By Paul Freeman
Harmony. When you look up that word in the dictionary, you should find a picture of The Everly Brothers.
From childhood onward, Don and Phil's voices entwined in a way that was truly magical. Hearing their heavenly harmonies send chills up the spine, make the heart flutter and stir the soul. And the new compilation album, "Hey Doll Baby," on Rhino/Warner Records, proves that the duo's unmistakable sound is just as thrilling today as it was when the tracks were first recorded, well over half a century ago.
The Everly Brothers were among the handful of rock 'n' roll's founding fathers. They influenced countless artists in rock and country, among them, The Beatles, The Searchers, The Hollies, The Byrds, The Bee Gees, Simon & Garfunkel and Tom Petty. Petty's daughter Adria curated this 17-track collection, working with Don (before he passed in 2021), as well as Phil's widow Patti and son Jason. As part of the liner notes, Jason wrote insightful info for each of the selections.
The title track, "Hey Pretty Baby," an innocent rockabilly tune, energetically opens the compilation. That's followed by Phil's classic composition, "When Will I Be Loved," which was later covered vigorously by Linda Ronstadt. Another Phil number, the jaunty "Made to Love, "remains fun. Don is well represented, too. A few of his best loved songs are here--"Cathy's Clown," "('Til) I Kissed You" and "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)."
Other Everly favorites in the set include Sonny Curtis' "Walk Right Back" and a wonderful pair of Boudleaux Bryant weepers--"Love Hurts" and "Devoted to You." The siblings' magnificent blood harmony enlivens diverse material, ranging from the Merle Travis barn burner "Muskrat" to the Johnny Otis R&B hit "So Fine" to a sizzling rendition of Chuck Berry's "Maybellene" to a finger-snapping version of Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line." Their interpretation of Jimmy Reed's oft-covered blues tune, "Baby What You Want Me to Do," proves spellbinding. Phil and Don put their unique imprint on every tune they perform.
The album contains not only many of the brothers' best known numbers, but appealing obscurities, as well, including the aching "Sigh, Cry, Almost Die." That's just one of the Don/Phil co-writes, which also include "That's Just Too Much," and the irresistible, rollickingrocker, "Gone, Gone, Gone."
Phil and Don could rock with the best of them and deliver a ballad so it would break your heart. On the newly remastered tracks, the vinyl really brings out the vibrancy of the brothers' vocalizing, the warmth, the urgency, the sincerity. But the new compilation is also available in CD and streaming formats. Listen any way you like... but do listen! You'll be rewarded with timeless music that continues to be moving and exciting.