The stagename adopted by the Oliver sisters was a nod to the seminal Byrds album, and fittingly the music the duo produced in their hitmaking days was energetically sunny country rock rooted in their California background. The distinctive booming alto of Kristine Arnold takes the lead on all their work, supported by her older sister Janis Gill (then married to Vince). Their debut record on Columbia, halfway between an EP and a full length album with just eight tracks, was produced by Hank DeVito (who also plays steel guitar) and Steve Buckingham, and they produced a sound which was very radio friendly. The truncated length may have short-changed purchasers, but no less than five of the eight tracks were reasonably successful singles, getting their career off to a great start.
Their effervescent and beaty debut single ‘Hey Doll Baby’ was a cover of an old R&B number previously recorded by the Everly Brothers, given a rockabilly style makeover. It just missed the top 20, but was a sign of better things to come, with an irresistibly catchy beat making up for unremarkable lyrics. Equally catchy, but a much better song, ‘Since I Found You’ was written by the not-yet-famous Foster & Lloyd. A bright mid-tempo love song about a one-time partier wanting to settle down for the first time now that the protagonist has met the right person, it gave them their first top 10 hit, reaching #7 on Billboard.
The next single, ‘Midnight Girl/Sunset Town’, did a little better, peaking at #4. It was a very good Don Schlitz song about a restless young woman who feels trapped in her small town and dreams of late nights. Its chart run was matched by Paul Kennerley’s ‘Chains of Gold’, an excellent song about the true value of love which is my favourite track:
Chains of gold
Don’t mean a thing
All I want is someone to hold
True love means more than chains of gold
In fact these two #4 hits were to prove their highest ever charting hits.
Janis wrote ‘Gotta Get Away’, a pacy number about a woman afraid to let go and fall in love in case it works out badly. This is less memorable than their other singles, but is quite enjoyable and was another top 10 hit. The heartbroken ‘Everywhere I Turn’, which she wrote with Michael G Joyce, has a strong vocal from Kristine and is a pretty good song, but its rushed tempo detracts from the emotions and makes it feel like filler.
‘Chosen Few’, written by John Jarvis and Don Schlitz has a syncopated jerky rhythm which doesn’t really work for me. They finish up with the stark and stripped down ballad ‘I Can’t Resist’, written by DeVito with Rodney Crowell. This shows they had more to offer than country-rock, and also showcases Janis’s harmonies.
This was a very promising debut by a duo with a distinctive sound, a little harder edged and less sentimental than their more successful rivals the Judds could be. Used copies of this are available very cheaply, and it’s worth checking out.