Charles Aznavour's double-disc Duos album boasts a lot of starpower and a bunch of his greatest hits, but there's less than initially meets the eye here. Sure, a quick glance at the track listing shows a long list of international superstars who team up with Aznavour to sing duets on the album, including Céline Dion, Julio Iglesias, Placido Domingo, Laura Pausini, Elton John, Johnny Hallyday, Nana Mouskouri, Sting, Josh Groban, Carole King, Paul Anka, Herbert Gronemeyer, Liza Minnelli, and Bryan Ferry. Even the late Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin show up for duets. Moreover, the track listing reads like a greatest-hits collection, compiling the classics "Toi et Moi," "Hier Encore," and "La Bohème," among many others. Yet a more careful study of the track listing reveals that the featured superstars show up not once but twice -- once on each disc, in general -- and that the songs are likewise duplicated -- once on the French-language first disc and then, with some exceptions, again on the English-language second disc. Essentially, Aznavour and the guest vocalists cut a French- and English-language version of each song, one for each disc. So there's less than meets the eye here on Duos, as the second disc mostly repeats the first disc, albeit in a secondary language (English in most cases, but also Spanish, Italian, and German in the case of the respective Domingo, Pausini, and Gronemeyer duets). This repetition is one thing, but the duets sound almost as canned as the musical backing tracks, as if this were an Aznavour karaoke session. Granted, Aznavour is in fine form, but the duet vocals sound terribly overdubbed and often half-hearted, and worst of all is the music, which couldn't be blander. With little more than novelty appeal going for it, Duos is for Aznavour fanatics only.
© Jason Birchmeier /TiVo