Four early 80s classics from Johnny Mathis – presented here in a single 2CD package! Different Kinda Different is a tremendous start to the 80s for Johnny Mathis – and a set that really continues that strong shift into soul-based territory he begun in the 70s! Gene Page handles a lot of the arrangements here, and gives the whole thing that strong blend of strings and soul that he worked on other 70s classics for different artists – a perfect approach for that magnificent Mathis voice, especially when the tunes have a bit of a groove! Two of the best numbers here – "Different Kind Of Different" and "I'll Do It All For You" – are duets with Paulette McWilliams
, who'd recorded on her own, but who really seems to hit her stride with Johnny, and in a way that's different than any of his other soul partners in duets. Other titles include "Never Givin Up On You", "With You I'm Born Again", "I Will Survive", "The Lights Of Rio", and "Love Without Words". Friends In Love is mature 80s work from Johnny Mathis – a set that features two duets with Dionne Warwick, plus some other nice material that shows that Johnny wasn't going to be left behind in the shadows of his older work! At some level, the approach of the 80s, and the rise of a new sort of adult contemporary scene, really helped Mathis find a new audience – especially when teaming with Dionne, who was also having a rebirth at the time! Titles include the classic duet title cut "Friends In Love", and another duet on "Got You Where I Want You" – plus other titles that include "What Do You Do With The Love", "When The Lovin Goes Out Of The Lovin", "I Remember You & Me", and "Somethin's Goin On". Special Part Of Me is a sweet 80s set from Johnny Mathis – one of those great later albums when he brought a good deal of soul into the mix! The feel here is almost more modern R&B than the vocal jazz mode that first brought Johnny fame – and it turns out that the Mathis mode is wonderful for such a setting – rich and full of feeling, and arguably better than some of his younger contemporaries on the charts! The ballads are beautiful, but there's also a few surprising midtempo numbers – and titles include a sublime remake of "Love Won't Let Me Wait", done with Deniece Williams
– plus "Love Never Felt So Good", "Simple", "Priceless", "One Love", "Right Here & Now", and "Lead Me To Your Love" – plus "You're A Special Part Of Me", a duet with Angie Bofill. Live is a later live album from Johnny Mathis, and one that brings together classics, newer cuts, and a few titles he'd never sang before – all served up with a sound that shows the continuing strengths of the legendary singer! There's a variety of arrangers used on the set – including Gene Page and Michel Colombier – and titles include "Orange Colored Sky", "When A Child Is Born", "Begin The Beguine", "I Believe In Love", "Fly Away", "99 Miles From LA", and "A Certain Smile".