It would be extremely easy to call Tiny Tim a one-off, but that doesn’t begin to do justice to just exactly how unique Herbert Khaury was. A large, imposing man with a voice that seemed unsuited for a man of his stature, Tiny Tim would become a fixture on talk shows for his singing and his flamboyant style–even though, sadly, his appeal and his persona often meant the audience was laughing at him. God Bless Tiny Tim, his debut album, appeared in 1968, and based upon the album’s hit single, “Tip-Toe Through The Tulips With Me,” went to #7 on the Billboard charts. Beginning with “Welcome To My Dream,” the album is formatted in such a way that the entire affair feels less like an album and more like a surrealistic one-man variety show. “Tip-Toe,” of course, features his ukulele, a very tasteful, impressive string section courtesy of producer Richard Perry and arranger Artie Butler, who did an excellent job; their work fabulously accentuates his impressive falsetto. That most of these songs date to the turn of the century is no matter; Tiny Tim turns them into his own. God Bless Tiny Tim also highlights something oft forgotten–that Tiny Tim possessed a wonderful baritone voice, as heard on “Strawberry Tea” and “The Other Side.” Even more fascinating are his male/female duets heard on “On The Old Front Porch” and “I Got You, Babe,” which highlight his amazing range, whilst being slightly disorienting in its vocal acrobatics. The bonus tracks are interesting fare–a handful of b-sides, and a half dozen instrumental versions of album tracks–but are slightly distracting from the amazing main attraction. The exception is his Richard Perry-produced debut single, released in 1966; the A-side is a cabaret-style take on “April Showers,” featuring his trademark falsetto, while the B-side finds him singing Huddie Ledbetter‘s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” in his baritone voice; it’s haunting, dark, and a fascinating blend of light and dark. Still, the main attraction here is the fifteen-track album; it’s one of the most original albums you’ll ever hear.
Categories: Album Reviews