Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan
Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan LP (MGM, 1968)
Five years or so, I was wandering around Tijuana looking for record stores...and to find record stores in Tijuana wandering is what you have to do. Search the interweb and you will find one Tijuana record store referenced and it is a very good one, but it is just one. You can ask around and get a few more, but what you will find are stores stocked with rancheros, narcocorridos, and mariachi music. The phone book is worthless. It is wandering that will find you inside some nearly literal hole-in-the-wall digging through a rack of 20 records, and buying half of them for no more than fifteen bucks. Of course, this wandering means walking through some pretty fucked up neighborhoods and popping into really sketchy places. Hey, look, there is the nastiest looking whore you'll ever see. No panties either. Wait that's a dude! And over there! It is a cop with a machine gun. That guy that I just saw huffing paint, now he's following me. And look a pack of dogs. They sure look hungry! You also wander through some really cool places, colorful markets, great neighborhoods with the whatever-it-takes architecture that is totally Tijuana. There is much fun and freedom in not knowing where "you aren't supposed to go." It helps to look a bit Latin, to dress like an everyday person, and to walk like you know where you are headed, relaxed but with a purpose. And, aside from the looking Latin, those aren't Tijuana rules, but good guidelines for wandering anywhere you are a stranger.
So, about five years ago, I stumble into a Tijuana record store, a place I would probably never find again, if it is even there. Well, record store is a bit strong. This place had a counter to the side, a table with a boom box on it, a display stand with maybe 25 records on it, and a rack of CDs. I looked through the records and found a LP by the Rhodesian beat band the Shakespeares, a Polish pressing of an album by the German beat band The Rattles, and the Mexican pressing of this record, "Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan." I had no idea who the Ryan brothers were, but the cover grabbed me (it is now one of my favorites) so I bought it.
Barry and Paul Ryan were identical twins from Leeds and as far as I know the only identical twins to have a multi-million selling hit. The brothers started as an act, singing together in the 1950s. They had moderate success, more as a novelty than anything else. Paul tired of performing and started writing songs. Barry sang them. In 1968, Barry recorded Paul's song "Eloise" and the brothers became pop sensations. "Eloise" raced up the English charts, and though it tops 5 minutes, it hit Number 2. It also sold 3 million copies. The Ryans followed the single with an album, this one here. But there were no more hits. Not on this record and not in the future. Barry quit singing in a couple years later and Paul scored only one more hit, a song for Frank Sinatra, which charted in England but nowhere else. Paul died in 1992. Barry came out of retirement in the late 90s, but by 2002, he had drifted back to private life. Prior to Barry's "comeback," the song "Eloise" had a second life with 1986 recording by The Damned, whose version hit Number 3 on the UK charts.
The songs on "Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan" are pure orchestrated pop. Phil Spector, Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, Lennon-McCartney, the Brothers Gibb - you hear them throughout the Ryan's songs. The blend (thanks to Johnny Arthey and Bill Landis) is executed so well that after a few listens the influences fade and what comes forward is pure pop. Enjoy!
GREAT blog, and I look forward to reading your archives and new posts....nice PF review from 06, too.
if u got a moment, could you please tell me the names of the songs formerly linked here?