The Everly Brothers – All-Time Original Hits

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

Close in age and closer in harmony, the Everly Brothers were a major influence on the Beatles, Hollies, and Byrds, to say nothing of Simon & Garfunkel (whose cover of “Wake Up, Little Susie’ is how I discovered the sibling duo). Born in the late 1930s, Don and Phil Everly grew up in a musical family, appearing often on their father’s radio show in Iowa from an early age and eventually moving to Tennessee, where they decamped to Nashville as soon as they finished high school. Coming under the wing of Chet Atkins, the pair signed to the Acuff-Rose publishing firm (the subject of a paen by Uncle Tupelo) in 1956 and started recording songs by the spousal team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant (who also wrote for Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, and whose work has been covered by Dylan, Elvis Costello, Joan Jett, and Gram Parsons, among many others). Their hit-making days in the U.S. lasted into 1962, though they had better luck for a few more years in the U.K. and Canada. Drug addiction followed as their career stalled, though the pair recorded a well-received album (Roots) in 1968; the act split up in 1973. In the intervening years they pursued solo careers (Phil worked with Warren Zevon), but the brothers got back together in 1983 (they subsequently worked with Dave Edmunds and appeared on Paul Simon’s Graceland) and this time they lasted, with diminishing frequency, until Phil died in 2014. Don died in 2021.

What I Think of This Album

This carefully curated collection captures 16 chart hits – in chronological order, thank the lord – from 1957 to 1961. My personal favorite is “Take a Message to Mary,” followed very closely by “Cathy’s Clown,” but you can take your pick from a slew of standouts like “All I Have to Do is Dream,” “When Will I Be Loved,” “(‘Til) I Kissed You,” and “Bye Bye Love.” 

I do think “Bird Dog” is incredibly annoying, however. “Ebony Eyes” (written by John D. Laudermilk) is pretty awesome, and likely the inspiration for the Bigger Lovers’ “Casual Friday.”

Don generally sings the low parts and Phil the high ones; Don’s guitar playing has been hailed by Keith Richards, and he does do a cool bit on the intro to “Bye Bye Love.” Each was also a songwriter, with Don creating “‘Til I Kissed You” and Phil composing “When Will I Be Loved.” Apparently it is disputed who wrote “Cathy’s Clown.” 

Chet Atkins plays electric guitar on some of these songs. Floyd Cramer, of Elvis’s backing band, plays the excellent piano part on “Cathy’s Clown.” Pete Wingfield, who produced Dexy’s Midnight Runners and played keys for a number of artists, was in the Everly Brothers’ backing band after they reunited.

Some authorities take issue with the mixes on this Rhino comp, and also note that it omits several key songs from the brothers’ repertoire.

The brothers had a cousin named Jewel Guy, who changed his name to James Best professionally, and achieved pop culture fame as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard.

The Best Thing About This Album

The harmonies are heavenly.

Release Date

November, 1999

The Cover Art

Perfectly acceptable for a comp.

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