The Everly Brothers at Warner Brothers and the roots of “Roots”
My father was a big Everly Brothers fan, and still is now. But by the mid 70s I only remember two Everlys records in my parents collection. Back in Leeds I remember finding a pile of dusty seven inch singles in a wardrobe in an upstairs bedroom, one of which was the distinctive red label of WB 1 – “Cathy’s Clown”, their debut for Warner Brothers. There was also a double album called “The Everly Brothers Story” which had a strange – to me – picture of the two brothers singing into one microphone. This album found its way onto a cassette during The Purge and I have a distinct memory of playing the tape in my bedroom in Harpenden. It’s an odd compilation – at the time I just took it at face value as a collection of songs, but looking now at the track listing it jumps from one end of their Warners career to the other end without any thought or context. One minute there’s an early classic like “Made to love” or “Love hurts” then it hurtles to strange cover versions like “Oh lonesome me” or “Blueberry Hill”. My main memory of this album was its odd covers – mainly “Trains and boats and planes” and “A whiter shade of pale”. I’m not sure where I knew the originals of these from, being 8 at the time, but I knew them both well enough to recognise that these two versions were not quite as good as originals, there was a peculiar quality about these versions – they dragged, they sounded a little ‘out of it’. However there were two more songs on the album which made a big impression on me – “T for Texas” and “Lonely Avenue”. On “T for Texas” I loved the rhythms, the way it cut from fast gallop to slow canter then back again, I loved how it mentioned the name Thelma (I was a Scooby Doo fan) but most of all I loved the wah-wah guitars that are liberally smothered all over the song. “Lonely Avenue” was something else – more rocking with crazy twin guitars and the brothers almost shouting their pain.
As time passed by into the mid Eighties, my father and brother (oh and if you’re reading this Andy then happy birthday) and I all started collecting records. We’d pour over the latest issue of “Record Collector”, skimming through the adverts at the back with a magnifying glass (I still have an illuminated magnifier given to me by the education board in 1984 to assist my reading in school). My brother and I were after different kinds of records but my father was after his original record collection. The house was soon resounding to the strains of the early LPs by The Shadows, Elvis, Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers. It was a great education listening to these records and I started to explore the Everlys’ work in particular. The whole family saw the reformed Everly Brothers in Cardiff in ’86 too, and their comeback LPs on Mercury were sprinkled with great songs too – their second album “Born yesterday” had a great version of Dylan’s “Abandoned love” and wonderful story song “Always drive a Cadillac“, alongside their version of Mark Knopfler’s “Why worry”. Get past the slightly cheesy 80s production and there’s some heartfelt performances there. Anyway, by the time I went to Sheffield in ’87 I’d made a compilation tape of what I considered their best bits. One side I labelled “Hits” and was based on their classic “Golden Hits” collection, the other side I labelled “Misses” and featured failed singles and album tracks up to “Roots”, their ’68 country-rock renaissance. I played the tape to my friends in Sheffield and they just didn’t get it, but I loved it. At some point around ’89 the British label Ace issued two LPs called “Hidden gems”, collecting singles from the early 60s to 1970 when they left Warner Brothers. These LPs were a revelation – there was a raft of great material. From there I picked up Everlys records myself, from two CD hits collections to four CD career retrospectives to the utterly comprehensive Bear Factory sets where almost every cough and sneeze gets issued. And about ten versions of “Nancy’s minuet”. So that’s me and the Everlys. Big deal. I love them. So what?
Well recently I was having a conversation on Twitter with a journalist from Mojo magazine and we were discussing the late Sixties music issued on Warners / Reprise, and how a certain strand of it ended up culminating with “Roots” by The Everly Brothers. And I thought it might be interesting – for me anyway – to write about how the Everlys got there, and how Warners Reprise got there too. So, first – a little history.
The Everly Brothers’ early records from the late Fifties not just soundtracked the lives of their teenage fans, but reflected them too. Amongst the soaring country two part harmonies and brash acoustic strumming of the brothers, they sang songs about the heartaches and joys and perils of young love – “Bye bye love”, “Wake up little Susie”, “Problems”, “Let it be me”, “All I have to do is dream”… Someone should make a musical on teenage life using these songs. Phil and Don Everly wrote some songs themselves but also had a husband and wife team Felice and Bordleaux Bryant writing for them. Amongst their singles success they also acknowledged their origins with the album “Songs our daddy taught us” – a tribute to the country material sung by their father Ike on his “Everly Family” radio show which ran through the ’40s and early ’50s. All this success was while signed to Cadence Records, an independent label in America which also scored early successes with Andy Williams. In 1960 the brothers signed a monumental deal with Warner Brothers Records reportedly worth a million dollars but in reality worth $100,000 a year over ten years. Their success continued with the singles “Cathy’s clown”, “Crying in the rain”, “Walk right back” and two near-perfect albums “It’s Everly Time” and “A date with the Everly Brothers”.
