Of course we lost one of the greatest a little over a week ago; Phil Everly had the voice of an angel, and his massive body of recorded work with his brother Don is some of the greatest music ever recorded by anyone, anywhere.
From the beginning, the brothers recorded output beautifully merged Appalachian harmonies with rock n roll music for something that is 100% original, and was a massive influence on so many artists that followed their lead. In a move that could only have been fate, The Everly's moved from Cadence Records (the home of their '50's hits) to Warner Brothers Records in 1960. The hits continued for a few years (including their biggest, 'Cathy's Clown'), eventually the group was swept by the wayside by newer sounds (specifically the British Invasion, which owed so much to the pioneering work of The Everlys). However, during the mid-60's, the group branched out and mated their patented sound to R&B (the equisite Beat And Soul and Rock And Soul LP's, 1965), and a brilliant LP which found the group backed by The Hollies and fully adopting the Mod sound (Two Yanks In England, 1966). During this time, the once stodgy Warner Brothers label recast itself as THE hip label for cutting edge music, and 1967 releases from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Grateful Dead and The Electric Prunes (to name a few) cemented that image fully in place. The Everlys were ready to embrace the underground, and they did so beautifully on their 1968 releases.
'Lord Of The Manor' may very well be the most avant garde single EVER released by a major hitmaking group- any chances of commercial success are non-existant with a song that waits more than :35 before the lead vocals come in; and OH, those voices! Don turns in one of his most soulful lead vocals, while Phil soars gorgeously through a lyric that takes on class struggle in a gently poetic way. And yes, that IS the ending.
The flip side, 'Milk Train', is a more traditional sound but still puts one giant step forward for the groups' creativity for a beautiful example of country fried soul.
The Everlys' 1968 LP release (Roots) is a major high point in recorded music, and in my opinion easily rates within the 50 best LP's ever made if I were to compile such a list. Under the brilliant arranger of Beau Brummels guitarist/ songwriter Ron Elliott, this album matched the Everlys' sound with heavy doses of tasteful psychedelia and heavier rock and in turn created one of the first and (in my opinion) best LP that can be filed under the genre country rock.
For a single release, the wah-wah drenched and flat out barn burning 'T For Texas' (the wildly rearranged adaptation of Jimmie Rodgers' 'Blue Yodel No 1') was coupled with 'I Wonder If I Care As Much', itself a radically rearranged version of the flip side to the Everlys' first hit, 'Bye Bye Love'. On the LP, these two songs are cross faded together, and while that's a lovely bit of production brilliance from Lenny Waronker, it's nice to hear the tracks on their own as well (and in mono mixes to boot).
Long live The Everly Brothers.