Happy Heart

by: Andy Williams

In the spring of 1969, Andy Williams scored his biggest pop hit in four and a half years with the German import "Happy Heart," getting well into the Top 40. (The single probably would have done even better if there hadn't been a competing version by Petula Clark.) This was reason enough to slap together an album of the same name, filled out with the singer's interpretations of current pop hits. But the Happy Heart LP didn't really differ much in its approach from Williams' previous album, Honey, which also contained nearly all pop covers. The only real difference was that this time Williams was not waiting so long. "My Way" was just peaking in the charts for Frank Sinatra, for example, as was Elvis Presley's "Memories," and Glen Campbell's "Where's the Playground Susie" had only just come out. It was as if Williams was picking the tracks by listening to the radio on the way to the studio. Campbell and his favorite songwriter, Jimmy Webb, were particular favorites: Williams also covered "Wichita Lineman" (written by Webb and recorded by Campbell), "Gentle on My Mind" (recorded by Campbell), and "Didn't We" (written by Webb), as well as "Where's the Playground Susie" (written by Webb). The arrangements were close approximations of those on the hit versions by Stevie Wonder ("For Once in My Life"), O.C. Smith ("Little Green Apples"), and the rest, so that the main appeal of the album seemed to be that Williams' voice replaced that of the familiar one. In the case of Dion's "Abraham, Martin and John," the tribute to Robert F. Kennedy and other slain leaders, Williams, a friend of Kennedy's, certainly had a claim on the song, and he sang it with conviction. Elsewhere, he seemed to be turning in a professional but uninspired job. ~ William Ruhlmann

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