Andy Williams

The Way We Were

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After taking a slight left-hand turn with his fall 1973 album Solitaire, which featured several unknown or lesser-known song titles, Andy Williams returned to his usual formula for LP-making with his spring 1974 album, The Way We Were, picking songs from among the previous year's hit parade. Here, you could hear his takes on country-pop (Charlie Rich's "The Most Beautiful Girl"), folk-pop (John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulders," Terry Jacks' "Seasons in the Sun"), and black pop (Gladys Knight & the Pips' "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me," Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly With His Song," Diana Ross' "Touch Me in the Morning"), as well as his version of the popular movie theme that was the title track. The album's single, which made the easy listening charts, was a vocal version of the Love Unlimited Orchestra's number-one instrumental "Love's Theme," a foray into disco. (The album was finished off with a ringer, "If I Could Only Go Back Again," a non-hit no doubt included as a favor to the album's producer, Mike Curb, who co-wrote it.) Williams' performances of these songs was quite good, even, in a couple of instances, arguably superior to the hit versions. But by 1974, light pop music had gotten so light that there was really no longer any need for middle-of-the-road singers like Williams to launder it for their audiences; people who liked "The Way We Were" had been satisfied by the definitive Barbra Streisand recording and weren't much interested in Williams' interpretation. As a result, the album became Williams' first since he joined Columbia Records in 1961 to miss the Billboard chart entirely. (It did manage a few weeks at the bottom of the Cash Box chart.)

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