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Tiny Tim - Live In Chicago with The New Duncan Imperials (1995)

Discussion in 'Album Reviews' started by Cosmic Harmony, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    "Thank you so much my dear friends for that nice, lovely applause and thank you Mr. Goodman or whoever announced me for this wonderful reception. And ladies and gentlemen of course it is a thrill once more, final night tonight, to be here in beautiful Chicago. Chicago, Illinois. And not only performing here at the beautiful Quicksilver club but will recording which will be on...you will be on with your applau...your-er whatever you do here. And I hope, but these songs, and I never mind dancing I want to repeat it cause sometimes they don't dance, they're afraid to dance, I never mind dancing here at anytime, these songs you may or may not remember but every one of them-down memory lane in the years when they wrote em with great melodies in the '10s and the '05s and the '20s and the '30s and the '40s and from great artists who's names you many not know like Billy Murray one of the great, early singers of 1905 who made "You're a Grand Old Flag" famous, Henry Bur who made "Mother" famous, and many more. Before we go on however no show would be complete, and whoever stays after of course I'll sign whatever you get, how about a great hand for the fabulous New Duncan Imperials!.....Maestro, the key C please..."

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    1. Are You Lonesome Tonight
    2. When I Grow Old
    3. Mother
    4. Tennessee Waltz / Back In The Saddle
    5. Your Cheating Heart
    6. Tip Toe Through The Tulips / On The Good Ship Lollipop
    7. Rock Around The Clock
    8. Tip Toe (Reprise)
    9. Highway To Hell
    10. Great Balls Of Fire
    11. I Believe
    12. When The Saints Go Marching In




    "Live In Chicago" was recorded by Tiny Tim on December 9th, 1993 less than three years before his death and features the New Duncan Imperials as his backing band. If I had to sum up album in only two words they would be "rough" and "genuine". On the liner notes of the album it says "No overdubs necessary or possible". This is because the album was original recorded with intent to be released but in all honesty....I think it was shelved because it doesn't sound that great and it wasn't until after Tiny's passing that they decided to release it as planned. Because of this it was pretty much released as it was recorded and it makes it sound very real, which is why I am decided to review it because I think despite it being one of the roughest sounding officially released live albums I've ever heard this makes it note worthy.

    Overview
    Tiny's "Live In Chicago" is rather comparable, and I implore you to follow me on this, to a more well known and more critically approved album, "Metallic K.O" by Iggy and The Stooges. Right now I'm sure you are probably thinking "Comparing Tiny Tim to the Godfather of punk?! Next thing you'll be telling me is that when you poop it comes out in cubes." but it is one of the best comparisons I could possibly make. "Metallic K.O." is well known for having the sounds of bottles being thrown at the stage and Iggy swearing at the audience and just the more absolutely raw, punk, sounding album you could ever hear. That same kind of rawness to the album is found on this one as well only the level of animosity and hatred that people had for Iggy is completely opposite for Tiny. The venue of what sounds like it couldn't be more than 50 people are cheering like mad for him and shouting out how much they love him and pleading for an encore. According to Skipper, the bassist for the New Duncan Imperials, at the end of this concert "Tiny was rolling around on the small stage, arms and legs in the air, eye shut in pure ecstasy". Despite Tiny not sounding as great as he was in years past since his health had already taken a rather serious turn for the worse and the band not really being very together with him (not their fault, I'll get to that a bit later) he was still very gracious to all of the fans and promoters and everyone else that made that evening possible and made a point to thank them several times throughout the show. The small, intimate crowd that was there could obviously see this and showered Tiny with the love that kept him performing long after his heyday and ultimately until his death.


    The Backing Band
    Another, bit more sane, comparison I could make would be to Chuck Berry. In the documentary Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll Bruce Springsteen recalls the time when he and the E Street Band opened for Chuck when they were first starting out:



    The condensed version is that Chuck showed up about 5 minutes before he had to go on and didn't even hint at what songs he would play. He just goes on stage, stomps his foot, and goes right into a song, not giving a tempo, a key, or anything and Bruce and the band sort of need to scramble to get into the song. Tiny Tim operated in a similar way.
    When he had a show he would roll into town with only a modest suitcase and his ukulele in a plastic bag. The promoter would get a backing band for him and he was always very respectful of the band, as was his nature, but still did not give them a set list or rehearse with them. So that unpreparedness combined with the reality that many of the songs Tiny played were written anywhere between 60 and 90 years ago and often times were quite obscure made it difficult for any band to immediately jump into a song when Tiny started playing and the New Duncan Imperials were no different. I could honestly say that for maybe half the song they weren't really with him and with the ones where they were it took them a good number of bars to figure out the chord changes, which is an especially long time since most of the songs were only two or three minutes. That said however Tiny made a point to remind people several times of what a great job they were doing and the crowd cheered for them every time.



