The Everly Brothers: Songs Our Daddy Taught Us

EverlyBrothers_SongsOurDaddyTaughtUs2014 expanded reissue of the Everlys’ deepest roots

The Everly Brothers second full-length album is extraordinary in many different ways. In addition to its basic triumph as roots music, its exposition of traditional folk and country songs was a nervy artistic statement by a duo that was helping build the foundations of rock ‘n’ roll. A string of hit singles written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, including “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “All I Have to Do is Dream,” “Bird Dog” and “Problems,” had made the Everlys international stars, and after an eponymous album that also included tunes from Little Richard, Ray Charles and Don Everly, a simply arranged and tenderly sung collection of songs learned from the Everlys’ father was far from the obvious follow-up.

A decade later the pair would record Roots, another album of country standards, but in a country-rock vein that was of its time. In 1958, amid the explosion of rock ‘n’ roll, the acoustic guitar, stand-up bass and harmony duets of Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, reached back to both the material and performance style that were the Everly’s actual roots. These are the songs that Ike Everly sang with his sons on their 1940s radio show, and the boys’ affection for the material is evident in the gentle harmonies they lay upon lyrics of deep sentiment and surprisingly dark themes.

Varese’s reissue adds alternate first- and second-takes of four of the album’s titles and an eight-page booklet of photos and liner notes by Andrew Sandoval. The alternates range from slightly imperfect performances of the same arrangements used on the masters to an electric-guitar backed idea for “Down in the Willow Garden” that didn’t make the original album. It’s a mark of the Everlys’ deep background as live performers that the alternates are basically good enough to have passed as masters. Snippets of studio dialog and strumming give a feel for the dynamic between the Everlys and producer Archie Blyer, the latter of whom seems to have mostly let the brothers roll.

Songs Our Daddy Taught Us didn’t sell in large numbers at the time of its issue, but neither did its artistic detour interrupt the brothers’ string of hit singles for Cadence. The album’s been reissued many times, including a 1962 retitling as Folk Songs of the Everly Brothers that landed in the middle of the folk revival. Late last year the album was reissued with a second disc of earlier and original recordings, and the album’s track list was re-recorded by Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones as Foreverly. The on-going attention received by the album further demonstrates the brothers’ artistic prescience and the project’s continued resonance. Varese’s expanded reissue is a great introduction and a worthy upgrade. [©2014 Hyperbolium]

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