Cadence Classics: Their 20 Greatest Hits

They wore matching suits and had an uncanny not-twins-but-strikingly-similar appearance. Southern boys who looked like well-behaved guests, the Everly Brothers did indeed have an alien quality about them. On some level, the Everly Brothers were visitors from another planet: They came to rock & roll from the world of hillbilly music. The Cadence singles show Don and Phil Everly to be a brother act in the tradition of the Louvins, singing close harmonies that are beautiful to the point of being unnerving. Recorded between 1957 and 1960, the tracks were cut primarily in Nashville, where crack session players such as Chet Atkins knew enough to give those voices plenty of room. The songs themselves, written mostly by the Everlys and by husband and wife Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, steer clear of complexity, as though they, too, want to avoid any clutter that might get in the way of the pure Southern harmony singing.

But if the Brothers came from country, these songs are relentlessly hybrid. Don's acoustic guitar work on "Wake Up Little Susie" is pure pop. "All I Have to Do Is Dream," with its aching harmony running throughout, gets as sweet as a song can without compromising the underpinning darkness that makes great ballads great. Born to the music business, the Everlys knew what it took to score a hit: a good song, a good vocal performance and a band locking into a groove. Oh, yeah, and it all had to happen at once. In these songs, it does just that.

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