The Everly Brothers

A Night at the Royal Albert Hall

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The Everly Brothers' September 23, 1983, reunion concert at Royal Albert Hall has been kicking around for so long that this double-CD European import has probably been ignored by most listeners. At the time of its release in 1984, there wasn't a huge amount of Everly Brothers material out there, and no truly comprehensive hits collection (apart from a strange but excellent Arista Records double LP that never got picked up as a CD); since then, however, virtually their entire Cadence Records catalog and much (though not all) of the best of their Warner Bros. recordings have been made available at various times. Thus, part of the imperative behind this release has sort of dissolved over time, but that doesn't mean this album doesn't have value -- Don and Phil Everly are a little bit less spirited here than they were on the better parts of their Warner Bros. live album, recorded 13 years earlier, and the show is a little slicker than any they might've put on when they were an active, ongoing performing unit, but they can still rock out and their harmonizing was as fine as ever. Additionally, they had the advantage of doing all of this as a fresh start; the whole event was intrinsically special to the participants. It was soon after this performance that they proved they were something more than a pure "oldies" act by charting a number four hit in England with "Wings of a Nightingale." Recording technology had improved significantly from 1969, even if the Everlys were older, so what was recorded was recorded better, and the remastering job on this CD is excellent, with a much louder, closer sound. There's about 40 minutes more music on this boxed double-CD set than there is on Mercury's single CD of the same concert, and the song order has also been restored to the actual sequence in which everything was played -- the additional songs, including some medleys restored to their original order, and "Barbara Allen," "Lightning Express," "Put My Little Shoes Away," "Down in the Willow Garden," "Long Time Gone," Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" (which they make over completely in their own style), "Blues (Stay Away From Me)," and "Step It up and Go" make this show much more than the live greatest-hits performance that it seemed to be in the original release, and present the duo as more ambitious than listeners were led to believe they had been. There's also some very thorough annotation by Dave Thompson, but on the minus side, the track numbers don't match up with the listing on the box or in the enclosed booklet; each medley's individual section has been given an index number, so none of the index points on the first disc after track five correspond to the numbers listed.

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