Johnny Mathis – The Singles (box set review)

Johnny Mathis – The Singles (Columbia / Legacy) review

Collection celebrates the legendary vocalist’s 80th birthday

The Singles is a four-disc box set which brings together an impressive 87 songs which were released strictly as 45 rpm’s during Johnny Mathis’ long and illustrious career. So you get both the hit “A” sides, like “Chances Are,” “Wonderful, Wonderful,” and “It’s Not For Me to Say,” alongside “B” sides, including the surprise hit “The Twelfth of Never,” and “When Sunny Gets Blue.”

The biggest selling point here is that all of these songs have been returned to their original, mono mixes. These were the versions that were the hits back in the day, and the ones pressed on the 45 rpm singles. There’s also some surprises here too – like an early Gordon Lightfoot composition, “Wherefore and Why,” and the Bacharach/David-penned “Whoever You Are, I Love You.” In addition, both “I Look at You,” and “The Flame of Love” are included as bonus tracks – these two songs were added as “new” songs to Johnny’s Greatest Hits and More Johnny’s Greatest Hits, respectively.

Although this set features many songs, it’s also missing a few of Mathis’ major hits, including the lush “Misty,” and “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” his duet with Denice Williams which hit #1 in 1978. The reasoning here is that both of those songs were originally released on LP’s first, so they will be available when Legacy releases Johnny Mathis – The Albums, early next year. Honestly, it’s splitting hairs if you ask me. There was room to put every single song – who cares if there is any overlap?

Big Mathis fans will delight in having 40 years of music captured in one collection. Although the times changed, Mathis remained an amazing vocalist throughout his career – a distinction he still holds to this day. —Tony Peters