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Country - Released March 15, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released April 29, 2016 | Epic - Legacy

When Paul Williams released A Little on the Windy Side in 1979, he was at the peak of his stardom, which isn't to say he was at the pinnacle of his record-selling powers. He never was a chart-buster in the first place -- 1974's A Little Bit of Love was his highest-charting LP at 95, "Waking Up Alone" his biggest pop hit at 60 -- but A Little on the Windy Side failed to chart, a curious conclusion to a period when Williams was omnipresent on TV and film. Part of this failure can be blamed on his new label Portrait, which underwent some corporate restructuring via its parent Epic not long after the album's release, but the album is also something of a hodgepodge of new songs and revivals that kicks off with a cover of Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke's standard "Moonlight Becomes You." That's a tip-off that this record wasn't quite designed with the top of the charts in mind but A Little on the Windy Side nevertheless is an assuredly commercial record of its time, an album rooted in soft rock but with a keen eye for lite-disco and a yen for sultry electric pianos. Some of this can be chalked up to Williams choosing to bring his brother Mentor Williams in as a producer and bandleader, marking the first time they've worked on a full project since their early band Holy Mackerel. Where that band was steeped in the soft psychedelia of 1968, A Little on the Windy Side is redolent of the studio culture of 1979, and that's its appeal: the craft is so impeccable, the sound ties together those divergent sounds. That coherence is rare in Williams' discography, which started out strong with Someday Man and Just an Old Fashioned Love Song, then slipped into a patchwork of glib laziness, a claim that cannot be leveled at A Little on the Windy Side. Paul Williams is working hard on this record and he succeeds in making one of his very best albums. [Real Gone's 2015 reissue contains four previously unreleased tracks: a reprise of "Brand New Song"; his own version of "When the River Meets the Sea," which first appeared on Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas; his version of "Love Conquers All," which Seals & Crofts recorded first; and a mono single edit of "A Little on the Windy Side."] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released January 1, 1972 | A&M Records

"I Won't Last a Day Without You" was leapt upon by the Carpenters (and recorded by Barbra Streisand for her Butterfly album), but despite the inclusion of Williams' own version, Life Goes On isn't in the same league as Just an Old Fashioned Love Song. Too much of it is unutterably bland. "Park Avenue," with its patronizing lyric that takes cheap pot shots at ladies who lunch, signposts one of Williams' weaknesses; he's not one of life's wits or sharp observational writers, and is better sticking to introspective autobiographical material. The songs here are arranged similarly to his other recordings of the period, with assistance from slick sidemen like Leland Sklar and Russell Kunkel, but there's none of the bittersweet quality Williams had evinced before. His heart-felt performance on the standard "That Lucky Old Sun" is the one tender spot in an otherwise dull, unengaging collection. ~ Charles Donovan
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Country - Released March 15, 2005 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Jobbing songwriter and actor Paul Williams only provided lyrics on his debut album -- all the music was composed by producer Roger Nichols. Williams' vocal limitations are immediately clear. His voice is thin, inarticulate, and markedly stunted of range -- it takes considerable getting used to. The ten songs here roll along merrily enough in a soft rock vein, but none is particularly mesmerizing. The plaintive "I Know You" is a touching moment and "Roan Pony" reveals a penchant for the kind of greeting-card whimsy that would later spawn some of Williams' big songwriting hits ("Rainy Days and Mondays," "Evergreen"). The rest is stuff that no one would object to hearing, principally because the listener is more than likely to have forgotten it a few minutes after the disc stops spinning. ~ Charles Donovan
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Pop - Released January 1, 1974 | A&M

If Here Comes Inspiration was two steps forward, A Little Bit of Love is at least one back. It begins promisingly enough with a touching portrait of an altruistic soul ("A Little Bit of Love"), but plummets like a lead balloon into twee, sentimental excess. "Fireflies/Fun for one but twice as nice for two" croons Williams on the execrable "Sleep Warm," and it's hard not to wonder if he really buys such saccharine twaddle, or whether he's having a joke on his audience. On "Margarita" (written by Tom Jans) whose dreadful pseudo-Spanish arrangement defies belief -- Williams turns in his most self-indulgent, whining vocal performance ever. "Nice to Be Around" and "Loneliness" offer all too brief respite (both actually say something worthwhile), but before long Williams is inflicting cliché after cliché upon the weary listener ("That's a sad song/That used to be our song"), with seemingly indefatigable zeal. Only when you consider that Williams was stoned for over a decade, does any of this rotten, mawkish mess make sense. ~ Charles Donovan
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Film Soundtracks - Released November 2, 2018 | Varese Sarabande

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 1999 | ASH INTERNATIONAL

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Country - Released January 1, 1997 | New Rounder

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Pop - Released January 1, 2004 | Hip-O Select

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Folk/Americana - Released April 19, 2005 | Rebel Records Llc

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Folk/Americana - Released April 19, 2005 | Rebel Records Llc

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