Album Reviews

Bobby Darrin & Johnny Mercer

Artist:     Bobby Darrin & Johnny Mercer

Album:     Two of A Kind

Label:     Omnivore Recordings

Release Date:     03.24.2017


Two of a Kind, by American singer Bobby Darin and singer/composer Johnny Mercer, was recorded on August 13 & 17, 1960 and originally released in 1961. Billy May arranged the material and was also featured on piano. Atlantic brought the two together, Bobby Darin—then 24—and Johnny Mercer—then 51, as an unlikely pair. This new edition of Two Of A Kind features the original 13 tracks, plus seven previously unissued performances and five alternate takes, as well as two songs recorded for the original album that ultimately were left off and newly-remastered by Grammy®-Award winning engineer Michael Graves. It’s apparent that everyone had a good time recording Two Of A Kind.

This is for any music lover that likes classic big band/jazz/singer-driven music. Johnny Mercer’s song writing and reputable vocal skills, matched with the young aptitude and boastfulness of Bobby Darin, make this a pure joy to listen to for any vocal fan. The recording includes the banter between songs, full of charming wit. Mercer, the senior, takes a more serious role while Darin is more off-the-cuff, complete with impersonations. The effect resembles a well-rehearsed vaudeville act.

The arrangements are excellent and the band swings. Of course, Mercer and Darin are classic singers and are both in top form, including “Cecelia” and “Lily of Laguna,” the two tracks of the seven new ones not originally heard on the original release. For guitar fans out there, we get to hear George Van Eps playing in a big band format ala “Freddie Green” style; How cool is that?

In his original notes for the 1961 LP, Stanley Green wrote: “Unquestionably, these ‘two of a kind’ performers were having a ball when they cut this one. I think you will too when you listen to it.” I could not have said it better myself.

— Sylvannia Garutch

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