Friday, June 09, 2017

An Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Johnny Cash - BRIAN HYLAND

Yes, before Justin Bieber offered such coy poses, BRIAN HYLAND was doing it.

While this entry doesn't exactly PRAISE Mr. Hyland, it's not intended to bury him, either. It simply acknowledges that many artists, by themselves or through their label or management, make odd choices. Like covering deep growly Johnny Cash when your voice is more of a boy soprano. More about that below.

First, in case you don't recall, Hyland was indeed a boy wonder. At 16, the good-looking kid had a label deal, and the label was powerful enough to assign the Brill Building duo (Paul) Vance and (Lee) Pockriss to develop the kid's potential. They wrote "Four Little Heels" for him, and then a real biggie, the novelty "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini." This song was so popular, Brian turned up on "To Tell the Truth" as a novelty guest: can you pick out which kid sang the crazy new song that just reached the Top Ten??

No, the panel really couldn't, as they were all double Brian's age (if not triple) and in those pre-Bieber days, pop singers weren't normally on the cover of every magazine or newspaper. 

Hyland really had little to do with the novelty song's success. Anybody could've sung the straight lines. It was the silly chorus (sung by women) and the silly lyrics that mattered most. However (see, this is NOT a snarky entry) Hyland proved his abilities with "Sealed with a Kiss," an earnest, excellent Top Five teen ballad. It was later nasal'd by Jerry's son Gary Lewis. But Hyland's is first and best. 

To his credit, Hyland didn't want to be just another pretty boy. He followed his 1962 "Sealed with a Kiss" album with the ambitious "Country Meets Folk." It offered his cover versions of everything from Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice It's All Right" to the sullen "Greenback Dollar" to hideous shit such as "Act Naturally," "Jamaica Farewell" and the always annoying "If I Had a Hammer." His new label (ABC replacing Kapp) seemed to skimp a bit. Instead of the 101 Strings, they employed "The 21 Strings." 

However much you might want to change genres and prove yourself, your look might not be suited. Or your voice. Just check out "Folsom Prison" below, which, to put it mildly, doesn't quite sound like it's coming from somebody who shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. 

The plucky Mr. Hyland tried again with the 1965 "Rockin' Folk," and with The Beatles pushing all the slick-haired boys aside (from Bobby Rydell to Del Shannon), Hyland had a tough time interesting anyone in further albums, including "The Joker Went Wild" (1966), "Tragedy" (1967) or "Stay And Love Me All Summer" (1969).  

He got older, and always had an audience for the oldies. What menopausal woman couldn't get slightly wet sitting and seeing Brian emoting a classic like "Sealed with a Kiss?" He still looked good

Hyland may still be out on the oldies circuit, and still capable of being amusing ("Polka Dot Bikini") and romantic ("Sealed with a Kiss"). At least he didn't suffer the pitfalls of a Del Shannon. He also never shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.The again, neither did Johnny Cash. It's just that Johnny sounds a lot more convincing...

Brian Hyland does Johnny Cash    Instant download or listen on line. No Zinfart egocentric passwords. No malware or spyware anywhere.

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