To many music fans, the name Tiny Tim (real name Herbert Khaury) brings reminders of his debut on NBC’s “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” and his many appearances blowing kisses to the crowd. But Tiny Tim, despite all the laughs he got, was incredibly serious about his music and he was very much a real talent. The recently released “Tiny Tim: The Complete Singles Collection: 1966-1970” on New Sounds is proof of that. The compilation collects 22 of pretty much his best tracks, including, of course, “Tip Toe Through The Tulips,” which was his trademark and a Top 20 hit in 1968, peaking at No. 17 on the Billboard charts.
The selected tracks show his musical diversity. There’s the opener, a rare pre-Warner Bros. version of the old standard “April Showers,” plus covers of Sopwith Camel’s “Hello Hello,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” Shirley Temple’s “On the Good Ship Lollipop” (he was also known to do another Shirley song “Animal Crackers” in concert), Dionne Warwick’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “As Time Goes By” from the movie “Casablanca” that are among the songs on the disc. (It wasn’t a single, but one song that really would have fit in here was his great version of the Beatles’ “Nowhere Man” which he sang on one of the Fab Four’s Christmas records.) But he also had a stranger side, like the recordings here of “Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You” and “What Kind of An American Are You?,” two reactionary songs that might fit in well with certain members of the political spectrum today.
The collection also shows something else. He wasn’t like a professional wrestler who changed his stripes or his act. His style was very consistent through the years and on this disc. The songs are all from the masters tapes and all, except for the final two, are in mono. The booklet includes some rare pictures, including a two page shot from the night he and Miss Vicky were married on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
One thing’s for sure: “Tiny Tim: The Complete Singles Collection: 1966-1970” is the best all-round collection of his songs available. He was a unique pop talent who had the spotlight for a while, faded, then died in 1996 after a heart attack. But his legend lives on and this disc, and a recent book, “Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim” by Justin Martell, gives plenty of reasons why it should.