Rock duos don’t come much more iconic Than the Everly Brothers. The harmonies of sibling singers Phil and Don Everly were heavenly long before their respective passings in 2014 and 2021, and they left behind a rich catalog of music that’s all too often remembered solely by its hit singles. This is not to say those singles aren’t magnificent, of course, because they most certainly are - but there’s so much more to the Everly discography, which is why it’s so great that there's a brand new compilation containing 17 tracks from their back catalog, including a number of songs that might’ve flown under your radar.
Hey Doll Baby, first released for Record Store Day 2022 and available more widely on CD and vinyl June 17, takes its title from the closing track of the Everly Brothers’ debut album, and its contents were selected by Adria Petty, Tom’s daughter, with input from Patti and Jason Everly (Phil's widow and son) as well as Don himself - the last project before he died last year.
In her essay for the LP, Petty explains that she came by her Everly Brothers fandom as a result of her dad listening to their records. “For Dad it was about the cool they projected in stage craft when Don Everly did his signature guitar lift,” Adria writes. “Phil’s strum and step. The tenderness and exactness they shared in their singing. The intense eye contact between Phil and Don that made that high vibration in the harmonies possible. That sound made it clear they were the closest of the close. And the incredible discipline they had with their instruments: Their guitar playing clearly came out of an insane amount of studying and practicing together. They were sincere—you could hear it.”
We don’t want to spoil all of the album’s contents here, but we did want to shine a spotlight on some of the tracks included in the set, along with Jason Everly’s remarks about them.
"Hey Doll Baby": "The last track on The Everly Brothers’ debut album for Archie Bleyer’s Cadence Records. Its classic Appalachian harmony mixed with rhythm & blues would become part of the brothers’ signature sound, and with each strum of their infectious guitars, it’s like they’re pushing the song into becoming actual rock ’n’ roll."
"So Sad (to Watch Good Love Go Bad)": "The harmonies on this song seem like they’re borrowed from the angels in Heaven. (We say that without hyperbole.) They’re so beautiful that they almost don’t make sense. But the sound is pure Everly Brothers. As Don would say, 'When Phil and I sang together, it wasn’t us anymore; it was something else.' Graham Nash called it a 'ghost harmonic.' It’s a magnificent song and performance in every way."
"Love Hurts": "Another phenomenal [Boudleaux] Bryant composition. The simple arrangement is absolutely gorgeous but also hauntingly bittersweet. The Everly Brothers harmony is, again, absolutely without equal, and even though the track has been cut by many other artists, there is nothing like their original."
"Muskrat": "Cowritten and first recorded by Merle Travis in 1947, this version is really interesting because you can hear that early-’60s beat combined with what would normally be a more traditional Appalachian sound. And as usual, the brothers made it completely their own. Also, for those who want to know, a muskrat is a medium-sized semiaquatic rodent native to parts of North America. (We had to look it up too.)"
"I Walk the Line": "One of the great Johnny Cash songs, but it’s so fun to hear The Everly Brothers make it their own. Obviously, Johnny and The Everly Brothers’ families were of similar backgrounds. Johnny’s folks were cotton farmers, while The Everly Brothers’ father and uncles were coalminers. So, it makes sense that Don and Phil would include this song on their 1963 Warner Bros. album, The Everly Brothers Sing Great Country Hits."
"Gone, Gone, Gone": "This has always been a favorite of Everly fans everywhere. From the first beat of that infectious groove to the brothers’ spectacular harmonies, it’s hard to get enough of it. Penned by Don and Phil, it’s been covered many, many times, most recently by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss."