He might have been born a someday man, but Paul Williams has proven himself to be a forever artist. A modern-day renaissance man, the Nebraska native tried his luck as an actor, a songwriter, and a singer from his earliest days in Los Angeles. A brief three-month stint peddling his tunes at The Turtles' home of White Whale Records ended in disappointment when Williams was shown the door. But he didn't have to wait long for a new opportunity. A friend played his songs for Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss' A&M Records, and the label's head of publishing, Chuck Kaye, was more than impressed. He paired Williams with an aspiring composer named Roger Nichols, and Williams' often hopeful, always universal lyrics proved the perfect match for Nichols' bright, infectious melodies. The rest is history...and it's now being chronicled anew by Hanky Panky Records on a pair of new vinyl releases.
The Holy Mackerel's Love for Everyone: The Reprise Mono Singles and More and Paul Williams' The Reprise Mono Singles and More both shine a light on the young singer-songwriter's stunning, early body of work for Reprise Records. Fate brought A&M songwriter Williams to the competing label. Up-and-coming producer Richard Perry selected "Fill Your Heart," a song written by Williams with Biff Rose, for Tiny Tim's Reprise album debut. When "Tip-Toe Thru' the Tulips with Me" became a surprise hit for the ukulele-playing Laugh-In favorite, Paul's song was the B-side. Perry sensed Williams' potential and approached him to cut his own album for Reprise. Rather than flying solo, he enlisted a group of friends with whom he had been making music since late 1967, including his brother Mentor, Jerry Scheff, and George Hiller. With Cynthia Fitzpatrick and Michael Cannon rounding out the lineup - bassist Bob Harvey and drummer Don Murray left before recording had concluded - they settled on the name of The Holy Mackerel. Sessions for an eclectic, psych-pop album with Perry commenced in March 1968. By the time of The Holy Mackerel's November release, the six-person band had already survived a line-up change and split up for good. But all wasn't lost. The Nichols/Williams partnership, represented on The Holy Mackerel by the ironically bouncy sunshine pop nugget "Bitter Honey" (also recorded by Jackie DeShannon and others) was going strong.
Love for Everyone offers all five single sides released by the band in 1968. (And while an orchestra of Los Angeles' finest players was heard on the LP, The Holy Mackerel was very much a band, playing on every track. Drummer Jim Gordon sat in on "Bitter Honey" and Buffalo Springfield's Dewey Martin handled drums and/or percussion on three other cuts.) "Love for Everyone," a boisterous, country-meets-garage-rocker-with-harmonies penned by the solo Paul, was paired on 45 RPM with one of the most delicious put-down songs ever: "To Put Up with You," co-written with Roger Nichols. Williams' pointed lyrics were directed at a heartbreaking if attractive lady ("Yes, I'd like to hang around/But I'll have to let you down/I just haven't got what it takes/To put up with you...") while Nichols' ironically breezy, pillow-soft melody did its best to let her down easy. Surprisingly, neither song was included on the band's LP despite arguably being stronger than some of the material that did make the album. Those two sides were followed by three cuts from the LP, all presented here in their original mono single mixes. "Bitter Honey" may be the band's most enduring cut, a terrifically infectious slice of prime sunshine pop from the Williams/Nichols team which sonically looked forward to Paul's Someday Man album. It was paired on 45 with "To Put Up with You." The band's third and final single offered two more solo Williams compositions: the beguiling "Scorpio Red" b/w "The Lady Is Waiting."
The single material has been rounded out on this new compilation by five bonus tracks, comprising all of the bonus tracks from Now Sounds' 2010 expanded edition of The Holy Mackerel: demos of "Bitter Honey" and two songs that weren't otherwise represented on the album, Paul's "on the Way" and George Hiller and Robert Harvey's "Listen to the Voice." Sessions for "And Now I Am Alone" and "Love for Everyone" make for a fascinating fly-on-the-wall experience, with Richard Perry already a confident presence in the studio as the band strives to capture their essence and sound on tape.
Though The Holy Mackerel and its three singles failed to chart, Reprise greenlit Williams' first solo album to be produced by Nichols. Someday Man, released in May 1970, was a deeply personal, striking pop journey brimming with warmth and melody. Once more, the public didn't catch on, but Someday Man has since been recognized as not only a classic, but as a landmark of the sunshine pop genre. It remains a singular LP, and highlights are featured on So Many People: The Reprise Mono Singles and More.
