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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Half Sweet Half Beat - Billy Williams

I Wonder
Half Sweet
Half Beat
Billy Williams
With Chorus and Orchestra directed by Dick Jacobs
Cover: Van Steen
Coral Records CRL 57251

From the back cover: Although he was celebrated for his starring role in his own Billy Williams Quartet, it wasn't until he began recording as a single that Billy Williams was recognized for the real vocal talent he is.

Described as "the high-pitched vocalist with the yodel." Billy possesses a distinctive voice and an ability to project it into many moods with equal success. Success is something with which Williams is very familiar. He has met with only that on television (100 appearances with his quartet on Max Liebman's Show Of Shows with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca); nightclubs, theaters and hotels in cities like Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Miami Beach, St. Louis, Toronto, Montreal and New York.

This album presents Billy Williams at his best on twelve numbers, six sweet and six swingin'. With an orchestra and chorus under the direction of Dick Jacobs. Billy lives up to all the adjectives which have been rained on him like versatile, infectious, warming and entertaining. His personality comes winning through on every number.

When you consider that he started his professional career as a member of the famed Charioteers (while still a student at Wilberforce College) you can see from where the strong blues and gospel elements in his style come.

Whether he is swinging like mad as in the humorous, wishful thinking of Smack Dab In The Middle or waxing romantically sweet and sad on I Wonder (the number that Cecil Gant, at that time a private in the Army, wrote and recorded with great success during World War II), Williams communicates with his listeners in a direct manner. You've soon got your mind off the mundane and on the enjoyment of the song that Billy is singing. This is the mark of a real entertainer and, above all, Billy Williams is an entertainer – an excellent showman.

From Billboard - August 3, 1959: Billy Williams' distinctive stylings are showcased by the tasteful arrangements of Dick Jacobs. Much of the charm of the package is in the selection of material which covers an exceedingly broad range. There's "Nola," "Goodnight Irene," "Smack Dab In The Middle," "The Little Boy," etc. Excellent listening.

Goodnight Irene
I Wonder
Four Or Five Times
The Little Boy
You Don't Know
A Kiss And A Rose
Smack Dab In The Middle
Dream Of You
Red Hot Love
Pour Me A Glass Of Teardrops
Walkin' By The River

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