Without (a new arrangement) Her

JOv2

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Thread Starter
Hey, I just picked up the below Johnny Mathis LP -- and lo and behold, it appears Ernie Freeman "borrowed" Herb's arrangement. Mathis recorded this 10JUN69. The 45Cat database lists Herb's 45 release date as 19MAY69.

 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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Great find! And it's quite a "borrow" for the arrangement, even down to the horn parts. At least the mix is better and the strings aren't on the "scorched earth" setting. 😁 And the mix also brings out the vocals--I can understand the words now.
 

JOv2

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Thread Starter
Yeah, in my head I'm hearing Herb's rhythmic groove, with Freeman's "sensible" strings and the better mix...then fly in Herb's vocal -- but using his To Wait For Love 45 vocal styling. Now there you've got something, Jim!
 

Michael Hagerty

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Someone, reviewing Columbia's MOR albums from this period (it may have been specifically Andy Williams), said they sounded like they just went with whatever played on the radio during the drive from the house to the studio. The cover mentality had morphed by '69-'70 to the point where they weren't even trying to switch up the arrangements.
 

JOv2

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Thread Starter
Someone, reviewing Columbia's MOR albums from this period (it may have been specifically Andy Williams), said they sounded like they just went with whatever played on the radio during the drive from the house to the studio. The cover mentality had morphed by '69-'70 to the point where they weren't even trying to switch up the arrangements.
Reflecting on when he returned to Columbia in late '67, Johnny wrote something along the lines that to stay viable, a singer had to essentially be a top-40 cover artist. Therefore, gone from his musical palate were all those unique and esoteric pop songs that he would introduce. While hearing Johnny sing Up, Up And Away and The Look Of Love is, of course, interesting (well, may not The Look Of Love if you're Rudy...), one can easily tell these dates were churned out with little-to-no inventiveness. Like Tony Bennett, who was also at Columbia at that time, it's clear Johnny's not fully sold on the "new" (i.e., post-1964) pop from the young songwriters of the day. Compared to Open Fire, Two Guitars ('59) or I'll Buy You a Star ('61), Johnny's LP, Close To You ('70), seems more akin to a working session of read-throughs. In addition to what Mike pointed out, it's evident that the same 1950s staff arrangers are on hand for these late '60s LPs working over the new material -- and it's painfully obvious that their music acumen doesn't lend itself to thoroughly understanding the new pop from the young songwriters: the rhythms, voicings, counterpoint, even the melodic articulation are very much foreign to the world of Harold Arlen.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
Reflecting on when he returned to Columbia in late '67, Johnny wrote something along the lines that to stay viable, a singer had to essentially be a top-40 cover artist.
I read somewhere (and can't find it now) that this was all Clive Davis---which explains the uniformity of the Columbia MOR product of the time.

Close To You ('70), seems more akin to a working session of read-throughs.
The absolute nadir, at least to me, was THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW album.

Ten songs, five that had charted that year for pop artists ("Close To You", "Joanne", "Make It With You", "El Condor Pasa", "Snowbird") and five older songs, two of them pop hits from 1967 and 1969, ("Never My Love" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane") one early-60s pop hit ("Spanish Harlem") one contemporary show tune ("What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life") and one older one ("Hello Young Lovers")---all recorded in the studio, with theme and incidental music from his TV show and canned applause woven in.

It wasn't the first pop covers album he did, and it wasn't the last, but it was absolutely the most cynical---and I liked the TV show.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I read somewhere (and can't find it now) that this was all Clive Davis---which explains the uniformity of the Columbia MOR product of the time
Correct. From what I've read (liner notes) Goddard Lieberson and Mitch Miller basically handed artistic control to Davis round about 1966. The less-flattering reviews label Davis "an accountant". Davis was reported to have asked Monk to do an LP of Beatles covers (?!?!) -- which is tantamount to asking the Beatles to do an LP of Monk covers. Sounds like an accountant to me.
 
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