From the Vault...


Roger Williams
"The Greatest Popular Pianist/The Artist's Choice"

© MCA Records

Year of Release: 1992

track listing
Disc One:
  • Those Were The Days
  • Alfie
  • I Will Wait For You
  • Hey Jude
  • Theme From
    The Godfather
    Part II
  • The Windmills Of
    Your Mind
  • Strangers In The Night
  • Rainy Days
    And Mondays
  • A Taste Of Honey
  • Talk To The Animals
  • Theme From
    Zorba The Greek
  • Gentle On My Mind
  • The Shadow Of
    Your Smile
  • Time In A Bottle
  • Dominique
  • Only You
    (And You Alone)
  • Theme From
    New York New York
  • Cast Your Fate
    To The Wind
  • On The Trail
    (From Grand Canyon
  • Cumana
  • Born Free
  • The Impossible Dream
    Disc Two:
  • Softly As I Leave You
  • The Days Of
    Wine And Roses
  • To Each His Own
  • The Way We Were
  • Yesterday
  • Spanish Eyes
  • Gigi
  • Moon River
  • Tom Dooley
  • Never On Sunday
  • I Left My Heart In
    San Francisco
  • Tumbling Tumbleweeds
  • Call Me Irresponsible
  • Amor
  • People
  • Bess You Is
    My Woman Now
  • The Sound Of Music
  • Lara's Theme From
    Dr. Zhivago
  • Near You
  • Autumn Leaves
  • Till
  • Almost Paradise

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

    Roger Williams related sites:
    Roger Williams Website
    Previous Review: #1003
    Gary Moore--Blues For Greeny
    Next Review: #1005
    Cyndi Thomson--My World
    Roger Williams
    "The Greatest Popular Pianist/The Artist's Choice"

    Want to get away from it all? Roger Williams, a great pianist in his own right, had a #1 hit in the early years of Rock 'n' Roll -- "Autumn Leaves." Although I never heard of any other popular hits he had, it was obvious to look for an album of his accomplishments. MCA Records released a 2-disc set, The Greatest Popular Pianist/The Artist's Choice. A great title to describe him, this compilation features very well-known songs, played by Williams and a great full enriched orchestra. And reading the liner notes, it's amazing that he had many hits in his heyday, with record executive Dave Kapp (Kapp Records). His real name was Louis Weertz, but when Dave Kapp noticed his talent of music, he changed Louis' name to Roger Williams, named after the man who founded Rhode Island.

    He writes an interesting paragraph, beginning the liner notes to this CD:
    "I'm proud of this collection of songs. With over one thousand of my recordings in the MCA catalog, these are some of my favorites from the 'Golden Age Of American Music'. The first song says it all -- 'Those Were The Days'.
    To be honest, the second half of the collection is my personal favorite. Over the years, singers have influenced me even more than pianists. Frank and Ella, Nat and Barbra, Mel and Tony -- the list goes on. When these people sing, they make you 'feel'. Playing with feeling is the bottom line for me. Now there was a time when all you had to do to make a girl 'feel' was whisper 'sweet nothings' in her ear. Today, you have to scream, shout, and add a few car crashes to get their attention. As for me, all I can say is, I'm still whispering. I hope you're still listening!
    My best to you always."
    Roger Williams

    "Those Were The Days" has a jazzy style in a way, as this was one song well remembered by many. (And no, it is NOT the song of the same title sung by Archie and Edith Bunker on All In The Family.) The full orchestration is impressive on many songs in this collection. "Alfie" and "I Will Wait For You" combines great orchestration along with Williams' piano playing.

    "Hey Jude" is very different than the Beatles' version, as it is more jazzy and upbeat. "Theme From The Godfather Part II" has great orchestration and a nice Italian sound. (Although I have the first Godfather soundtrack, it tempts me to pick up the II and III ones.)

    "Windmills Of Your Mind" has great staccato piano playing here, which compares easily to Rick Wakeman, yet the full orchestration also plays a key role in this song too. "Strangers In The Night" is a great Adult Listening/Jazz styled version by Williams'. "Rainy Days And Mondays" this song originally popular by The Carpenters, is very impressive and has a great romantic setting.

