33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Patchy compilation of their two Orch/Pop albums.,
This review is from: Singing The Songs Of Paul Ryan 1968-69 (Audio CD)
In the mid sixties twins Barry and Paul Ryan were successful pop stars. Then after endless rounds of gigging, promotional tours and TV appearances Paul Ryan suffered what appeared to be a nervous breakdown. Then in his recuperation period at a party thrown by actor Richard Harris (Who performed some memorable OTT covers of Jimmy Webb songs himself) he announced he had written some Jimmy Webb type material himself and was ready to record it. This was news to his brother Barry, but he was the singer so he went along with the idea. The result was the album "Barry Ryan sings Paul Ryan" which spawned a massive worldwide hit with the five minute epic "Eloise". The album sold millions and they had further hits with Love is Love", "The Hunt" and "Kitsch". A follow up album simply called "Barry Ryan" (Imaginative album titles obviously weren't their strong point) did very well in Europe. After that musical tastes changed for hoarier guitar led fare and the brothers retreated from the limelight, still recording throughout the 1970,s but with Barry now more interested in a career in photography they failed to scale their former glories. This CD contains both of the first two albums and showcases a memorable vision for gargentuous orchestral pop, all dashing string, portentous arrangements and sweeping vocals without a great deal of the time, songs worthy of carrying all that flesh.
The first half of "Barry Sings" is magnificent though. "Eloise" ,once covered by The Dammed of all people, is the pinnacle of their output but "The Colour Of My Love" while having little of it's Wagnerian swagger is a lovely breezy pop gem . "Why Do You Cry My Love?" benefits from a lambent brass arrangement and a bracing melodic dip for the chorus. "Crazy Days" is a bit scatty but at least has some vivacity about it." My Mama" is a glorious choral ballad with a near hysterical vocal performance on the chorus and twinkling plucked strings. "Love is on the Way" is positively subdued with ripples of acoustic guitar but the slightly woozy ambience juxtaposes well with the other material. "You Don't What You're Doing" may sound like a terrace chant but is a terrific languorous song with tremulous strings and a lovely use of saxophone which is something you won't catch me saying often.
The "Barry Ryan "album is disappointing. For some reason he sings in a quavering falsetto for much of it's duration and the songs aren't that great anyway. Only "Man Alive" approaches the glories of "Barry Sings" with another superb brass arrangement. Compared to the first album it feels too low key, the arrangements lacking the orchestral majesty of most of "Barry Sings". Nothing else the Ryan's ever did approached "Eloise "for epiphany inducing pop magnificence. That was obviously a one off, but it seems odd that so much of their later material seemed to take a step back from its OTT brilliance, as if they were intimidated by what it may lead to. So while much on here is worth hearing I'm left feeling slightly aggrieved that it all could have led to so much more. An album , or even better two albums of songs with the exuberance and sheer audacious pop majesty of "Eloise" would be something to really celebrate.