Brian Hyland was one of the more charming members of the pack of teen idols who overran the rock & roll scene in the early '60s. His first big hit was the innocuous "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini," and it set the scene for the rest of his early-'60s work -- namely, sometimes silly pop/rock with female vocal choruses, gentle guitars, and Hyland's soft vocals. In 2004 BGO combined two of Hyland's early albums on one disc. Released in 1961, The Bashful Blond includes his big hit plus 11 other pop tunes. Most of them are novelties like the bopping "Cleo," "Cozy Little Compact Car," and the silly but catchy "Don't Dilly Dally, Sally." He also takes on a couple of vocal pop standards, "'A' You're Adorable" and "Baby Face," as well as making a valiant but doomed effort to make something of "I Don't Want to Set the World On Fire." Hyland's voice doesn't stretch quite far enough to find the melody here, but mostly he sticks to tunes that do accommodate his limited range. Let Me Belong to You, issued in 1962, is half made up of his versions of songs that were popular for others, like "Are You Lonesome Tonight," "I'm Sorry," "Lonely Weekends," "Bye Bye Love," and "All Shook Up." He really doesn't add anything to the originals at all, which makes the album somewhat less successful than its predecessor. The songs that work are those that were written for him by Gary Geld and Pete Udell, like the dramatic ballads "It Ain't That Way at All," "The Night I Cried," and "Let It Die." The songs are loaded with drama, tension, and energy. Hyland's vocals don't quite reach Gene Pitney territory; he comes off like Pitney's younger and less histrionic brother, though he almost matches him on "Walk a Lonely Mile." Taken together, the albums show an artist with more charm than talent, but it makes for pleasant listening just the same.
The Bashful Blond/Let Me Belong to You Review
by Tim Sendra