Two Of A Kind By Bobby Darin And Johnny Mercer

October 2, 2017

Bobby Darin, (1936-1973), packed a lot into his 37 years of life. He was a teen idol who produced such hits as “Splish Slash” and “Queen Of The Hop” that led to his 1990 induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. He was an actor who won a Golden Globe Award and he actually married actress Sandra Dee of Grease song fame.

At the height of his commercial appeal, he changed musical directions. He always wanted to be a Sinatra-type singer and recorded “Mack The Knife” from Three Penny Opera. It became one of the most popular singles in music history, topping the Billboard Pop Chart for nine weeks.

In 1961 he joined with orchestra leader/arranger Billy May and recorded the album Two Of A Kind. That album has now been reissued with seven bonus songs.

I find it interesting that this album was picked for reissue. While it is representative of the second part of his career, it just disappears into his catalogue of releases. It is a smooth and pleasant album but probably not among his best works.

He was touring with Johnny Mercer at the time, and the material reflects that relationship. It is an album of standards, highlighted by two Darin/Mercer compositions and four more Mercer songs.

“Ace In The Hole” is an old jazz song from 1909. Darin gives it a more Big Band/pop feel in a swinging version. The lightweight “Who Takes Care Of The Caretakers Daughter” is a pun-fill journey. On the other hand he gets to cute with “My Cutey’s Due At Two-To-Two.” It is representative of a number of songs that appeared dated over 50 years ago and today fall into the quaint category today.

The seven bonus songs are more of the same except for an interesting take on the Dave Dreyer/Ruby Herman song “Cecelia.”

This reissue of Two Of A Kind” will no doubt please Bobby Darin fans but if you want an introduction to Darin at his best, there a a number og Greatest Hits albums available.

Personality 78 by Johnny Mercer

December 18, 2011

Johnny Mercer is best remembered as the lyricist of over 1500 songs. He is also remembered as the man who started the Capital label during 1942. He is also remembered for his 19 Acadamy AWard nominations, including four that won the Oscar.

It is forgotten many times that he was a successful recording artist who had a number of hit songs.

“Personality” was a smooth song in the big band tradition. Released as a single, it reached number one, March 9, 1946. It may have only had one week on top of the music world but very few songs actually make it to the top of the mountain.

One The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe 78 by Johnny Mercer

November 27, 2011

Johnny Mercer was one of the most popular and respected songwriters of the 20th century. While he wrote music once in a while, he supplied the lyrics to over 1500 songs. He was nominated for 19 Academy Awards, winning four.

“On The Archinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe” was part of the film, THE HARVEY GIRLS. It would win the OSCAR for best song.

Johnny Mercer was also a singer and he was wise enough to release the song as a single. It became the number one song in the United States, July 28, 1945, and remained in that position for seven weeks. Other artists to release the song as a single during 1945 were Bing Crosby (number 4), Tommy Dorsey (6), and Judy Garland (10) all reaching the charts.

Mercer would found the Capital label during 1942 and make it one of the most successful in the country. He would sell it to EMI in 1955 for 8.5 million. (That’s 50s money)

That Old Black Magic 78 by Glenn Miller

September 1, 2011

Glenn Miller’s greatest fame and commercial success occurred between 1938-1944. During 1942, at the age of 38, he joined the U.A. Army and led the Army band for two years and over 800 peefomances.

His last number one one hit was “That Old Black Magic,” which topped the charts for one week beginning May 29,1943.

The song was written by Johnny Mercer and Harlen Arlen. It wa originallys intended for Judy Garland, who released it as a single, but it was Miller who had the big hit. The vocal was by Skip Nelson and the Modernaires.

On December 15, 1944, he boarded a small plane to fly to Paris, France and it disappeared over the English Chaneel. The plane has never been found. He is still listed as missing in action.