Everly BrothersEverly Brothers
Album: The Very Best Of The Everly Brothers
Label: Rhino
Tracks: 31

A self-explanatory release, presumably to tie in with the recent BBC (Arena) documentary. It gathers together under one convenient roof 31 (count 'em!) tracks, virtually all of which we can remember being hits. It's no exaggeration to call them an integral part of the soundtrack to growing up. There has of course never been any other sibling duo quite like Kentucky's Everlys, and those trademark vocal harmonies are totally unmistakable, whatever the musical backdrop and whatever the material. And some say they still sounded everly bit as good at their final comeback concert…

Inevitably the recording quality varies between the 50s Cadence and 60s Warner releases, but the remastering is better than capable and points up the clarity of the balance achieved on the best of them, also the consistency of output over the decades. Six of the Cadence hits were re-recorded during the Everlys' Warner heyday, and what they gained in studio presence they lost in freshness and innocence; I believe (tho' I'm happy to be corrected if need be) those six tracks here are the original recordings (albeit remastered).

I'm not sure about the provenance of one or two of the later titles however. Even so, listening to the whole parade of hits here, I was surprised at the number of titles that seem to fade before I remember them doing - if you get my drift - but it's most likely that the fault lies with my ailing memory rather than there having been any deliberate editing policy by Rhino to fit the music onto one 73-minute disc. This new compilation, while sporting an identical title to at least four earlier releases over the years, has got to be counted the most comprehensive single-disc collection; for instance, the 1997 compilation had only 25 tracks (and some of them had been taken from the 1983 reunion concert), whereas the 2010 Union Square compilation was a two-disc affair which contained 40 tracks and omitted a few key items. The new collection brings back a small handful of titles (like All I Have To Do Is Dream) that had been inexplicably left off earlier ones; it also, unusually, includes Stick With Me Baby (presumably because it was covered by Plant & Krauss on their Raising Sand album).

There's one particular song I could happily do without (I won't dare say which for fear of upsetting fans!) and a couple of others I'd have liked to have been included in its place, but on the whole this selection is near-ideal. And it provides a salutary reminder of just how the lads could rock out (on cuts like The Price Of Love and Gone Gone Gone). Perhaps a more chronological sequence would have been of benefit, but that's nitpicking really. And I can't say whether the final disc packaging includes anything in the way of notes, but the music's nearly all so well-known that any non-anorak explanation would probably go over the heads of much of the disc's target market. So, if you don't already have a representative Everlys compilation on your shelves (and IMHO everly home should have one!), I'm sure you won't do better than this, so go on - treat yourself!

David Kidman

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