Tiny Tim

God Bless Tiny Tim

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One of the more interesting manifestations of the madness of the late '60s, Tiny Tim (born Herbert Khaury) unexpectedly rose from the lowest ranks of American show business in 1968 to score a recording contract with Reprise, one of America's biggest and most prestigious record labels. To the surprise of all parties involved, Tiny Tim enjoyed a major hit single with "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips," a cheerfully silly little ditty that was a hit for one Nick Lucas back in 1929, and Tim's debut album similarly rose to the upper reaches of the sales charts, earning him a potent if short-lived stardom. With his benign but outré personality, his shaggy countenance, his wobbly falsetto, and his ever-present ukulele, Tiny Tim seemed like some sort of flower child under the influence of Rudy Vallee, but his first and most successful album, God Bless Tiny Tim, made it obvious that while it was easy to get a chuckle from this man and his music (which he certainly didn't mind), this was most certainly not a joke. Tiny Tim devoted most of his teenage years to an obsessive study of Tin Pan Alley songs of the 1890s though the 1930s, and God Bless Tiny Tim was dominated by forgotten pop chestnuts such as "Livin' In the Sunlight, Lovin' in the Moonlight," "Ever Since You Told Me That You Love Me (I'm a Nut)" and "On the Old Front Porch." (Tim even dug up the anti-war song Irving Berlin had been explaining away for years, "Stay Down Here Where You Belong.") Tiny Tim had the good fortune to be assigned Richard Perry as a producer, who turned God Bless Tiny Tim into a grand widescreen epic of an album, with Tim at center stage throughout as he rambled through everything from easygoing novelty numbers to multi-layered neo-psychedelic epics ("Strawberry Tea" and "The Other Side"), with Gordon Jenkins' "This Is All I Ask" bringing the whole affair to a glorious (and obviously sincere) curtain call of showbiz good will. Then as now, Tiny Tim's falsetto is something of an acquired taste, and his willingness to play on an emotionally broad stage pushes numbers like "Daddy, Daddy, What Is Heaven Like" into the saccharine red zone, but between Perry's quite lovely pop instincts and Tim's passionate and skillful vocal delivery (his "normal" voice is far stronger than those who only know "Tip-Toe Through the Tulips" would expect), this album a one-of-a-kind treasure, and that rare long-player from a "one-hit wonder" that has far more to offer than just the single.

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