The Paley Brothers were an oxymoron in the 1977-79 punk era – a squeaky clean power pop duo that still held the respect of the audience slamming at a Ramones or DMZ show. Andy Paley emerged from the semi-legendary Cambridge band The Sidewinders, joining up with his brother Jonathan, who’d been marking time in a succession of New York City bands. Sparks flew when the two mixed their love of Phil Spector and Sixties girl groups the Ronettes, the Shirelles and the Crystals with an awe of Beach Boys harmonies and the modernized beat surging from contemporaries like Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. The group formed in 1976 and began performing up and down the East Coast, landing a deal on Sire Records and releasing its one and only album, 1978’s The Paley Brothers. The record failed to chart in the U.S. but triggered a small firestorm in the U.K. where several EPs were released to cash in on audience demand. Sire marketed the fair, blonde-haired Paleys to the teen crowd, lodging the duo in magazines like 16 and Tiger Beat. Then the band went on the road opening for pop icon Shaun Cassidy in 1978. All of this high-fructose visibility seemed certain to crash the Paley Brothers’ rock and roll credibility, but it never happened. The duo remained the darlings of the underground – unable to move many records, but cool nonetheless. The brothers recorded a track, “C’mon Let’s Go” with the Ramones, for the Rock and Roll High School soundtrack before going their separate ways. Shortly after, Jonathan joined up with Boston’s Nervous Eaters and later yachted across the Pacific while Andy sang guest vocals for a plethora of groups and eventually became a high-profile producer with reclusive legends Brian Wilson and Jerry Lee Lewis. The Paley Brothers still work together on occasion – as on the Andy-produced Dick Tracy soundtrack where Jonathan wrote some of the music for an album that turned out far better than its counterpart film.
(by Carter Alan)
Published on December 28, 2012