Tag Archives: Everly Brothers

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.

Raising Sand

7 Sep

RaisingSand

A one-off collaboration from 2007 between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand was deservedly successful, winning a clutch of Grammy Awards.

Although Mr Plant is unlikely to return to the level of success he enjoyed with Led Zeppelin, this shows that he continues to be an imposing presence and an interesting artist to follow because of his readiness to try new things. On this he really sounds like he’s enjoying  himself!  Ms Krauss is also an established and successful  artist – but in a more specialist genre, bluegrass, and this project gave her a strong platform from which to appeal to newer and wider audiences – both as a vocalist and as a fiddler.

What makes the project fly though, is the presence in the producer’s chair, of the quietly brilliant T-Bone Burnett – who also contributes some tasteful guitar work.  What Mr Burnett really brought to the project though, was his ‘curatorial’ selection of the thirteen tracks that make up this collection and the way he blends and sequences them together.

The tracks are:

1. ‘Rich Woman’ by Dorothy LaBostrie (who wrote’ Tutti Frutti’ for Little Richard) and McKinley Millet. Originally recorded by Lil’ Millet [presumably the aforesaid McKinley] and his Creoles.  Only after hearing this a couple of times did I realise that I knew the original version from an undistinguished compilation.

2. ‘Killing the Blues’ by Roley Salley which was more familiar since it was included by Shawn Colvin on her 1994 Cover Girl album.

3. ‘Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us’  by Sam Phillips was a new song for me, presumably about gospel singer Rosetta Tharpe.

4. ‘Polly’ [Come Home]  by Gene Clark, formerly of The Byrds and of Dillard and Clark (from whose 1969 album this comes).

5. ‘Gone Gone Gone’  (written and recorded by Don Everly and Phil Everly in the fifties but known to me through Fairport Convention’s Heyday album)

6. ‘Through the Morning, Through the Night’ is another from the pen of the late Gene Clark – and from the same Dillard and Clark album – thus almost ensuring it a healthy sales boost as anoraks like me go back to check the originals).

7. ‘Please Read the Letter” by Mr Plant and Jimmy Page along with collaborators Charlie Jones and Michael Lee. This appeared on Page and Plant’s 1998 Walking into Clarksdale album and benefits here from Alison Krauss’s vocals.

8. ‘Trampled Rose’  I wasn’t familiar with this song but certainly knew the co-composer Tom Waits.

9.’Fortune Teller’ , credited to Naomi Neville (apparently a pseudonym for Allen Toussaint) and recorded by The Who (on Live at Leeds)  and The Rolling Stones.

10. ‘Stick With Me Baby’ is by Mel Tillis (a country artist probably best known in the UK for writing the cheesy Kenny Rogers hit ‘Ruby, don’t take your love to town’. The most disposable track on the album for me, unlike…

11. ‘Nothin’ by the late, great Townes Van Zandt with which I was familiar from his Legend compilation

12. ‘Let Your Loss Be Your Lesson” – another song and composer with which I wasn’t familiar – and still haven’t followed up. A quick search in writing this post suggests that composer Milton Campbell was a jobbing delta blues musician who enjoyed modest success as Little Milton. Happy to learn more about him.

13. ‘Your Long Journey’  by Doc Watson andhis wife  Rosa Lee Watson is a lovely way to end the album.  I know Emmylou Harris has recorded this – but I first heard it performed by Rory Block and Lee Berg on something called Woodstock Mountains:  More Music from Mud Acres (another ‘project’ involving John Sebastian and Happy Traum and Artie Traum from 1977 which in many ways sounds as if I could have been a progenitor to Raising Sand, having a similar sort of sound.

I expect these notes explain  why I like Raising Sand: Great performers and a mixture of new and familiar songs pulled together in a way that invite the listener to go back to source and develop their musical understanding, enjoyment and knowledge.  If only someone could pull off a UK version which had a similar impact!