In the vinyl reaches of my record collection, nestled deep within a section I think of as Golden Age (though it means I, too, am turning 24karat) is a Cadence album featuring two visages of sculptural classicism, posed against a blue background that emphasizes their royalty to a youthful obsessive setting forth on his music collecting odyssey. It is the first album I ever bought, and though I don't remember where (possibly Klein's department store in Manhattan's Union Square), I do enjoy the thought that I couldn't believe I was getting so many hits in one place. And you didn't have to lift the needle for each one! I played it on a record player that I received for Christmas of 1958 in the shape of a conga drum; I don't have that phonograph anymore, but I still have the tattered and worn twelve-inch disc, scarred with many listenings and "All I Have to Do Is Dream"-ings.
The Best of the Everly Brothers is truly a magnificent collection. Covering Don and Phil's remarkable oeuvre in a year and a half of meteoric rise, each cut, a or b side, is a slice of what made the duo so irresistible. Here are the close country harmonies that stopped just short of piercing, which the Beatles would understand and extend; the percussive acoustic guitars that took naturally to open G tuning, a sound which the Rolling Stones Keith Richards 'would seize upon; and the inventive songwriting courtesy of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, not only expressing teenage infatuation ("Problems," "Wake Up Little Susie," "Bird Dog") but resonating far beyond the 'twixt-twelve-and-twenty years: "Devoted to You" is exquisite in its bended knee pledge of fealty.
The Everlys would make many more hits after their first Greatest assemblage, but in this album, you can hear their excitement as they find themselves, as I found them.