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Did anyone notice that it was Paul Williams that gave the acceptance speech for Daft Punk when the helmeted duo won the Grammy for Album of the Year? Williams, whose earlier career was derailed from alcohol abuse, hit the bull’s-eye with his comment “Back when I was drinking, I would imagine things that weren’t there and I’d get frightened. Then I got sober and two robots called and asked me to make an album.”
We oldsters all remember who Paul Williams is. But for the benefit of those of you under 50 I’ll let you in on his career highlights.
Williams was a very successful song writer in the 70s. His greatest success came with the two big hits he composed for the Carpenters – “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainy Days and Mondays” (co-written with his partner Roger Nichols). He had another major triumph with “Evergreen,” a #1 hit from the Barbra Streisand movie A Star is Born which won him a Grammy. He also penned songs for Three Dog Night (“Old Fashioned Love Song”) and others. David Bowie recorded one of his songs (“Fill Your Heart”) on the album Hunky Dory. Williams also wrote the theme song for The Love Boat TV show and Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection” for The Muppet Movie.
But few who recall his background know that earlier Williams recorded with a pop/psych band called The Holy Mackerel. I have a (white label promo) copy of the 1968 album and at least one side isn’t half bad.
The SotW is “Scorpio Red.”
“Scorpio Red” is an astrology themed, cautionary tale about a “red headed lady” that “will not be tamed.” It contains all of the trappings of late 60s psych/pop rock – Eastern influenced chords, ringing guitars, reverb and group harmony.
Another song on the album worth hearing (though not written by Williams) is “Wildflowers.”
This could be the East/West hybrid sound George Harrison was shooting for on “Within You Without You.” Or maybe not.
Enjoy… until next week.