If you want quick immersion master class in pop music history and the perspective of a (once) living musical encyclopedia, you owe it to yourself to listen to Tiny Tim Live Royal Albert Hall. Yes, I am talking about THE Tiny Tim, the long-haired, falsetto-singing walking musical wonder that that wow’d the pop world in 1968 with his unexpected Top 20 hit cover of Nick Lucas’ 1929 hit “Tip Toe Through The Tulips.”
Laugh all you want, but Tiny was respected by his peers from the early 1960s Greenwich Village New York folk music scene as an encylopedic performer of forgotteen songs that were mostly lost on dusty old 78 RPM discs and sheet music by then. Heck, no less than Bob Dylan befriended Tiny upon arriving in New York (as documented in his autobiography Chronicles, referenced on NPR here). It was that contact that (I suspect) probably resulted in Tiny getting signed to Warner Brother’s subsidiary Reprise Records back in the day.
I mean, its not hard to connect the dots: Dylan writes “Blowin’ in the Wind‘, a smash hit recorded by Peter Paul & Mary (on Warner Bros. Records), who are managed by Albert Grossman (also Dylan’s manager) based in Woodstock, NY where, later, Dylan’s group to soon be know as The Band (also managed by Grossman) are rehearsing their debut album in a big pink house… and along the way they are recruited to record tracks backing Tiny in Peter Yarrow’s 1968 counter-culture movie You Are What You Eat (with a soundtrack on Columbia Records). Tiny was right in the center of that scene…
The brilliant twist amidst all this is that emerging producer Richard Perry was brought in to shape Tiny’s debut album (God Bless Tiny Tim), an acclaimed but presently under-appreciated pop confection with lovely psychedelic overtones…. This album is also the place where Biff Rose & Paul Williams’ “Fill Your Heart” came in to public flower three years before Bowie included it on his Hunky Dory album. Tiny was on the cutting edge folks, whether you like to believe it or not!
Anyhow, Richard Perry recorded Tiny Tim Live Royal Albert Hall backed by a full orchestra (which he conducted!) in 1968 at the peak of his initial success. Previously only available on CD, the album was issued for the first time on lovely, quiet, well-centered 180-gram red vinyl for Record Store Day. It is a wonderful listening experience and you get to hear Tiny tell stories behind the songs to an adoring audience who are totally with Tiny at this moment in time.
Its worth it for the price of admission if only for a full version of Tiny singing The Beatles’ “Nowhere Man,” which prior to this I only knew of from a moment on The Beatles’ Christmas Record of 1968. Its a pretty wonderful thing, that…
Tiny Tim Live Royal Albert Hall captures this misunderstood artist — no, he wasn’t really a comedy act, though he could be funny — in his moment in the spotlight. Rhino Records is to be commended for seeing this project to fruition as a fine Record Store Day edition.
Whether you know it or not, you need this recording in your life. You can find Tiny Tim Live Royal Albert Hall streaming on Tidal in its original CD quality incarnation (here, albeit with much less classy cover art). If you like the stream, you’ll love the LP….
God Bless Tiny Tim!