BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

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Rayge
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BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Rayge » 12 Aug 2014, 11:35

For me, the Everlys have always been there. Even before I started taking an interest in music, singles such as the incomprehensible Bird Dog (which might as well have been written in Hungarian for all that a 10-year-old in London could make of it, from the title on down), the comedy skit of Wake Up Little Suzy or the hushed, quavering melody of All I Have to Do Is Dream stood out on Family Favourites over Sunday lunch (the only time there was recorded music on the radio all week, more or less); they topped the bill over Bo Diddley, the Shirelles and Rolling Stones in what I'm pretty sure was the first concert I went to, in late 1963 or 64 (I wish I could tell you how it sounded, but the one clear memory I retain of their set was the way the house lights bounced off Phil's cherry red guitar), and to this day I still play many of the singles I hoovered up in the 1960s.

And that's what I'm going to write about today, the singles: the Everlys have released a couple of dozen good-to-excellent live and studio albums across several genres, but it's the singles that made their reputation and where the treasure lies.

I thought about precising their history and their fallings out and in again, their drug problems (both were addicted to speed), legal
wrangles and so on, but it's all on Wikipedia. All you need to know is that came out of a country music family, were born in Kentucky, went to Nashville as teens and then move to LA. Don is the older brother, and has the lower pitched voice with the slight nasal whine. With very few exceptions, all the solo lines on their singles are sung by Don. Phil is the tenor. That's Phil on the left, in just about every publicity picture. Everyone knows about their harmonies (the ones they stole from the Beatles), that extraordinary meld of voices that become one voice that you only ever really get in sibling groups, but less well known is the fact that Don in particular is an excellent rhythm guitarist, that both have written songs, including some of their biggest hits, and that the material they recorded in the 60s, even after their star waned in the UK, a few years later than it did in the States, stands up for innovation, experiment and achievement against, well, any other 1960s band. Yet while the style and sound and arrangements varied all the time, the voices that occasionally became one voice were always there, an utterly distinctive sound.

the silver age
Before all that happened, though, there were the Cadence years, their first flush of success and what most casual fans think of as 'typical' Everly Brothers. They had the best songs the Acuff-Rose stable of country songwriters could muster (including several from the husband and wife duo of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, which more or less defined their early sound), producing a string of lovelorn laments or breezy pop songs about the joys or perils of adolescence, backed by their own acoustic guitars, the occasional pedal steel and stand-up bass and drums: Bye Bye, Love, Wake Up, Little Susie, All I Have to Do Is Dream, Problems, Poor Jenny, Take a Message To Mary, Bird Dog, Always It's You, Love of My Life, Love Hurts and When Will I B Loved
Here's a typical soppy slowie:


and something a little more rumbustious


Golden Age
And then the Brothers moved to California, signed up with Warner Brothers, and issued a striking statement of intent.
On the B-side, it was situation normal, a gorgeous ballad from the Bryants, Always It's You, but the A-side, Cathy's Clown was something else entirely, with a real electrified crunch and fullness to the production with guitars on the choruses and Don and a piano delivering the verses. This was a swerve into what would be the rock mainstream, if rock had been invented yet. It was a number one everywhere and sold more than 8million copies.
They followed up with another slow weepie, So Sad and coupled it with Little Richard's Lucille, transposing the piano riff to electric guitar, slowing things down a little, and replacing the Reverend Penniman's screams with high keening vocal; While LR is angry with his errant sweetheart, the Evs know they are going to lose her.
After that came Walk Right Back, a Sonny Curtis song with an acoustic guitar strutting a rhythm over a bouncing bassline that pretty much defined perkiness, and, with the high vocals, prefigured the folk rock sound. As far as their new direction was concerned, that 'I don't think we're in Kansas [or indeed Kentucky] any more' moment came when you flipped Walk Right Back and found the syrupy death ballad Ebony Eyes, complete with recitative, heavenly chorus and portentous bass drum thumps, and surely the first time the phrase 'turbulent weather' has ever featured on a worldwide hit single. Another genre nailed.
Confirmation came at the turn of 1961 and the release of their, ahem, radical reinterpretation of Temptation, in which they bludgeoned the standard with tom toms, crucified it on driving electric bass and guitar lines and wailed over the top. Rock & roll pure and simple.

