Longtime Tiger Beat and 16 readers may remember the Williams Brothers as early-'70s teen idols. Their periodical popularity led to two producer-constructed albums and a guest slot on The Partridge Family, during which they fought for Laurie Partridge's affection and sang their then-current B-side, "Say It Again." At age sixteen they dropped out, reconstructed themselves as backing musicians for T-Bone Burnett, the Plimsouls, and others, and re-emerged with music of their own making, including the 1992 hit "Can't Cry Hard Enough."
Varese winds the clock back to 1974 with this previously unreleased third album, originally recorded for their uncle Andy Williams' Barnaby label. Three singles were issued from these sessions, including a barely-charting cover of Don & Juan's "What's Your Name," before the project was shelved amid label turmoil and the twins' declining interest in teen fame. But what remained in the vault, in addition to a few more oldies covers, was some superb mid-'70s sunshine pop.
The opener, "Sha-La-La," is the bubblegum hit that never was, forever missing its chance to be perpetually anthologized with "Sugar Sugar" and other such confections. Producer Michael Lloyd (who went on to work with David and Shaun Cassidy as well as Leif Garrett) provided the summertime jug-band "Roll River" and the Eric Carmen-y "Let Me Love You." Though several songs were written rather blatantly to tug adolescent female heartstrings -- the forbidden romance of "Secretly" and divorce-inspired teen angst of "Every Other Sunday" -- they still harbor considerable, if calculated, charms. The closer "I Don't Know How to Say Goodbye," originally waxed by Elton John's original drummer's teenage son (Maldwyn Pope, for those keeping track), is a beautifully crafted orchestral pop ballad.
As one of the year's least-anticipated vault-discoveries, this album is also one the year's freshest finds: a mint-in-box, new-old-stock time-capsule of the mid-'70s' lightest side. All that's missing from this release is a full-color pullout poster and the fan club address.
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