Various Artists | White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams
(Curry Cuts, 2018)
Singer, songwriter, actor and, really truly, bon vivant Paul Williams has been plying his trade or, more accurately trades, for five decades, making his mark in the wide world of entertainment with Muppets, hit records, and Burt Reynolds in tow (which is really just scratching the surface of his storied career; click here to immerse yourself in Williams’s many and varied greatest hits).
Curry Cuts’ upcoming tribute to Williams (slated for release before year’s end), White Lace and Promises, focuses in on the artist’s considerable artistry as evidenced in the world of song. There are treasures to be found in nearly every nook and cranny of Williams’s recorded output, which touches on a wide variety of song types. (White Lace and Promises is slated for release this year; one song has been released as a single (see below)).
Of all the classic songs he has written, Williams may well be most known by listeners for “Evergreen (Love Theme from “A Star is Born”) and “Rainbow Connection,” the lovely opening number from 1979’s The Muppet Movie (three of the eight songs I’ve heard from White Lace and Promises are from this endearing film).
“Evergreen,” written by Williams and Barbra Streisand, plays out in its original form as a slow, emotional ballad; on Curry Cuts’ release, the Davenports up the tempo a bit and season their melodic pop take with pedal steel guitar and Scott Klass’s typically lovely vocal (this track is available as a single, ahead of the album release; see below).
“Rainbow Connection,” written by Williams and Kenny Ascher and essayed on White Lace and Promises by the Legal Matters’ Andy Reed, manifests itself as a waltz punctuated by deep snare hits and widescreen harmonies; a short a cappella section is a nice touch. Reed makes this much-loved song his own in a version overflowing with heart.
May I wax poetic about some of the other Williams covers I’ve heard from Curry Cuts’ upcoming tribute? “Fill Your Heart,” a showbizzy number written by Williams and singer-songwriter Biff Rose, originally appeared on Rose’s 1968 Tetragrammaton album, The Thorn in Mrs. Rose’s Side, and was covered by both David Bowie on his 1971 album, Hunky Dory, and by Tiny Tim on the flip side of his “Tiptoe through the Tulips” single in 1968. Longtime Pure Pop Radio favorite Andrea Perry’s alluring, poppy version on Curry Cuts’ tribute comes off as something that a cross between Spanky and Our Gang, Margo Guryan and Aimee Mann might come up with.
In the hands of the Corner Laughers, the easy-going toe-tapper “Movin’ Right Along,” also from The Muppet Movie, moves along at a bit of a faster and busier pace, and sports an electric guitar solo. And do I hear the Laughers’ Karla Kane playfully name-checked near the end?
One more White Lace and Promises nugget to preview: Sitcom Neighbor channels Three Dog Night in their tasty, organ-filled version of “Out in the Country,” penned by Williams and Roger Nichols and heard on Williams’s 1972 album, Life Goes On (Three Dog Night’s version was a top 15 hit in 1970).
So far, so really good. Curry Cuts’ White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams looks to be another hit for the label, the fourth release for the Portland, Oregon start-up, after the entertaining Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock, Here Comes the Reign Again: The Second British Invasion, and Songs. Bond Songs: The Music of 007.
Where to Get It: Coming soon; keep up with the latest announcements concerning White Lace and Promises by following Curry Cuts’ Facebook page. The Davenports’ version of “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born)” has been released as a single, and is available at Amazon
Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the premiere website covering the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. The 24-hour Pure Pop Radio stream, which ran from 2013 to August 25, 2018, succeeded the weekly Pure Pop Radio show, which began in 1995. Welcome to your number one home for coverage of the greatest melodic pop music in the universe from the ’60s to today.