If you're wondering just where the heck Moon River is located, Judge Paul Corupe says this isn't the place to start your search.
I'm crossing you in style, someday.
One of the most popular male vocalists of the 20th century, Andy Williams has entertained audiences for over six decades with a unique, soft-edged crooning that made him a mainstay on record store racks and TV specials throughout the 1950s and '60s. A compilation of performances from his golden age, Andy Williams Sings the Hits is a new DVD that tries to capture his affable style and charm.
Williams was first discovered by Bing Crosby as a member of the sibling singing group the Williams Brothers Quartet. After they disbanded in 1951, Andy pursued a solo career, landing a regular gig on Steve Allen's Tonight Show and releasing the first in a long line of albums. Balancing TV appearances, nightclub performances, and recording sessions, Andy's career took off in the early '60s when his contract was picked up by Columbia Records and he became the star of his own top-rated weekly television variety program, The Andy Williams Show. Although Williams's recording output waned after the show completed its successful run in the '70s, he re-emerged in the '90s as a headliner at the Andy Williams Moon River Theater, a custom-built $12 million state-of-the-art theater and resort located in Branson, Missouri.
Taken from public domain TV footage of The Andy Williams Show, this DVD offers up 16 popular covers done in the buoyant Williams style:
1. You Do Something to Me
The biggest problem with Andy Williams Sings the Hits is the most obvious one—the song selection. In his prime, Williams scored several top 10 hits, including "Canadian Sunset," "Butterfly," "Can't Get Used to Losing You," and "The Hawaiian Wedding Song," none of which are included on this DVD. Even Andy's "signature" song, "Moon River," is conspicuously missing here, passed over in favor a bunch of relatively uninspiring standards like "Danny Boy" and "When You're Smiling." As advertised, Andy Williams may be singing the hits, but they're just not his. The only real treat on the disc is "Bossa Nova Medley," which has Williams teaming up with guest guitarist Antonio Carlos Jobim. Sitting on a small stage in the middle of his audience, the two performers trade jazzy, laid-back verses on two or three songs, including "The Girl from Ipanema."
Regardless of the questionable material, at least Williams's performances are polished and charismatic, and he delivers each song with his trademark laid-back vocals. While there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for why these particular performances were chosen, they are all well-orchestrated tracks that showcase one of the world's finest crooners at the height of his talents. Intriguing set design was always another highlight of the The Andy Williams Show, and while a few segments go for minimalism, featuring just Williams and a spotlight or a non-descript background, the medley with Patti Page features the pair on a giant Scrabble board. Likewise, "Just Sittin' and Rockin'" has him surrounded by silhouetted rocking chairs, and "Straight Down the Middle" is a choreographed golf number that has Andy flanked by an army of Arnold Palmer wannabes swinging their clubs.
Running a mere 49 minutes, Andy Williams Sings the Hits is a pretty dubious release of public domain material. As this DVD is simply a compilation of old performances from TV, the transfer is made up of fuzzy black and white images prone to artifacts and flickering horizontal lines. The mono sound is lacking in dynamics and fidelity, and there are no extras at all, rounding out a generally unsatisfactory presentation. The scant offerings here probably won't even interest most of Williams's fans, who are far better off choosing from a wide variety of officially licensed material, or even picking up a CD, which at least will feature better quality audio and possibly even songs that Williams is actually known for. Not recommended.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Passport Video
Review content copyright © 2005 Paul Corupe; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.