2 LP on 1 CD
## 1 - 11, 'Honey', (3*), Columbia, 1968
In the late '60s, record company executives like Clive Davis of Columbia were encouraging their middle-of-the-road pop singers to cover the songs of contemporary pop/rock performers as a way of staying current. Andy Williams, who was a bit younger than his peers, needed no such encouragement, as he had been drawing on the recent hit parade for some of his material for years. But Honey marked his complete crossover to such an approach. Where earlier Williams albums had been a canny mix of movie songs, standards, pop hits, and foreign - especially French - material, ten of Honey's 11 tracks were songs that had been Top 40 hits in the last two years. (The only exception was "Our Last Goodbye," co-written by Williams favorite Nick De Caro, which musically was a retread of another recent Top 40 hit, "A Whiter Shade of Pale.") True, there were a couple of movie songs ("This Is My Song" from The Countess From Hong Kong and "Theme From 'Valley of the Dolls,'" plus "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," not written for, but heavily featured in, The Graduate) and even one show tune ("The Impossible Dream [The Quest]" from Man of La Mancha), and "Love Is Blue" was French. But the songs were for the most part closely associated with hit recordings by the likes of the Association, the 5th Dimension, and Glen Campbell. The arrangements closely resembled those of the hit recordings, so the appeal of the album seemed to be exclusively to Williams fans who wanted to hear their hero, rather than Bobby Goldsboro, sing the maudlin hit "Honey." Columbia didn't even put Williams' current single, "Sweet Memories," on the LP. The singer did his best and was rewarded with yet another Top Ten gold-record seller, but the album lacked the balance of earlier efforts.
- William Ruhlmann (All Music Guide)
## 12 - 22 'Happy Heart', (2.5*), Columbia, 1969
In the spring of 1969, Andy Williams scored his biggest pop hit in four and a half years with the German import "Happy Heart," getting well into the Top 40. (The single probably would have done even better if there hadn't been a competing version by Petula Clark.) This was reason enough to slap together an album of the same name, filled out with the singer's interpretations of current pop hits. But the Happy Heart LP didn't really differ much in its approach from Williams' previous album, Honey, which also contained nearly all pop covers. The only real difference was that this time Williams was not waiting so long. "My Way" was just peaking in the charts for Frank Sinatra, for example, as was Elvis Presley's "Memories," and Glen Campbell's "Where's the Playground Susie" had only just come out. It was as if Williams was picking the tracks by listening to the radio on the way to the studio. Campbell and his favorite songwriter, Jimmy Webb, were particular favorites: Williams also covered "Wichita Lineman" (written by Webb and recorded by Campbell), "Gentle on My Mind" (recorded by Campbell), and "Didn't We" (written by Webb), as well as "Where's the Playground Susie" (written by Webb). The arrangements were close approximations of those on the hit versions by Stevie Wonder ("For Once in My Life"), O.C. Smith ("Little Green Apples"), and the rest, so that the main appeal of the album seemed to be that Williams' voice replaced that of the familiar one. In the case of Dion's "Abraham, Martin and John," the tribute to Robert F. Kennedy and other slain leaders, Williams, a friend of Kennedy's, certainly had a claim on the song, and he sang it with conviction. Elsewhere, he seemed to be turning in a professional but uninspired job.
- William Ruhlmann (All Music Guide)
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Such was Andy Williams' popularity in the late 60s when these two albums were recorded, it was estimated that he was selling around 25,000 LPs each week, according to a Columbia Records survey. At 40 years of age, Andy had begun to woo that all-important youth market by reinventing himself - just a little. He spiced up his easy-going "apple pie" image with a zany new concept for his weekly TV show that made him "hip with the kids" and began to include more and more chart material in his repertoire. Teenage girls were captivated by Andy's mature blue-eyed charm and his husky interpretations of contemporary pop songs. And he was the kind of pin-up that your parents couldn't possibly object to.
Andy was entirely comfortable with his younger sound. He was the one crooner who could kiss the likes of Cole Porter goodbye and start singing the latest chart toppers with masterful ease. On Honey (1968) and Happy Heart (1969) Andy covers songs by great modern composers such as Jimmy Webb (there are five of Webb's songs on these two albums, such was his popularity at the time); Lennon and McCartney, and Simon and Garfunkel. Honey reached number 4 in the UK album charts and is the groovy jewel in Andy's shiny crown. Arranged and produced by Nick De Caro (who also worked on the albums Born Free and Love Andy) this collection of songs has a clean, spacious quality that sounds modern, even for today. Highlights include the tambourine-tapping go-go songs Windy, Up Up And Away and Spooky. (And you can hear the unmistakable backing vocals of The Osmonds on the first two). Andy still upheld his tradition for singing great songs from movies and musicals, and there are two real heartstring tuggers here: Andre Previn's hauntingly poignant Theme From Valley Of The Dolls and the rousing Impossible Dream from Man Of La Mancha.
In 1969 the gloriously cheerful Happy Heart reached number 19 in the UK singles charts and remains one of Andy's most popular greatest hits - while the album (produced by Jerry Fuller and arranged by Al Capps) went top 20. The standout song here is Andy's soulful rendering of the Marvin Gaye hit, Abraham, Martin And John. So minimalist is the musical accompaniment that we are allowed to focus on Andy's plaintive voice. This song (about the three assassinated American icons) is close to Andy's heart, as he was a good friend of John Kennedy's brother Bobby - who was also gunned down. His emotional delivery of the words, "Has anyone here seen my old friend Bobby?" are guaranteed to bring a lump to your throat.
- Debbie Voller (April 2000)