As its title suggests, Encore, John Gary's second RCA album, was a deliberate follow-up to Catch a Rising Star, as it was released only four months after his first album, while that LP was still high in the charts. And it succeeded in that regard, peaking even a little higher and spending almost a year in the charts itself. But it was a slightly more formal, self-conscious collection, its material and musical approach somewhat more conventional. Only the lead-off track, "Tender Is the Night," the Academy Award-nominated title song from the 1962 film, and "(It's Been) Grand Knowing You," from the 1963 Broadway musical She Loves Me, were contemporary, the rest of the songs dating back as far as 1927, the publication date of "Ol' Man River," given an unusually up-tempo treatment, though most of them came from the 1950s. Several were drawn from the repertoires of other RCA performers -- "Anywhere I Wander" from Julius LaRosa, "Melodie D'Amour (Melody of Love)" from the Ames Brothers, "If" from Perry Como -- making you wonder if the company controlled the publishing on those titles and was encouraging their use. Gary repeated some of the familiar effects from his celebrated label debut, such as the extensive use of his falsetto voice on "Anywhere I Wander" and the Caribbean feel of "Melodie D'Amour." But in general, he kept to a more limited range and a dramatic interpretation of the lyrics, and the arrangements were traditional orchestral ones. If Catch a Rising Star was an album that attempted, successfully, to attract attention to the versatility of Gary's vocal talent, Encore was one that tried to consolidate his newfound renown by making him sound like a more traditional pop singer than he had seemed at first. ~ William Ruhlmann
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