Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Everly Brothers

  • Roots [Warner Bros., 1968]
  • Stories We Could Tell [RCA Victor, 1972] C
  • History of the Everly Brothers [Barnaby, 1973]
  • Reunion Concert [Passport, 1984] B-
  • EB 84 [Mercury, 1984] C+
  • The Best of the Everly Brothers [Rhino, 1986]
  • This Is the Everly Brothers [Music Club, 1996] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Roots [Warner Bros., 1968]
[CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]

Stories We Could Tell [RCA Victor, 1972]
Any dream-dream-dreamer who'll deny that this tasteful country-rock collection is unconceived, pallid, and humdrum is obliged to make the sad comparison with their autobiographical studio tour de force of 1968, Roots, which is thoughtful, even-tempered, and unique. C

History of the Everly Brothers [Barnaby, 1973]
[CG70s: A Basic Record Library]

Reunion Concert [Passport, 1984]
They were a vital team right up to Roots in 1968, but then they lost it, which was perhaps a cause of their estrangement, perhaps a result, or perhaps mere entropy. This 1983 gig was their first in ten years, and they sure didn't slough it off. But it's nostalgia anyway, adding nothing but a pushy drummer and a slight slackening of the voices to a superb body of work available in better record stores everywhere. B-

EB 84 [Mercury, 1984]
They're singing as good as ever, but not the same as ever--with the harmonies more luxurious and soulful, they can finally pass for grown men as they approach fifty. Unfortunately, maturity doesn't suit them any better than Dave Edmunds's lacquered, interpretation-enhancing production, because mature interpretation will never be their forte. They may sound like grown men and they may sound soulful, but that doesn't mean they sound like soulful grown men--a certain emotional complexity eludes them. Of all these hand-tailored comeback-special songs, only Paul Kennerly's "The First in Line" and Don's own "Asleep" are simple enough to fit. C+

The Best of the Everly Brothers [Rhino, 1986]
[CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]

This Is the Everly Brothers [Music Club, 1996]
Before they moved to Warners, which has never flattered their modest gift with the modest collection it deserves (although the 1968 concept album Roots is sweet), Cadence made hay off the teen classics now hawked by half a dozen reissue labels (including Rhino, where they begin an endless box). All of the key moments are on this collection, which lists for $10, and while some may prefer the $20, 31-cut Laserlight triple-CD, I find that too soon their harmonies start sounding neat rather than sharp. This is their very best, epitomizing a strain of pubescence that can't be trusted to repress its horniness past the end of the song. To their elders they're always polite. With their peers they fuss, fight, and--in their all-they-have-to-do-is-dreams--fuck around. A