Among the many erroneous mini-party lines that have been devised by rock criticism, there's the one that holds that the Everly Brothers' truly great period was their 1957-60 stint at Cadence Records, their move to Warner Brothers heralding a decline in quality and importance. In fact, for the first year or two of their stay at Warners in the early '60s (and intermittently throughout the 1960s), the Everly Brothers did some of their best work, continuing to grow as artists. Their first Warner Brothers single, "Cathy's Clown," would be a reasonable choice as their greatest single ever, and it was certainly one of their most successful as well, going to number one. The production was fuller and more adventurous than their typical acoustic guitar-driven Cadence productions, including a piano and centering, in the verses, around an unusual drum pattern, half stutter and half martial. The harmonies and melody were among the pair's most glorious, particularly when they went into their descending lines, cascading in tandem with the drawn-out combination of romantic bitterness and frustration detailed by the lyrics. Particularly ingenious were the spare, sharp guitar licks that answered the brothers vocals' when they went into a particularly dark, minor passage. The bridge (sometimes identified in critical analysis as the verse, with the main parts of the song identified as the choruses) goes into a more standard bluesy rock & roll mode that brings the piano further up in the mix, the harmonies taking a rest as the lines are delivered in a solo vocal. "Cathy's Clown" is typical of the Everlys' work both in its ambiguous, tense portrayal of troubled love and its exultant harmonies. The harmonies in particular were most likely extremely influential on the Beatles, and you can hear echoes of "Cathy's Clown" in the Beatles' first single, "Please Please Me," particularly in the use of those thick descending harmony vocals and inventive stuttering tempos.


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