By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
"Warm & Tender"--Johnny Mathis
If this spooky song with its eerie soprano background vocal had been penned in the '60s, Gene Pitney would've had first dibs. When Mitch Miller was a staff producer at Columbia Records, everything was slapped with enough echo to make you think it was being sung across a brisk snowy mountainside. It works here, though, and chances are you already own this if you have a copy of Johnny's Greatest Hits, which clocked more weeks on Billboard than any album until The Dark Side of the Moon.
"I Smiled Yesterday," "This Empty Place," "Another Night" and "Looking With My Eyes"--Dionne Warwick
Of course you realize that if every Dionne hit were included, it'd be more or less The Dionne Warwick Collection. Then you go back over her greatest hits and find the latter two, which feature Dionne at her jazziest singing over the most tricky suspended chords.
Listen to the herky-jerky "This Empty Place," the flop that recalls Bob and Earl's "Harlem Shuffle" and bridged the gap between "Don't Make Me Over" and "Walk On By," and you can hear the influence on Chrissie Hynde's sly delivery. "I Smiled Yesterday" is the B-side of her first single but is quite unique in that it has Dionne actually skipping like a record, a gimmick attempted by everyone from Bill Withers ("Ain't No Sunshine") to Squeeze ("If I Didn't Love You"). Dionne and the drummer stop so deliberately that by the fourth "won't you," you're convinced her needle and yours will be forever stuck in heartbreak.
"After the Fox"--The Hollies and Peter Sellers
Bacharach spent a good deal of time recording in London at this time, but his work with self-contained groups only numbered two, Manfred Mann's "My Little Red Book" and this curio from the Peter Sellers film of the same name. According to reports from both sessions, Bacharach was a demanding taskmaster, but the results make you wish he'd been a little easier to get along with.
"Long After Tonight Is All Over"--Dusty Springfield (1966)
Jimmy Radcliff did the first version of this song, but this upbeat version from Everything's Coming Up Dusty has her at her Darlene Loveliest.
"I'm a Better Man"--Engelbert Humperdinck
Burt and Hal gave Tom Jones two great hits in "What's New, Pussycat" and "Promise Her Anything," and work their same magic on the Anti-Tom. Although Engel was an unadventurous balladeer, all he had to do was hop in and let the melody do all the driving.
"Long Ago Tomorrow"--B.J. Thomas
Another unforgettable movie theme to a long-ago-forgotten film. There's an exhilarating buildup to the chorus that leaves you floating in a beautiful, unexpected key. This omission was positively criminal. Don't buy any B.J. best-of that doesn't have this obscure classic