The legend that is John Royce Mathis. In the 50 plus years he's been making albums, he's sold over 350 million records and won three Grammy Awards. Even his last UK compilation album sold over a quarter of a million copies a wee while back.
So, there are a lot of people out there who love Johnny, and it's easy to see why. He eases his way effortlessly through his latest album. For some reason he's never received the acclaim awarded to his peers, and the lounge revival of a few years ago seemed to pass him by, when Andy Williams and a host of lesser voices were getting some belated kudos.
He's still in fine voice as he works his way through a set of classics, helped along by a supporting cast in places, but unlike some star collaborations, this is very much Johnny Mathis. Kicking off with the Bill Withers classic "Just The Two Of Us", accompanied by saxophonist Kenny G, he sets out his stall early on. There is to be no post-ironic reinvention of Mr Mathis. The 21st century may be well on its way, but if you have a voice and style that works for so many, why break it?
Having said that, not everything works as his version of "Walk On By" proves. Everything that made the Dionne Warwick version so brittle and heartrending is lost. But when you listen to gospel singer Yolanda Adams joining in on his version of The Stylistics "You Make Me Feel Brand New" you can't help but feel that everything is alright with the world, even if it is just for those few minutes.
Some of the material does slip by in an easy listening blur, but then he hits you with his version of the Atlantic Starr gem "Always" and you're knocked for six again. The best is saved for last as Johnny gives us a new song, in the shape of "A Night to Remember", the title track. Duetting with the legendary Gladys Knight, it's a song that shows two fantastic vocal stylists at the top of their game,
For a man of any age, never mind one in his seventies, it's a remarkably good album, one that his legions of fans will love. So, just sit back in your rocker, put on a cardigan, puff on your pipe, and enjoy!Powered by Sidelines