100 Hits Legends – The Everly Brothers

13 Dec

100Everly

When I saw this five CD set going on Amazon UK for just £5.50 it was a bit of a no-brainer: It would be daft not to buy it! It’s a collection issued in 2010 by the Demon Music Group/Rhino (LEGENDS019)

The package does what it says on the cover – one hundred songs , with a fair proportion of ones that are bona-fide hits (and the original recordings), ranging from  ‘Bye Bye Love’ in 1957 through to ‘Bowling Green’ from 1967 – taken in roughly chronological order.  It doesn’t cover their very earliest efforts nor the later recordings – but pretty much all the songs you’d associate with Don and Phil Everly are there: ‘Wake Up Little Susie’, ‘Problems’, ‘Cryin’ In the Rain’,  ‘Cathy’s Clown’ and lots more. In fact its only when you get them all together that you realise just how many there are.

I suppose I’ve spent my entire life with the Everly Brothers turning up on the radio now and again – and there was a cover of their signature song, Felice and Boudleaux Bryant’s ‘Bye Bye Love’, on one of the first LPs I ever bought (Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1970). As I progressed through my teenage years the Everly’s time in the spotlight was fading but their credibility got a boost when Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds (while members of Rockpile) recorded a four track EP of  Everly Brothers songs as a bonus with early pressings of their Seconds of Pleasure album. And then there was Linda Ronstadt’s hit with Phil’s ‘When Will I be Loved?’.  Even the young Fairport Convention covered the brothers’ ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’  (on their wonderful Heydays album of flotsam and jetsam). I still can’t whether I’ve actually seen Richard Thompson include ‘The Price of Love’ in a concert or whether  I’ve just seen it on YouTube or heard it on a bootleg.

So why do I like it? Well, the songs are generally pretty short (like Buddy Holly’s), mostly under three minutes. And they have great hooks. And they are, on the whole, pretty simple – essentially the sort of thing anyone who can sing and  hold down a few chords can reproduce with their friends. For me this is at the heart of ‘folk’ music. While I understand and respect the quasi-academic study of the transmission and history of ‘traditional’ music, the other part of it, for me, is the communal shared experience of making music together – exemplified by Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s stories of singing old-time Stephen Foster songs with their parents around the family piano. There’s something about DIY music (whether this, or skiffle or early punk) that is somehow authentic. The key feature though, it the brothers’ wonderful, harmonies. That Don and Phil Everly could maintain such a spirit while having their other foot firmly in the work of showbiz and commercialism, and reflecting the American culture of their time (including the saccharine bits)  is one of the reasons I enjoy this collection so much.

PS: Phil Everly died, aged 74, on January 4th 2014.

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One Response to “100 Hits Legends – The Everly Brothers”

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  1. Everly Brother Phil dies | Dear Kitty. Some blog - January 4, 2014

    […] 100 Hits Legends – The Everly Brothers […]

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