The success of Mabel Mercer
and Bobby Short's 1968 concert at Town Hall in New York City led to a return engagement a year later and, perhaps more surprisingly, to a second two-LP set from Atlantic Records. Like its predecessor, At Town Hall, Second Town Hall Concert
devoted its first disc to Short's opening performance and its second to Mercer
, with the two singers getting together at the end. The second show was not quite as impressive as the first, though still excellent. Here, there seemed less the atmosphere of specialness and spontaneity, and the decision to fade out each song at its end prevented the album from having the sense of a continuous show. Short showed occasional vocal strain, devoting the first half of his set to familiar titles from favorites such as Cy Coleman, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin. Then he performed a mini-set of songs by the recently deceased Vernon Duke that demonstrated the composer's seamless style and the verbal facility of such collaborators as Ira Gershwin ("I Can't Get Started"). If there was a theme to Mercer
's show, it was triumph over aging, as she took on titles like "Not a Moment Too Soon," "Wait Till We're Sixty-Five," "Days Gone By," and "I'm Not Giving Up." Keeping up with the times, she also covered the recent hits "Love Is Blue" (in French) and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," and she and Short managed a rough version of "Good Night" from the current Beatles album to close things out. Second Town Hall was a worthy follow-up to At Town Hall, though the earlier album was preferred.