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Barry Ryan  - Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan
 

Barry Ryan - Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan

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Genre: pop
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan
Company: MGM
Catalog: CS 8106
Year: 1968
Country/State: UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: UK pressing; gatefold sleeve
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 309
Price: $55.00

Best time to play: background music for when you had to bring work home and do it after the kids went to bed
Along with his twin brother Paul, Barry Ryan is pretty much a complete unknown in the US. The brothers released a couple of instantly obscure mid-'60s singles in the US, but that was about it for their domestic career. They did better in England and throughout the rest of Europe (particularly Germany)..

Depending what references you believe, by the mid-1960s the brothers, particularly Paul, were having a hard time coping with the stresses associated with being professional musicians. With Paul no longer interested in touring or live performances (guess he pulled a page out of the Brian Wilson career manual), the pair decided to end their performance partnership. Paul focused on writing, while Barry started a solo career, with a heavy emphasis on performing Paul-penned material.

Barry's solo debut came with a couple of 1968 singles:


- 'Goodbye' b/w 'I'm So Sad' (MGM catalog number 1423) 
- 'Eloise' b/w 'Love I Almost Found You' (MGM catalog number 1442)

MGM even released the single in the States (catalog number K 14010) though it vanished without a trace.

Penned by Clive Westlake and Mickie Most, the debut sing (in addition to the English version, Barry also recorded a hysterical German version of the tune), did little, but the second 45, penned by Paul, proved a worldwide hit (outside of the US).

The single's success led the pair to continue their collaborationt. Perhaps not a major surprise, released in 1968, Barry's debut LP was entitled "Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan". Produced by Bill Landis, true to the title, the album featured eleven Paul Ryan compositions with a heavy emphasis on dramatic pop and hyper-dramatic ballads. Barry had a decent enough voice (particularly when he didn't push it too hard, or stray from the middle ranges) and clearly had a feel for brother Paul's material. Strictly my opinion, but Ryan was at his best of the simplest, most pop-oriented material ('I Will Bring You Love'). Paul was clearly a capable writer, with an obvious penchant for dramatic and lushly orchestrated material. The combination made for an occasionally interesting, if hard to describe mash-up of styles. The Left Banke on the verge of a full scale nervous, or perhaps precursor Jim Steinman and Meatloaf rock drama come to mind as baselines for comparisons. Material such as 'Eloise', 'My Mama' and 'Kristan Astra Bella' certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone and, to be honest, much of it hasn't dated all that well. On the other hand, there's a certain camp factor embedded throughout much of the album ('Love Is On the Way') which means there's going to be a niche audience for this collection.

"Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Theme To Eutopia (Paul Ryan) - 
Wow, where do you even start with something like this - over the top film score? Stoned vision of creative grandure? The funny thing is Barry doesn't even seem to sing on this one (if he did, it was lost in the mix), rather it's a heavily orchestrated slice of mood music, complete with sound effects (thunder, wind, church bells, etc.) and an annoying chorus of female backing singers mouthing off something meant to sound deep and sensitive, but comes off as silly. Hell if I can tell you what it all meant. Anyhow, imagine Jim Steinman and Meatloaf as bushy haired, pale Englishmen and you might have a starting point for this one. Disconcerting way to start an album.  rating: ** stars  
2.) Why Do You Cry My Love (Paul Ryan) - 
Strange pop song that went from nice, radio-friendly pop to schmaltzy lounge singer, and back to pop song all within the span of a couple of minutes. rating: *** stars
3.) The Colour of My Love (Paul Ryan) - 
A decent up-tempo pop song with one of those catchy melodies that unexpectedly snuck up on you and wouldn't leave, Barry turned in a nice enough vocal on this one, but the song suffered from some of the lamest lyrics you've ever heard. rating: *** stars
4.) Crazy Days (Paul Ryan) - 
'Crazy Days' almost qualified as a slice of bubblegum pop ... very commercial with one of those melodies that could have doubled as a chewing gum advertisement. My only problems with this one were; 1.) the key - Barry simply didn't sound all that comfortable in the extremely high register, and 2.) the totally bizarre end-of-song laughter. rating: *** stars
5.) Eloise (Paul Ryan) - 
Hopelessly over dramatic, lyrically vapid, way too complicated, and way too long, to my ears 'Eloise' really did sound like a Meatloaf tune ... This one had a major camp factor; especially when Barry started to belt it out. Gawd only know how this became his biggest hit. YouTube has a clip of Ryan seemingly lip synching the tune in front of an amused television audience. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9md5oW00q4 Normally I wouldn't include two links, but there's a hysterically campy VH1 video for the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gbJR_e8exs  rating: *** stars

(side 2)
1.) My Mama (Paul Ryan) - 
Another heavily orchestrated track with more than its share of pretentious edges, 'My Mama' was one of those ballads that could prove dangerous to diabetics. This one was actually kind of funny; particularly when Barry went into hyper-emotion screaming 'I love you' over and over.  rating: *** stars
2.) I Will Bring You Love (Paul Ryan) - 
Probably the album's weirdest song, 'I Willl Bring You Love' was an up-tempo rocker that sounded a bit like The Beach Boys spending a sunny day lying around Brian Wilson's sandbox on speed. The song had some great drums (wonder who it was) and some fantastic multi-tracked Barry vocals. Just to strange, which made it one of the standout performances. rating: **** stars
3.) Love Is On the Way (Paul Ryan) - 
Sporting one of the album's prettiest melodies, the ballad 'Love Is On the Way' was interesting for the song's acid-tinged aura, a nice acoustic guitar solo, and the funny backing vocals. rating: **** stars
4.) What's That Sleeping In My Bed? (Paul Ryan) - 
Baroque pop ? Very Left Banke-ish, albeit with a distinctive British edge (geez, it even mentions making and drinking tea). Say what you will, but 'What's That Sleeping In My Bed?' sure didn't sound very much like a 1968 effort - more like something from 1966.  rating: **** stars
5.) You Don't Know What You're Doing (Paul Ryan) - 
'You Don't Know What You're Doing' was interesting if only to hear Barry employ a deeper, darker voice in a multi-tracked arrangement. To be honest, he actually sounded far better in this register than when trying to navigate higher notes. You could even overlook the frenetic outbursts this time around. Nice ballad too boot. rating: **** stars
6.) Kristan Astra Bella (Paul Ryan) - 
'Kristan Astra Bella' closed the album with another acid tinged, heavily orchestrated ballad. It took me awhile to realize the vocal was actually Barry singing in a painful falsetto. Way, way up there on this one. rating: *** stars

Strange, but worth investigating. I'll have to track down the second, self-titled solo album as well.
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