Who was/is Paul & Barry Ryan ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Paul & Barry Ryan
With a famous mum (50s female Brit Pop icon Marion Ryan) and impresario stepdad (Harold Davison, who was pretty chummy with Frank Sinatra), it was no wonder that identical twins Paul & Barry Ryan entered the pop world with a bang rather than a climb. No matter, tal-ent is talent- and with their good looks, pleasant voices, and a knack for surrounding themselves with the right people, the Ryan Twins racked up more than a few great records in their short span as a duo.
Their first single, "Don't Bring Me Your Heartaches" was released in the Fall of 1965 on the Decca label (their stepfather no doubt playing a part in their obtaining that recording contract!). It set the template for all their hits - put succinctly by The Ryans in a radio interview circa 1967: We don't record what we like...we listen to R&B and things like this....we record commercial sounding songs that we think will hit the charts". Smart boys - the single went to #13. It didn't hurt that they were able to plug the song on The Royal Variety Command Performance show, looking very green (but polite and professional) in their matching suits and parted hairstyles. The flip, "To Remind You Of My Love" came out sounding very Peter & Gordon.
The next release, "Have Pity On The Boy" reached #18. In America, the song was issued on the MGM label and the boys promoted it with an appearance on Hullaballoo, where they sang live to a pre-recorded track. "I Love Her" did one better, placing at #17, and sported a slightly darker feel than the previous two, but still retained the grandiose orchestration and production style they were becoming known for (arrangement courtesy of Ivor Raymonde - known for his work with Dusty Springfield amongst others).
I Love How You Love Me
In 1961, The Paris Sisters, under the watchful eye of a young (pre-Wall Of Sound) Phil Spector, had a hit with a song entitled "I Love How You Love Me", sung as a slow delicate ballad. In 1965, brother/sister duo Nino Tempo & April Stevens revived the song with an uptempo kick, adding a folk-rock feel (The Byrds were pretty hot around this time) along with the wildest bagpipe arrangement ever to grace a 1965 pop record. It wasn't a hit for them in America let alone in Britain! How does this tie in with our British pop princes? Harold Davison had recruited Chris Curtis (drummer and leader of The Searchers, who had departed his position due to nervous exhaus-tion) to produce for his stepsons. Curtis was the member of The Searchers who sought out ob-scure records to cover, scouring record shopper on his trips to America. He'd found Nino & April's version of "I Love How You Love Me", but since he wasn't in The Searchers any longer, why not let his new artistes have a crack at it? The arrangement was copied note for note, and landed the lads a #21 hit. "Baby I'm Sorry" a slightly-country flavored ballad, graced the flip.
Unfortunately, that would be the last major chart hit the duo would have together, but they continued to release fine recordings. Their next single was a version of The Hollies' penned "Have You Ever Loved Somebody", but Paul & Barry had to compete with a version from Curtis' ex-group The Searchers. The Ryan version hit #49 with The Searchers just managing to get one placing above them at #48.
Leader-Mills also penned the duo's last single of 1966, "Missy Missy", which contained a music hall style not dissimilar to some of Herman's Hermits big hits of the time. It was backed with the interesting "Rainbow Weather". A little more adventurous was their next outing, the Cat Stevens composition "Keep It Out Of Sight", which features a kitchen-sink arrangement - even including seagull sounds that sound inspired by 'Tomorrow Never Knows' (albeit a lot less psychedelic in this context). The adventurous production managed to place them at #30 before the summer of love hit. "Who Told You?" brings Paul & Barry back to familiar commercial pop territory.
"Claire"/"I'll Make It Worth Your While", ballads to please the lady pop-pickers, was issued in June 1967 and feature some superb harmonies. Although it would be the last single the guys would release for Decca, around the same time, an album was issued under the name The Ryans, entitled 'Two Of A Kind'. Per the usual standard of UK releases, there were no singles on the long-player, which gave buyers great value for their money. From this excellent album, eight tracks are spotlighted here: the poppy "I Made Her That Way", the powerhouse "(Love) You Don't Know What It Means", the ballads "Am I Wasting My Time", "'Twas On A Night Like This" and "Silent Street", the fuzz-pop "Progress", a Hollies cover turned upside it's head ("Pay You Back With Interest") and the jolly "Comedy Girl".
The Ryan twins moved briefly to the MGM label for their last two singles of the decade (together, that is). The slightly cabaret "Heartbreaker" and the sleepy psych-pop of "Night Time" (written by Chris Curtis and Sharon Sheeley) came first in October '67 followed by the collector's favorite pairing of "Pictures Of Today" and "Madrigal" in the early months of 1968, which continued the psych-pop experimentation. Sadly, the singles weren't selling, and in a strange move, MGM released a self-titled album in such limited quantities that many collectors don't even know of its existence. Again, the album featured no singles. It is uniformly excellent, and features a variety of styles, from freakbeat to music hall.
Paul was growing weary of the travel and lifestyle of being in the spotlight. However, he was in-terested in songwriting - hanging around all those professionals clearly didn't hurt. Paul decided that he would write for Barry, and that arrangement wound up with one of the biggest European hits of the late 60s, ''Eloise''. Paul would continue to write for Barry (and others) throughout the 60s and 70s, and the duo even tried reuniting a few times, but never to the success and acclaim they once achieved for that brief moment in the mid-sixties. Sadly, Paul passed away in 1992. Barry sometimes still performs ''Eloise'' on packaged oldies tours and TV shows in Europe.