Sunday, January 5, 2014

Phil Everly: Gone, Gone, Gone

Phil Everly R.I.P.  The legacy of the brothers Everly is too long and too well known to waste time feebly attempting to it chronicle here.  Instead I've sat myself down on this fucking miserable cold, grey day and hammered out ten of my fave's by the boys:

1. "Wake Up Little Susie"
1957's "overslept at the drive-in" teenage angst opera summed up nicely in 2:05. My sister and I played our mother's beat to crap copy to death (which sadly, like all of my mother's 45's had been piled , sleeveless, onto some horrible metal rack where they were slotted in between rungs and wrre technically, already near death).  This was my introduction to the brothers Everly and possibly my first rock n roll song with a story to it.

2. "Love Is Strange"
From the "Beat & Soul" LP (which also contained #10 below) the boys tear the machinery out of the Mickey & Sylvia original thanks to some jangly/crunchy in the red guitar folk rock guitar beneath some Floyd Cramer style ivory tinkling.  The guitars amp it up a notch even more towards the end. And dig Don and Phil's laid back country spoken bit "Hey Don..Yeah Phil.".  Rocking.

3. "Somebody Help Me"
An over the top version with some heavy fuzz/distortion of the Jackie Edwards/Spencer Davis Group number that was a single a few months (August 1966) after the SDG's release but in my humble opinion takes the cake against all comers.  It's also on their essential "Two Yanks in England" LP (more on that below). The vocals are brilliant and the tough guitar is riveting. Brought to my attention thanks to Edsel records 1989 reissue of the LP.

4. "Finding It Rough"
More interesting cover versions, this time the pre-Nirvana band Hat & Tie's 1967 freakbeat/pop sike obscurity penned by Patrick Cambell Lyons and Chris Thomas.  The Everly's scooped it up and cut it on their '67 LP "The Everly Brothers Sing The Everly Brothers". The fuzzed out guitar from the original is still there but the brothers rack up the pop sike quota further by adding some flute and some "la la la's" and intricate harmonies.  Again a superior take.

5. "Leave My Girl Alone"
Another jangly folk rock number from their 1966  "In Our Image" LP (that came in between 1966's "Beat & Soul" and "Two Yanks In England", a pretty prolific year for Phil & Don). The vocals are stellar and the arrangement has a distinctly Byrdsy feel.  I can easily imagine Gene Clark singing this!

6. "Hard Hard Year"
Phil and Don hit England in '66 and gather up The Hollies, Jimmy Page (allegedly), John Paul Jones and according to Graham Nash one Reg Dwight (aka Elton John) and take to the studio to cut the 12 track LP later to become "Two Yanks in England". 8 of the numbers are "L. Ransford" (Clarke/Nash/Hicks) compositions , three of which were at the time not yet record by the Hollies. This is my fave of the Hollies covers on the album.  It lends itself well to the boys voices behind some faint organ and tambourine before the searing guitar solo from Jimmy Page (faithful reader Keith Patterson pointed out it was not Tony Hicks and utilizes Page's style) blows it all to smithereens.

7. "Bowling Green"
Despite the quaint English name (and the poppy/pysch arrangement not unlike The Association) Bowling Green, is as the song says, in Kentucky. The vocals airy, soaring feel propel this 1967 single firmly into Everly's legendary ability to use bits of genres without sounding like they were trying to be trendy or contemporary.  It was sadly the last time they ever saw the U.S Top 100 or the Top 40 (the song croaked at #40). Criminal.

8. "The Air that I Breathe"
A solo single from Phil released in 1973, a whole year before The Hollies hit version and easily better (arranged by Warren Zevon) thanks to the simplistic vocal arrangement and subtle cello, not the over the top Hollies job. Dig the choral backing vocals spine tingling bits instead of that blistering guitar lick that The Hollies used.

9. "Let It Be Me"
Hands down the definitive version of this track in my estimation is by the Everly's , the A-side of their 1959 Cadence 45 (with "Since You Broke My Heart" on the flip). Easily the best possible example of the vocal magic that was the pairing of these guys.

10. "Man With Money"
My introduction to the Everly's began with my mom's beat to shit Cadence 45's, my interest in them began after hearing this original by them that was a fave among mid 60's mod types like The Eyes (who ineptly covered it), A Wild Uncertainty and The who (my fave version of the three) back in the late 80's. It drives along with some baroque swatches of harpsichord and Phil and Don's precision soulful vocals. Hands down my fave Everly's tune of all time.


Funky16Corners said...

Nice selection Bill!

Blue Shed Thinking said...

Temptation - for its throw everything into the mix production.

diskojoe said...

Great list, Bill & Happy New Year. The Everlys' mid-60s period is underrated. The CD from that period is probably the most played on my copy of the Rhino box set. As for "Man With
Money", it's probably the "hottest" sounding song that I've ever heard, at least the CD version.