Brian Hyland

Brian Hyland

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Del Shannon's sublime production of Brian Hyland on this 1970 album titled after the singer resulted in the Hyland's eighth hit (and one of his three biggest). The cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Gypsy Woman" is totally commercial and totally wonderful, as is this album. Of the eleven tunes there are five Del Shannon/Brian Hyland co-writes, all pretty incredidble, from "Lorrayne" to "Drivin' Me Crazy," a hit waiting to happen. The version of Larry William's "Slowdown" sounds nothing like The Beatles, if anything it anticipates the "New Wave" about to come. "You & Me" is another strong original from the producer / performer team, but the surprise of the album is the breadth of Hyland's artistry. He and Del Shannon play guitars alongside the drums of Russ Kunkel, bass of Leland Sklar, and sweeping string arrangements of George Tipton, but it is the work on the rhythm and blues numbers that is outstanding. A stirring reading of the Benson/Pettite title that became B.B. King's signature tune, The Thrill Is Gone" (with more of Tipton's magical string work), is as memorable as the Bernstein/Sondheim medley of "Maria" and "Somewhere" which opens the album. If only engineer Dave Hassinger put some of this sparkle into the grooves of his latter day Electric Prunes released on ABC. This crew takes Berry Gordy's "Lonely Teardrops" and make it a performance, not just a cover of a Jackie Wilson hit. Hyland's only composition without Del Shannon as a collaborator, "Mail Order Gun," is an interesting look at suicide a few years before Elton John's "I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself," but it can't touch "On The East Side," a Del Shannon/Brian Hyland original that cries out for The Hollies. The album is a real work of art full of hooks, musicianship, and the pop star's familiar voice in territory that should have made him a huge star. "Gypsy Woman" is the chestnut here, and quite the herald for an album that should have been a monster. Irresistable and tremendous.

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