Johnny Hartman

Today/I've Been There

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Today and I've Been There were both ill-advised attempts at bringing Johnny Hartman into the pop mainstream in the early '70s. Previously, Hartman's rich voice sounded as if was capable of anything, but these records prove that wasn't the case. Recorded for the Perception label, these two albums find Hartman running through such '70s pop and soul standards as "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Games People Play," "Betcha By Golly Wow," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "We've Only Just Begun," "59th Street Bridge Song," "If," "Rainy Days and Mondays," "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "For the Good Times." Although he sounds fine, he doesn't sound comfortable and the slick musical backdrops aren't well-suited for the hushed intimacy of his voice. Occasionaly, as on the lush treatment of "Summer Wind," everything falls together and the music achieves the high standards of Hartman, but for the most part this single-disc pairing of Today and I've Been There is certainly sub-par.

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