Then it all started to go wrong. They had a falling out with their manager, losing access to the Bryants songs, so albums like “Instant party” and “Both sides of an evening” were full of covers of film songs and inappropriate fodder like “My grandfather’s clock”. They still had singles success up to 1962 and “The Golden Hits of The Everly Brothers” collects their Warners singles up to this point and catches them just at the peak before sliding downwards. Even now it’s a great album with some hidden gems. “I’m not angry” – b side of “Crying in the rain” – is a bitter rant with music to match, constantly circling around the same riff getting angrier with each repetition. In “How can I meet her?” the brothers decide they can’t decide whether they want to be with someone so “high classed and well bred”, insisting they’re not interested but still want her number anyway. And that wild harmonica smeared over the song seems to predict what John Lennon would do with his harp in a year’s time. “That’s old fashioned” was their last big hit of the era and shows them over-reaching slightly, a surfeit of horns and steel guitar disguising a plea for tradition. From that album onwards it was downhill – both brothers had prescription drug problems, they were indeed seen as old fashioned as the new bands from Liverpool and elsewhere came on the scene – even though the Beatles and the Hollies both owed a huge debt to the Everlys’ close harmony sound.
Singles in 1963 and 1964 showed that the Everlys were becoming aware of the changes around them, and there is a dark melancholy edge to a lot of their material of this period. “Nancy’s Minuet” was written by Don while under the influence of Henry Mancini’s “Experiment in terror”, swapping that song’s distinctive dulcimer for a harpsichord, but still catching the same sense of entrapment and dread. “I’m Afraid” – a b-side written by Jim Gordon – is full of paranoia and fear and hints at suicide. The arrangement of “Love her” was stolen wholesale for the Walker Brothers’ version. The darkest single of this era is undoubtably “The Ferris Wheel” which was a minor hit in the UK – I can remember it being played on an old Radio 1 sixties chart show when I was about ten and finding the song very disturbing. The singer has been betrayed at the fun fair by his girl, and the music is funereal, the brothers sing in unison then soar into harmony halfway through each verse, they sound so pained, yet numbed by what’s happened.
There are other songs of this period which are lighter but just as good. “The girl who sang the blues” is a jaunty song with a tale to tell of musical success and being left behind. Looking at these songs I’ve realised how many are stories – it’s no wonder they called a later album “Stories we could tell”. There are some typically semi-romantic ballads – “Don’t ask me to be friends”, “Don’t let the whole world know” – and one of my personal favourite from this era is “Hello Amy“, another b-side which harks back to their Fifties hits and tells a neat story – again. A few years ago when I was a cook at a nursing home, Brian Matthew played it on “Sounds of the Sixties” and the radio volume went up and I was beaming from ear to ear. When their problems with managers and publishers were finally sorted by late ’64 they returned with some inspired and sometimes forward looking singles like “Gone gone gone” and the fuzztoned “You’re my girl”. In Britain their popularity was maintained and they managed a few hit singles such as “The price of love” and “Love is strange”, songs and arrangements which reflected the sounds of the acts around them.
So let’s take a look at the career trajectory from ’65 onwards. Their “Beat and soul” and “Rock and soul” albums had re-established their credentials – they weren’t perfect but by going back to the material of the original rock era they had reclaimed their past and some kind of power. “Beat and soul” is the better of the two LPs – there are some great songs and performances here. “Man with money” is a simple tale of envy, she only wants a man with cash so he plans to rob a store to get the money to impress her. This song was covered by The Who for the BBC and recorded during sessions for “A quick one” but never officially issued at the time. As mentioned previously “Lonely Avenue” is almost venomous, the twin guitars of James Burton and Glen Campbell rocking up a storm. “Rock’n’soul” harks back to rock’n’roll classics by Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley and isn’t quite as successful but at least they were trying to regain their place in the mainstream.
1966 brought two albums – “In our image” and “Two Yanks in England”. Neither are perfect but both are excellent. “In our image” doesn’t really deserve to be a cohesive album as it mainly collects recent singles and b-sides, but works better than it should – a testament to the quality of their singles perhaps? “Leave my girl alone” is a fine opener, sounding like an out-take from an early electric Dylan session – the brothers threatening someone who wants their ‘girl’, Don’s telling middle eight solo – “I’ve got trouble enough without having you to fight” – hinting at more unseen problems. “The Dolls House Is Empty” extends a metaphor – toys and boys – to almost breaking point but works well. Incidentally listening to this song today it made me think of “A Father” by Virginia Astley, both songs have the same descending phrases and similar harmonies and chord changes. “June is as cold as December”, “It only costs a dime” and “I used to love you” are all top quality mid 60s beat music, for want of a better term. “The price of love” is a belter, showing they could play as tough as any British band. Best of all is “It’s all over” – a slow moving ballad heavy on the harpsichord and weighed down by the tragedy of the end of a relationship – “I just stopped living when you said goodbye”. Cliff Richard would have a hit with the song in 1967 but his arrangement was heavily orchestrated and in an odd key, the desolation at the centre of the song is masked on Cliff’s version, but is unmistakeable on the Everlys’ version. I want to compare it to “The eternal” but…it’s not quite that good. But only just.
“Two Yanks In England” was a ‘concept album’, ever so loosely. The brothers headed over to London to record an album with The Hollies, who wrote over half the songs on here. The album cover shows them cavorting around London – oh look it’s Big Ben, and now we’re in Carnaby Street – like typical tourists. The sleeve note – written by the quietly legendary Stan Cornyn – is an absolute scream, giving the brothers’ guide to London – for records, for antiques, for pubbing, for “Birds’ wear”. As for the album it is very consistent – the Hollies may have been giving the Everlys songs that were off-cuts, b-sides and album tracks but they were of high quality, which says a lot for the standard of their own work too. The Hollies themselves back the Everlys on almost half the album, the remainder being recorded in America with their standard session crew. Highlights? Well the Hollies’ material for a start. “Like every time before” which owes a debt to “We’re through”, a similar acoustic bed and melodic sense. “I’ve been wrong before” would like to be as tough as the Kinks with a similarly simple riff. “Have you ever loved somebody?” appears for the second time in this blog, having been mentioned on the Hollies’ own “Evolution” LP. “Fifi the flea” is curious – again I wonder if Graham Nash is trying to say something here, all about managers… Best of all is “Hard hard year“, twelve string acoustics strumming from Amin7 to D, a hard luck tale of a lyric and a searing fuzz lead guitar part (supposedly played by Jimmy Page). There are a few contemporary cover versions – “Pretty flamingo” and “Somebody help me” – which rattle along amiably. There’s also Sonny Curtis’ “The collector” – the song of the film of the book, a creepy song of obsession. So all in all a very good album, and one which was ridiculously hard to obtain on CD for years and years, until it appeared a few years ago on a Warner Brothers “Five Originals” boxed set.
A successful 1966 then, two well regarded albums but no hit singles. Would they build on this in ’67? Would they hell! Their first album of ’67 was “The Hit Sound of the Everly Brothers”, a strange album of covers. The idea was to take “hit” songs and give them the “Everlys” sound. It didn’t really work that well. Again the material was all covers – more 50s classics like “Blueberry hill” and “Oh boy!” alongside more recent songs like “House of the rising son” and “Trains and boats and planes”. All fine songs, but the arrangements are dull and unimaginative. There’s two decent songs – Hank Snow’s “I’m moving on” and Don Gibson’s “I’ll be a legend in my time”. Both have country heritage and hint at their future direction. The album and singles weren’t a success so with flower power booming, the Everlys went psychedelic. But not full on, they went soft pop psych – an odd slightly orchestrated psych with harmonies and backing singers “Ba-ba-ba”-ing. Their English bass player Terry Slater wrote a charming ode to a fictional Kentucky town called “Bowling Green” for them which gave the Everlys their first American Top 40 hit in years, and they followed with more singles and an album in that style. “The Everly Brothers Sing” is slightly schizophrenic, over-arranged and harmony drenched – like The Association with less singers. There’s more odd covers – a sleepy “A whiter shade of pale”, a funky “Mercy mercy mercy” – and strange originals. “Talking to the flowers” is psych-lite, while “Mary Jane” is a quite blatant song about the demon weed – “Clouds so sweet cloud my mind” indeed! But the biggest crime on the album is “It’s all over” – already perfect on “In our image”, it was remixed with more instruments and made into a gushy weepie, all the emotion in the original steamrollered into a mess. The album wasn’t a success but a few more singles struggled out towards the end of the year. They tackled “Love of the common people” and treated it gently, a rather beautiful arrangement and were they one of the first acts to cover this song? Another cover – Goffin and King’s “You’re just what I was looking for” – was another fine b-side, and is far better than Status Quo’s version. But as 1968 started, the Everly Brothers were without hits, direction or credibility.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Burbank…
Lenny Waronker was a Hollywood kid, born and raised in LA. His father Si Waronker had worked in the music industry and had set up Liberty Records (indeed one of the Chipmunks was named after him). By 1966 Lenny was working as an A&R man for Warner Brothers / Reprise Records. Warners had just bought out a label in San Franscisco called Autumn Records which had a few bands associated with it, the two hitmakers being The Beau Brummels and The Tikis. Waronker took both acts under his wing and used them as testing grounds for his ideas in production and arrangements. He had a small circle of friends who he called on for help – songwriters and arrangers like Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks and Leon Russell. The Tikis were renamed Harpers Bizarre and immediately hit with a soft pop cover of Paul Simon’s “59th St Bridge Song”. They issued a number of albums over the next few years, all produced by Waronker, mixing old and new songs with adventurous arrangements. Their second album “Anything goes” from 1967 featured a gorgeous Randy Newman original called “Snow” and an incredible Van Dyke Parks showcase called “High Coin”, where he has a trial run at the ideas of his “Song cycle” album, only with better singing. Again the Stan Cornyn sleeve notes are a great read. The whole style of the album is very much post-“Smile”, very baroque and carefully arranged. The Beau Brummels’ album of ’67 “Triangle” was an uneasy compromise – sort of psychedelic, sort of over-arranged, but not entirely successful. But the psychedelic excesses of ’67 were soon becoming passe. By 1968 there was a change in the air – the influence of Dylan’s ‘Basement Tapes’ and The Band’s “Music from Big Pink” was leading music into simpler, more rural areas. Waronker noted these changes and while it wouldn’t have suited Harpers Bizarre to head in that direction, The Beau Brummels would be perfectly placed to make such a move. The duo of Sal Valentino and Ron Elliot headed to Nashville to record a new album at a studio called Bradley’s Barn, eventually naming the LP after the studio itself.
“Bradley’s Barn” is a remarkable album. As the sleeve notes state – Stan Cornyn again – it was recorded without any electric instrumentation, so it is primarily acoustic. This isn’t strictly true – there’s some electric piano and the occasional electric guitar but there’s no distortion, it is a very clean and clear recording. Ron Elliott’s dexterous guitar is to the fore on almost all the songs – ten originals and one Randy Newman song – but is ably supported by such Nashville session stalwarts as Kenny Buttrey and Jerry Cole. And what songs! Slower material like “I’m a sleeper” and “An added attraction” have country accents, there’s moody mid-tempo songs “Cherokee girl” and “Jessica”, and there’s faster songs which have real power without the use of electricity. “Turn around” is a great album opener, showing the clarity of the arrangement of massed acoustic guitars and Sal singing his heart out. “Deep water” adds marimbas to the stew with some wonderful descending sequences. Best of all for me is “Love can fall a long way down“. I’ve never been able to describe this song and I’ve known it for fifteen years, it still holds its own secrets… You see in the mid 90s Mojo magazine compiled a list of “100 Best Albums” which was all well and good and I probably agree with most of it, but more interesting was a small paragraph where the compilers mentioned a few other albums nominated – I remember thinking “I must investigate these too”. “Pacific Street” by The Pale Fountains was there, and I bought that and loved it. But this was the first time I’d heard of “Bradley’s Barn” so I was intrigued enough to buy it in late ’97. It was odd, such an old record fitted in with the sound of some of the other new albums I’d bought like “Being there” and “Sound of lies” and the first Radar Brothers album. But “Love can fall…”. No, words fail me. The Newman song “Bless you California” is tagged on the end of the album and is highly arranged, a throwback to the post-“Smile” recordings of the previous year. The whole album reminds me of dark nights, late night bus journeys between my fiance’s house and mine, long phone conversations at eleven pm and sleepless dreams. But that’s just me, you know.
So with that album complete, The Beau Brummels split up – having created one of the cornerstones for country-rock alongside “Sweetheart of the rodeo”, “The fabulous expedition of Dillard and Clark” and “Safe at home”. “Bradley’s Barn” was well received by the critics and recognised for what it was trying to achieve. It raised Waronker’s profile within the Warners organisation, but wasn’t given the big promotional push that other albums were given. But maybe that helped – Stan Cornyn’s print ads for other Warners albums had caused some controversy – “Last night this man scored” (“Astral Weeks”), “Joni is 90% virgin” (“Joni Mitchell”) and “We lost $35,509 on ‘the album of the year’ (dammit).” (“Song Cycle”). Waronker could see where this strand of music was heading, and had said that everyone was looking for a group who sounded like The Band and sang like the Everly Brothers. Waronker had a head start on everyone else in that department – he had The Everly Brothers. So he took them under his wing, alongside fellow A&R man Andy Wickham, and directed them through 1968.
Early singles from the Everlys in ’68 showed a change of direction. “It’s my time” and “Milk train” were a halfway house between their soft-pop sound and the country-rock they were heading towards, but their b-sides showed real promise. “Empty boxes” was a Ron Elliott song and featured just his acoustic guitar and the brothers harmonising beautifully. “Lord of the manor” was something totally different – the first ninety seconds could be Tyrannasaurus Rex or some other acoustic hippie troupe. A bass rumble, strummed acoustics, gasps and sighs, unearthly harmonies, echoing slide guitars… Then the song properly starts and the brothers are singing soft and low of infidelity at the manor house, class warfare, plotting revenge, it’s “Downton Abbey” on the wrong drugs, as a string arrangement adds to the uneasy tension. It’s a brilliant record, and ended up appearing on the first Warners Reprise loss-leader compilation “The 1969 Warners Reprise Songbook” alongside The Mothers Of Invention, Tiny Tim, Arlo Guthrie and The Fugs. The stage was now set for Waronker’s newest yet oldest proteges to stake their claim to country-rock greatness.
I don’t know who came up with the idea of throwing in some old recordings of the Everlys Shows from 1952 but it was a brilliant concept – it linked back to the brothers’ past, highlighted their country heritage and provided rich context to the songs on the album, both old and new. The opening segment has Ike Everly introducing his sons Don and “Baby boy Phil” and promises songs in “country style and family style”, a warm welcome. It segues straight into Merle Haggard’s “Mama tried”, a hit single earlier in ’68, and instantly you notice a change in the brothers’ voices. Whereas previously they had sung loud and proud, now they are closely mic-ed, sounding soft, breathy and intimate. It’s a lovely sound, and it’s a softer country sound than Haggard’s original with light and unobtrustive orchestration in the background. “Less of me” was written by Glen Campbell and issued on his ’68 album with Bobbie Gentry (ironically they covered the Everlys’ “Let it be me” on that album), and the brothers treat it gently, a quiet exhortation to be less selfish, I’m always amused by the line “May I be a little meeker with a brother that is weaker” and wonder what the brothers thought of each other as they sang it. “T for Texas” was a Jimmie Rodgers song – “Blue Yodel #1” – but it never sounded like this. Frantic wah-wah, rocking piano and duelling electric guitars through the chorus, then a slow stroll through the verses. Each chorus ends with a falling harmony vocal, each verse ends on an unearthly high harmony. Once the final chorus is completed, the band let rip, there’s audible yells of enthusiasm as two lead guitars battle for domination, and as the song fades out a long sustained wailing guitar note springs up over a pulsing bass guitar, slipping down to a repeated acoustic guitar figure and the brothers start singing – old words familiar words. “I wonder if I care as much” was the b-side to “Bye bye love” back in ’57, but now it’s rearranged into a droning psychedelic piece. The voices sound older and wiser, and it’s another look back to their past. The brothers admitted they weren’t sure if this song worked, or even if the musicians knew the original song but it fits the album’s concept well. “Ventura Boulevard” is another Ron Elliott original and one of my personal favourites on the album – acoustic arpeggios, light orchestration, celeste and a beautiful melody given a gentle cuddle by the brothers. It sounds like the first blossomings of a love affair, and captures that slightly unreal air of heightened memories being made with someone special. Or I could be wrong. “Shady grove” is more traditional – the song can be traced back to the 18th Century and may have its origins in “Matty Grove” – and Don and Phil get a solo verse each, it’s a joyous treat of a song, everyone is enjoying it, the smiles are audible. 1952 Don ends the LP side with a farewell from the Everly Show.
