If you want to get the mother lode of pop vocals, save your money, do some weight lifting and invest in this massive multi-pound 67 album set of the apotheosis of male vocalists, Johnny Mathis. This commemorative set covers the 60 years that Mathis spent with Columbia Records, and it was time well spent. 25 of the albums, all in their original folders, are available for the first time on cd, along with a previously unreleased I Love My Lady and some various tracks. The set is autographed by The Voice of Romance, and is part of a limited edition set. Don’t miss out!
Mathis hit the ground running, with four releases in 1957 and each one was a peach. His eponymous debut album is quite a jazzy affair, including the likes of JJ Johnson, Buck Clayton, Milt Hinton, Ray Brown, Art Farmer and Milt Hinton and with arrangements by Gil Evans. If he had stayed this route, he would have had an impressive career on its own, but he turned pop, allowing more people to hear his charms. And if you think he’s all mellow and pop-oriented, listen to how he does a take of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” that gives Mark Murphy a run for his money. Wonderful, Wonderful does not have the title hit, but it includes rich versions of “All Through The Night” and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.” The other ’57 albums include wondrous reads of “What’ll I Do” and even a get down take of “Baby, Baby, Baby” and Swing Softly has arrangements by Percy Faith that frame Mathis’ “Love Walked In” and “Like Someone In Love” with sensitivity and taste.
And that’s just his first year!
1958 boasts of his absolutely classic Merry Christmas, as well as the amazingly rewarding Good Night Dear Lord” while the next year he blows everyone away with Open Fire, Two Guitars and Heavenly, which includes the iconic “Misty.” His 1972 Christmas with Johnny Mathis isn’t far behind the former. His 70s and 80s albums are amazingly consistent, and his one-offs like the teaming with Natalie Cole on Unforgettable or “Southern Nights” in 1975’s Let it Be me: Mathis in Nashville are all impressive and timeless.
The timeless attraction of Johnny Mathis is that, like all great chefs, trusts in the basic ingredients in order to make a perfect meal. No extra seasonings or faddish gimmicks; he puts his faith in his erudite, clear and seamless voice, and with a perfect sense of time, lets the melody and lyrics to their part. Few allow the music to breath like Mathis, and this essential collection is a Louvre museum of how singing should be done.