Edd "Kookie" Byrnes

Kookie: Star of "77 Sunset Strip"

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Although Edd Byrnes was known primarily for his acting rather than singing abilities, that did not stop the teen idol and star of 77 Sunset Strip from having a few notable hit singles spawned from this disc. Stylistically the album is literally all over the place. The song arrangements are courtesy of Don Ralke, who not only scored the incidental music for the television show, but also is heralded as one of the primary parties responsible for the Space Age Bachelor Pad movement of the mid- to late '50s. His inimitable style prevails throughout every cut on Kookie. Most particularly "Kookie's Mad Pad," "The Kookie Cha Cha Cha," and "Like I Love You," which highlight Ralke's trademark syncopation and quirky, percussion-laden melodies. Byrnes teams up with several concurrently high-profile female vocalists on "Hot Rod Rock," "I Dig You Kookie" (Joanie Sommers), and "Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb)" (Connie Stevens), the latter of which was a Top Five hit for the pair in the summer of 1959. Byrnes' vocal style ranges from the mostly spoken rockabilly of "Hot Rod Rock" or the reverb-heavy "Kookie's Boogie." On "'A' You're Adorable," Byrnes' contributions are limited to a rhythmic recitation of the alphabet while a background chorus sings the verses. Although a majority of the dozen tracks on the disc were written specifically for this project, one interesting departure is the cover of Cole Porter's "You're the Top." The interpretation is made all the more "ginchy" under the influence of Ralke's unmistakable and highly idiosyncratic style -- this time punctuated with electric guitar flares and a full vocal chorus, which again handles the verses. No, this most certainly isn't brain surgery. However, Kookie is a fun ride and recommended for enthusiasts reminiscent for a slice of pop culture's past.

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