Picks and Pans Review: In the Still of the Night

updated 11/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Johnny Mathis

We should all age this gracefully—and entertainingly.

While Mathis is 54, he is not only sounding at least as good as he ever has, but he is enterprising enough to go back and breathe new life into Tommy Edwards's all-time hit, "It's All in the Game." Furthermore, he is shrewd/ open-minded enough to enlist the aid of a group of young vocalists who might have been more reasonably expected to perform with someone like Bobby McFerrin or Al Jarreau than Mathis: Take Six, the a cappella group Stevie Wonder has enthusiastically touted.

Mathis does both "It's All in the Game," Edwards's No. 1 hit from 1958, and "In the Still of the Night," the Five Satins' 1956 R&B classic, with Take Six. The other eight tunes on the album are all refreshed versions of '50s and '60s hits too, including the Skyliners' "Since I Don't Have You," Brenda Lee's "All Alone Am I" and Lenny Welch's "Since I Fell for You."

Most remarkably, Mathis and co-producers Peter Bunetta and Rick Chudacoff make these songs sound reconsidered, not merely recycled. Mathis's ability to extract every last nuance from a lyric has never been employed to better advantage, and Take Six's presence enables him to prove that he can keep up with the younger generation.

Pretty good for an old guy? Nope. Pretty terrific no matter how you look at it. (Columbia)

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