Archive for October, 2009

Another Online Discography

October 23, 2009
Bye Bye Love by the Everly Brothers, photo from the Rockin Country Style online discography

"Bye Bye Love" by the Everly Brothers, photo from the Rockin' Country Style online discography

I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat myself. Collectors and enthusiasts are some of the best resources available to the popular music scholar. Again I have found another online discography that has proven a valuable resource to me. This one is the Rockin’ Country Style Discography. From it I have been able to discover some of the covers of early Everly Brothers tunes, look at photos of the records, and listen to snippets.

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Not So Loud!

October 21, 2009
Not So Loud

NBC Television Films advertisement in Billboard, May 13, 1957

NBC wants you to know that “you don’t have to rattle your tonsils to prove your worth.” Apparently a two-page advertisement for their new syndicated series, “The Silent Service,” is the equivalent of whispering in the entertainment industry.

All They Have To Do Is Dream

October 19, 2009

Photo of Don and Phil c. 1949 in a band. From the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Phil, Bill Harlan, Tommy Payne, and Don c. 1949 in a band. From the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

This is not a photo you see often. It’s on Bill Harlan’s page on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame site. There is a photo, apparently from the same day, in Roger White’s biography of the Everly Brothers.

Phil almost looks too small too be able to play that bass, and based on the finger position, I’m hazarding a guess that he doesn’t. The photo in the White book shows him holding a guitar.

Like lots of pre-teens and teenagers for decades gone by, they can dream of the day that they will have their own band.

Frustration!

October 15, 2009

The Everly Brothers recorded four sides for Columbia in 1955. Two of those were released: “The Sun Keeps Shining” (written by Don) and “Keep A-Lovin’ Me” (written by Don and Phil). In music historian parlance, we might say these represent some of their juvenalia. I know from their own comments and the remarks of others, the songs lean more heavily on their country music roots than later songs do. So I want to listen to them and try to describe how they adhere to “country” as it was understood in the late 1950s.

Therein lies the problem, though. These two songs are not on any of the reissue CDs or download services in the US. I found them in a $90 box set that includes a lot of what I already have. I also found them as downloadable files on amazon.co.uk, but not surprisingly I can’t buy them and download from here. All of this leaves me wondering why they are so hard to obtain in the US. Are the Everly Brothers themselves controlling this access and if so, why? And why are acceptable for UK audiences? And how am I going to get them???

I did find a set of unreleased recordings from the 50s and 60s that is reportedly demos and maybe some outtakes (user hyperbolium includes a good description of them under the reviews). Most of the cuts feature just Don and Phil and acoustic guitars. While I still want the other two songs, these recordings will certainly provide insight into how they perceived and conceived their own songs and how the songs transitioned from there to the finished product. The vocal harmonies will be much more exposed and less polished, allowing me another glance into this part of the creative process. It might be a stretch to suggest this, but recordings like this are somewhat akin to examining the sketchbooks of composers who work mainly in the written form.

I’m also sightly tempted by the $27 CD of outtakes but not enough to twitch for the moment. I’m sure they have value, but they will be so carefully selected that they may not demonstrate much more than close approximations of the releases. I would be interested in knowing what other popular music scholars have made of outtakes and alternate takes.

Everly Brothers Fan Survey

October 14, 2009

I have created a survey for Everly Brothers fans, hoping to capture some interesting viewpoints and data to use in my dissertation. I was restricted to 10 questions, but I think that will be enough. If any of my fellow musicologists are listening, let me know if the questions seem reasonable or what tweaks need to be made.

Hall & Oates

October 12, 2009

Daryl Hall and John Oates are releasing a 4-CD retrospective box set of the career, which began in the late 1960s. CNN has a short article on them with audio clips if you need a refresher. I admit to listening to them a lot in junior and senior high school and maybe even a bit into the 80s, but I don’t think I ever bought their albums (as in LP…as in the near-dinosaur era). And I know I never bought their CDs (new or reissues). It’s not that I don’t think they had a good sound or that their music wasn’t important to the pop music sound and production of that era. I’ll admit that many of their melodies were quite singable. Some of their lyrics were clever–maybe not in the intellectual, high brow way, but in the roll-off-your-tongue way. But somehow their music never jolted me enough to spend money. It may have been that the production was too ornate, too studied, too controlled, and consequently too unemotional (or sometimes too cloying). Their songs resonated with a lot of people during that era and so it is important to uncover the reasons. But I think I’ll leave it for others to discover.

Because probably one reason I didn’t like them so much was there just weren’t enough opportunities to harmonize.

Best Duets Ever

October 5, 2009

A few years ago, the Telegraph published a list of the 50 best duets ever. And yes, they included one by the Everly Brothers, “Let It Be Me,” chosen, it seems, for its significant role in their reunion concert in Albert Hall in 1983.

I particularly like the “key moment” analysis included with most of the songs on the list. It is instructive to see what resonates with people about duets. The critics who compiled the list believed at the time (2003) that the duet was making a comeback, but that is because of a number of hip-hop and pop songs pair different individual stars. To me, they seem present but not together in the recording.

To complement their best-of list, of course, they also provided a worst duets ever list. No commentary, though.