The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, March 2, 1995 - 9
The Everly Brothers break hearts
By Tom Erlewine
Daily Arts Editor
Of all the rock 'n' roll pioneers, the
Everly Brothers are often the most un-
derrated by critics. As Rhino's four-
disc box set "Heartaches and Harmo-
nies" shows, the duo has had an immea-
surable impact on rock, pop and coun-
Of course, considering their musi-
cal heritage, the impact of the Everlys'
music isn't surprising. Don and Phil
Everly's father, Ike, was a miner in
Kentucky who spent his spare time
playing guitar. One of Ike's disciples
was the legendary Merle Travis; during
the '40s and '50s, Travis popularized
the thumb-picking techniques he learned
from Ike and the style revolutionized
country guitar-playing. IkeEverly never
had the luck to be as popular as Travis,
yet he had the opportunity to leave
mining and perform music for a living.
Moving from Kentucky to Chicago af-
ter Don's birth, Ike began performing
full-time on the radio and in concert
halls. Soon afterward, the Everlys relo-
cated to Iowa, where Ike became a
regular on a local radio station. When
Don and Phil reached theirpreteen years,
they became regulars on the show.
"Heartaches and Harmonies" begins
with the brothers singing "Don't Let
Our Love Die" from a 1951 broadcast;
their harmonies aren't as accomplished
as they would be just a few years later,
yet their raw talent is readily apparent.
By the time the family moved to
Knoxville, Tennessee, Don and Phil
Everly were show-biz professionals. It
washere thatChet Atkins first heard the
duo. Atkins was impressed by Don's
songwriting and had Kitty Wells record
"Thou Shalt Not Steal;" the song be-
came a moderate chart success. En-
couraged by Wells' success, the duo
moved to Nashville when Don gradu-
ated from high school with dreams of
stardom. Another handful of Don's
songs were recorded by other country
artists, leading the way for the duo's
record contract with Columbia in 1955.
As theirsole Columbia single, "Keep
A'Lovin' Me," shows, theEverlys were
smooth, professional singers. The only
thing they were lacking was any sort of
spark. "Keep A'Lovin' Me" is an en-
joyable, competent tune, but lacks any
spontaneity or sign of craftsmanship.
Accordingly, the record was a stiff.
The next year was painful for the
duo, as they couldn't get another record
contractor many gigs. Just as they were
about to move to Chicago, the Everlys
were introduced to Wesley Rose, head
of the enormous Acuff-Rose song pub-
lishing company. Rose managed to get
the brothers a contract with the fledg-
ling New York independent label Ca-
dence Records in 1957. Staff writers
Boudleaux and Felice Bryant supplied
a song for the'Everlys' first session -
"Bye Bye Love."
Many other artists attempted to
record "Bye Bye Love" before, yet
none of the versions ever worked out;
the Everlys' version turned out to be a
monster hit. Before "Bye Bye Love,"
mostcountry radio stations stayed away
from rock 'n' roll, believing it was too
dangerous. With their clean-cut image
and obvious respect for their elders, the
Everly Brothers were safe enough for
country. Yet, the duo appealed to the
rock audience more. With their good
looks, they had a certain sex appeal, but
they also had the musical goods. The
Everlys rocked - hard. "Bye Bye
Love" may not have been their song,
but the arrangement was theirs. In fact
the most distinctive element of the single
- the intense acoustic strumming of
the introduction- was tacked-on from
Don's own song, "Give Me A Future."
After "Bye Bye Love," the Everlys
recorded a string of hit singles that
followed and expanded their formula.
These songs - including "Wake Up
Little Susie," "Problems," "Let It Be
Me,""('Til) I Kissed You" and "All I
Have To Do Is Dream" - form one of
the most influential catalogsin rock 'n'
roll. The brothers' harmonies, taken
from the close harmony singing of blue-
grass groups like the Louvin Brothers,
became the standard way of harmoniz-
ing in rock; along with the rest of the
British Invasion, the Beatles learned
nearly all of their harmonies from the
Everlys. That part of the Everlys' his-
tory is commonly acknowledged. What
isn't acknowledged is how the duo -
and Don in particular-revolutionized
rock rhythm guitar playing.