The August 1969 release of "So Many People" on 45 previewed the full album to come. Backed with the definitive recording of "To Put Up with You," its arrangement tightened since the Holy Mackerel days - clearly Williams and Nichols knew the song was too good to languish on the B-side of two unsuccessful singles - "So Many People" was an auspicious debut for the solo Williams. Written in the shadow of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and with a sobering reference to the slain leader in its lyric, it was set to a tough acoustic guitar riff, enhanced by producer Nichols' graceful strings and subtle horns. Williams' poignant observation remains sadly true today: "So many people and all in a hurry/Living in circles of worship and worry/Dressing so long that they're usually late for the show...So busy judging the heads that they're turning/So busy fighting there's no time for learning/Turning their backs on the people they might like to know."
"Someday Man" b/w "Mornin' I'll Be Movin' On" arrived as a promo single in April 1970, just before the full LP hit stores. The A-side, also recorded by artists including The Monkees and Georgie Fame, espoused another positive message courtesy of Williams: "Some people always complain that their life is too short/So they hurry it along...Their worries drive them insane/But they still go along for the ride/As for me/I have all the time in the world...Tomorrow's a new day, baby/Anything can happen at all!" Nichols' music builds to the chorus' great release, matching Williams' vivid imagery each step of the way. The wistful farewell "Mornin' I'll Be Movin' On" is likewise filled with humanity, heart, and emotion - all qualities which would propel Williams and Nichols to greater fame when the Carpenters discovered them and turned one song after another into bona fide standards: "Rainy Days and Mondays." "We've Only Just Begun." "I Won't Last a Day Without You." "Let Me Be the One." While those songs practically created the soundtrack of the seventies, they in fact owe a great debt to the sounds and style developed on Someday Man.
Paul Williams' next solo 45 wouldn't be released for almost another two years, by which time he'd moved as an artist to A&M; his creative partnership with Nichols would also soon come to an end (at least, for then). But Hanky Panky's collection has been filled out with all of the truly essential bonuses from Now Sounds' 2010 expansion of Someday Man in their vinyl debuts. Demos of "So Many People" and "I Know You" are joined by the beautiful and intricate instrumental tracks for all four single sides. With arrangements by Nichols, John Andrew Tartaglia, Perry Botkin, Jr., and Artie Butler, it's no wonder these instrumentals (featuring the musicians of the Wrecking Crew) are wholly transporting in their own right. The set concludes with sessions for "Someday Man" and another Williams/Nichols classic, "The Drifter." While cut from Someday Man, the latter song did appear as a single by Nichols' group Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends in a version utilizing the same backing track as heard here. The jaunty "Drifter" also received a number of cover versions from artists as disparate as Kenny Lynch and Steve Lawrence.
These top-notch vinyl packages have been produced by Iñaki Orbezua and Now Sounds' Steve Stanley, with Stanley also contributing the period-perfect design (including, naturally, replica LP labels) and the liner notes. They're found in the colorful, photo-packed four-page inserts accompanying each title. Javier Roldón has splendidly mastered both releases following in the tasteful style set by Alan Brownstein for the original Now Sounds CDs. Both LPs are pressed on quiet black vinyl.
The Holy Mackerel's Love for Everyone: The Reprise Mono Singles and More and Paul Williams' The Reprise Mono Singles and More are joyful listens from one of pop's most eminent craftsmen and his collaborators. These releases are to be cherished.
The Holy Mackerel, Love for Everyone: The Reprise Mono Singles and More (Hanky Panky HPR-062, 2022)
- Love for Everyone (Reprise single 0681, 1968)
- To Put Up with You (Reprise single 0681/0768, 1968)
- Bitter Honey (Reprise single 0768, 1968)
- Scorpio Red (Reprise single 0797, 1968)
- The Lady Is Waiting (Reprise single 0797, 1968)
- Bitter Honey (Demo)
- And Now I Am Alone (Sessions)
- Love for Everyone (Sessions)
- On the Way (Demo)
- Listen to the Voice (Demo)
Side One, Track 6 & Side Two, Tracks 1-4 first released on The Holy Mackerel, Now Sounds CRNOW21, 2010
Paul Williams, So Many People: The Reprise Mono Singles and More (Hanky Panky HPR-061, 2022)
- So Many People (Reprise single 0848, 1969)
- To Put Up with You (Reprise single 0848, 1969)
- Someday Man (Reprise single 0903, 1970)
- Mornin' I'll Be Movin' On (Reprise single 0903, 1970)
- So Many People (Demo)
- I Know You (Demo)
- So Many People (Instrumental)
- To Put Up with You (Instrumental)
- Someday Man (Instrumental)
- Mornin' I'll Be Movin' On (Instrumental)
- The Drifter (Sessions)
- Someday Man (Sessions)
Side One, Tracks 5-6 & Side Two, Tracks 1-6 first released on Someday Man, Now Sounds CRNOW22, 2010