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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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The voice of Linda Ronstadt is an instrument of wonder particularly on those early albums "Hand sown...home grown" and "Heart like a Wheel". She has never rested on her laurels and in addition to being the biggest selling female solo artist of the 1970s she went on to record brilliant interpretations of the work of the Gershwin's and Irving Berlin ("What's New") and the splendid Mexican roots album ("Canciones de Mi Padre"). The 2012 announcement that Ronstadt has Parkinsons disease and is no longer able to sing robs us of one of the most distinctive and superb female voices of the past decades not least in her key supporting vocal roles to other artists such as Paul Simon and Neil Young.

""Duets" is a "new" album that prefigures Rondstadt's induction into the Rock "n" Roll Hall of Fame. Sadly it does suffer from an identity crisis as the album proceeds. The idea of pulling together all the duets that Ronstadt has undertaken throughout her career seems fine on paper but this pits together great country rock classics alongside some of those over produced 1980s ballads. In this sense the album feels more like record company opportunism than a unified project which has been clearly thought through. Ronstadt's more recent work with the great Cajun specialist Ann Savoy is well represented with the rootsy "Adeiu False Heart" kicking off the album. Their countrified version of the The Left Banke's "Walk away Renee" is an absolute standout, Similarly her duet with Emmylou harris on Hank Williams "I Can't Help it (if I'm still in love with you)" is worthy of the price of admission (begging the question why only one selection). The J D Souther duet on "Prisoner in disguise" is also well worth beating a path towards with those huge vocal pipes of Ronstadt emoting brilliantly.

Things however take a turn southward from here. The shared vocal with James Taylor on "I think its going to work out fine" is solid, but in comparison to Ike and Tina Tuners original it is pedestrian. The saccharine ballad with Aaron Neville "I don't know much" may appeal to some listeners but demands a certain mood to strike home. Equally the other massive hit "Somewhere out there" with James Ingram which soundtracked the hit movie "American Tail" is pure Disney schmaltz. The remaining two song duets with Bette Midler on a jolly "Sisters" and with a fading Frank Sinatra on "Moonlight in Vermont" are fine but not essential. It begs the question why the compilers of this album didn't dig a little deeper for some lesser known or unreleased gems. Indeed this reviewer has always considered Ronstadt's performance on "Under African Skies" with Paul Simon a "duet" where her voice is superb. Why not in addition seek out some live material with her Laurel Canyon counterparts the Eagles and Jackson Browne. Another point to bear in mind that this album contains 15 songs. You could alternatively seek out the "Linda Ronstadt - The Collection", a double album that contains some of these songs plus over 45 Ronstadt classics for a lesser price. Let us stress again that Ronstadt could sing the menu down your local Chinese Takeaway and it would sound great. In that sense a bit more care and attention in the compiling of this album would have made it an essential tribute to a great artist who deserves slightly better than this.
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on 13 April 2014
What immediately becomes obvious when you listen to "Duets," the "new" album by country icon Linda Ronstadt, is that this record is a gem-studded showcase for how she bridged multiple genres and styles during her 40+ year-career, as well as the wow! factor it generates when you realize how in that period she collaborated with most of the biggest names in music on the planet.

With the exception of "Pretty Bird", a previously unreleased duet with Laurie Lewis, the other fourteen tracks were originally released between 1974 and 2006. Sadly, due to suffering from Parkinson's disease, which has left her unable to sing, Linda Ronstadt won't be releasing any new material, although she did choose the tracks and organized the sequencing of the "Duets" album herself.

The "Duets" album starts with three tracks from the 2006 "Adieu False Heart" collaboration with Cajun singer Ann Savoy, Linda's final studio album: the folk minstrelsy "Adieu False Heart," the mournful ballad "I Can't Get Over You" and a stunningly beautiful, spare rendition of the classic "Walk Away Renée." Then we move into country territory with the bluegrass "The New Partner Waltz," a duet with Carl Jackson, the folksy "I Never Will Marry" with Dolly Parton, the acoustic "Pretty Bird," an a-cappella duet with bluegrass musician Laura Lewis, and the Hank Williams country classic "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)," a boisterous duet with Emmylou Harris.

