Monday, September 21, 2009

50 years ago: Johnny Mathis charted with Heavenly for 1st of 295 weeks

First posted 10/1/2020.


Johnny Mathis

Released: August 10, 1959

Charted: September 21, 1959

Peak: 15 US, 10 UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: easy listening


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Heavenly (Burt Bacharach, Sydney Shaw) [3:23]
  2. Hello, Young Lovers (Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein) [4:18]
  3. A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening (Harold Adamson, Jimmy McHugh) [4:04]
  4. A Ride on a Rainbow (Leo Robin, Jule Styne) [4:11]
  5. More Than You Know (Vincent Youmans, Edward Eliscu, Billy Rose) [4:18]
  6. Something I Dreamed Last Night (Sammy Fain, Herbert Magidson, Jack Yellen) [4:32]
  7. Misty (Erroll Garner, Johnny Burke) [3:38] (9/14/59, 12 US, 14 CB, 12 UK)
  8. Stranger in Paradise (George Forrest, Robert Wright) [4:06]
  9. Moonlight Becomes You (Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen) [4:06]
  10. They Say It’s Wonderful (Irving Berlin) [3:33]
  11. I’ll Be Easy to Find (Bart Howard) [4:04]
  12. That’s All (Alan Brandt, Bob Haymes) [3:50]

Total Running Time: 48:03


4.248 out of 5.00 (average of 5 ratings)

Quotable: --


About the Album:

In 1958, Columbia Records released Johnny’s Greatest Hits. This collection by Johnny Mathis has been described as the “original greatest-hits package.” It peaked at #1 on the Billboard album chart and logged more than 10 years on the chart, a record it held until it was surpassed by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in 1983.

While the album could be considered the peak of his career, Mathis followed it with nine consecutive top-10 albums, including the five-million-selling Merry Christmas. From a chart standpoint, the most successful of these was 1959’s Heavenly. It was his only other #1 album and, like Johnny’s Greatest Hits, became a staple on the album chart, logging 295 weeks.

The album is “the epitome of Mathis’ approach to music.” AMG “The tempos are slow, the strings swell, and Mathis’ vulnerable tenor, dripping with tender emotion, yet never missing a beat, soars and swoops over all.” AMG This was Mathis’ tenth album release in under three years, which made him “a recording veteran while still being fresh enough to give his performance real feeling.” AMG

The most notable track is Misty, a jazz piano standard by Erroll Garner with new lyrics added by Johnny Burke. It wasn’t the biggest hit of Mathis’ career (that would be the #1 “Chances Are” in 1957), but it became what many considered his signature song. In 2002, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Resources and Related Links:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Favorite 50 Albums of the Decade

My Favorite 50 Albums of the Decade, 9/20/09

Thanks to a Facebook invitation, I’m compelled to engage in one of the most inane and narcissistic endeavors – the compilation of a personal favorites list – and not a moment too soon – there’s barely 100 days left in the decade. Of course, I have a whole website ( devoted to music lists, but I’ve convinced myself that throwing in the occasional personal favorites list amongst bigger and more important lists passes for acceptable. A list entitled “The Biggest Selling Albums of All Time” just seems to carry more import than one called “The Best 50 Albums of the Decade – According to Me.”

It is hard to imagine why anyone would care what my #12 album is from the last 9 years and 9 months, so I won’t delude myself that the world is waiting with baited breath. It comes down to this – I just love music lists. I was drawn in to music charts and countdowns in my pre-teen years and my interest has yet to wane.

If you’ve read this far, I’ll assume you are mildly interested in my list – maybe not #49, but you might want to check out my top few faves. I’ll take this as a misguided sign that I can test your patience a bit more and offer some insights into my tastes of the past decade. If you’ve had enough already, you can scroll to the list below or just close this monster up and roll your eyes at my obsession. It’s not like I’ll know the difference.
First, there’s just no denying what drives tastes. I’m still enamored with the same acts I liked 25 years ago – and I won’t apologize for their decidedly mainstream leanings. I will, however, attempt to prop up my rep by saying my listening pleasures gravitate toward “intelligent pop” – what is largely referred to today as triple A or adult alternative music. What can I say – I fit perfectly into the demographic.

Unlike some of my forty-something peers, it isn’t that I can’t name a new band from the last quarter century – I’ll get to my discoveries in a minute – but like memories of long ago crushes, the albums from one’s youth just won’t go away. Hence my love of Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood (my favorite album of any era), Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. or U2’s The Joshua Tree hold lingering effects – those acts all register in my top 10 two decades after releasing what I consider their masterworks.

At least those acts and others such as John Mellencamp, Tori Amos, and Fish have steadily pumped out new product for 20 years or more. Others haven’t been quite so prolific. Amongst acts like the Hooters, Crowded House, the Eagles, Toni Childs, Tears for Fears, Guns N’ Roses, and the Who, the most recent pre-2000 release of new material was 1995. Not only had all those acts had at least nine year droughts since their last releases, but the well has dried up again since. The “one and done” comeback trend. Sigh.

