Tuesday, January 26, 2010


While crooners like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Dean Martin top the 'favorites' lists of Easy Listening fans (and other vocalists like Nat King Cole are usually not far behind), there are three fantastic male vocalists who were just as popular but are rarely mentioned in the same breath: Perry Como, Andy Williams and our man of the hour, Johnny Mathis

While Como has joined the 'crooner's convention' in the sky, Williams and Mathis are still very much with us and continue to perform and record to this day. Both have vast catalogs that remained ignored for years, but have recieved the reissue treatment, slowly but surely, over the last decade.

Collectors' Choice Music has recently released five two-CD sets by Mathis, each containing a pair of original '60s albums that may not have troubled the Rock charts, but are certainly worthy of reappraisal some 40+ years later.

The wonderful thing about Pop/Easy Listening vocalists like Mathis during the late '60s was the fact that they continued doing what they did best, even though the music world was changing around them.  Rock 'n' Roll fans may have laughed at their refusal to change, but now that many of Rock's greatest albums sound 'of their time', Mathis' albums remain timeless! 

While he was never one to belt out a tune, Mathis' soft, smooth delivery turned even the cheesiest composition into a devastatingly gorgeous slice of audio ecstacy. And when he did cut loose, his voice would soar up to the heavens. No matter what Johnny sang, it sounded romantic, fun and joyful.

The first pair of Collectors' Choice Music CD two-fers listed below contain albums that were issued PB (pre-Beatles) and, as we know, the Fab Four changed the Rock AND Pop rule books.

The remaining trio of Collectors' Choice Music two-fers contain albums that were released in the latter part of the '60s. During this time, Rock ruled the charts, the Summer Of Love gave us more than a few sunburns, Vietnam divided the nation and, on the outside, Johnny's music seemed out of step with the times.  This, I'm glad to say, was furthest from the truth: the world needed an entertainer like Mathis to take them to an emotional place away from the worries of the world. 

That beautiful tenor has always worked it's wonders, year in and year out. And these releases are the proof in the pudding.

Here are five must-haves for your collection!

(CD descriptions are provided by Collectors' Choice Music's website).

"Of the ten albums we're reissuing, I'll Buy You a Star is the only one that's come out on CD before, but we had to include it because it made such a perfect pairing with Live It Up! Why? Because both of them boast arrangements by the great Nelson Riddle, whose sublime orchestral work helped take these to #38 and #14 on the 1961 and 1962 charts, respectively!"-CCM

"Another perfect Mathis pairing, these 1962 and 1963 albums both featured arrangements by the legendary Don Costa, and both soared to the highest reaches of the charts, hitting #12 and #23, respectively."-CCM

"These 1967 and 1968 albums marked Johnny's triumphant return to the Columbia label from Mercury, where he spent the middle part of the decade. They also marked a shift in his repertoire away from the standards that had dominated his previous Columbia albums towards more contemporary material, whose familiar melodies take on a whole new sheen when burnished by Johnny's ethereal tenor."-CCM

"Johnny Mathis doing a Doors tune? Yup—and doing it well, along with a host of other late-'60s pop favorites on these 1968 and 1969 albums. Robert Mersey, who arranged Johnny's previous two Columbia albums, conducts on 'Those Were the Days', while the great Ernie Freeman takes up the baton on 'Love Theme'."-CCM

"Johnny's warm, mellifluous interpretations on these two 1969 albums will make you hear these songs in a whole new way, even if you've heard them hundreds of times. A good example is his dramatically slowed-down reading of 'Sunny'; the contemplative, even wistful tone of his performance really gives the “dark days” of the song's lyrics equal weight to the bright ones, an insight usually lost in the song's breezier interpretations."-CCM

You're Welcome,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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