Various Artists

Mostly Mercer [Painted Smiles]

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This various-artists collection of specially recorded songs in small-band arrangements does not pretend to feature Johnny Mercer's best or best-known songs, instead combining the well-known ("You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," "Blues in the Night") with many interesting obscurities. Nor, as the title indicates, is the album given over entirely to Mercer. There are two ringers, both debut recordings: "Ask Me Again," a George and Ira Gershwin song discovered by Michael Feinstein, who accompanies Rosemary Clooney in performing it; and "Time You Old Gypsy Man," lyricist E.Y. Harburg's final song. Other performers include Eydie Gormé, Jennifer Holliday, and Anita O'Day. Highlights include "I Wonder What Became of Me," afrom the musical St. Louis Woman, by Henrietta Valor; "Out of This World," aby Judy Garland imitator Jim Bailey; and the comic "I Fought Every Step of the Way," aby Laura Kenyon, Armelia McQueen, and Mary Gordon Murray.

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