Some of the titles in this collection suggest a step out of character for Johnny Smith, whose taste, as record after record has shown, is impeccable. Many people today are under the impression that good songs are no longer being written or, at the least, not being being written frequently. This is understandable enough, because so much of the playing is done by musicians who barely derserve the appellation of "amateur" and certainly not that of "artists."
Johnny Smith is a professional, and an artist to his unerring, sensitive fingertips. Waht he has done in Phase II is to reexamine some of the contemporary hits, and reinterpret them in the light of his own superb musicianship. The transformations revel rewarding qualities in songs which, in other contexts, may have brought sophisticated listeners to the borders of hysteria. They may also open new vistas on what is possible with the instrument to the country's swarming thousands of guitars tyros.
Love of the guitar transfigures everythinh Johnny Smith plays, and his concern with bringing out its beauty is always manifest. Moreover, the polish and consistency of his performances are not in any sense superficial, but the result of a deep care to express himself lucidly, to remove the risk of accidental blurrings and imperfections. He is, in short, a virtuoso who never luxuriates in virtuosity. That is why, for all the technical assurance back of it, his music always has an engaging grace and simplicity. Like any true artist, he seeks a response from his audience, but the seeks it on an artisic level, not with gimmicks, eccenticity or exhibitionism...
Stanley Dance, from original liner noes (lp V6-8767)
1 Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You (Crewe, Gaudio) 2:35
2 Don't Sleep In The Subway* (Hatch, Trent) 2:30
3 Shiny Stockings (Foster) 4:59
4 Emily** (Mercer, Mandel) 2:45
5 This Guy's In Love With You (Bacharach, David) 2:53
6 Light My Fire (Densmore, Manzarek, Krieger, Morrison) 2:43
7 Sunny** (Hebb) 2:39
8 By The Time I Get To Phoenix** (Webb) 2:45
9 Exodus (Gold) 5:29
10 Maybe September (Faith, Livingston, Evans) 3:37
11 Wave (Jobim) 3:07
Johnny Smith - g
Hank Jones - p
George Duvivier - b
Bob Bushnell* or Joe Mack** - el. b
Derryl Goes - dr
Recorded at A & R Studios, New York City ; November 11/14, 1968