I've had my first listen through Johnny Mathis - The Collection (that link includes previews of the songs on the album). First thoughts:
- It's an odd collection dating largely from the 1950s, moving from light exotica, through to jazz standards, some very peculiar time signatures, and some horrendously overblown crooning from JM. He really uses his voice like a blunt instrument. None of the songs you might know as his "classics" (like this or this).
- It has a downright bizarre, mournful, slow tempo version of Fly Me To The Moon. I'd always considered that quite an upbeat song, but JM proves otherwise.
- There's a Cuban song called Babalu covered. This is interesting, as I've got an obscure Warp single by a band called DSR, with a track called Babaloo. I'm pretty sure the samples in DSR's track are from a version of Babalu (though not JM's).
- There's a version of Caravan, which I have two or three other versions of. However, this is the only version where I've actually heard it with lyrics.
- I'd forgotten that he has a slight speech impediment (can't pronounce R). Unfortunately, and I don't like myself for saying this, I find this defuses the emotion of some of the songs.
- I have to admit I actually quite liked listening to it. The aforementioned Fly Me To The Moon is a highlight for me; and there are plenty of nice beats, extended falsetto notes, string fragments etc. to make the mathis album interesting.
By the way, JM has a terribly old-fashioned website. Dig those slanting silver fonts (I think FrontPage and clipart are probably to blame).