Paul & Barry Ryan — “Pictures of Today”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 16, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

671) Paul & Barry Ryan — “Pictures if Today”

The last single by Paul and Barry as a duo (’68) should have been a double A-side triumph (“Madrigal” being the B-side (see #88)). Delightful “psych-pop experimentation” indeed. (liner notes to the Paul & Barry Ryan: Have Pity on the Boys!: The Pop Hits and More 1965-1968 comp) Acid Revolver says that:

The A-Side [“Pictures of Today”] is a charming psychedelic pop song liberally sprinkled with sitar and orchestration, written by Peter Morris who also contributed songs recorded by The Orange Seaweed and City Smoke. It was perfect pop psych concoction for 1968 but it failed to hit the Charts. “Pictures Of Today” was produced by Steve Rowland who was also working with The Herd, DDDBM&T and P.J. Proby at the time.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9fM_hFTXpYU

Barry himself says of the song that “I really like. I think it’s a really good track.” (https://thestrangebrew.co.uk/interviews/barry-ryan-interview/)

All Music Guide tells us that:

The twin sons of popular singer Marion Ryan . . . were launched as a clean-cut act to attendant showbusiness publicity. Their debut single, ‘Don’t Bring Me Your Heartaches’ reached the UK Top 20 in 1965, and over the ensuing months the siblings enjoyed respectable, if unspectacular, chart placings with ‘Have Pity On The Boy’ and ‘I Love Her’. The Ryans shifted away from their tailored image with ‘Have You Ever Loved Somebody’ (1966) and ‘Keep It Out Of Sight’ (1967), penned, respectively, by the Hollies and Cat Stevens, but such releases were less successful. They split amicably in 1968 with Paul embarking on a songwriting career while Barry recorded as a solo act (see #264, 265, 266, 317). Together they created ‘Eloise’, the latter’s impressive UK number 2 hit and subsequent million seller, but ensuing singles failed to emulate its popularity.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/paul-barry-ryan-mn0000021416

Barry Ryan passed away last September 28th, at the age of 72. The (UK) Guardian‘s obituary says:

Barry’s life had its share of Dionysian excess – parties at his flat in Eaton Place were renowned; Jimi Hendrix spent his first night in London there. But he never forgot his roots. Born in Leeds, he was the son of Marion (nee Ryan) and Fred Sapherson. Fred left when the boys were two, and Barry and Paul were brought up by “Nana”, their adored grandmother, watched over by three loving “sisters” – technically their aunts, but who were roughly the same age as the twins – while Marion, who had had her boys as a teenager, pursued her singing career. She became a successful performer, rising to prominence in the 1950s with the band leader Ray Ellington, and was a regular on the television musical quiz show Spot the Tune. . . . At 16 Marion sent them to a kibbutz in Israel, where they lasted two weeks and were later discovered singing in a Tel Aviv nightclub. Now they knew what they wanted.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/oct/07/barry-ryan-obituary

The (UK) Telegraph picks up the story from there:

Marion suggested they try a career as singers. Her soon-to-be second husband, the American impresario Harold Davison, managed the brothers and, with further guidance from other leading lights in the record industry, Paul & Barry Ryan had five Top 30 hits. . . .

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2021/10/01/barry-ryan-singer-formed-duo-brother-paul-had-worldwide-success/

Boudewijn de Kadt writes that:

Styled and groomed for stardom, the image of the groovy singing twins living together in a pad in Swinging London could have come straight out of some retro Austin Powers type flick . . . . But it was all too true. . . .

liner notes to the CD release of ‘68’s Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan and ‘69’s Barry Ryan 

Anyway, the Telegraph goes on:

A Cat Stevens song, Keep it Out of Sight, returned them to the upper echelons of the charts in 1967, but subsequent singles bombed. Paul then confronted Barry to tell him he no longer wanted to perform. “He had a nervous breakdown and wanted to quit show business,” Barry [said]. “He’d been frustrated about the fact we were getting nowhere. He didn’t like singing in public [but] thought he could write songs.” Eloise, included on the album Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan, proved that he could compose a hit and the brothers’ singer-songwriter partnership continued for several years. But future singles . . . were only mildly successful in Britain, compensated for by the fact that they charted well across Europe . . . . [H]e packed in singing in 1976 to become a [renowned] commercial and portrait photographer . . . . “The hits weren’t coming,” he [said]. “I was drinking a lot. I was slightly off the rails and I thought I’d had enough of this, and I discovered photography.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2021/10/01/barry-ryan-singer-formed-duo-brother-paul-had-worldwide-success/

Upon Barry’s death, the singer best known to us as Cat Stevens tweeted that:

Yesterday a good old buddy of mine passed away, his name was Barry Ryan. Our time together began back in the 60’s when he and his twin brother, Paul, were all tuxedo-suited, poppy teenage stars. I had written a song for Paul and Barry Ryan called “Keep It Out Of Sight” and so we began hanging out. . . . We were prone to raving—a lot. . . . When I contracted TB, it was Paul who gave me my first introductory book on Buddhism and meditation, The Secret Path, that inspired me to delve deep inside myself in search of ultimate answers to life’s questions. . . . When I spoke with [Barry] recently he told me he was fully at peace knowing he only had a short time left on this earth.

https://www.noise11.com/news/barry-ryan-of-eloise-fame-dies-at-age-72-20210930

Here are the boys on Beat Club:

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