Tiny Tim, "I've Never Seen a Straight Banana: Rare Moments, Vol. 1"

82 Billboard Rating

Consider this a 16-track wakeup call to those who consider Tiny Tim-tip-toeing through the tulips with his ukulele-little more than an entertaining novelty act. Recorded by a 16-year-old Richard Barone at a motel and nearby studio in 1976, "I've Never Seen a Straight Banana: Rare Moments, Vol. 1" showcases the late Tim as an ace musicologist. He rips through a variety of early-20th-century ragtime, Dixieland and folk tunes. The most mind-blowing of the lot is the "Tiny Meets Dylan" medley, a re-creation of a dialogue with Bob Dylan for which Tim performs "Like a Rolling Stone" a la Rudy Vallee and Vallee's "Vagabond Lover" in Dylan's nasal cadence. Barone took the title track back into the studio for some overdubs from famous friends like Terre Roche and Steve Addabbo. But it's hard to improve on the unbridled joy of Tim doing his thing alone that the rest of this set so arrestingly captures.-Gary Graff

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