Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight On...
So great was the pop upheaval wrought by the Beatles four decades ago that two of the greatest songwriters of the pre-Liverpudlian era found themselves ignored by even their nearest and dearest fans. "I was a Beatlemaniac," admits Monica Mancini, whose father, Henry, composed dozens of hit songs ("Moon River," "Days of Wine and Roses") before his death in 1994. Many of them were collaborations with lyricist, vocalist and frequent house guest Johnny Mercer, who died in 1976, leaving a trove of unpublished lyrics. "I noticed Johnny was around a lot, but I never had a true appreciation for who he was."
Nicely making up for the lapse, Mancini, 47, who lives in L.A. with husband Gregg Field, 45, a drummer and producer, devotes her second solo album, The Dreams of Johnny Mercer, to 12 Mercer tunes; seven of them were set to music by Barry Manilow, a family friend. A longtime studio singer for pop acts (Michael Jackson, Kenny Rogers) and film soundtracks (Batman), Mancini filled her self-titled 1999 debut album with her father's tunes. Mercer too is a labor of love. "He sang with great humor and great passion," she says. "I wanted to stay true to that."