuff like making out your will. Then, do fun things, like picking up the phone, calling the head of the RNC and asking if he has Prince Albert in a can.

Well, in rock and roll, there’s no Oscar the Cat. But the closest thing to knowing you’re going to die is making a duet album. As any music fan knows, these records are the aural equivalent of stage four lung cancer. Without the laughs. Here are some of my favorites…

Wrote a Song for Everyone: John Fogerty and Friends
John Fogerty has re-recorded his greatest hits so many times, he received a gold album for just his test pressings in 2002. But this album is really running on fumes. Most memorably with former TRESemmé hair model, Kid Rock. Who howls “Born on the Bayou” with all the outrage of a trucker who hasn’t spotted a strip club, a gun store or a Confederate flag shop for 15 miles. Blimey!

Strangers Again: Judy Collins and Friends
When you bring in old rockers to sing on your album, it’s usually called nostalgia. This new disc by Collins, which unearths the dead, brushes off the dirt they were buried in and drags the bodies into the studio, actually qualifies as necrophilia. The highlight of the record is Judy’s duet with Don McLean on “Send in the Clowns.” I know you didn’t like reading that. Hey, I didn’t enjoy writing it. I hear that Collins found Mr. American Pie working in a nightclub in the Midwest and brought him in to record. You know, after his shift bussing tables and washing dishes was over.

Genius Loves Company: Ray Charles and Friends
All you can think of when you hear Ray’s swan song is, they couldn’t have done this to a guy who could see. They brought in stiffs like Diana Krall, told Ray it was Ella Fitzgerald and just rolled tape. The album makes you think that not even Donald Trump was as cruel to the disabled as the people who made this disc.

Duets: Frank Sinatra and Friends
Considering Ol’ Blue Eyes was 78 when he recorded this poo poo platter, I’m not sure it even qualifies as an album. More like a striking example of elder abuse. Every one of Frank’s partners phone in their performance. To the point where one of the songs is interrupted by an operator demanding 50 cents for the next three minutes. The highlight of the sessions might be Frank singing with Bono. Who is so  clueless, feckless and just plain lost, it begs the question: if this guy is such a pacifist, why does listening to him here make you want to kill the first person you see?