And they just carried on from there. If I'm ever going to get this posted, I'm going to have to abandon the planned exegesis of the rest of their 60s singles, but I can't overstress how other-worldly and utterly distinctive some of this material sounded on first release, something that is perhaps difficult to appreciate given how many people have run with their ideas and sounds, have walked through the doors they opened.
While most of their early 60s material was recorded with their Nashville Band, they gradually came to take advantage of Californian studios and session men, such as the Wrecking Crew, and it showed. Crying in the Rain was their last big hit in the USA, but their run continued overseas, with highlights such the jaunty mouth harp on How Can I Meet Her, the jangling story song, The Girl Who Sang the Blues, the Spectorish, string-laden Love Her, the doom carnival of The Ferris Wheel, the exuberant rhythm fest of Gone Gone Gone with its chopped Diddley beat, all the way to The Price of Love, a self-penned, pounding rock beast with a wailing harmonica that closes the circle with Cathy's Clown.
That wasn't the end, and in the UK they would have another couple of hits with a, well, strange version of Mickey & Sylvia's Love is Strange and the very Californian, very late 1960s Bowling Green, but from this point on they got more and more experimental, more and more in the spirit of the times. Anyone who loves the Beatles, Hollies, Californian music of the late 60s, the Wrecking Crew, psychedelia or even garage (their drug wig-out, Mary Jane, not on a single, is worth a listen), should check the later singles.
I would have to start another thread for those, but draw your attention to just one, for the purposes of illustration, the slinky, slippery psychedelicized class-war ballad The Lord of the Manor (James Burton on guitar) and the irresistibly up-beat and highly danceable tempo and yearning, allusive, elusive lyrics of Milk Train.





The best way to appreciate this stuff nowadays is on the Rhino boxed set Heartaches and Harmonies (give me a cough) or the weightier, typically over-inclusive Bear family sets, The Price of Fame (1960-1965) and Chained To A Memory (1966-1972).

Because of my love for this period, the album I would recommend is The New Album, a strange compilation of previously unreleased tracks from their mid-1960s pomp, ranging from the lovely California pop sound of Hollywood Girl to the bass plunges and melody lines of the 'alternative' version of Don's Nancy's Minuet, as close to the Joy Division sound as anyone got in 1964.

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby 'skope » 12 Aug 2014, 12:10

i enjoyed your post, rayge!

i've no problem with the warner brothers years being labelled as the 'golden age'.

Rayge wrote:That wasn't the end, and in the UK they would have another couple of hits with a, well, strange version of Mickey & Sylvia's Love is Strange and the very Californian, very late 1960s Bowling Green, but from this point on they got more and more experimental, more and more in the spirit of the times. Anyone who loves the Beatles, Hollies, Californian music of the late 60s, the Wrecking Crew, psychedelia or even garage (their drug wig-out, Mary Jane, not on a single, is worth a listen), should check the later singles.
I would have to start another thread for those, but draw your attention to just one, for the purposes of illustration, the slinky, slippery psychedelicized class-war ballad The Lord of the Manor (James Burton on guitar) and the irresistibly up-beat and highly danceable tempo and yearning, allusive, elusive lyrics of Milk Train.


good call! G, the mod, has long championed this and for good reason:



having said that, the cadence years will always be my favourite. this track in particular:


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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Stille Baron » 12 Aug 2014, 12:23

Rayge wrote:Not finished, but abandoned...


I know the feeling . . . great shot at a nearly impossible task!
I love it all, what can I say? True Desert Island Disc stuff in my world.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 12 Aug 2014, 15:14

What a pleasure to read!

It's probably pretentious of me, but I always feel the need to establish my Everly-fan cred by pointing out that my wife walked down the aisle to Devoted To You/Let It Be Me...AND we named our first daughter "Everly". (It feels repetitive to keep saying it - but how do you leave stuff like that out?).

For me, even the word Everly evokes a kind of ethereal beauty not quite found anywhere else. A mix of innocence, harmony, joy and perhaps something just a bit psychedelic in the mix.

Like you, I really love it all, but that mid-to-late 60s period in particular captures my imagination. With that in mind - forgive me for highlighting a key track that you did not mention:

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Bent Fabric » 12 Aug 2014, 15:20





Just jammin' with you...

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Matt Wilson » 12 Aug 2014, 15:47

Love 'em. Growing up, I always thought the Cadence stuff was the best but that's because I hadn't heard most of the Warners material. Cut for cut, they recorded more quality material for Cadence than for Warners but the sheer volume of great songs they did in the sixties evens things out a bit.

I recommend all three of the Bear Family boxes of course, which will give you everything up through 1973 and their first retirement. The second two are expensive but worth it.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby der nister » 12 Aug 2014, 15:53

even the 80s stuff has merit

It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Phenomenal Cat » 12 Aug 2014, 16:44

I picked this up earlier this year for $8.00 (including shipping!).

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First five albums plus the singles and some bonus radio broadcasts.

There were definitely many of those "where has this been all my life?" moments while taking this all in. As a fan of THE BEATLES, you'd think I'd know this stuff, but Oldies 104 can really kill this era for you. So you end up associating "Bye Bye Love" and "Cathy's Clown" with hot dogs and sock hops. Ironic, then, that Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones have to recast this stuff for a modern audience by replicating it down to every last detail. It is pure, undiluted perfection as is. And to think I'd only heard "Love Hurts" via Nazareth!

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Guy E » 12 Aug 2014, 20:53

Beautiful post Rayge.

I wish The Everly Brothers were in my musical DNA the way they're in yours. But alas, only Big Band jazz was played in my home as a child and while I have an affection for it, I don't swoon over it. It's interesting to me that the sonic imprint can be made across continents. I usually feel that people outside America can't fully appreciate the nuance of country music, just as American listeners can't embrace Celtic roots music with natural ease. That's not always the case.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby toomanyhatz » 12 Aug 2014, 23:32

Yep, great stuff. I'm probably a fan of the Warners stuff mainly because I was unfamiliar with it, and was blown away by how much high-quality stuff there was there. But it's all great. I particularly appreciate you including "Lord of the Manor," that's always been a favorite.

