Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Mathis’

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

Fluff piece…or Pure Pop for Then People? Neither of the above…just another great jukebox classic.

Smooth and intimate. Those are adjectives you don’t hear that often to describe much of the music being made today. But there was a time when smooth and intimate was the basis for an entire genre of music. I’m talking about Pop Music…The Pop music of the pre-rock era…Pop music your mom and pop listened to. Real pop music…Mitch Miller Pop…Ray Conniff Pop…Pop music that came from unforgettable singers like Doris Day, Bobby Vinton, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and, of course Johnny Mathis.

Sure, there were many more accomplished vocalists back then too, vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé and Carmen McRae, who worked with some of the finest jazz players and arrangers of the day. But, with the exception of Sinatra and Cole, they really didn’t rule the airwaves.

So, if Michael Jackson was the King of Pop of the ’80s and beyond, then Johnny Mathis was his predecessor, the king of late 1950s and early 1960s pop. (I guess that leaves Barry Manilow for the 1970s.)

“Chances Are” was written by the songwriting team of Robert Allen and Al Stillman. They were the same team that also wrote Mathis’ “It’s Not For Me To Say,” The Four Lads’ “Moments To Remember,” “No Not Much,” “Enchanted Island,” and the holiday classic “Home For The Holidays.”

It’s all pillow talk from Mathis. The first thing that gets you is the fabulous echo-laden sound that puts the listener smack dab in the middle of cloud nine, provided courtesy of producer Mitch Miller. Then there’s the piano, gently caressing and embellishing the melody. But it all wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if it wasn’t for the gossamer-smooth Mathis magic on the vocals. “Chances Are” is one of the iconic records of the late 1950s. It’s a heavenly slice of pop production and much more than just a great song, it’s a great record. It’s the culmination of songwriting craft, performance and production that creates the whole sonic picture, and makes this record one for the ages.

When released as a single back in 1957, “Chances Are” soared all the way to the number four spot on the charts, while its flip side, “The Twelfth Of Never” also became a big hit.

“The Twelfth Of Never” was written by Jerry Livingston and Paul Francis Webster and when it was released as the flip of “Chances Are” in 1957, it rose to the #9 position of the pop charts. The song’s melody (minus the bridge) was based on the old English folk song called “The Riddle Song” which is also known as “I Gave My Love A Cherry.”

The song was also brought to the charts by Cliff Richard who scored a #8 UK hit with it in 1964 and Donny Osmond who rode the song to the #8 position in the US, while topping the UK charts with the song in 1973. Others who have had their way with the song include Nina Simone, Cher, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Johnny Nash, Roger Miller, The Chi-Lites, Tammy Wynette, Roger Whittaker, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow and Jeff Buckley.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Edited: July 12th, 2015

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

johnnymathischancesare45johnnymathischancesarepicjohnnymathistwelfthofnever45

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #50– Johnny Mathis: “Chances Are” b/w “The Twelfth Of Never” – Columbia 45 4-40993 (U5/V5)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Fluff piece…or Pure Pop For Then People? Neither of the above…just another great jukebox classic.

Smooth and intimate. Those are adjectives you don’t hear that often to describe much of the music being made today. But there was a time when smooth and intimate was the basis for an entire genre of music. I’m talking about Pop Music…The Pop music of the pre-rock era…Pop music your mom and pop listened to. Real pop music…Mitch Miller Pop…Ray Conniff Pop…Pop music that came from unforgettable singers like Doris Day, Bobby Vinton, Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett and, of course Johnny Mathis.

Sure, there were many more accomplished vocalists back then too, vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé and Carmen McRae, who worked with some of the finest jazz players and arrangers of the day. But, with the exception of Sinatra and Cole, they really didn’t rule the airwaves.

So, if Michael Jackson was the King of Pop of the ’80s and beyond, then Johnny Mathis was his predecessor, the king of late 1950s and early 1960s pop. (I guess that leaves Barry Manilow for the 1970s.)

“Chances Are” was written by the songwriting team of Robert Allen and Al Stillman. They were the same team that also wrote Mathis’ “It’s Not For Me To Say,” The Four Lads’ “Moments To Remember,” “No Not Much,” “Enchanted Island,” and the holiday classic “Home For The Holidays.”

