Like many of the popular singers that emerged in a post Sinatra world, his records seldom ever lived up to his talent. Where Sinatra was a powerful, but, often polarizing figure, which could be heard in the emotional extremes of his work, Williams cultivated an easy going persona that made people feel safe. By comparison, Sinatra made records that were intended to be art—while Andy Williams’s records reflected his audience’s expectations and seldom sought to move beyond them. His easy going, every-man persona, made him popular with a broad middle of the road audience, one that wanted familiarity, not a challenge. There are some good recordings in the mix, but, very little of his output has held up nearly as well as, say, Tony Bennett’s, another of the great singers from the same generation. Williams’s wide ranging appeal, however, opened the door to television, where he found his greatest success and remained a mainstay for more than a decade.
Television was in many ways a perfect medium for his talents. The versatility that he cultivated singing with his brothers in a group setting, or, as a session singer for recording dates of all kinds made him a perfect candidate for the variety show format.
His career stalled in the 70’s as styles began to change, and a young audience with its own, very different, aesthetic values increasingly dominated the musical scene. Williams eventually found a home in Branson Missouri, where his kind of entertainment has managed to thrive in a kind of cultural time warp.
But, it’s those many performances caught on tape almost fifty years ago that remain his legacy. That and the handful of records that are worthy of that rich, powerful and resonate voice, that confirm Andy Williams status as one the greats.