I've always found it odd that Warners invested so much money in them, then didn't put too much concern into the limited return they got in the 2nd half of the contract. Never pressured 'em to do Beatles songs or record with 12-string guitars or try to be psychedelic. Artistically, that's a great thing. But I wonder if they felt some disappointment that it didn't pan out the way they wanted, or if they loved the music they made enough to not be bothered.

Warners in the 70s seemed more concerned with just making great music, but this is the label that encouraged the Beau Brummels (the best songwriters they had at the time, probably) to do a covers album in 1966. Somebody sure didn't know what the hell they were doing there. Possibly the Everlys benefitted from that.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Muskrat » 13 Aug 2014, 01:49



Things that a fella can't forget...

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Phenomenal Cat » 13 Aug 2014, 17:29

I'm embarrassed to say I first heard "Gone Gone Gone" on the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss Raising Sand album (they also do "Stick With Me Baby", God bless 'em). Electric stuff.

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Bent Fabric » 13 Aug 2014, 17:35

Phenomenal Cat wrote:I'm embarrassed to say I first heard "Gone Gone Gone" on the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss Raising Sand album


I did too. What matters is that we heard it.

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I may get lambasted for saying this, but I really do consider it a "mood" record - like it doesn't have parts that poke out like crazy, but...the whol thing just has such a gently pleasing and satisfying effect...

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby toomanyhatz » 13 Aug 2014, 17:42

Fairport did "Gone Gone Gone" first, that's where I heard it.

I don't have that Roots album. I really should.

Despite Rayge's prediliction for singles (as opposed to album) artists, I think it's worthy of mention that the Everlys did a concept album in the 50s.

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Phenomenal Cat » 13 Aug 2014, 20:31

Bent Fabric wrote:
Phenomenal Cat wrote:I'm embarrassed to say I first heard "Gone Gone Gone" on the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss Raising Sand album


I did too. What matters is that we heard it.

You got this one, Andy?

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I may get lambasted for saying this, but I really do consider it a "mood" record - like it doesn't have parts that poke out like crazy, but...the whol thing just has such a gently pleasing and satisfying effect...

Their Friends?


Outside that collection of the first five albums (and my 45s), I have no other Everly Brothers. You also seem to dig Two Yanks in England (w/the Hollies?). I need to go shopping.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Bent Fabric » 13 Aug 2014, 20:34

Yeah, the Hollies album is fantastic.

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby oliltownofkathlehem » 13 Aug 2014, 21:44

Guy E wrote:Beautiful post Rayge.


absolutely.

i only know a handful of hits. like guy, i didn't hear em growing up in my house, so it took me awhile even to hear the songs i do know and love. but those voices and that harmonizing never failed to hook me and wrap around my brain like honey. i have the chance now to get into these clips and add more to my mental library. thanks.

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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Guy E » 09 Mar 2015, 21:49

I've been listening to the Everly Brothers quite a bit recently after finally finding a copy of In Our Image - a fantastic collection. The pair of albums before that, Rock 'n Soul and Beat 'n Soul must have been really hip LP's for the kids who bought them at the time, they have a great big beat sound. The mostly R&B material is pretty well-worn with 50-years hindsight, but no less classic. I've loved Roots for decades too, a unique concept album.

Ultimately, I still love the Cadence material the very best, but the brothers' marginal status in the USA in the mid-60's was downright criminal.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Matt Wilson » 10 Mar 2015, 01:20

I don't know what Warners Everly's albums you have, Guy, but get A Date with the Everly Brothers, The Golden Hits of the Everly Brothers, Gone Gone Gone, It's Everly Time and Two Yanks in England post haste.
All are better than the ones you mentioned.
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Re: BCB 130 - The Everly Brothers

Postby Guy E » 10 Mar 2015, 01:36

Matt Wilson wrote:I don't know what Warners Everly's albums you have, Guy, but get A Date with the Everly Brothers, The Golden Hits of the Everly Brothers, Gone Gone Gone, It's Everly Time and Two Yanks in England post haste.

I have all those. I almost think of It's Everly Time and A Date With as being a continuation of the foundation laid in the Cadence years. They were on an unstoppable roll and both albums are utterly fantastic. The pressure of being on WB (or the changing of the times) seems to kick-in with Both Sides of an Evening and Instant Party, which leave me cold (sorry Muskrat). Their singles were usually great and as you say, The Golden Hits is terrific. From there, Country Hits, Gone Gone Gone, Rock & Soul, Beat & Soul, In Our Image, Two Yanks... they're all pretty good to great. But the recently acquired In Our Image hits me as the best of the mid-60s lot; an interesting selection of material, songs by Don and Phil, good contemporary production, etc.

Of course the Walk Right Back: compilation is essential to get the non-LP stuff too. As I said, I've been on a listening binge.
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