Paul Williams

Phantom of the Paradise [Original Soundtrack Recording]

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The original soundtrack to Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise is a good example of how a soundtrack can be more effective during the course of a movie than on its own. With Paul Williams singing the stronger tracks (and starring in the movie ), most of the cuts from Phantom of the Paradise suffer from being draped in early-'70s singer/songwriter mawkishness, with an effort to put a Broadway spin on some rather weak rock & roll material. Williams sings on only three tracks, with "The Hell of It" coming out on top since it shows the most pizzazz out of any of the cuts, while "The Phantom's Theme follows closely behind. But even on these tracks, Williams' songwriting comes up short, and the songs end up harboring a cheap nightclub feel that is far from the expertise that he has put toward writing songs for the Carpenters and Three Dog Night, to name just two. Since the movie is a reworking of The Phantom of the Opera, the songs should have been a bit more spirited, as vocalists Ray Kennedy, formerly of KGB, Jessica Harper, and Bill Finley put on average vocal performances that end up sounding colorless and insipid. During the movie, the songs add much needed texture, ambience, and dramatics to the storyline, and they are utilized quite impressively throughout the course of the picture. But on their own, songs such as Archie Hahn's "Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye" and Jeffrey Comanor's "Upholstery" lose a large part of their potency when the visuals are taken away. Though the idea was a valiant one, Williams' effort along with the generic cast of other singers falls short of the mark, as his proficiency as a writer and performer can be better appreciated on numerous other works.

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