The two albums combined on this discount-priced two-fer, 1970's The Andy Williams Show and 1971's You've Got a Friend, bookended the ninth and final season of Andy Williams' NBC TV variety series, The Andy Williams Show. (In between came his million-selling LP, Love Story.) Over 30 years later, the two recordings combine to present Williams' versions of a bunch of soft rock hits of the day, many of which have remained pop standards into the 21st century. Most of them, however, are closely associated with the artists who originally performed them: the Bee Gees, Bread, the Carpenters, the Jackson 5, Carole King, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, and more. In the early '70s, singers like Williams, who had survived the successive rock revolutions of 1956 and 1964 by mixing traditional pop songs with covers of some of the quieter material turned out by rock writers, found themselves swamped by a new generation of artists as likely to hit the pop as the easy listening charts. Who needed to hear Andy Williams' sound-alike version of a song sung definitively by Karen Carpenter? Soon enough, Williams and his peers had lost their longtime berths on the major labels. Of course, Williams remained a talented singer, and his performances of the songs, if unimaginative (the arrangements closely track those of the original hits), are always attractive. The Andy Williams Show, taking up the first half of the disc, is marred by a transparently false attempt to make it sound like a live recording or like tracks from the TV show. There is canned applause dubbed in between the tracks and brief, inappropriate musical interludes also interrupt the flow of the album. You've Got a Friend comes as a relief afterwards.
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