    "A Taste Of Honey" is one of my favorite songs, as I love this version by The Beatles and Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass. Williams' version has a combination of both the Fab Four and Alpert's -- the main verses are as smooth as The Beatles, and then it's catchy as Alpert's. "Talk To The Animals" -- I don't remember this song as much, although I do remember Gilda Radner's version on her comedy album. Williams' version here is fast paced. Herb Alpert's original albums were recently reissued, and I noticed he also did a version of this song. I have to see if his version is fast-paced as well; not sure if this song was fast-paced originally. "Theme From Zorba The Greek" is also fast-paced, as this song is most remembered for, being Greek-styled music.

    "Gentle On My Mind" is a nice country-styled, as it was made famous by Glen Campbell. It sounds a bit different than the Easy Listening style of Williams, yet it is very nicely done.

    "The Shadow Of Your Smile" is a great song for dinner date music, as you pour another glass of wine for your date. "Time In A Bottle," the great Jim Croce song, is another good song for dinner music.

    "Dominique" -- ok, this song probably isn't one of my favorites (The Singing Nun's version), yet Williams version is good, it's not really one of my favorite songs in general.

    "Only You" -- most remember this song by The Platters, Williams' version has a style of Ringo Starr's remake. "Theme From New York New York" is just as good as Sinatra's; this one has a vocal chorus. "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" has a more Jazz Fusion Rock approach, very impressive. "On The Trail (from Grand Canyon Suite)" and "Cumana" are not familiar tunes to me, but "On The Trail" fits the Easy Listening style, and "Cumana" is another fast-paced song.

    "Born Free" was another popular song, most notably by Andy Williams (vocals). Roger Williams' version also has a vocal chorus. "The Impossible Dream" is another one of my personal favorite Easy Listening tunes; Williams' instrumental shines brightly, comparing to the vocal versions by the likes of Perry Como, Jim Nabors and Elvis Presley.

    Disc Two begins with "Softly As I Leave You" -- another beautiful song, great dinner music/romantic setting. "The Days Of Wine And Roses" is simply beautiful music, likewise "To Each His Own," and "The Way We Were." (I'm beginning to see why Roger describes the second disc of this set his favorite; every song so far is incredibly beautiful.)
    Continuing in that fashion, The Beatles' "Yesterday" is just outright beautiful and sensual. "Spanish Eyes" is just as great as Al Martino's; love that Italian sound.

    "Gigi" "Care for another glass of wine during your date?"
    "Moon River" keeps the wine flowing, and getting ready for dessert.
    "Tom Dooley" Uh oh, a somewhat distraction -- this one is kinda CORNY!
    "Never On Sunday" -- another beautiful song, can we get back to another glass of wine, after that brief distraction?
    "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" -- ahh, love this one, I think we're ready for dessert...
    "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" this one is quite interesting... Deciding on whether to have sprinkles or just syrup on that ice cream dessert...
    "Call Me Irresponsible" -- Either way, the decision on that dessert goes well with this song playing in the background...
    "Amor" is kinda bouncy, a nice feeling as the dessert begins to digest...
    "People" a beautiful version of the Barbra Streisand song... Care to share a slow dance to this one?
    "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" is a good song by Williams, as another version of this song was from the Porgy & Bess CD, by Miles Davis.
    It's nice music to keep the slow dancing by...
    "The Sound Of Music" -- another truly great song, great background music for the continuing conversation...

    "Lara's Theme From Dr. Zhivago" -- another true favorite of mine, as another version of this song was from the Doctor Zhivago Soundtrack. Ray Conniff may have had the popular version (I still have yet to get it...) Roger Williams puts the Italian sound to it, very impressive.

    "Near You" has a nostalgic big band sound, as in the 1947 #1 hit by Francis Craig. It also has a touch of ragtime piano. And speaking of #1, "Autumn Leaves" is on this collection. It would be Roger Williams' most famous hit, being the ORIGINAL 1955 version.

    "Till" is another beautiful song with a vocal chorus to listen to, as that date is coming to a close...
    "Almost Paradise" -- a nice song in the background, as you're explaining how much of a good time you had on your date, and hoping for that goodnight kiss...

    A wonderful collection of beautiful music, Roger Williams' piano and the full-orchestra makes this 2-CD set a great smooth relaxer for the romantic settings and date music. Or, it's just a nice CD to just sit and relax to. Many songs will be recognized for those who have followed Easy Listening music. This CD is a good runner up to the Classical CDs by Rick Wakeman, and Time-Life's Piano By Candlelight. All in all, it's a great get away from the common sounds of Rock, and today's current music.

    © All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA Records and is used for reference purposes only.

    Previous Review: #1003
    Gary Moore--Blues For Greeny
    Next Review: #1005
    Cyndi Thomson--My World