Dirty Linen - pp.50-1
"There is plenty of scintillating music....Fans of the classic Western swing era will want these CDs, which feature the music of a wonderful band."
Half as Much is part two in a two-volume series that compiles Curley Williams' complete Columbia recordings. It picks up in 1949 where the first volume, Just a-Pickin' and a-Singin', leaves off, and continues to the end of Williams' tenure with the label in 1952. A smattering of alternate takes dating back to 1946 are included at the end of the program to fill out the disc. Williams was reputedly a notoriously -- even comically -- slow talker, which may help explain why the pace of his recordings is strangely relaxed for a string dance band. The anesthetized performances undercut novelties such as "Honey Do You Love Me -- Huh?" and "No Not Now," which should be sprightlier. Instead, there are moments when it seems as if Williams recorded his music moments before the sleeping pills took effect. Williams is known, above all, for composing the song "Half as Much," a hit for Hank Williams and Rosemary Clooney, and Curley's original version from 1951 appears on this anthology. Unfortunately, it is an unremarkable rendition of more historical interest than anything. Curley collaborated with Hank Williams on occasion, too, co-writing the two aforementioned novelty songs. Adding to the value for Hank Williams completists, the anthology presents a rare demo from 1949 of Hank and Curley singing "No Not Now." Like the first volume, Half as Much contains a variety of instrumentals, boogies, ballads, and novelties with a regional sensibility reflected in the many prominent references to Southern states. A telling quotation printed on the back of the CD package suggests that Mitch Miller, Columbia's A&R man, had never heard of Curley Williams even though Curley had been a Columbia recording artist for seven years. It may be tempting to interpret that remark as evidence of Miller's failure to recognize great talent, but it is more likely evidence of the unexceptional character of Williams' catalog. ~ Greg Adams