One of the unfortunate side effects of the rise of The Beatles was that it pushed a lot of the vocal-oriented groups from rock and roll’s first generation out of the spotlight. This was more than a little ironic since many of these artists had inspired The Beatles in the first place. One of those groups was The Everly Brothers, who had phenomenal success during the 1950s and early 1960s with songs like “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up, Little Susie,” and “Cathy’s Clown.”
While their popularity had waned somewhat in the US, Phil and Don Everly were still having significant chart hits in the UK, including the Top Ten singles “Temptation” and “The Price of Love.” In May of 1966, the sibling duo traveled across the pond to record an album, Two Yanks In England. The main backing band for the sessions was none other than The Hollies, who by this time had charted several hits in England, and scored their first US Top 40 single with “Look Through Any Window.” Graham Nash, Tony Hicks, Bobby Elliott, and Bernie Calvert participated in the UK sessions, and Hicks, Nash, and fellow band member Allan Clarke wrote eight of the songs featured on the album, which were credited to their pseudonym, L. Ransford.
The tracks penned by The Hollies include “Have You Ever Loved Somebody?,” “I’ve Been Wrong Before” and “Signs That Will Never Change.” The songs on Two Yanks In England benefit tremendously from the impressive vocals and sparkling harmonies provided by Phil and Don, which blend perfectly with the guitar-oriented style of The Hollies. It’s a summit meeting where old-school rock and roll unites with the new musical wave of the British Invasion, and it sounds terrific. The Hollies actually recorded their own versions of the songs featured on the album, but The Everly Brothers really make these songs their own, as evidenced by their fantastic performances, especially on “So Lonely,” “Don’t Run and Hide,” “Like Every Time Before” and the moving, elegiac “Hard Hard Year.”
Two Yanks In England also includes covers of “Somebody Help Me,” written by Jackie Edwards, which was a number one UK hit for The Spencer Davis Group, and “Pretty Flamingo,” a Mark Behan composition that topped those same charts in a version by Manfred Mann. The Everlys contributed a pair of their own compositions to the album, the marvelous “Kiss Your Man Goodbye” and “The Collector,” co-written with Sonny Curtis. The UK sessions featured soon-to-be rock superstars Jimmy Page on guitar and John Paul Jones on bass, as well as noted arranger and conductor Arthur Greenslade on keyboards and session drummer Andy White, who played with everyone from The Beatles to Tom Jones.
Although the album title is Two Yanks In England, only half of the twelve tracks were completed there. The Everlys returned to the US in June of 1966 for some additional recording in California. The lineup for the Hollywood-based sessions included James Burton, Glen Campbell, and Al Casey on guitar, Jim Gordon on drums, Terry Slater on bass, and Larry Knechtel on keyboards. While the album didn’t fare well upon its original release, it’s a fantastic record that is worth seeking out. If you’re a devotee of either The Everly Brothers or The Hollies and have ever wondered what a record that pairs two of 1950s rock and roll’s finest singers with one of the British Invasion’s best vocal-oriented bands would sound like, look no further than Two Yanks In England.
Photo: The Everly Brothers (public domain)