Love Songs [Columbia/Legacy]

by: Andy Williams

In yet another attempt to capitalize on its vast back catalog, Sony has issued a series of themed discs titled Love Songs that focus on the more romantic recordings of artists who were on the Columbia Records roster. Performers as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Tammy Wynette, and Loverboy all have discs included in the Love Songs series, as does Columbia's biggest male vocalist of the '60s and '70s, Andy Williams. Although these discs are just another way to get some mileage out of old material, the one thing this series does correctly is to focus on lesser-known album tracks rather than recycling the same hit songs found on innumerable other collections. Therefore, it's refreshing to hear Williams' beautiful version of "Let It Be Me," from 1961's overlooked Under Paris Skies album, instead of the umpteenth rendering of "Moon River." Warm readings of "Unchained Melody" and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" are highlights along with his covers of "The Look of Love" and "My Cherie Amour." Still, there are hits included like "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story" and "The Hawaiian Wedding Song," but considering the theme of the disc and Williams' penchant for romantic material, it was inevitable. However, the inclusion of "I Like Your Kind of Love," a rock & roll hit from Williams' late-'50s Cadence days, is a bit of a mystery as it doesn't mesh with his more sophisticated material and distracts from the central theme of the collection. In addition, there are factual errors in the disc's packaging, such as listing "Let It Be Me" as a duet with Claudine Longet when it is clearly the solo version, and the sound quality is very inconsistent, which is surprising since Sony should possess most of the master tapes. Like most hastily assembled compilations, there are no treasures to be found on the disc as all of these songs have appeared elsewhere, like on Collectables' terrific two-fer reissues of Williams' original Columbia and Cadence albums. Sony had the right idea and a great concept for Love Songs, but the end result is a pleasant, yet unessential, collection meant to highlight the romantic side of Andy Williams. ~ Aaron Latham

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