My list isn’t devoid of new music, but the new stuff largely rehashes tastes I’ve had for years. The White Stripes, the Strokes, the Hives, and the Vines are all a return to the garage rock ethos of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and Scissor Sisters recall the dance-oriented new wave stuff of the early ‘80s.Finally, I have to give props to the Tuesday Night Music Club. This may click for people as the name of Sheryl Crow’s 1993 debut (and indeed she makes the cut here with Detours), but I’m referring to the collective behind it. In a much publicized spat at the time, Crow took credit for music that had been created by the most underrated supergroup that ever wasn’t. Amongst that talent was Kevin Gilbert, whose posthumous Shaming of the True claims my top spot on this list, Gilbert’s Kaviar project, and David Baerwald. Believe me, this list would be saturated with their contributions if only there were more. Sadly, KG died in 1996 and Baerwald all but retired from the music industry by the close of the ‘90s. What does show up on this list are retreads of their mostly ‘90s work, but the official release dates qualifies them for this list.

Well, I’ve blabbered enough. Here’s the list. Roll those eyes, scratch your heads in puzzlement, and stare in disbelief. Then, just maybe, give a few albums on this list a spin. You’ve still got time to make it one of your favorites of the decade! Click on the links below to read more extensive reviews at

1. Kevin Gilbert The Shaming of the True (2000)
2. Bruce Springsteen The Rising (2002)
3. Hooters Time Stand Still (2007)
4. Crowded House Time on Earth (2007)
5. The Finn Brothers Everyone Is Here (2004)
6. Eagles Long Road Out of Eden (2007)
7. Marillion Marbles (2004)
8. Tori Amos Strange Little Girls (2001)
9. U2 How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004)
10. Bruce Springsteen Magic (2007)
11. David Baerwald Here Comes the New Folk Underground (2002)
12. John Mellencamp Life, Death, Love & Freedom (2008)
13. U2 All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)
14. Toni Childs Keep the Faith (2008)
15. Dennis DeYoung One Hundred Years from Now (2007)
16. Uncle Devil Show A Terrible Beauty (2004)
17. Bob Walkenhorst The Beginner (2003)
18. Styx Big Bang Theory (2005)
19. The White Stripes Elephant (2003)
20. The Strokes Is This It (2001)
21. Green Day American Idiot (2004)
22. Mika Life in Cartoon Motion (2007)
23. The White Stripes White Blood Cells (2001)
24. Kevin Gilbert/Kaviar The Kaviar Sessions (2002)
25. Tears for Fears Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (2004)
26. Keb’ Mo’ Peace - Back by Popular Demand (2004)
27. Lyle Lovett My Baby Don’t Tolerate (2003)
28. Amy Winehouse Back to Black (2006)
29. Styx Cylcorama (2003)
30. The Killers Hot Fuss (2004)
31. Sheryl Crow Detours (2008)
32. The Who Endless Wire (2006)
33. John Mellencamp Freedom’s Road (2007)
34. Fish Field of Crows (2004)
35. Glenn Tilbrook Transatlantic Ping Pong (2004)
36. Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand (2004)
37. Ray Charles Genius Loves Company (2004)
38. Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy (2008)
39. Green Day 21st Century Breakdown (2009)
40. U2 No Line on the Horizon (2009)
41. Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
42. Scissor Sisters Scissor Sisters (2004)
43. The Vines Highly Evolved (2002)
44. Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
45. The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
46. Eddie Vedder Into the Wild (2007)
47. Eric Clapton/B.B. King Riding with the King (2000)
48. Del Amitri Can You Do Me Good? (2002)
49. The Hives Veni Vidi Vicious (2000)
50. Eric Woolfson The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was (2009)

Friday, September 11, 2009

100 years ago: Henry Burr took “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” to #1

I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now

Henry Burr

Writer(s): Joseph E. Howard and Harold Orlob (music), Frank R. Adams and Will M. Hough (lyrics) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: September 4, 1909

Peak: 18 US, 12 GA, 14 SM (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This “evergreen standard” JA is “one of the most popular songs in the history of Tin Pan Alley… Considered cliche today, the number’s flowing music, and heartbreaking lyric made it one of the first conversational and down-to-earth torch songs.” RCG It was, however, also controversial because it described a promiscuous relationship. SM The song was selected by ASCAP as one of only sixteen in its All-Time Hit Parade. TY2

Joe Howard claimed he heard a college student in Chicago utter the title phrase and then turned to Frank Adams to write words. RCG The song appeared in the Broadway musical The Prince of Tonight, performed by Henry Woodruff, SMbut it really took off when Howard sang it in the show Miss Nobody from Starland (1910). There was, however, also a claim that it originated from a different musical, The Goddess of Liberty, performed by Edward Abeles as Lord Jack Wyngate. SM

Henry Burr’s chart-topping version was followed by two top ten versions by Billy Murray, #4) and (Manuel Romain, #6) the next year. In 1947, the song was revived in a 1947 biopic of the same name about Howard, resulting in three more charted versions – Perry Como with Ted Weems (#2), Ray Noble (#11), and Dinning Sisters (#12). The song sold three million in sheet music sales.

