When music fans wax philosophical about the most revered and influential artists in rock and roll history, The Everly Brothers are definitely part of the conversation. Siblings Phil and Don released a number of classic songs during the 1950s and 1960s, including “Wake Up, Little Susie,” “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” and “When Will I Be Loved.” Their angelic harmonies and superlative acoustic guitar work combined to create some of the most enduring songs of rock’s early days. The Everly Brothers were comfortable recording in multiple genres, including rock, pop, folk, and country. They influenced many of rock’s next generation of artists, including The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Hollies, with whom they recorded an album, Two Yanks In England, in 1966.
Hey Doll Baby, a recently released compilation, collects 17 examples of their most memorable tunes, combining classic cuts such as “Cathy’s Clown” and “(Til) I Kissed You” with excellent tracks like the rambunctious “Gone Gone Gone,” which was later covered by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and the lovely, haunting ballad “So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad).” The album is a real family affair, as members of both brothers’ families were involved with the project. Phil and Don’s widows consulted on the release, and Phil’s son Jason provides a track-by-track commentary for the disc. The producer of the album also has a rock pedigree: Adria Petty, daughter of the late Tom Petty, helped remaster and compile the music on Hey Doll Baby. Tom Petty was an avowed Everly Brothers fan, and he clearly instilled a love for their music in Adria (she even named her daughter “Everly”).
The album is a dazzling collection of songs, which adeptly illustrates the range of Phil and Don’s talents, not only as performers of their own tunes but as interpreters of the music of other artists. Hey Doll Baby features an eclectic selection of covers, ranging from Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line,” to Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene,” the title track, originally recorded by Titus Turner, and a terrific version of Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me To Do.” It’s great to hear these fantastic covers performed with such zeal by The Everly Brothers, whose own work has been covered by a wide array of artists, including Linda Ronstadt, Manfred Mann, Nazareth, and Simon and Garfunkel, who invited the brothers to perform onstage with them on their 2003 tour.
From the loving positivity of “Devoted To You” to the towering sadness of “Love Hurts,” no one captured the emotions of love and heartbreak better than The Everly Brothers. Of course, they could still rock out when they wanted to, as they did on the Phil Everly-penned “Made to Love.”
Hey Doll Baby was originally released as a Record Store Day exclusive but is now available on CD, vinyl, and digital formats. The care and love that went into compiling this excellent collection are fully evident, and it’s a great reminder of the timeless qualities of the exquisite music of The Everly Brothers.
Photo: Everly Brothers (Public Domain)
PS — While we’re on the topic of Rock History, you might enjoy our YouTube series of daily one-minute nuggets of memorable moments…