Johnny Mercer: Too Marvelous For Words: His 55 Finest

Rating: ★★★

Record and Artist Details


Mildred Bailey
the Mills Brothers
Jo Stafford
Dinah Shore
Connee Boswell
Helen Ward
Sammy Davis Jr
Frankie Laine
Pied Pipers
Johnny Mercer (v)
Jimmy Dorsey
Dick Haymes
Rey Eberle
Glenn Miller
Jo Stafford
Bob Crosby
Benny Goodman
Martha Tilton
Jack Teagarden
Nat King Cole
Bing Crosby
The Pied Pipers




Media Format:

2 CD

Catalogue Number:

RTS 4401


Rec. 1933-1962

Among the composers and lyricists of the Great American Songbook, not too many were as accomplished at singing their work as at writing it. An obvious example of one who could, was Hoagy Carmichael, and another was Johnny Mercer, Hoagy's collaborator on the evergreen hit ‘Skylark’ (which gets a sensitive reading here from Dinah Shore).

This 2-CD set shows Mercer's work as (mainly) lyricist and composer for others on one disc, while the second shows off Mercer's own vocal talents. From a jazz point of view, Benny Goodman's searing ‘Goody Goody’ with Helen Ward stands out, plus the same band's ‘And the Angels Sing’ with Martha Tilton and Ziggy Elman, along with Louis Armstrong's ‘Jeepers Creepers’. Many of the other songs here are commercial film fare or somewhat slushy dance numbers, although all remind us of Mercer's prolific output. Many are still in the repertoire today, including the evergreen ‘One For My Baby’.

As a singer, he's got a pleasant lightweight voice, and can easily hold his own alongside Bing Crosby (on an updated ‘Mr Gallagher and Mr Shean’) or with Nat Cole on ‘Save the Bones for Henry Jones’. He can tackle tongue-twisting lyrics with ease on a song such as ‘Dr Heckle and Mr Jibe’. So all in all this is a valuable panorama of Mercer's career, albeit jazz-tinged rather than giving jazz centre stage.

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