April 02, 1984 12:00 PM

Slim Whitman

At his worst, Whitman, 60, sounds like a cross between Tiny Tim and a coyote whose paw is caught in a trap. At his best, he sounds like a cross between Tiny Tim and a coyote who is happy his paw isn’t caught in a trap. On the other hand, he has made 70 or so albums, which is rather more than your average former mailman, shipyard worker and baseball player have done. On this LP, produced by Nashville veteran Bob Montgomery, he seems to have toned down the yodelly stuff that let him in for so much ribbing on the SCTV comedy series, though there’s more than enough of it on Cry Baby Heart and Blue Bayou (Roy Orbison and Linda Ronstadt have nothing to worry about). He also does such old hits as Dreamin’, A Place in the Sun and Scarlet Ribbons. (He has said, astonishingly enough, that he has heard only one previous recording of Scarlet Ribbons, by the Browns in 1959. Does the name Harry Belafonte mean anything to you, Slim?) Whitman’s son Byron wrote another of the tunes, Blue Memories; it includes the lines “Teardrops keep fallin’ like rain/Pictures only add to the pain,” which provide an idea of how imaginative it is. When he’s not high-pitching it, Whitman is a marginally competent singer. All of which leaves more or less unanswered the burning question of how he has managed to sell more than 50 million records. (Epic)

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