    The Songs
    Just looking at the track listing at the top of the page you can clearly see that it's a very eclectic mix of songs. This is because Tiny absolutely always kept his ear tuned in on whatever was popular in music which is how you can get songs like "Highway To Hell" and "Tip Toe Through The Tulips" (two of the most well known and different songs featured here) in the same concert. Sure there is some cheekiness to him covering something like "Highway to Hell" or even "Rock Around the Clock" but Tiny didn't take it all THAT seriously and wasn't trying to be some kind of rock and roller or even trying to stay relevant by covering more modern, rocking songs (like say...Pat Boone) and that is some of the appeal of him. Tiny just does what he does the only way he knows how and in a way that no one can possibly imitate and with a healthy amount of his tongue in cheek.
    Ultimately what Tiny wanted to do was to share classic pop songs that he loved so dearly with generations that had likely never heard them before and I think he succeeded in that. Between many of the songs he even sheds a little light on the song he was about to play or had just played such as the year or who wrote it or who is best known for playing it. Much more than a genuine music fan Tiny was a music historian the evidence of that on this album is one of my favorite thing about it.


    The Voice
    As I've said already, Tiny's health was on the decline by the time of recording this album but even so he still sang in key and didn't miss a note on this album. Now that's not to say that he didn't have some rather....unattractive...sounding vocal tonalities when he hit some higher notes but some people think he sounded bad in his prime so what's it matter? :heheh: In all seriousness though, with the onset of age and illness it became very difficult for Tiny to use his falsetto and the only track where he really uses it in great length on this album is for his signature song, "Tip Toe Through The Tulips". Throughout most of the rest the album Tiny sings in his nature, rich baritone voice, and I think he uses it like a 40 year veteran of singing should. It's the backbone of the entire album and everything is built around it.


    Highlighted Tracks/Conclusion
    As with any live album worth more than it's weight there have to be a couple songs that stand out as the best and probably to the surprise of many I don't believe "...Tulips" is the best. Don't get me wrong, it's a solid performance of the song that made him a star and likely the one that everyone showed up to hear but I think his renditions of "Your Cheating Heart", "Mother", and "I Believe" are the cream of the crop for this concert. The latter two sum up Tiny quite beautifully.



    Overall....I would not recommend this as an album for anyone to buy. I said everything positive I could about it and Tiny in general but I could confidently say that this rocky live album would be only be appreciated by the small percentage of people who would get a few reminiscent smiles out of it. As clear as the sound quality actually is there isn't a great quality of playing and things at times sound as if they are in shambles and as expected as they are it still doesn't make it enjoyable. If you have the means to listen to "Live In Chicago" for free then I would say go for it. It's only a shade over 30 minutes long so it's not like it's a terribly long album to listen to/suffer through (depending on who you are asking). As a reviewer and a music fan I can't in good faith and credibility give this album a positive recommendation but as a Tiny Tim fan I can say that whether good or bad, young or old Tiny Tim still makes me smile and for that wherever you are Tiny, thank you~~~

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  2. Magic

    Magic Woman of the World

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    I never was a Tiny Tim fan, but his song "Tip Toe Through the Tulips" has always brought a smile to my face. There has been many times I have tried to imitate his voice in Karaoke to that song at parties........


    Very nice review, Cosmic.


    I did listen to the video, and I was shocked at how you could definitely tell he was older just by the depth of his vocals. But there still is no denying it was Tiny Tim. I do believe his vocal style will go down in history as the most unique voice in music.
     
  3. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    You're not the only one, Magic. :heheh: I've sang it many a time and I really do love the lyrics to that song because they are quite cute. Most people probably think they're lame by today's standards but I find them quite charming. :)

    Thanks for stopping by and reading I hadn't planned on this being nearly as long as it ended up being. I actually had to go back and trim it down because I broke the character limit of the post. :heheh:

    Everyone is always surprised by Tiny's deep voice and I get a kick out of their reactions. :D I've said many times before that I'll take a distinctive singer over a "good" singer who's voice lacks character though. :grinthumb
     
  4. opera races

    opera races Senior Member

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    Nice write up Cosmic! :tup:

    I just LOVE the eclectic set list! Also interesting to note some of the really old songs that I'm actually familiar with and like too :heheh:

    I listened to the video you posted. I only know of Tiny Tim knowing that he sang Tiptoe Through The Tulips but barely remember him. You are right about singers. Especially in a live situation simply having a good voice is not enough or is not the only thing. I enjoy a vocalist who presents well and engages the audience even if they don't have the best singing voice.
     
  5. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    Well thank you very much, Opera Races. And I'm sure Tiny would be tickled pick to know that you like these older tunes. :D

    Well I can't say that I'm terribly shocked that you don't really remember Tiny. His heyday ran it's course before you were even in double digits. :D We definitely agree on singers I think. Whether it be someone harsh and gravely like Tom Waits or goofy and warbly like Tiny Tim I think if they know how to use their voice right in their style of music it's far greater than someone who just goes out there and hits all the notes they need to and going through the motions.

    Thanks for reading, Opera Races. I was actually wondering as I wrote this if anyone was going to post after I finished it. :heheh:
     
  6. METALPRIEST

    METALPRIEST Senior Member

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    Coming from the Windy City this looks pretty cool! Nice write up Harmony!

    :cheers2
     
  7. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    I don't know if "cool" is the word to describe it but thank you all the same, Priest. :heheh:
     

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