Essentially, the intro to "Bye Bye
Love" was the birth of thepowerchord;
play the intro on an electric instead of an
acoustic and it becomes a Who song.
Don's playing was muscular and rhyth-
mic, making the bashing acoustic chords
set the rhythm of the entire song. Within
those early Cadence singles is the
groundwork for hard rock and heavy
metal. The Cadence material also helped
form country rock. During the '60s,
country rock innovators like Gram Par-
sons, the Byrds and Mike Nesmith ex-
panded on the hybrid of country, R&B,
rock and pop that the Everlys pioneered
with their Cadence and early Warner
At the beginning of the '60s, the
Everly Brothers signed with Warner
Brothers for a reported $1 million; at
that point in history, it was the largest
record deal ever signed. Some of the
Everlys' biggest hits were recorded in
their first two years at Warners-"Walk
Right Back," "Crying in the Rain,"
"Love Hurts" and "Cathy's Clown."
These songs expanded and perfected
the brilliant pop of their Cadence work.
As they were sitting on the top of the
charts, the hits stopped without warn-
ing. Nothing had changed in the duo's
music, but the hits were no longer there.
The Everlys didn't makrean effort to
regain their prominent position on the
charts; instead, they explored new mu-
sical avenues, digging deeperinto coun-
try, orchestrated pop, R&B and even
psychedelia. From this era, there are
many forgotten classics including the
hard-rocking "Man WithMoney,""The
Price of Love," "Gone, Gone, Gone"
and "The Ferris Wheel."
As the end of the '60s approached,
the Everlys continued to delve deeper
into folk and country. Coincidentally,
country was becoming more popular in
the musical mainstream and the band
was back in the charts with "Bowling
Green." Following that hit, the Everlys
released a country-rock classic with
1969's "Roots" and the duo gained
more respect and sales.
However, it was the last great pe-
riod of music-making the brothers would
have for a long time. Though they re-
corded many fine songs until 1972,
tensions between the duo were escalat-
ing; the tensions snapped onstage in
1973. Years of half-hearted solo records
followed before the brothers made a
startling comeback in 1984 with "EB
84," produced by their most loyal fan,
Dave Edmunds. Edmundsproduced two
other records for the Everlys; while all
three suffer from some dated produc-
tion, the brothers sound marvelous.
The Everly Brothers haven't made
arecordsince 1988,yetthey continueto
tour sporadically. Even though they
haven't recorded in seven years, the
duo has left a recorded legacy that few
other artists could match. "Heartaches
and Harmonies" is an essential intro-
duction to that music; it captures all the
highs and lows, without being tedious.
It's simply one of the best, most enjoy-
able, box sets ever released.
The Everly Brothers are young guns in this photo.
. Who's in, what's hot: A Broadway notebook
By Melissa Rose Bernardo
Daily Theater Editor
Here's the status report - what's
hot, what's not, who's in, who's out
and what University grads are doing
on Broadway. There's exciting stuff
going on, and it'll do you good to
check some of it out.
"Sunset Boulevard" ... This is
the toughest ticket on Broadway, and
will be for quite a while. So, the big
question: Is it worth the hype? The
big answer: Yes. It is, quite simply,
The music is among Andrew
Lloyd-Webber's best - let's rank it
second, after "Requiem" and just be-
fore "Song and Dance." The scenery
is unbelievable - wait until you see
the mansion John Napier has designed.
The effects are mind-boggling - bet
you never thought you'd see through
the bottom of a swimming pool on
stage, did you?
Sigh. And then there's Glenn
Close. Don't even bother nominating
anyone else for that Tony Award -
just give it to her. Now. She deserves
it for those costume changes alone.
