The Everly Brothers – Both Sides Of An Evening

More The Everly Brothers

Both Sides Of An Evening

xxxxx

  • You’ll find outstanding sound on this WB Gold Label Stereo original with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the first
  • Another amazingly Tubey Magical recording from the legendary Bill Porter (which may explain why Chet Atkins plays on it) 
  • About as quiet as these early copies come – Mint Minus Minus – records pressed in the early ’60s rarely play even this quiet
  • “In some ways, Both Sides of an Evening was the duo’s most ambitious and mature record to date…”

This ’60s stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings cannot BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back.

Having done this for so long, we understand and appreciate that rich, full, solid, Tubey Magical sound is key to the presentation of this primarily vocal music. We rate these qualities higher than others we might be listening for (e.g., bass definition, soundstage, depth, etc.). The music is not so much about the details in the recording, but rather in trying to recreate a solid, palpable, real person (or persons in this case) singing live in your listening room. The best copies had an uncanny way of doing just that.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of older recordings (this one is now 57 years old), I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but less than one out of 100 new records do, if our experience with the hundreds we’ve played can serve as a guide.

Speaking of stereo, we were quite impressed with some of the mono pressings we played in our shootout. We prefer the best stereo pressings, but the better monos had no trouble reproducing most of what makes a vintage recording such as this so special.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top (to keep the strings from becoming shrill) did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information. Strings and brass with get shrill and congested without enough top end air to breathe.

Tube smear is common to pressings from and any era and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What amazing sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1961
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments (and effects!) having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is, of course, the only way to hear all of the above.

Porter Is The Man

The depth, the spaciousness, the richness — this one has it all. It seems as though Bill Porter just does not know how to not make an amazing vintage ’60s recording. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality — whatever you choose to listen for in a great record can be found here.

What We Listen For on Both Sides of an Evening

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

My Mammy
Mus’rat
My Gal Sal
Grandfather’s Clock
Bully Of The Town
Chlo-E
Mention My Name In Sheboygan

Side Two

Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo
The Wayward Wind
Don’t Blame Me
Now Is The Hour
Little Old Lady
When I Grow Too Old To Dream
Love Is Where You Find It

The Story of the Album

In 1960, the Everly Brothers had started their decade-long stint with Warner Brothers in triumph. “Cathy’s Clown,” their first single for the label, had been a #1 hit; both sides of the follow-up, “So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)” and “Lucille,” had charted high as well. Both of their 1960 Warners albums, It’s Everly Time and A Date with the Everly Brothers (each also reissued on CD by Collectors’ Choice Music), had gone to the Top Ten. Even more remarkably, both of those LPs, though recorded quickly, were filled from top to bottom with diverse, quality material that marked them as being among the finest rock’n’roll longplayers of the pre-Beatles era. It must have seemed to both the brothers and the label that things could hardly be going better.

Yet in 1961, much of the momentum somehow dissipated. A double A-sided Top Ten single, “Walk Right Back”/”Ebony Eyes,” started the year in plenty of style, yet its mid-year follow-up, “Temptation,” would just slide inside the Top Thirty. Too, their third Warners LP — appearing almost a year after their sophomore effort (A Date with the Everly Brothers) — didn’t even chart. Even more troubling, the album and singles included no compositions from either the Everlys or the Boudleaux Bryant-Felice Bryant husband-wife songwriting team, though the Everlys and Bryants had been responsible for penning the lion’s share of their best and highest-selling recordings from 1957 onward. What was going on?

It was not clear to much of the public at the time that the Everly Brothers were navigating some conflicts that made it difficult for them to continue working as they had since “Bye Bye Love” had launched them into superstardom. In late 1960 they had moved to Hollywood to study in Warner Brothers’ acting school for six months, the connection between the label and the film studio seeming a natural to foster possible screen careers for the duo. After having lost all that time that they could have devoted to concentrating on their music, Don and Phil Everly decided they didn’t want to be in the movies after all. Don, meanwhile, was undergoing a divorce, and both brothers were also distracted by a Warners-distributed label they were trying to launch, Calliope.

Far more damaging, however, was their stormy split from Wesley Rose, who had been serving as their manager and publisher. As a result, they were denied access to material from Rose’s publishing company, Acuff Rose — which meant that compositions by the Bryants, who were in the Acuff Rose stable, were no longer available. Nor were they eager to record their own songs, as Acuff Rose would have been the publisher for those as well. In the midst of all this, they had to continue supplying Warner Brothers with new recordings. Though they had done a single, “It’s Been Nice (Goodnight),” in Hollywood in May 1961, they returned to their usual base of studio operations, Nashville, later that month to cut their third Warners album.

Recorded in a mere three days, Both Sides of an Evening was packaged as a concept album of sorts, side one designated “for dancing,” and side two “for dreaming.” The resulting LP, however, was not so much schizophrenic as a weird detour. All of the Everlys’ previous longplayers (save their more realized 1958 concept album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, devoted to country and folk material) had presented an excellent balance of pop, country, rockabilly, blues, and R&B — in sum, combining all of the principal elements of rock’n’roll. In radical contrast, most of the songs on Both Sides of an Evening were drawn from a decidedly non-rock’n’roll repertoire, the sources including pre-rock era standards, no less than four tunes from motion pictures, and even a “Maori farewell song.” While the Everlys’ two 1960 albums had also been recorded quickly, it seems that Both Sides of an Evening was a yet hastier production, the stars turning to a motley bag of non-rock oldies in the absence of fresh material from the Bryants, themselves, or indeed other contemporary writers.

At times, however, the duo came close to sounding like themselves — or, at least, more like their previous records. On “Muskrat” they covered Merle Travis, who, though not rock’n’roll, was very much in the mainstream of the country roots of rockabilly. The Everlys gave it a satisfyingly ebullient, nearly rockabilly treatment, and it even made #82 in the charts on the backside of the album’s Top Twenty single, “Don’t Blame Me.” Written by James McHugh and Dorothy Fields and featuring first-rate jazzy guitar runs from Hank Garland, the suave “Don’t Blame Me” was also one of the album’s best tracks, and somewhat reminiscent of the slow songs by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant themselves. There’s also a nod to their familial roots in the bubbly “Bully of the Town,” based on an adaptation by their father, Ike Everly.

Much of the rest of the material seemed to have been chosen with an eye for breaking into the all-around entertainment market, and while that strategy might have been ill-conceived, it should be remembered that it wasn’t uncommon at a time when rock’n’roll was often feared to be a passing craze. So it was that the brothers tackled “My Mammy,” made famous on-screen by Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer; no less than three songs from MGM pictures (“Hi-lili, Hi-lo,” taken from Lili; “When I Grew Too Old to Dream,” from Deep in My Heart; and “Love Is Where You Find It,” from The Kissing Bandit); and the aforementioned Maori farewell song, “Now Is the Hour.” “The Wayward Wind,” given a clip-clop cowboy ballad rhythm, would at least have been familiar to many of the Everlys’ young fans, having topped the charts for Gogi Grant five years previously, in 1956. (For that matter, it’s probably the only song that would be familiar to many rock fans born after this LP was released, having been covered by Neil Young on his 1985 album Old Ways.)

Both Sides of an Evening having failed in the marketplace, did the Everly Brothers and Warners learn their lesson and opt for a different approach next time around? Not exactly — just a few months later, they’d be recording another pseudo-concept album in Nashville, with a similar mix of material. That story is continued on Instant Party, also reissued on CD by Collectors’ Choice Music.

Richie Unterberger