Today we know Johnny Mercer mainly as the genius songwriter from Savannah, GA, and perhaps tend to forget that he was also one of the most prolific hitmaking singers of the 1940s. This excellent compendium of his hit singles, plus a pair of his most famous songs ("Blues in the Night" and "One for My Baby") from 78 rpm albums, will definitely give you the idea. Though not the owner of an overpowering, world-beating voice -- to his everlasting and needless regret -- Mercer had his own Southern hipster charm, with slippery grace-notes and swinging turns of phrase that any jazzer would envy. An irony for today's audience is that many of Mercer's biggest hits here -- "Candy," "Personality," "Baby, It's Cold Outside" -- were not written by him, for he truly was a recording star in his own right and not merely a songwriter out to plug his own material. Paul Weston dresses up most of the charts in period big-band garb, decorated with tasty streaks of strings; the Pied Pipers chirp away most of the time, and Benny Goodman's Orchestra and the King Cole Trio chip in on a track apiece. These records are completely saturated in World War II, GI jivey, moon-June, sentimental atmosphere that place them precisely in their time -- and as such, they generate gobs of nostalgia. Informative liner notes, a thorough discography of these 20 sides, and reproductions of some of the original 78s and sheet music round out this appealing package.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell
feat: Nat King Cole