She is positively entrancing. When
she's on stage, you won't be able to
take your eyes off her.
Two other performances stand out
- that of Alan Campbell as Joe Gillis
and George Hearn as Max. Campbell
projects just the right combination of
gullibility and cynicism (the title song,
especially), glossed over with a quali-
fied sexiness. Hearn is triumphant in
what in anyone else's hands would be
a forgettable role.
The only sore spot in the show -
other than the sometimes trite and
usually misaccented lyrics by Don
Black and Christopher Hampton - is
Alice Ripley's performance as Betty,
Joe's love interest. The girl is sup-
posed to be a young, impressionable
22, not an annoying 30, as Ripley's
But even one bad performance
cannot begin to eclipse the grandeur
that is "Sunset Boulevard." Here's
hoping the show sees many sunrises
and sunsets, and becomes a fixture on
Broadway. Maybe once "Cats" uses
up its nine lives...
Tip: The box office holds $25 stu-
dent and senior tickets the day of the
show - get there about 30 minutes
before the box office opens and you're
practically guaranteed a seat. It'll be
in the last row of the mezzanine, but
the rake is steep enough to accommo-
date. (On second viewing, I preferred
my last-row mezz seat to my fourth-
row side orchestra seat.) Plus, from
up there the proscenium looks like a
movie screen, which is an extra bonus
for this film-noir musical.
Other amazements ... Vanessa
Williams in "Kiss of the Spider
Woman." She's only there through
March 18, and then Maria Conchita
Alonso takes over. Williams' perfor-
mance is gorgeous. The show itself is
quite a piece of work, a tightly-woven
web of intrigue and struggle in a South
American prison. It won seven Tonys
in 1993, including Best Musical and
one for each of the three principals,
Chita Rivera, Brent Carver and An-
Williams, I would wager, sur-
passes Broadway veteran (and pos-
sible "Sunset Boulevard" star in
Toronto) Chita Rivera in the title role.
She sings, she dances, and has what
Rivera doesn't - sex appeal, which,
on second viewing, I found to be an
integral aspect of the role. What is the
movie heroine if not sexy?
I cannot report on Howard
McGillin as Molina, but can sing the
praises of his understudy, Bob
Stillman. Stillman has made the role
his own - not a rip-off of Carver, as
Carver's successor Jeff Hyslop was
guilty of - and his clean-cut, hand-
some, leading-man appearance was a
surprisingly pleasant contrast to the
role of the gay window dresser. Brian
Mitchell as Valentin is not as consis-
tent in his acting, but still has a gor-
geous voice. Williams, Stillman and
Mitchell were an electrifying trio.
"Love! Valour! Compassion!"
... Looking ahead to the Tony Awards:
Nathan Lane for Lead Actor in a Play,
John Glover for Featured Actor in a
Play. This play abounds with fine
performances - especially Lane,
Glover and Stephen Bogardus.
"L! V! C!" opened in November
off-Broadway at the Manhattan The-
atre Club, and just recently moved to
the Walter Kerr Theatre (former home
of "Angels in America"). Eight gay
men on holiday in upstate New York
may not seem like an exciting premise
for an evening of theater, but play-
wright Terrence McNally ("Frankie
and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,"
"Kiss of the Spider Woman") turns it
into magic. A little help from director
Joe Mantello (Tony-nominated for
his role as Louis in "Angels in
America") doesn't hurt, either.
There are echoes of McNally's
earlier works - most loudly "Lips
Together, Teeth Apart" - but clearly
McNally is getting more confident
with experimentation. As he did in "A
Perfect Ganesh," he's toying a lot
with time and place. For example,
four different characters will be in
four different places of the house, but
they're all sharing the same stage
space. In "L! V! C!" McNally is also
breaking the fourth wall more often
and more effectively than he ever has.
See BROADWAY, Page 9
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