Sony Legacy has released a number of Johnny Mathis compilations over the past decade, including The Complete Global Albums Collection in 2014 and The Singles for his 80th birthday the following year. But if you’re interested in a complete career retrospective with plenty of tempting bonus material and you have a large budget, look no further than this year’s mega box set, The Voice of Romance: The Columbia Original Album Collection. Weighing in at 68 CDs and currently listed for $428, this set features 62 of the singer’s albums, including 25 albums that have never been released on CD in the U.S.
Also included are 40 previously unreleased songs and two never-before-heard LPs: the unreleased I Love My Lady recorded in 1981 with Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, and The Island, a 1989 collaboration with Sergio Mendes. Mathis, who has been recording for Columbia since his self-titled 1956 debut, assisted with the curation of The Voice of Romance, which concludes with his most recent album, Johnny Mathis Sings the Great New American Songbook.
Johnny Mathis, who started his recording career at the age of 19, is one of the longest-running artists on the Columbia label, with over 17 million album and single sales in the U.S. alone. Known for his lush vocals, Mathis covered a variety of styles ranging from traditional pop to jazz standards, and was equally at home singing sacred or secular music.
Now, in celebration of the 80th birthday of the legendary pop vocalist, Legacy Recordings has released a definitive four disc anthology, The Singles, featuring every non-LP single Mathis released for the label between 1956-1981, as well as tracks released exclusively on three previous compilations: Johnny’s Greatest Hits (1958), More Johnny’s Greatest Hits (1959), and The First 25 Years (1981). Additionally, 31 of the 87 tracks on this set have never been reissued on CD. Ranging from his top charting hits such as “Wonderful! Wonderful!” to a variety of holiday classics, songs from films, and many lesser known singles, this nicely produced anthology showcases the many sides of Johnny Mathis. The accompanying booklet includes an introduction penned by Mathis, an article by producer Didier C. Deutsch, and complete discographical information for each track.
If you’re expecting to find “Misty” or his duet with Deniece Williams “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” both of which appeared on albums, you’ll have to wait until next year when Legacy releases the Johnny Mathis box set “Complete Album Collection.”