The renewed interest in the song also brought about a court case in which musical arranger Harold Orlob sued Howard. JA The case established that Howard had commissioned Orlob to compose the song and then published it as his own. However, Howard had already received royalties for 38 years and although Orlob was given the lead songwriting credit, he didn’t receive any additional money since he’d already been compensated for his work. TY1


Related Links:

First posted 9/11/2016; last updated 12/15/2022.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Confessions of a Non-Audiophile

In light of the much-celebrated remastered versions of the Beatles discography out today, I must make a confession that could ruin any chance I have at respectability in the music community. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is time to come clean.

I am not an audiophile.

Whew! That feels good to get that out, even if it means ridicule and scorn are destined to come my way. I know, I know. Any serious critic of music should be able to tout big statements like “the violins on ‘Eleanor Rigby’ are crisper on the remastered Revolver than ever before” or “the sound is so natural that you’ll feel like you were in Abbey Road Studios while the Beatles were recording.” I’m lucky if I can correctly pick “A” or “B” in a multiple choice test of “Identify the Newer Version.”

My affliction with sub-par sound goes back to my first experiences with music. In my elementary school days, I listened to music I’d recorded off the radio via a hand-held tape recorder shoved in front of a stereo speaker. For years, I didn’t know what the ending of Billy Joel’s “My Life” sounded like because I’d cut the song off early to cancel out the DJ chatter.

Of course, the transgressions of youth might be overlooked if I redeemed my mediocre ways in later years. Alas, when I tramped off to college, it was with crates full of cassettes and merely a ghetto blaster on which to play them.

When I’d overcome “poor college student” status, my music expenditures were predominantly on the music itself and rarely on the means by which to play it. So even while my CD collection grew to a four-digit number, my stereo never went beyond a three-digit price tag.

At one point, I ironically subscribed to Stereo Review, but only for the album reviews and even then I dismissed their recording quality ratings as irrelevant.

Even now, I am perfectly happy listening to my MP3’s on my computer while the stereo sits idle in anticipation of the occasional swish of the dust rag.

Perhaps the blame lies in my failure to learn an instrument. I was one of those grade schoolers for whom even the recorder was beyond my capabilities. I never grasped that when playing the violin, you were NOT supposed to saw away on all the strings at once.

Maybe it’s a hereditary thing. My mom likes show tunes but my dad proclaims marches to be his favorite kind of music. There really isn’t, to my knowledge, an audiophile contingent devoted to marches.

It could be my complete lack of rhythm. There’s no quicker way to make me feel like the dumbest person in the room than formal dance. Left foot here, right foot there…I need a GPS to navigate even the simplest of dance steps.

For those whose lingo is peppered with words like “woofer” and “tweeter,” it must be incomprehensible that I could enjoy listening to music so much, but at such low quality. Enroll me in AAA (Anti-Audiophiles Anonymous) or some other twelve-step program. I admit it - I have a problem and need help! Listen to my pleas carefully, though; they won't come through as loud and clear as your refined ears are used to.

Monday, September 7, 2009

50 years ago: The Isley Brothers “Shout” charted


The Isley Brothers

Writer(s): O'Kelly Isley Jr., Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley (see lyrics here)

Released: August 1959

First Charted: September 7, 1959

Peak: 47 US, 28 CB, 19 GR, 38 HR, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 13.50 video, 103.51 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Ronald Isley and his brothers formed a gospel group in the early ‘50s transitioned to singing doo-wop. They started touring before they’d even made a record and released their first single, “Angels Cried,” in 1957 after going to New York. They eventually became an R&B vocal group and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee..

In 1959, they were touring the Northeast appearing in R&B revues. Producers started putting them last on the bill “to ensure that audiences left the theater on a high note.” MM They used to close with a cover of Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops.” During a performance at either the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia MM or in Washington D.C. SS (depends on the source), Ronald Isley sensed that the audiences were too worked up to sit down and improvised an extension of the song by calling out “shout.” MM He said, “the band picked right up on it with that galloping beat…That song just took over.” MM

While it lacked “any real lyrical content, [it sported] pure, unbridled passion, taking the frenzied call-and-response of black gospel into the secular realm..” SS

Producers and cousins Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore read about the performance in the newspaper and, once the revue’s run was over, encouraged the brothers to record the song. They brought friends into the studio to simulate a live audience during the recording. MM It had “deep roots in black tradition as a physical manifestation of being possessed by the spirit, losing oneself in religious ecstasy.” SS

While the single only peaked at #47, it was their first chart hit and “proved…important in shaping the future of R&B” TB and “helped definte the very meaning of soul.” SS It “starts where [Ray Charles’] ‘What’d I Say’ leaves off; goes nowhere and has a great time doing it.” DM A cover by Joey Dee & the Starliters reached #6 in 1962. It was also a party anthem in the 1978 movie National Lampoon’s Animal House. It was also used as a commercial jingle for the laundry detergent of the same name. DJ


First posted 8/8/2023.