(Eagle Rock Entertainment; 120 mins.)
BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Before the Beatles and before the Beach Boys, before the
Hollies, the Byrds and Crosby Stills & Nash, the art of harmony was
established with the Everly Brothers, two Kentucky siblings whose shared vocals
created some of the most indelible classics of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s formative era.
The roll call of hits – “Walk Right back,” “When Will I Be Loved,” “Bye Bye
Love,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Let It Be Me” – puts them right up there on the
same high pedestal as Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, early
signatories to Pop’s cause. Unlike some of their peers, they continued to be
vital and inspired way past their period of initial output – up until 1973, in
fact – when an acrimonious feud unfurled on stage, in full public view, leading
to a schism that lasted a decade.
Appropriately then, when the brothers chose to reconvene in
1983, they also did it in front of their fans, opting for the full grand
spectacle of a concert at London’s stately Albert Hall. The event was
documented several years ago on record, but it takes on a heightened sense of
grandeur with this DVD, which not only includes the full Royal Albert set, but
an insightful must-see documentary, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Odyssey,” featuring archival
video, family recollections, behind the scenes footage from the Royal Albert
Hall concert and interviews with both the brothers and famous admirers such as
Chet Atkins, Linda Rondstadt and Felice
and Boudleaux Bryant, the writers of so many of their hits.
The concert itself is an emotional experience, and watching
the brothers – who seemed to have physically aged very little — reconnect
onstage, singing the songs that were such an indelible part of their shared
history, is clearly a moving experience for both audience and performers. They
mention their “acrimonious vacation” only briefly in passing, but no matter. As
the thunderous reaction from the audience attests, rarely has a concert proved
so essential… and embracing.
Thankfully then, the participants proved up the task. The
white jacketed British backing band, including the accomplished guitarist
Albert Lee, the much-in-demand pianist Pete Wingfield and members of Cliff
Richard’s support stable, does an outstanding job of giving these iconic
classics the subtle instrumental presence they merit. Likewise, when the brothers alone command the
stage for intimate renditions of early songs like “Barbara Allen,” “Put My
Little Shoes Away” and “Long Time Gone,” the effect is no less mesmerizing.
Each of the performances are flawless in fact, making this comeback more than
merely a symbolic gesture, but rather, a musical milestone that’s just as
tender and touching today as it was originally. True brotherly love indeed.
Special Features: none