The Everly Brothers

Too Good to Be True

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Seldom has an album title been as true as it is for Varese's 2005 Everly Brothers compilation Too Good to Be True. This brief but rich 18-track disc contains a wealth of songwriting demos the Everlys made for the publishing company Acuff-Rose in the late '50s, almost all unreleased (two songs, "Give Me a Future" and "Life Ain't Worth Living," were on Bear Family's exhaustive 1992 box set Classic Everly Brothers, which compiled all of the duo's known Cadence and pre-Cadence recordings). The big news is that there aren't just demo versions of such timeless Everly hits as "I Wonder if I Care as Much," "Maybe Tomorrow," and "Should We Tell Him," but six previously unknown, unheard Everly songs: "That's Too Good to Be True," "How Did We Stay Together," "I Didn't Mean to Go This Far," "All I Ask of Life," "I'll Throw Myself at You," and "It's Too Late to Say Goodbye." Like most of the recordings here, these tracks were recorded in 1957, after the duo had their first big hit for Cadence with the Felice & Boudleaux Bryant-written "Bye Bye Love" and were demoing their own original songs for future use at the label. These recordings, let alone these songs, weren't known to exist until Cary E. Mansfield and Andrew Sandoval began work on this project and were presented with the recordings by Acuff-Rose. As Sandoval says in his liner notes, these are the "missing part of the puzzle" between the fine but unremarkable close harmony cuts the duo made for Columbia in 1955 and the classic Cadence sound: it's possible to hear the Everlys grow into their classic sound on these demos. That would have been enough of a treat for devoted fans, but the fact that there are six new songs, all good, makes this absolutely essential. Since these are demos, the songs are short and some of the unheard tunes don't feel completely fleshed out, but the core of each tune is here, and it's rather wondrous to hear new Everly tunes so many years after the fact. There's no question that this is a historically important release, and because of its historical nature it may not be played as often as the duo's classic Cadence sides, but even so, it's hard to imagine any Everly fan not having this superb disc in his collection.

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