Heavenly is Johnny Mathis' most successful regular album release, exceeded in his catalog only by the compilation Johnny's Greatest Hits and the seasonal Merry Christmas collection. It's not hard to understand why; this record is the epitome of Mathis' approach to music. Standards like "More Than You Know" and "Moonlight Becomes You" are joined by show tunes like "Hello, Young Lovers" and "Stranger In Paradise" and a few more recent titles, such as the Burt Bacharach-composed title song and "That's All." The tempos are slow, the strings swell, and Mathis' vulnerable tenor, dripping with tender emotion yet never missing a beat, soars and swoops over all. The best track, a revelation when it appeared on this album, is "Misty," a treatment of Erroll Garner's jazz piano classic with a newly added lyric by Johnny Burke. Few could have carried off that lyric (go ahead, try and think of another male singer of the 1950s who could handle it), but it was perfect for Mathis, and the track was spun off for a single that became his biggest hit in two years and remains one of his signature songs. Though still fairly early in his career, Mathis had done a lot of recording; Heavenly was actually his tenth album release in less than three years (counting two hits collections and the Christmas album). As a result, he was a recording veteran while still being fresh enough to give his performances real feeling. It all came together on Heavenly, Mathis' longest running #1 album which spent more than five and a half years in the charts.
All Music Guide
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Surely one of the most soothing sounds in the world is that made by Johnny Mathis when he comes up against a superior ballad. That such is the case in this album can only cause rejoicing among his millions of fans, who have snapped up an astonishing number of records by the talented and gifted young artist. Herein are a dozen fine songs, some old, some new, all of them burnished to a lovely romantic glow by the unique Mathis phrasing and voicing.
Within a comparatively short time, Johnny has risen from the ranks of the unknown to become one of the biggest singing stars in the country. Not only record buyers, but television viewers, night club habitues and movie goers have succumbed-in enormous numbers-to his charm and warmth. As an artist of unusual versatility, Johnny can sing just about any song with stunning effect (the collection called simply "Johnny Mathis" is a brilliant demonstration of this) but he seems to have an especially fervent following among those who prefer ballads, and some of his biggest successes have been with
romantic numbers. Here he sings twelve of them, including such notable show tunes as They Say It's Wonderful, Hello, Young Lovers and Stranger in Paradise, such superb standards as More Than Yon Know and Something I Dreamed Last Night, the unusually sensitive A Ride on a Rainbow and a sprinkling of fine new ballads, With Glenn Osser and the orchestra, Johnny moves-perhaps glides would be a better word, so smoothly do the songs unfold-through these songs with the assurance that only an exceptional technique can bring. Throughout the program, there are those unexpected little touches of phrasing and intonation that mark every Mathis performance and give an unusual fillip to a song without ever distorting the meaning or the melody, and present, too, is that remarkable sense of intimacy Johnny injects into every song. In short, another memorable collection, in the unique Mathis manner.