In the '70s, Paul Williams was one of the most successful songwriters in pop music, writing hits for the Carpenters, Three Dog Night, Helen Reddy, and the Monkees, and winning an Academy Award for "Evergreen," the love theme from the Barbra Streisand blockbuster A Star Is Born. Williams also enjoyed a career as an actor in television and movies, and was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and in the midst of it all, he found the time to record a handful of solo albums in which he interpreted his own songs. Evergreens: The Best of the A&M Years is a 22-track collection that brings together the best moments from the five albums he cut during his tenure with A&M Records -- 1971's Just an Old Fashioned Love Song, 1972's Life Goes On, 1974's Here Comes Inspiration and A Little Bit of Love, and 1975's Ordinary Fool. Evergreens features Williams' performances of many of the hits he penned for others, including "We've Only Just Begun," "Rainy Days and Mondays," "Out in the Country," "You and Me Against the World," "That's What Friends Are For," and "Evergreen," as well as fan favorites such as "Traveling Boy," "Waking Up Alone," and "Nice to Be Around." The album also features "The Hell of It," which Williams wrote and performed for Brian DePalma's cult classic rock & horror film The Phantom of the Paradise. While this sampler leaves out Williams' earliest work (including his recordings with the sunshine pop band the Holy Mackerel), Evergreens is a solid introduction to his best-known and most fruitful period as a recording artist, and the artful production and arrangements on these recordings show off Williams' tunes in a new and impressive light.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming