I love the Everly Brothers.
Many people do, though generally, they aren’t as revered as the hell raisers and out and out rock ‘n’ rollers from the 1950s.
Elvis will forever reign supreme as he straddled or created a number of styles of rock ‘n’ roll in those years 1954 -1958 where he reinvented himself regularly. But despite his rock ballads, country-ish rock, pop, faux jazzy rock, trad pop stylings, rhythm and blues, gospel, seasonal rock it is his out and out rockers he is lauded for.
People gravitate to that in rock music.
Buddy Holly aside, 50s enthusiasts generally like their rock and roll, loud, aggressive and with beat. And these are the songs we remember by Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Billy Lee Riley, Link Wray et al.
Their twin harmonies of the Everly Brothers were just too pop despite the fact they could rock out and had the right pedigree for first generation white rockers: they were of Southern heritage and grew up listening to (a lot of) country, gospel and R&B
But it is these harmonies that took (along with Buddy Holly) US rock in a different direction and influenced the British Invasion bands as well as The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Gram Parsons, The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, and any other number of duos.
Their influence is obvious.
But by the mid-1960s, like many of their 50s peers, their career was on the wane.
Of the first generation only Elvis had a career, though he was in Hollywood making movies and not extending himself (yet).
Many of the first generation black guys had retreated into rehashing the same rock ‘n’ roll rhythms over and over again whilst many of the white guys had moved to country music.
All, though, had a career, playing live, in England.
Say what you will of the English public and music, and I have said a bit, they do love their dinosaurs.
And, I’m not using dinosaur here in a pejorative way (not this time), I just mean the English love to hang on to things. Perhaps it’s because, in this case, they missed out on much of this early on but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that their smaller population (and smaller market) means that new things aren’t being continually invented so there is room for “oldies” in the charts even a lot later on.
The Americans also love to hang on to things (if gigs are any indication of anything) but their musical dinosaurs rarely invade the charts after their initial burst of popularity is over.
- if you have influenced English music;
- you are popular over there;
- and things aren’t going all that well in your home country,
it is a no brainer what you have to do …
And, that is, go to England and record an album of English tunes, with some English musicians.
This music kicks with rhythm and beat and the Everlys nail a number of the covers and perhaps do some even better than the originals. And … I’m happy to say, the music is eclectic, and even quirky as the Everlys play around with their familiar harmonies (which must have alienated their traditional fans looking for more of the same) whilst some of the songs are just weird, well weird by Top 40 standards.
The Hollies, apparently (and perhaps not surprisingly) played on most of the album as did James Burton, but it has also been rumoured that Jimmy Page contributed some guitar as a session musician and, John Paul Jones and Reggie Dwight (a.k.a. Elton John) also played on the album.
Clearly a no brainer album, though, doesn’t mean success with the music public.
What does that say about them?
This didn’t chart.
The Everly Brothers went the way of the other 1950s white rock ‘n’ rollers into safer country pop …. though there were many little masterpieces there also.
Check my other comments for biographical detail.
Note, the author “L. Ransford” (who wrote eight of the twelve songs on the album) is, actually, Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks & Graham Nash of The Hollies who were asked (wisely by someone) to supply songs for this album.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Somebody Help Me – (Jackie Edwards) – a UK #1 in early to mid-1966 for the Spencer Davis group. A good version of the song. It doesn't add anything to the original (even if I prefer it a little).
- So Lonely – (L. Ransford) -Graham Nash) – originally done by The Hollies as a B-side in 1965 and, here, not dissimilar to Peter & Gordon. Excellent with the yearning the Everlys made famous in the late 50s.
- Kiss Your Man Goodbye – (Don Everly, Phil Everly) – a great tune with some great guitar. The Everlys sound is contemporised to mid-60s London.
- Signs That Will Never Change – (L. Ransford) – recorded by the Hollies though not released until 1967 as a B-side. A pretty song and very a wistful mid-60s mid-tempo ballad.
- Like Every Time Before – (L. Ransford) – the Hollies released this as a B-side in 1968. A cross between the Beatles "And I Love Her" and Unit 4 Plus 2's 1966 hit "Concrete And Clay" all done to a Latin beat.
- Pretty Flamingo – (Mark Barkan) – a UK #1 in early to mid-1966 for Manfred Mann. A magnificent song. Not as good as the original but the song is so good it doesn't matter too much.
- I've Been Wrong Before – (L. Ransford) – had been issued under the title “I've Been Wrong" in 1965 on the US ‘Hear! Here!” and the UK “Hollies” LPs. A good up-tempo number.
- Have You Ever Loved Somebody? – (L. Ransford) – also recorded by the Hollies , released on their 1967 album “Evolution” though The Searchers had a minor hit with it in the UK in 1966 (#48Uk, #94 US). Another up-tempo number which is quite good.
- The Collector – (Sonny Curtis, Don Everly, Phil Everly) – based on the 1963 British novel of the same name by John Fowles (which was made into a successful film by William Wyler in 1965). Apparently song authors Don Everly and Sonny Curtis (a former Cricket with Buddy Holly) had read the book though Curtis, has said that it really is Don Everly's song, despite what the songwriting credits say). Suitably tortured and quite beautiful.
- Don't Run and Hide – (L. Ransford) – originally done by The Hollies as a B-side in 1966. Very Hollies (not surprisingly).
- Fifi the Flea – (L. Ransford) – originally done by The Hollies on their US “Beat Group!” album and UK “Would You Believe” album (1966). Like a downbeat version of the Beatles' "Michelle" … a tale of a doomed love affair between circus performers … and one of the best songs in the "doomed love affair between circus performers" song genre.
- Hard Hard Year – (L. Ransford) – originally done by The Hollies on their US “Beat Group!” album and UK “Would You Believe” album (1966). Some nice organ and a good vocal though a downbeat ending to a "swinging London" album.
The Everlys are out of their comfort zone but not out of their depth. There are many treasures here. A underrated album … I'm keeping it.
Somebody Help Me
Kiss Your Man Goodbye
Signs That Will Never Change
Like Every Time Before
I've Been Wrong Before
Have You Ever Loved Somebody?
Don't Run and Hide
Fifi the Flea
Hard Hard Year
The Everly Brothers with singer Kelley in Dublin, Ireland 1966. Kelley was in the Irish "Nevada Showband". Okay it's not England but the threads are influenced by English fashions (though, apparently, all bought in Dublin).