Then we move to Southern California country-rock with songs like "Hasten Down The Wind," with subtle harmonizing by Don Henley, the doleful ballad "Prisoner In Disguise," a vocal twosome with J.D. Souther, and the funky rocker "I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine," which couples her with James Taylor. Next we switch to the soulful "Don't Know Much" and "All My Life," both duets with Aaron Neville, and the sweeping R&B-laced crooner "Somewhere Out There," which teams her up with James Ingram. The album closes with the jazzy swinger "Sisters," a duet with Bette Midler, and the string-swathed, jazzy double act with Frank Sinatra, "Moonlight In Vermont."

"Duets" is a great album. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention there are some omissions from her vast duets-oeuvre that made me wish they had made this a 2-disc set. Especially as it was a sore point for Linda Ronstadt that they could only fit so many tracks on this CD. There's nothing from her Mexican recordings, or from her 1999 duet-album "Western Wall" with Emmylou Harris, nor her collaborations with iconic artists like Johnny Cash and Neil Young, to give a few examples. Anyway, I sure hope these other collaborations will be released on a Duets - Volume 2 in the near future.
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on 20 June 2014
I think most Lindie fans, like me, will have most of these already but it is nice to have them all in one place. If Linda really did pick this selection then so much the better. As we all know, she has a truly beautiful voice that has brought us joy for 50 years and, now that she can no longer sing, we absolutely need albums like this to keep a smile on our faces.
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on 16 April 2014
I remember meeting up with a mate of mine to play the latest Linda Ronstadt album on his hifi system in the early Seventies. We couldn't always have the volume turned up but hey, somehow quieter was better. Linda was 'our darlin' and we loved her music. Her career has spanned all those decades and although ill health means today we are deprived of her voice there is always the music to return to. This album leads with some of the finest pieces of her work. The album is a reasonable reflection of her work - the tracks with Ann Savoy truly thrilling. I'm not a particular fan of her 'big band' ventures and these don't seem to fit too well here. Surprising there are no Mexican tunes too. maybe I'l just play the 'old ones' ........
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on 9 April 2014
If you love a great female vocalist, or indeed are already a fan of the great Linda Ronstadt , then this album is fab!
Only Streisand , Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee , have her vocal range , and some of the tracks are gems .
A mix of country , Cajun , and old fashioned ballads serve to highlight her fantastic range .
Walk away renee (with ann savoy), don't know much ( with Aaron Neville), and moonlight in Vermont (with frank Sinatra ) all serve to highlight the ease with which Ronstadt delivers great vocals in any style.
I have been a fan for decades so I could not resist buying this cd , if you are a fan or new to Ronstadt , you will not be disappointed .(certainly not at the price ! )
Why then only 4 stars and 5 ?
I did find the selection of the tracks , a little random , and missed out a hugely successful period of hers , when she was on top of her game and the charts ,with her pop/rock / country hits ,backed at the time by no less than the Eagles (before they were famous).
Still it's a fine tribute album , featuring one of the greatest female vocalists ever , so go buy now !!!
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on 2 June 2014
I can listen to Linda all day (and sometimes do!), so this album is a bonus with a bouquet of top voices joining her in the songs on this album. Most, if not all of these tracks have appeared on other albums, but without going through my collection and picking them out individually, this collection puts them right at my fingertips.
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on 16 May 2014
Considering the fact that this lady, whom I consider to be one of the greatest singers of all time, has retired from the scene, there will probably be little new material being released. Whilst I already have about half of these tracks, I reckon that the price is well worth it, for the others alone. I will miss you Linda!
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on 8 June 2014
I felt there are too many slow songs on this and it didn't really pick up until the excellent duet with James Taylor.

It may grow on me with future plays. I have many cd's by Linda and enjoy them all but this one not so much.
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on 24 April 2014
I have been a big fan of Linda's for years, and even though I have most of these tracks on CD's it is still worth buying as it is lovely c to have them all in one place, , well worth buying ( though as a fan of old Blue Eyes I think their duet is the worst on this CD) .
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on 12 January 2015
15 tracks accompanying 12 artists, covering a period of 30+ years. A varied collection covering country, pop and ballads.

Some of the `duets` are no more than accompaniment on the verses, but overall Linda Ronstadt performs very well. The main disappointment is her duet with Frank Sinatra, whose voice had just about gone. The highlights however, were plentiful, with Emmylou Harris, Ann Savoy, Carl Jackson, Bette Midler, James Ingram and of course the wonderful Dolly Parton.

I am lucky enough to have the collections of her best work, both on vinyl and CD. Bearing in mind the publicity about her current health and the probability that there will be no more new recordings, I believe it might be wise, If you are a fan, to buy this before they sell out.
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