Paul Williams

A&M Greatest Hits

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Paul Williams did his place in the pop culture firmament few favors with his regular guest shots on prime time schlock like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, and it's a genuine shame. Still, even if the general populace remembers him for the Smokey and the Bandit trilogy (assuming they remember him at all), this generous 22-track retrospective is a potent argument for his extraordinary gifts as a songwriter as well as his idiosyncratic charms as a performer. Songs like "Rainy Days and Mondays," "An Old-Fashioned Love Song" and "Evergreen" remain instantly memorable, even if Williams wasn't the singer of record on the hit versions, and his renditions boast an emotional honesty often absent from the now-familiar AM radio classics. More stylist than singer, he invests the material with genuine tears-of-a-clown pathos.

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