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Music Review: Johnny Mathis – A Night To Remember

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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!

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About Stuart A Hamilton

  • MARIA E. ZAPATA

    I’m absolutely in agreement with you, when you say Johnny Mathis haven’t received enough awards, throughout his career. It’s something that I’d never understood. I’m a Mexican woman, of course a fan of Mr. Mathis from 60s and totally convinced he is the Best Singer for all time. Besides, I know he is a gentleman and a sweet, professional, humble, thoughtful (among a endless list of qualities) person, of a kind not easy to find in these times.He has my resounding admiration.

  • gerry

    A long time Mathis fan, I too am stuck on the comment made by Mr. Hamilton, that Mathis has NOT received the kudos he deserves. It is absolutely wrenching for me to see someone like Tony Bennett receive so much undeserved popularity in his late years…what’s up with THAT?!? I have yet to discover a voice better than Mathis’. I have seen him perform countless times and always, the minute he opens his mouth, it brings tears to my eyes – when I ran out of “new” Mathis albums to buy, I researched and bought everything I could find from the 50’s on. I am 20 years younger than this man, and I am here to say, there is NO ONE BETTER, there is NO BETTER voice in american polular music, except maybe for Audra McDonald…So cheers to Johnny, my absolute favorite since 1972’s “I’m Coming Home…” I will always love you…

  • Lindaura Raposo Del Carlo

    Speaking in the name of thousands of Brazilian fans we agree with Maria E. Zapata and Gerry comments, when they say Johnny Mathis hasn’t receive enough awards along his long and glorious career.

    Even the specialized music writers and musical critics didn’t pay the real attention he deserves, along the years, as the great singer he is!!! I really can’t understand why!!!

    Here, in Brazil we feel the same from our specialized magazines and newspapers. On the other hand, we are missing him so much, because his last performance was in 1975…

    Once more in “A Night to Remember” Johnny has the power to send us out of this world…

    His magic touch through his wonderful interpretations keeps us all young. And this magic will be enjoyed forever!!!

  • Bob

    As a lifetime fan of Johnny Mathis, and owner of every recording he has produced, I am heartened to read the reviewer’s comments regarding the quality of Johnny’s latest album (I am waiting to purchase it upon release in the US). The reviewers comment that Johnny has not had the accolades of some of his peers such as Andy Williams is true but Johnny Mathis fans know Johnny has no peer among today’s singers. He has quietly gone about his business of recording and touring for the past 52 years. Even at age 72, he still commands top billing where ever he goes and performs to sellout crowds.
    The reviewer mentioned Johnny has sold over 350 million records. Johnny is primarily an album seller. He has sold over 180 million albums, more than any other living singer and ranks behind only Sinatra and Elvis in total album sales. Not bad for a guy that quietly goes about his busines of singing and producing 112 albums! Keep up the good work, Johnny. You are the very best!

  • Arline

    Johnny Mathis IS the greatest singer on the planet, and I, too, have always been baffled by the endless accolades given to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and other singers of lesser talent. Not only is he the greatest singer, but he is also one of the nicest, kindest human beings I’ve ever met. It’s way past time for the music industry to acknowledge him as the treasure he is.

  • Nancy

    Waiting impationtly for album.Go to as many shows as i can.Greatest singer i think.Why he’s not more appreciated is apuzzle.I,m taking my grandkids to see Johnny.He gets better with age. Keep singing Johnny.Seeyou in VEGAS…

  • Jon

    This is a fantastic album from the great Mr Mathis that will give hours of listening pleasure. People have commented that they feel let down by the fact that the album is mainly ‘covers’.However,they are surely missing something. It is the quality of the interpretation of the song that is so important when Johnny sings it that makes it sound so special.Surely he is a national traesure

  • GLORIA A. ULRICH

    i have loved and been in love with johnny for many, many years. his new cd is magnificent. please have him appear i nis own tv show. he is unquestionably the greatest singer of our time.
    love, gloria a. ulrich

  • Canewoman

    Just saw him in Memphis on May 9th, 08. He sang beautifully and looked great. He is a wonderful singer and person. I love the soulful songs on his new Album. I somewhat agree with the writer about Walk On by, but he did a good job with this song. At 72, what he continues to do is outstanding. My hats off too you Mr. Mathis

  • jean hearn

    Johnny Mathis songs have meant all things to all people.”our song” lost love, love found,I live in Plymouth UK and have been to 3 of his concerts.and they where majical I have loved his voice and music from an early age and find it a great shame that younger people doesn’t know who he is.I was in a resteraunt recently and his record was being played.A young girl asked the waiter who was singing ,he said he didn’t know so I leaned across and told her,She said she hadn’t heard of him before and was this his 1st album.I smiled and said ” do you know the song When a child is born” and she said “oh the xmas song, his voice is lovely. I replied he is the greatest singer on earth. there is a new generation out there that haven’t heard him.So more Johnny Mathis Promotions please