Personnel: Andy Williams (vocals).
When he came to record his fifth Columbia album (not including a holiday set) in the fall of 1963, Andy Williams had established himself on the LP charts with discs devoted to film songs, notably the long-running chart-topper Days of Wine and Roses, and on the singles charts with peppier songs like "Can't Get Used to Losing You." The Wonderful World of Andy Williams featured a couple of songs associated with movies and some up-tempo numbers, but it was really neither here nor there as a collection. Williams' bouncy "A Fool Never Learns," which made the pop Top 20 and the easy listening Top Five, was included, and among the other lively tunes was a remake of his first Top Ten hit, "Canadian Sunset," that led off the LP and a startling arrangement of the old Bing Crosby hit "Pennies From Heaven" with Williams buried in a chorus and an abrupt shift from slow ballad to driving rock & roll, complete with screaming electric guitar, halfway through. That, of course, was uncharacteristic for the usually smooth-sailing Williams, but you could easily imagine it making for an amusing production number on his television show. Most of the rest of the album consisted of familiar ballads, dating back to the 1940s for Johnny Mercer's "Dream" (another choral performance not unlike the Pied Pipers' hit version) and coming up to the present for Williams versions of hits like Tony Bennett's "This Is All I Ask" and Jack Jones' "Wives and Lovers." "Softly, As I Leave You" was a good piece of material that had been a British hit for Matt Monro, but it would not gain U.S. recognition until Frank Sinatra cut it. Thus, there were interesting isolated moments on the album, but it was an uneven grab bag. ~ William Ruhlmann