Back in the 70's listening to Paul Williams was something you did privately, and didn't share with your friends fearing they would mock you. Williams was considered as schmaltz as Barry Manilow. I never understood that, and always cherished his highly romantic songs and his peculiar voice. His songwriting has nothing to envy of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin team at their very best. His songs are examples of the best pop songs ever written. No wonder they are covered very often, and made great hits for The Carpenters, Three Dog Night, and many others.
This set starts with the song Rainbow Connection (Yes, from The Muppet Show) and you wonder if this is Williams for a moment. It's not, it's Willie Nelson. Never made the connection between these two velvet voices, but here they sound like brothers with the same register and the same diction. It's a wonderful version and one of the highlights of this CD.
This set includes two discs , which means you have four sides of video and music. It is marketed as a video, since most of it is a video experience. However audio purist should take a look at this recording, as well as to other recordings come from AIX records. The first part includes a DVD-audio recording, that is spite of its DVD tag is music that can be played only on DVD-audio capable players. The other side of that same DualDisc will play on any CD player (your car CD player, too) and in spite of the fact that this isn't as good sounding as the DVD-audio side, it's still a great recording, crisp and clear and with a stage depth you will hardly find in most commercial recordings. It shows that a great length of work and dedication and love (lotta love) has gone into the recording of this video set. The other, a double sided DVD, includes a video recording of the same tracks in the audio disc, as well as an interactive DVD, which includes a 70 minutes TV program. The video dual disc was quite confusing, the TV programs includes a live show before an audience, and Williams explaining how he wrote his songs and how he became a songwriter. But, suddenly the song version was the same as the one on the other side of the disc, that includes the recording session of the song, and then we came back to the live show. The live show includes some songs that are not part of the audiophile recordings but mostly these are the same (I counted 3 different songs). When you go back to the recording session you find again that some of the comments on the TV show were inserted between songs. I recommend you listen to this side without comments and then to the TV show. That would make more sense. I found AIX's John Gorka interactive side more successful than this one.
Paul Williams is one of my favorite songwriters. He did most of his recordings before 1980 and his music is very hard to find in CD format. Most of them in expensive Japanese reissues. I still own many of his LPs, but not even one of his CDs. I started believing this artist got lost in the digital age. So I am very happy to see that AIX has dedicated him the VIP treatment and here we are with great re recordings of his best songs and hits, as well as the video and other tracks. This shows that the AIX label is dedicated to great music, and not only to sound and bits, and that they don't care about how famous is the singer.
Here he sings his greatest hits with a full eight band members, which include cello, mandolin, electric guitar and organ and the sound is very fluent and convincing and work well with his romantic lyrics, like:
This release is an event for anyone in love with great songwriting and I believe it's time to rediscover one of the great pop songwriters: Paul Williams.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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