+1/2 -- Everly's studio swan-song for Warner Brothers
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 09/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Though the Everlys had responded to the British Invasion with some terrific music, their albums never seemed to return them to their pre-Beatles acclaim. Fine efforts like "Beat and Soul" found the brothers applying their golden harmonies to contemporary songs, but with limited commercial success. In a last-ditch effort to reconnect the Everlys with contemporary pop audiences, producer (and future label head) Lenny Waronker looked to ride the country-rock wave by bringing Phil & Don back to their beginnings. The result is the most solid original album in the Everlys catalog.
This final studio effort for Warner Brothers bridges the divide between the Everlys' country roots, their rock 'n' roll fame and the then-burgeoning roots scene. The track list pulls together country and hillbilly classics from Merle Haggard, Jimmie Rodgers and Ray Price, and melds them with songs from then-contemporary writers Ron Elliott (whose own Beau Brummels were finishing up their own Warner swan-song, "Bradley's Barn") and Randy Newman. Waronker and Elliot (who wrote many of the arrangements) craft sounds that range from traditional acoustic set-ups to more contemporary electric country-rock. The clever inter-splicing of audio from the Everly family's early radio program gives the entire disc a terrifically homey feel. 4-1/2 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2005 hyperbolium dot com]"
An Important Album From 1968
Michael A. Beyer | Chicago, IL United States | 04/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Everly Brothers' "Roots" is a lost American classic. Not only did The Everly Brothers influence groups like the Beatles and the Byrds, but this album, recorded in Los Angeles in 1968, was one of the very first country-rock albums, and influenced scores of country-rock artists such as the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Eagles, CSNY, Poco, and to an extent the Gratfeul Dead.
"Roots" showcases the Everlys in all their vocal glory, and should be purchased along with the Byrds' "Sweetheart of the Rodeo", Jerry Lee Lewis' "Another Place, Another Time", Elvis' 1968 comeback special, any Merle Haggard album, and the double-issue CD of Rick Nelson's "Bright Lights/Country Fever" (which was actually recorded in 1966 and 1967).
The Everlys clearly were soaking in the example of groups like Bob Dylan, the Byrds and Love, and those musical footprints are all over this album. First of all, it's a concept album, couched in the style of an old-time country radio show featuring Dad and Mom Everly, 15-year-old Don and 13-year-old Phil. Interspersed between short snippets of those mono recordings of the teenaged Everlys are 11 stereo recordings of the golden Everly vocals, surrounded by a gorgeous psychedelic soundscape, very much like the Byrds (who, incidentally, I'm coming to respect more and more by the day). Their cover of Jimmie Rodgers' "T For Texas", and the segue into an updating of their old hit "I Wonder If I Care As Much", is of fantastic production value.
Another favorite here is "Living Too Close To The Ground", which was written by Don and features him alone on voacls. Clearly, the guy was a big Love fan. Although it's a bit dated, the song is so heartfelt and so unlike anything the Everly Brothers had ever done before.
However, the Everlys did not succumb to musical trends on this album. Don and Phil's incredible two-part harmonies are never better, and they're doing songs by Jimmie Rodgers, Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell. The Everly Brothers melded country music and rock and roll into a remarkable brew on "Roots", spiced with psychedelic production touches here and there. It's phenomenal.
The album itself died on the charts, but this definitely qualifies as An Album To Come Back To. Hopefully, this album will continue to get the recognition it so deserves."
Doing it Family Style: The Everlys' Watershed Country-Rock R
Peter Walenta | Long Island, New York USA | 04/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When there is a surfeit of great big noisy rock records, it is easy to miss a quieter masterpiece. Such was the fate of "Roots" by The Everly Brothers when it was released by Warner Bros. in 1968 and failed to even chart. Amidst the releases of seminal records by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Band and others, "Roots" literally got lost in the shuffle. Only years later...about twenty years more or less, was "Roots" finally acknowledged by critics and musicians alike for being the watershed country-rock album that it was. I first read about "Roots" in Jimmy Guterman's idiosyncratic, occasionally hilarious, yet very well balanced book, "The Best Rock `n' Roll Records of All Time" c. 1992, Citadel Press. Guterman included "Roots" (Number 59) in his rollickingly subjective list of 100 great rock records because, as Guterman rightly noted, "it stands as the duo's only mid-period work in which they offered to each other or their audience something worth sharing: lived-in history."
After reading Jimmy's thumbs up review of "Roots" and being quite curious about this music, the first version of "Roots" that I obtained was the excellent Warner Archives CD reissue. Later, I bought the fine 2005 Collector's Choice Music CD reissue of "Roots". It took some time for me to get into this record, but the effort was definitely worth it, for "Roots" is a collection of popular and traditional country songs that Don and Phil nudge into rock territory with their brilliantly shimmering mountain harmonies that made them so much fun to listen to back in the early days of rock and roll. "Roots" is an organic composition that one needs to listen to whole, although each track is a strong performance on its' own. The album opens with an unassuming homespun snippet from the Everly Family's 1952 radio show that welcomes the listener in and away from the fighting that literally was taking place out on the streets of Chicago and elsewhere back in 1968. The Everly's give the listener some needed time to rest and reflect as they sing us back home in many by now, quite recognizable country songs by Merle Haggard ("Mama Tried"), Glen Campbell ("Less of Me"), Jimmie Rodgers ("T for Texas") as well as a few of their own tunes and one song ("Illinois") by a budding songwriter named Randy Newman. The tales spun in these songs of confused lovers, misguided outlaws and of convicts facing death are stark, but the genius in the sequencing of these songs is that when heard together, the message emerges that one can go home again...even if it is just for a moment and even if only just in one's own memories. Far from being reactionary, unadorned American country music performed with the spirit and sincerity that The Everlys did on "Roots", was a reassuring and purposeful statement of continuity made at a time when the world seemed to be falling to pieces ever more each day. With their own musical careers in ruins from years of being poorly produced, The Everly Brothers went for broke on "Roots" and when allowed to sing their own pure mountain harmonies and to play their unique brand of country rock music freed from cluttered "schmaltzy" arrangements, The Everlys hit a home run! That "Roots" is the blueprint for many traditional country albums and later many alt.country and roots rock records, is to state the obvious. As influential as "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" and as tuneful as "The Gilded Palace of Sin", The Everly Brothers' album "Roots", is an essential album for anyone who loves Americana roots music and for all of us who occasionally need some time to get away from the chaos, turn down the volume and reconnect with whatever or whoever we have become disconnected from. I'd give it 7 stars if that were possible!"