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Format: Audio CD
Although the Everlys hadn't quite fully matured as artists, their debut is a fine, consistent effort divided between original material and respectably energetic covers of early rockers by Little Richard, Gene Vincent, and Ray Charles. Besides their first few hits, it includes some superb, underappreciated tracks that are nearly as good, like "Should We Tell Him" and "I Wonder If I Cared as Much."
"Maybe Tomorrow": The B-side of the Everlys' smash "Wake Up Little Susie" showcases the duo's immaculate duet singing as well as Don Everly's growing songwriting chops. A ballad about being a little too young to be in love -- à la "Wouldn't It Be Nice," among others -- it's a fabulous, wistful country-inflected waltz.
"Brand New Heartache": One of the first in an incredible series of songs by the Everlys written by Boudleaux Bryant (and sometimes his wife, Felice), "Brand New Heartache" is a tender, lovelorn ballad couched in a deceptively simple but effective melody. The Bryants had a way of tapping into the Everlys' gene-spliced brotherhood unison vocal style, and this is a striking, early example of the team. Covered nicely in the late '80s by California-based country-rockers the Long Ryders.
"Poor Jenny": One of the Brothers' most up-tempo songs, "Poor Jenny" is propelled by a fabulous series of furiously strummed acoustic guitar chords played by Don Everly. Boudleaux Bryant obviously knew Don's abilities in this area very well, and he certainly must have taken this into consideration during the songwriting process. Lyrically, it's a simple, easy-to-relate teen rocker, explaining the everyday problems of the Everlys' audience. It went to #22 in the spring of 1959.
"I Wonder If I Care As Much": Originally cut by the Everlys in the late '50s, the duo re-recorded this fabulous song for their Roots album. Recasting the country classic in a modern, neo-psychedelic framework, it worked like a charm.
"Wake Up Little Susie": Having just gotten their first big hit with "Bye Bye Love," the Everlys faced one of their biggest challenges in sustaining that success with a follow-up single. "Wake Up Little Susie" was a major triumph in that it was just as popular as "Bye Bye Love"; in fact, it was more popular and achieved the remarkable feat of going all the way to number one in the pop, country, and R&B charts. It was written by the same songwriting team responsible for "Bye Bye Love" (Boudleaux and Felice Bryant), yet sounded different enough that it avoided trapping the Everly Brothers into a formula. Like "Bye Bye Love," though, "Wake Up Little Susie" was built around rousing, rhythmic acoustic guitar riffs which were especially prominent in the song's introduction. The Everlys' characteristic ebullient harmonies paced the insistent chorus, their vocal lines rejoined by especially emphatic, somewhat bluesy, guitar licks. The tune's lyrics, in contrast to the immediately memorable melody and arrangement, sound a bit corny these days: a teen fretting over his date having fallen asleep at the pictures, and even worse, having to face their parents with some kind of explanation. The worries got a little salacious in the bridge, where the brothers went into a somewhat more ominous melody and more declarative responsive electric rockabilly guitar licks, ending with special concern over what to tell their friends when they were taunted with cries of -- and here the pair went into especially buoyant harmonies -- "ooh la la!" Sounds pretty innocuous, but the song was controversial in its day, among the primmer guardians of morality at any rate, who suspected that the teenage pair of "Wake Up Little Susie" had not fallen asleep at the movies, but fallen asleep in bed, together. Apparently that was enough to get it banned from some radio stations. But judging from its untoppable chart performance, it couldn't have gotten banned from that many stations, and whatever bans it suffered couldn't have had that much of an adverse effect.
"Hey Doll Baby": Originally an R&B hit for the Clovers, the Everly Brothers took this song and made it entirely their own, giving it a fine, country edge without compromising the song's rocking core. It's an excellent example of the Brothers' early rock/R&B leanings, as well as Don's underrated and highly influential rhythm guitar playing.
-- Reviews from AllMusic.com