“‘Like peas in a pod and birds of a feather,'” sing Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer in the album’s title song. This self-description has a bull’s-eye accuracy; Bobby and Johnny are indeed ‘two of a kind.'” So began the original liner notes for 1961’s Two of a Kind, the Atco LP that paired one of America’s all-time greatest vocalists (and one heck of a songwriter!) with one of its all-time greatest songwriters (and one heck of a performer!). On March 24, Omnivore Recordings will reissue Two of a Kind, and the sensationally swinging romp is only getting more delicious as this reissue will premiere seven previously unreleased bonus tracks. It continues the celebration of what would have been the 80th birthday of the man born Walden Robert Cassotto in high style; here at The Second Disc, we’re proud to have kicked off Bobby’s birthday year with the 2016 release of Another Song on My Mind: The Motown Years, collecting his complete Motown recordings!
Two of a Kind matched the brash young Darin with elder statesman Mercer in a big band bash boasting the arrangements of the one and only Billy May (Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly with Me, Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Harold Arlen Songbook). Darin and Mercer’s easygoing rapport and mutual respect resulted in an exciting and utterly freewheeling collection that stands alone in both of their discographies.
In addition to the title track penned by Darin and Mercer (which opens and closes the LP), Two of a Kind finds them tackling songs by Mercer (the Li’l Abner favorite “If I Had My Druthers,” big band-era favorite “Bob White,” and “Lonesome Polecat,” co-written with Abner composer Gene DePaul) and others. The pair brings humor, playfulness and zest to the kinds of songs they don’t write anymore, with titles like “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jellyroll,” “My Cutey’s Due at Two-to-Two Today,” and “Who Takes Care of the Caretaker’s Daughter.” This is no standard standards album! Darin even throws in a handful of his second-to-none impersonations on this sly, loose date.
Omnivore’s reissue was shepherded by the label’s Cheryl Pawelski with Darin’s longtime friend and manager Steve Blauner. (The late Blauner, who died in 2015, had originally conceived of the album back in 1960 and is credited on the original sleeve!) It’s been newly remastered from the original session tapes by Michael Graves, adds the session outtakes “Cecilia” and “Lily of Laguna” as well as alternate versions of “Bob White,” “East of the Rockies,” “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jellyroll,” “My Cutey’s Due at Two-to-Two Today,” and “Mississippi Mud.”
This perennially cool, joyous classic from two legendary, enduring artists is due on March 24 and can be pre-ordered at the links below!
Bobby Darin and Johnny Mercer, Two of a Kind (Atco SD 33-126, 1961 – reissued Omnivore Recordings, 2016) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada TBD)
- Two of a Kind
- Bob White
- Ace in the Hole
- East of the Rockies
- If I Had My Druthers
- I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jellyroll
- Lonesome Polecat
- My Cutey’s Due at Two-to-Two Today
- Medley: Paddlin’ Madelin’ Home/Row Row Row
- Who Takes Care of the Caretaker’s Daughter
- Mississippi Mud
- Two of a Kind
- Cecilia (Take 4)
- Lily of Laguna (Take 7)
- Bob White (Take 17)
- East of the Rockies (Take 16)
- I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jellyroll (Take 5A)
- My Cutey’s Due at Two-to-Two Today (Take 10)
- Mississippi Mud (Alternate Version)
Tracks 14-20 are previously unreleased bonus tracks