Johnny Hartman: The Perception Years (2001)
On this two-fer disc of early '70s albums Today and I’ve Been There, the voice that went almost note for note with John Coltrane does what he does best and more (or less). Though chock full of Mercer-ized timeless ballads, this oft-dynamic duo also offers more dated and perhaps less well chosen selections. The albums range from Jim Webb’s "Didn’t We" and a chiming take on Johnny Mercer’s (no relation) "Summer Wind," to a pair by Kris Kristofferson and a hurried ride over Simon and Garfunkel’s "The 59th Street Bridge Song."
Even Lord of the Lounge Burt Bacharach gets a nod with "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and The Carpenters get shellaqued with a rather dry cover of Paul Williams’ "Rainy Days and Mondays" and a mournful "We’ve Only Just Begun." Perhaps copying The Chairman a bit too much, this notable F.o.F. (that’s "Friend of Mr. Sinatra") dips both into the Now and into the uncomfortably contemporary. While "Easy Come Easy Go" may promote swinging polygamy, "Sunday Sun" tackles the fears and foibles of divorced dads. Though Hartman is able to impart feeling and pathos to most of the phrases, some seem to get away or just be given away.