Johnny Mathis

Live

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Johnny Mathis chooses an interesting, varied set list for this 1984 concert collection. Of course, there are a few of his big '50s hits -- "Misty," "A Certain Smile," "The Twelfth of Never," "Chances Are" -- as well as a few songs covered on recent albums -- "99 Miles from L.A." from 1975's Feelings, "When a Child Is Born" from 1976's I Only Have Eyes for You, "Begin the Beguine" from 1979's The Best Days of My Life (and an adult contemporary chart entry), and "Memory" from 1982's Friends in Love. Then there are more unusual choices, notably the set-opening cover of Kenny Loggins' first solo hit, "I Believe in Love," from the soundtrack to the 1976 film A Star Is Born, which gets things off the ground with a Latin beat; a cover of Peter Allen's sole pop hit, "Fly Away," from 1981; and a nod to Mathis' predecessor, Nat King Cole, with a revival of Cole's 1950 onomatopoeic hit "Orange Colored Sky." Mathis has always been an expert at finding and performing music that ties together the often disparate styles of popular music over four decades, and his choices here are characteristic. Of course, he also performs them winningly with effective backup. All one could hope for would be more of an acknowledgment of the live context beyond the applause; Mathis speaks to his fans only once, briefly.

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