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Open Fire, Two Guitars

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Editors’ Notes

It would be hard to imagine an album more conducive to romance than Johnny Mathis’ Open Fire, Two Guitars. This 1959 release is exquisite in its simplicity, keeping a tight spotlight on Mathis’ winsome vocals while guitarists Tony Mattola and Al Caiola offer subtle accompaniment. The intimacy of the recording is a big part of its enduring appeal — unlike most of Mathis’ hits from this era, there are no florid arrangements obscuring his singing. The title tune (by Leiber and Stoller) sets the dreamy tone and leisurely pace for the rest of the album. Mathis’ readings of familiar numbers like “I’ll Be Seeing You,” ”My Funny Valentine” and “Embraceable You” brings them renewed luster. His way of lingering on a note and turning a phrase into a sensuous sigh recalls Billie Holiday at times — in fact, his rendition of “Tenderly” rivals Holiday’s in its subdued eroticism. Even a seemingly lightweight number like “Bye, Bye Blackbird” becomes an eloquent expression of longing in his hands. For capturing desire in song, Open Fire, Two Guitars approaches perfection.

Customer Reviews

Perfect Mathis Chillout!

Great for those hot Summer nights... and cold Winter ones too!

Johnny At The Top Of His Game

I bought this album as a child, and wore it out. It was out of print for quite a while. I actually got a friend who works at CBS to get it copied from their vault, and played that tape a zillion times. This is an example of Johnny's best work. His voice is completely exposed, and backed by only three instruments. The "comping" by the guitarists is magical, as is the song selection. Sit back, with a glass of wine, shut the world out, and experience one of the worlds greatest singers, interpreting some of history's best songwriters, and marvel at the entire experience.

Johnny at his best

My grandma gave me the original album about 3 months ago and when I stuck it on the record player, I was blown away. Not many 17 year olds these days would like Johnny Mathis, but I do. He has one of the greatest voices of all time, and the guitar playing is amazing. A must have.


Born: September 30, 1935 in Gilmer, TX

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

One of the last and most popular in a long line of traditional male vocalists who emerged before the rock-dominated 1960s, Johnny Mathis concentrated on romantic readings of jazz and pop standards for the ever-shrinking adult contemporary audience of the '60s and '70s. Though he debuted with a flurry of singles chart activity, Mathis later made it big in the album market, where a dozen of his LPs hit gold or platinum and over 60 made the charts. While he originally concentrated on theme-oriented...
Full Bio
Open Fire, Two Guitars, Johnny Mathis
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Customer Ratings