It’s all pillow talk from Mathis. The first thing that gets you is the fabulous echo-laden sound that puts the listener smack dab in the middle of cloud nine, provided courtesy of producer Mitch Miller. Then there’s the piano, gently caressing and embellishing the melody. But it all wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if it wasn’t for the gossamer-smooth Mathis magic on the vocals. “Chances Are” is one of the iconic records of the late 1950s. It’s a heavenly slice of pop production and much more than just a great song, it’s a great record. It’s the culmination of songwriting craft, performance and production that creates the whole sonic picture, and makes this record one for the ages.

When released as a single back in 1957, “Chances Are” soared all the way to the number four spot on the charts, while its flip side, “The Twelfth Of Never” also became a big hit.

“The Twelfth Of Never” was written by Jerry Livingston and Paul Francis Webster and when it was released as the flip of “Chances Are” in 1957, it rose to the #9 position of the pop charts. The song’s melody (minus the bridge) was based on the old English folk song called “The Riddle Song” which is also known as “I Gave My Love A Cherry.”

The song was also brought to the charts by Cliff Richard who scored a #8 UK hit with it in 1964 and Donny Osmond who rode the song to the #8 position in the US, while topping the UK charts with the song in 1973. Others who have had their way with the song include Nina Simone, Cher, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Johnny Nash, Roger Miller, The Chi-Lites, Tammy Wynette, Roger Whittaker, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, Barry Manilow and Jeff Buckley.

Edited: December 22nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9-11-13 – “Show And Tell” by Al Wilson

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Show And Tell” by Al Wilson

Today’s Song Of The Day is the signature hit by soul great Al Wilson. While Wilson is closely identified with the song, he wasn’t the first artist to record this classic hit. That honor went to none other than Johnny Mathis, who recorded it in 1972, a year before Wilson took it to the charts.

Al Wilson spent his formative years kicking around San Bernardino, California working odd jobs, singing in soul groups and developing comedy routines with an eye towards a career in entertainment, before joining the Navy and singing in the enlisted men’s chorus.

After two years in the Navy, Wilson relocated to Los Angeles and signed with manager Marc Gordon who got him an audition with Johnny Rivers who ultimately signed him to his Soul City record label. Rivers produced the session that resulted in the Northern Soul classic “The Snake” that made it up to #27 on the pop charts in 1968. Several other minor chart singles followed on the Soul City imprint including a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lodi” which reached the #67 position on the charts.

By 1973, Wilson was signed to the Rocky Road record label, a subsidiary of Bell Records, where he released the album Show And Tell and its title hit single which sold over 2 million copies. The song was ultimately named the Number One Single Of the Year in 1973 by Cashbox. Most of the songs on the album (including the title hit) were written by Jerry Fuller.

Jerry Fuller was known for writing the Ricky Nelson hits “Travelin’ Man,” “A Wonder Like You,” “Young World” and “It’s Up To You.” He also discovered Gary Puckett & The Union Gap and wrote their hits “Lady Willpower,” “Young Girl” and “Over You,” plus he also wrote and produced hits for The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, O.C. Smith (“Little Green Apples”) and The Knickerbockers (“Lies”).

Wilson’s follow up single from 1974, “The La La Peace Song” made it into the top twenty of the R&B charts, but suffered by a competing version by O.C. Smith that was also climbing the charts at the same time. Two years later, Wilson scored a #3 R&B single with “I’ve Got a Feeling (We’ll Be Seeing Each Other Again)” which also made it into the top thirty of the pop charts. His final chart single was “Count The Days” in 1979.

Wilson continued performing in clubs and soul reviews for the next 25 years, long after the hits stopped coming.  In 1989, Peabo Bryson took “Show And Tell” to the top of the R&B charts, and in 2007 Wilson lost many of his original master tapes when his home recording studio burned down. Wilson died in April of 2008 of kidney failure at the age of 68.

I posted this ear worm of a song the other day sans commentary for laughs, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since…such is the stuff that makes a hit record, an everlasting hit record…

Edited: September 10th, 2013

Song Of The Day – 2/14/2011

Song Of The Day – “Misty” by Johnny Mathis

For over 50 years, he’s blessed the music world with one of the most ethereal voices of all time…and he still sounds this way today.  “Misty” was written as an instrumental in 1954 by pianist Erroll Garner. When lyrics were later added to the song by Johnny Burke and it was recorded by Mathis sporting a velvet arrangement by Ray Conniff, it became Mathis’ signature song.  Sing this one to your Valentine tonight…watch what happens.

Edited: February 14th, 2011