If this were 1962 and I’d asked Phil and Don Everly to put together a record of party hits for me and this is what they came back with – they would be permanently removed from any party invite list I’d ever put together again. Instant Party! is potentially the most inappropriately titled album in the history of recorded music.
Full disclosure – this writer had only a faint knowledge of the Everly Brothers history and music when it came to reviewing this legendary duo’s album. And rather than researching the back catalogue of the brothers or reading any reviews of the Instant Party! album from the time of it’s original release, I went into the listening process uneducated in attempt to prevent myself from having any preconceived notions of what to expect. That being said, it’s pretty hard to not have a preconceived notion when you name your record Instant Party!
When I sat down with this album I was expecting a collection of bopping tunes that would inspire the imaginary 1962 version of myself to be twisting up the dance floor, flirting my way throughout the mixer and potentially necking with a young sweetheart, or at least squeezing in a solid hand holding session. What I actually got was a mixture of old standards and slow, waltzing numbers that would more likely be sitting in my parent’s dusty old set of 45s – it’s so square!
This is less the album you’d go with to get the party started and more the record you’d endorse in order to encourage the departure of those last couple of stragglers at the end of a night’s festivities. For goodness sake – the album has a song called ‘The Party’s Over’ with two more songs left on the playlist?!
I was so concerned with how slow and uninspired this album was, I broke with my original strategy and researched what opinions of this record were with those more knowledgeable with the Everly Brothers’ work – and low and behold, it’s widely regarded as one of their more forgettable releases.
That’s not to say the record doesn’t have some interesting points. Album opener ‘Jezabel’ does get the piece off to quite a nice start – it’s clippity clopping, Spaghetti Western style seemingly announcing that, “This shindig is about to get busy!” If only it weren’t for the subsequent 12 tracks failing to deliver on that proclamation.
And despite their banality, all songs on the album are played with skill and precision, the brothers’ signature harmonies synchronised to perfection. But perhaps it’s that perfection that relegates these tunes to being so dull. There’s no looseness, no fun, no party vibes at all.
The Everly Brothers would obviously go on to mark their name as one of the great and influential duos in music history with succeeding records – but Instant Party! is not a release worthy of celebration.Posted: January 15, 2012