The Everly Brothers Sing

The Everly Brothers

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The Everly Brothers Sing Review

by Bruce Eder

Coming at what seemed like the low ebb of their commercial fortunes, The Everly Brothers Sing was neglected even by many fans at the time, and was overlooked for the next 38 years, until its reissue by Collectors' Choice Music in 2005. Actually, it represented some of the duo's most ambitious music of the late '60s, if not their most successful, and was as forward-looking musically as its immediate predecessor, The Hit Sound of the Everly Brothers -- released in February of 1967 and heavily laden with covers of '50s rock/R&B standards and '60s songs that were already identified as "oldies" -- was retro; the most interesting and challenging song from that record's sessions, "Even If I Hold It in My Hand (Hard Luck Story)," was left in the can, but not so with this, their next album. The duo had proved with the summer 1966 Two Yanks in England that they could hold their own with the Hollies doing Hollies' originals, and -- after the brief hiatus of Hit Sounds -- plunged into the swirling psychedelic waters of 1967 with new confidence. Their upbeat yet nostalgia-laced, country-flavored single "Bowling Green," recorded in late March of 1967, reached the U.S. Top 40 in July, and the accompanying album The Everly Brothers Sing came out the following month. The results, if overproduced (and who wasn't overproduced in 1967?) and sometimes over-ambitious (and there was a lot of that going around, too), were unique in their history. On top of "Bowling Green" -- their first U.S. hit in over three years -- we got the ornate, upbeat ballad "I Don't Want to Love You," on which a Jay Migliori's woodwinds offer a haunting minimalist accompaniment over the middle-eight (and if that detail sounds more like it belongs in the description of a Beatles or a Hollies record of the era, it was no accident, because the duo was fully versed in what was going on in London and elsewhere production-wise); and the spacy, trippy "Mary Jane," complete with fuzz guitars in the foreground and multiple layers of rhythm guitars being strummed -- by James Burton and Glen Campbell, among other notables -- and lots of percussion behind them, as a pretty and unthreatening harmonized declaration of hipness. In all honesty, the latter was a misfire as a followup single, and not all of the rest worked -- "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" are among the most dubious tracks ever cut by the duo -- and the repeat of two previously recorded songs didn't exactly make this seem like a profoundly important album at the time. But minus the inappropriate songs and the self-conscious hipness on display here, somewhere between the advanced instrumentation, the thematic return to their country (and rural) roots, and the slick editing, The Everly Brothers Sing ended up putting together the key ingredients (if not the precise formulation) that would shape their next album, Roots, and that was a killer album.

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