When it comes to white boy pop from the 60s Brian Hyland is the person I know the least about.
Maybe it’s because he isn’t a Bobby?
I know the Bobby’s : Darin, Vee, Rydell, Vinton.
I also know Lou Christie and Bobby Goldsboro.
I know Hyland had hits and I know the great Del Shannon later produced him but otherwise my knowledge is scant.
Bio: Allmusic: "Brian Hyland’s puppy-love pop virtually defined the sound and sensibility of bubblegum during the pre-Beatles era. In the years after his teen idol stature faded, he enjoyed a creative renaissance, releasing a series of underrated country-inspired efforts and even making a brief return to the pop charts…. Born November 12, 1943, in Brooklyn, NY, Hyland studied guitar and clarinet while singing in his church choir. At 14 he co-founded a harmony group dubbed the Delfis, which cut a demo they shopped to various New York City record labels. Hyland ultimately signed as a solo artist to Kapp Records, and in late 1959 issued his debut single, "Rosemary." For the follow-up, "Four Little Heels (The Clickety Clack Song)," the label paired him with the Brill Building songwriting duo of Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance, and when the single proved a minor hit, Pockriss and Vance set to work on the follow-up. The resulting "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" topped the Billboard pop charts in the summer of 1960, vaulting the 16-year-old to teen heartthrob status… After a move to ABC Records, Hyland partnered with the songwriting and production tandem of Gary Geld and Peter Udell for the hits "Let Me Belong to You" and "I’ll Never Stop Wanting You." With 1962’s "Sealed with a Kiss," a Top Five entry on both sides of the Atlantic, Hyland sealed his reputation as a paragon of youthful innocence and first-kiss romance, perfectly capturing the adolescent zeitgeist in the months leading up to Beatlemania".
I admit this type of white boy pop – before The Beatles and after Elvis – I have a lot of time for. The albums generally are not that great because they are usually the hit single(s) with some rushed out covers and filler to pad out the rest.
But I treat them as a form of high quality muzak. Put them on and they are never shrill, they won’t challenge you but they won’t hurt your ears or make you say “what the fuck is going on here?”
It’s not demanding listening but like a slow working drug it can slowly overwhelm and ultimately soothe the brain.
On that level the music works perfectly.
But what you are getting is "product", albeit well made "product".
Think about it. When you buy one of these albums:
-You get a recognisable hit song (or maybe two if you are lucky)
-You get a couple of covers ( a bonus being that they may be done a little differently to the recognised version)
-You get some songs that sound like the hit song
-You get original songs written by the staff writers in the style of the artist.
The set is meant to be played but more importantly units are to be moved.
I’m sure enough units were moved to turn a profit but, oddly, these albums didn’t do well in the charts.
These guys were, largely, singles acts.
That, though, may be what the business perception of pop and rock n roll was all about. As I have said elsewhere – before The Beatles the only rock n pop star to put albums at #1 was Elvis.
Albums were thought to be for serious adult music fans: classical, jazz, Sinatra concept albums, soundtracks, show albums.
Elvis changed the commercial perception of that and Johnny Cash put out some concept albums but otherwise , and normally, a pop album was just a cash in on a hit single.
Hyland had just hit it big with “Sealed with A Kiss” (#3) so an album was needed quickly. This album, which obviously capitalises on the hit single, lifts seven tracks from an album he had released earlier in the year, "Let Me belong to You" (1962) – Bye Bye Love, Let Me Belong To You, The Night I Cried, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Love Me Tender, I’ll Never Stop Wanting You, Walk A Lonely Mile.
He adds 5 tracks (including the single): Should Be Gettin’ Better , Ginny Come Lately, Sealed With a Kiss, It Ain’t That Way At All, Summer Job.
There are quite a few 50s covers in there whilst the rest of the material is provided by NY writing/production team of Gary Geld and Peter Udell (who wrote quite a bit for Hyland including the hit here).
The surprising thing is this album holds together pretty well. Hyland has a great voice for this type of material. The hits are great, the new material is solid and the covers are fun. Hyland has played with the covers a little, changing them but not losing the essence that makes them identifiable. I always like that ….and it’s harder to do that you think.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Bye Bye Love – (F&B Bryant) – a magnificent song. This one is more gentle with a bouncy pop backbeat. Less rustic and frantic than the Everly Brothers hit with "oooooh" and "woe, woe, woe" backing – wonderful. The guitar break / bridge in the middle is interesting also.
- Let Me Belong To You – (Udell, Geld) – a dramatic romantic ballad.
- The Night I Cried – (Udell, Geld) – this could be something out of the Roy Orbison song book.
- Are You Lonesome Tonight-(Turk, Handman) – The big Elvis Presley hit from 1960. The tempo has been upped and the song has been give a gentle Latin lilt. Interesting.
- I Should Be Gettin’ Better – (Udell, Geld) – sublime pop. A bit like fairy floss but while it lasts, addictive.
- Ginny Come Lately – (Udell, Geld) – more sublime romantic pop.
- Love Me Tender(Presley, Matson) – another Elvis song, from 1956
- Sealed With a Kiss – (Udell, Geld) – one of the greatest of all songs about the pain of physical distance whilst in romantic love. It’s like being in Korea in love with a chick in upstate New York. The music and lyrics both compliment each other to create a pervasive and persuasive song. Gary Lewis later had a big hit with it (#19, 1968).
- It Ain’t That Way At All – (Udell, Geld) – dramatic. There is even a church bell in it.
- Summer Job – (Udell, Geld) – call me perverse but any song where the narrator wants to give his "baby the best of care" with "moonlight walks and salty spray" is going to end with raised eyebrows. He is as "happy as can be" …no shit, I would be too. "Hand" should have been in the title at the very least.
- I’ll Never Stop Wanting You – (Udell, Geld) – more romantic drama with a spoken bridge much like the one in Elvis’ "Are You Lonesome Tonight". The effect was popular at the time.
- Walk A Lonely Mile – (Udell, Geld) – more drama. Quite convincing though Elvis would have hammered the drama into oblivion on a song like this.
Not perfect but excellent in parts and it grows on you …. I’m keeping it. I look forward to more Brian Hyland albums.
1962 Ginny Come Lately Billboard Hot 100 #21
1962 Sealed With A Kiss Billboard Hot 100 #3
1961 I’ll Never Stop Wanting You Billboard Hot 100 #83
1961 Let Me Belong To You Billboard Hot 100 #20
Nothing – did I mention singles act?
1962 Ginny Come Lately #5
1962 Sealed With A Kiss #3
Let Me Belong To You
The Night I Cried
Are You Lonesome Tonight
Ginny Come Lately
Love Me Tender
MP3 attached below
It Ain’t That Way At All
I’ll Never Stop Wanting You
Walk A Lonely Mile
this clip is a little disturbing (oh how times have changed)
• Brian Hyland is a cousin (by marriage) of the late Louis Feinberg, aka "Larry Fine" of the Three Stooges.