Side two opens with Randy Newman’s “Illinois” and is that Randy on piano? A celebration of a county and its different terrains from rural to industrial, the rhythms sound like a train passing by then slowing to stop at the end – the cymbals hissing like escaping steam at the station. Another personal favourite of mine, that one. “Living too close to the ground” – well the credits assign this to Terry Slater but around that time Slater was taking credit for Don Everly’s compositions due to publishing difficulties and the song is a solo Don vocal so it may well be Don’s song. And if it is then it shows a hairline fracture in the fabric of the Everly Brothers – Phil only appears as a wordless harmony in the far background of the song as the arrangement develops. This may well point towards Don’s solo album in 1970 on Lou Adler’s Ode label. “You done me wrong” is an oddity, a country waltz written by George Jones and Ray Price. The brothers made a grand arrangement of it – stop start rhythms punctuated by what sounds like a door slamming, there’s xylophones and horns and all manner of instruments. The credits make no mention of it but to me this sounds like Van Dyke Parks had a hand in this song. Again, the brothers later stated they weren’t sure if this works. “Turn around” is the same song as opened “Bradley’s Barn” in a very similar arrangement – after a typically Everlys opening of strummed acoustics with a high chord – and works well here, the brothers sing softly around the song and a little orchestration adds to the original. The ’52 Everlys introduce “The Old Rugged Cross” and start to perform it, cutting into Merle Haggard’s “Sing me back home” which for me is a real tear-jerker. There’s more pathos in this version than Haggard’s original – the martial drumming on the chorus, the high organ part. Yes yes yes this has got to me. Sorry. I mean I just listened to the original and it didn’t hit me but this version captures something else. One final medley from the ’52 Everlys closing the show mixing in with sections of “Shady grove” then “Kentucky” starts, just guitar and bass and the brothers harmonising like angels. Again this is heartwrenching for me – and I don’t know why, it’s just so spare and the acoustics make it sound like they are singing in your front room. And it’s over, the album’s done.
“Roots” was very well received, at the time Rolling Stone stated that “anyone interested in the so-called country revival now sweeping rock should pick up this album” and it was acknowledged for being an early country rock album. It didn’t produce any hits though – but not many of Lenny Waronker’s acts had hits during the late ’60s. The Everlys knew what was going on though – they ran through “The weight” during these sessions, and also tried “Deep water” – another song from “Bradley’s Barn”. But the Everlys’ profile was raised and they started to perform for a hipper audience at venues like the Bitter End in New York and the Troubadour in LA. They carried on recording for Warners but didn’t produce another album of original material for them, only singles. Most of their ’69 / ’70 singles were excellent, helped by having most of the Clarence White era Byrds as their backing band on some cuts. “Cuckoo bird” and “I’m on my way home again” are joyous romps while “My little yellow bird” is quietly melancholic. Mention must be made of their final single for Warners – “Yves” – which is one of my father’s favourite songs of theirs. They recorded a lot of material during this era which was never issued, covers of Neil Young’s “Mr Soul” and a rollicked “Down in the bottom”. In 1970 the brothers deputised for Johnny Cash on his TV show during his summer break and that must have been odd. Warners attempted to cash in on the TV show by issuing a double live album called “The Everly Brothers Show” which is a bizarre collection. They play songs from “Roots” seriously, race through their old Fifties hits in medley form and stretch “Rock’n’roll music” into a sixteen minute medley jam incorporating “Games people play”, “Aquarius”, “Hey Jude” and more, and turning “Let it be me” into “Give peace a chance”… Well what can I say? Different times. And with that album, the ten years contract to Warners was complete and the Everly Brothers moved to pastures new – RCA Records. ‘Cos that really worked for the Kinks didn’t it?
There has been an slight resurgence in appreciation for the Everly Brothers this year. Will Oldham and Dawn McCarthy released an album of duets “What the brothers sang” of Everlys songs – and concentrated on mid to late 60s and early 70s material. Billy Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones are issuing an album covering the ’58 “Songs our daddy taught us” LP in its entirety. And while the brothers haven’t recorded any new material for over two decades they are still out there playing live from time to time. The Everlys deserve respect not just for the oldies you may hear on Radio Two but for the depth and breadth of material recorded during the Sixties, material that is rarely heard but often wonderful. If you’ve not heard some of the songs I’ve mentioned then by all means dive in, there’s plenty to enjoy.
Next time : Promise me you’ll open every window.