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16 Biggest Hits: Andy Williams

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Album Review

Determining the "16 biggest hits" of most recording artists isn't much of a challenge, but a couple of factors complicate such a task in the case of Andy Williams. For one thing, Williams scored different kinds of hits at different periods in his career. In the 1950s, he had a handful of Top Ten pop hits in styles ranging from light rock & roll to Hawaiian music. In the 1960s, he made a transition to big ballads, many of them movie themes, and as a result was among the top album and easy listening artists of the decade, though the rankings of his pop singles chart entries suffered. For another thing, some of the songs most closely associated with him are not among his biggest hits as measured by the singles charts, if they were singles at all — the primary example being his signature song, "Moon River," featured on his breakthrough LP, Moon River & Other Great Movie Themes, but never even released as a single. Given these circumstances, the compiler of a Williams hits collection has more latitude in making his choices than he might for another artist.

Compilation producers Didier C. Deutsch and Darcy M. Proper have exercised their judgment in assembling 16 Biggest Hits. They begin with six of Williams' early pop hits, originally recorded for Cadence Records, among them the chart-topper "Butterfly." They also include two Top Ten hits recorded for Columbia, "Can't Get Used to Losing You" and the movie theme "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story." "Dear Heart," another movie theme, is also among Williams' biggest chart hits, having reached the pop Top 20 and just missing the top of the easy listening charts. Also included are "In the Arms of Love," which topped the easy listening charts, and "Music to Watch Girls By," another major easy listening hit. "Moon River" is featured, of course, as is "Days of Wine and Roses," the title song from Williams' highest charting album as well as being a Top 40 pop hit and Top Ten easy listening hit. Williams' versions of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado)" and the theme from The Godfather, "Speak Softly Love," appear, although they were only minor chart records for Williams, and his cover of "A Time for Us," which completes the selections, was never even released as a single. Among the missing songs that properly belong in a list of Williams' biggest hits are "A Fool Never Learns," "Hopeless," and "Happy Heart" (Top 40 pop, number one easy listening). These songs are not as well-remembered as the titles that substitute for them here, at least as songs, although Williams fans may regret their omission. But more casual fans should be satisfied with the inclusion of original recordings of some of Williams' most popular songs, along with his versions of other well-known songs.


Born: 03 December 1928 in Wall Lake, IA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An engaging crooner, TV personality, and entrepreneur, Andy Williams was one of the most bankable and popular singers of his era. With his laid-back delivery, supple voice, and amiable charm, Williams rode a wave of success that took him from a childhood vocal act with his brothers to worldwide fame as a solo artist, eventually finding latter-day success as a theater impresario in Branson, Missouri. Though he started out as a crooner in the post-Frank Sinatra style, his wide-ranging taste in music...
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