Johnny Mathis' near 60-year tenure as a core artist at Columbia Records was only interrupted once, when he founded his own production company, Global Records, for a four-year stay at Mercury Records from 1963 to 1967. His entire album output for that label (virtually every title rare and out of print for decades) is brought back into full focus with the release of the deluxe box set, THE COMPLETE GLOBAL ALBUMS COLLECTION. This 13-CD clamshell-design package, with personal album-by-album annotations by Johnny, will be available everywhere on November 17th through Columbia/Legacy.
During the course of his Global/Mercury period, Johnny released 10 individual LPs, all of which have been digitally remastered for this new box set:
•The Sounds Of Christmas (1963)
•Tender Is The Night (1964)
•The Wonderful World Of Make-Believe (1964)
•This Is Love (1964)
•Love Is Everything (1965)
•The Sweetheart Tree (international edition, aka Away From Home, 1965)
•The Shadow Of Your Smile (1966)
•So Nice (1966)
•Johnny Mathis Sings (1967)
In addition to these titles, THE COMPLETE GLOBAL ALBUMS COLLECTION will contain two more volumes of material of essential interest to Mathis collectors and completists:
•Broadway (a "lost" album largely consisting entirely of previously unreleased covers of Broadway show tunes, recorded 1964-1965)
•The Global Singles and Unreleased (2 CDs of non-album singles and unreleased songs)
THE COMPLETE GLOBAL ALBUMS COLLECTION celebrates the versatile and distinctive voice of Johnny Mathis, who has been enchanting audiences around the world since the age of 19. He was an athletic scholarship freshman at San Francisco State College in 1955, when Columbia staff A&R producer George Avakian 'discovered' him singing in a Bay Area nightclub. Johnny was not yet 21 when he finally arrived in New York City for his first recording sessions with Avakian in '56. Columbia A&R chief Mitch Miller took over Johnny's hitmaking production reins from 1957 to 1960.
Mathis scored his first string of consecutive smash hits in '57 – "Wonderful! Wonderful!," "It's Not For Me To Say," "Chances Are" (his first #1), "The Twelfth Of Never," "No Love (But Your Love)," and "Wild Is The Wind." He went on to enjoy one of the most enduring careers in popular music, an artist who has been present on the singles and albums charts in every decade from the '50s to the '10s. He remains the only recording act in history with two LPs listed in the Billboard Top 10 (even the Top 25) on Joel Whitburn's "Albums Of Longevity" chart – 1958's Johnny's Greatest Hits (at 490 weeks, that's over nine years!) and 1959's Heavenly (at 295 weeks) – iconic achievements in pop music history.
Johnny suddenly decamped for Mercury Records (Miller's pre-Columbia label) in 1963. With the launch of his Global Records imprint, Johnny was embarking on a new and challenging chapter of his already illustrious career. His first LP under the new deal was The Sounds Of Christmas (1963, his second career Christmas LP), produced by arranger/conductor Don Costa. Without Miller's input, Johnny made the bold decision to self-produce many of the Global titles, starting with his second release, Tender Is The Night (1964).
"All of a sudden," Mathis notes in his new introduction, written especially for this box set, "I was in charge of my own decisions in the studio, and I didn't have someone to guide me on what I was doing, right or wrong… I wasn't a producer, and I didn't realize until then how important producers were and how much they assisted me in my work. I tried to do what I could, but I had no idea what would be good for the market."
Johnny's oft-overlooked Global recordings have always cried out for a more in-depth look at their importance, given his lack of regard at the time for current trends. With that in mind, THE COMPLETE GLOBAL ALBUMS COLLECTION offers a dazzling array of familiar pop standards and unique musical experiments. Titles are as diverse as the Spanish language Ole (1965) and the forward-looking The Sweetheart Tree (1965), recorded in London. Over the course of his Global recordings, Johnny collaborated with arrangers and conductors familiar from his time at Columbia (Costa, Glenn Osser) and drew on material by everyone from the Beatles, to Johnny Mercer, Bacharach-David, Bricusse-Newley, Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa, even Gerry Goffin-Carole King.
Although the quality and production of Johnny Mathis' Global recordings have never been in dispute, the albums did not yield any major commercial breakthroughs as compared to his Columbia success, and were mostly out-of-print by the end of the '60s. Johnny returned to Columbia on a high-note in 1967, with his Up, Up and Away LP vaulting inside the Top 20 on the Billboard R&B chart, boosted by his Top 40 AC hit cover of Tim Hardin's "Misty Roses."
"Few performers had captured the idealistic dreams of his generation like Mathis," wrote James Gavin (Grammy-nominated biographer of Ella Fitzgerald and Chet Baker) in his liner notes to Legacy's 2-CD, 24-song compilation, The Global Masters, released back in 1997. "His voice – a nasal tenor with high notes as light as a choirboy's – remains one of the most idiosyncratic in pop ... Whereas the singing of Frank Sinatra or Peggy Lee teemed with sexual undertones, Mathis' rang out angelically, offering the promise – or at least the illusion – that romance was forever… Then and now, Mathis sings to the lovestruck adolescent in everyone."
THE COMPLETE GLOBAL ALBUMS COLLECTION
1. The Sounds Of Christmas (1963)
2. Tender Is The Night (1964)
3. The Wonderful World Of Make-Believe (1964)
4. This Is Love (1964)
5. Ole (1965)
6. Love Is Everything (1965)
7. The Sweetheart Tree (international edition, aka Away From Home, 1965)
8. The Shadow Of Your Smile (1966)
9. So Nice (1966)
10. Johnny Mathis Sings (1967)
11. Broadway (previously unreleased "lost" album of show tunes, recorded 1964-1965)
12. The Global Singles and Unreleased (2 CDs, non-album singles and unreleased songs)