Stereo Review (7/94, p.91) - Performance: Lifeless / Recording: Good - "...it's the wrong mix of singer and material..."
Also available in a 3-pack with LIVE AT ORCHESTRA HALL, DETROIT and FEEL THE SPIRIT.
Personnel includes: Joe Williams (vocals); The Robert Farnon Orchestra.
Recorded at Studio One, CTS Studios, London, England on August 16-18, 1993.
Personnel: Joe Williams (vocals); Louis Stewart (guitar); Hugh Webb (harp); Liz Edwards, Belinda Bunt, Trevor Williams , Michael Berrow, Madeleine Whitelaw, Rachel Cohen, John Ronayne, Raymond Keenlyside, Diana Cummings, Raymond Cohen, Jonathan Strange, Celia Sheen, Homi Kanga, Gillian Cohen, Roy Wilson, Roger Garland (violin); John Underwood , Kenneth Essex, Michael Ponder (viola); Keith Harvey, Denis Vigay, Anthony Pleeth (cello); Dennis Walton, Peter Hughes, Tommy Whittle, Roy Willox (woodwinds); Paul Pritchard, John Rooke, John Pigneguy (French horn); Bill Geldard, Christopher Dean, Don Lusher (trombone); Laurie Holloway (piano, celesta); George Shearing (piano); Jack Parnell (drums).
Liner Note Author: Will Friedwald.
Recording information: Studio One, CTS Studios, London, England (08/16/1993-08/18/1993).
Editor: Erica Brenner.
Photographer: Jeff Sedlik.
Arranger: Robert Farnon .
Here's to Joe Williams! On this 1993 release for Telarc Records, 75-year-old Williams sits back and muses over life and love with all his winning warmth and grit, to a backdrop of Robert Farnon's lush orchestrations. Williams is a master interpreter of song. His performances here are hauntingly restrained and almost conversational. His voice remains a magically smooth and flexible instrument capable of sudden acrobatic swoops-sometimes to high Bb, to make just the right point.
On HERE'S TO LIFE, Williams experiments with this "vocal stretching" and credits Bobby McFerrin in the album notes for his inspiration. The result is like listening to a winding country stream. Williams' performances are exquisitely sophisticated and never sentimental. The recording concentrates on ballads, including Williams' heartbreakingly beautiful "Here's to Life"-which later inspired Shirley Horn to record the song with a similar arrangement-and the testimonial "What a Wonderful World." The whole work has the feel of Billie Holiday's legendary LADY IN SATIN album, without the vocal raggedness and as seen from the point of view of an optimist. LIFE is a masterpiece of song interpretation of a different kind.