The Bellamy Brothers Serve Up Their Take on Classic Hits with ‘Covers from the Brothers’

This is their first covers album in their 40+ year career!

The Bellamy Brothers Serve Up Their Take on Classic Hits with ‘Covers from the Brothers’
The Bellamy Brothers; Photo Credit: Derrek Kupish

For decades the Bellamy Brothers populated country radio with such original hits as “I Need More of You,” “Redneck Girl,” “Old Hippie” and “If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me)” but their new album, Covers from the Brothers, finds Howard and David Bellamy reinventing their favorite hits by such artists as Stevie Wonder, Charlie Rich, Bob Dylan, Paul Davis and Otis Redding.

   “I compare it to comfort food,” David Bellamy tells SLN of the new album. “It’s old and familiar. A lot of the people will remember these because a lot of them were real big mega-hits, so it’s our versions of them.”

   The Bellamys have released more than 50 albums over the past 40 plus years, but this is their first covers record. The inspiration for the album came from a European project they recorded. “We were kind of pressured into doing ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’” Howard says of the record company urging them to cover the classic Righteous Brothers hit. “It’s one of those songs where you don’t touch that. It’s almost sacred you know.  They kept insisting we do it, so they talked us into it and once we got finished and started mixing it and listened back to it, we thought, “Well this is pretty good!’ We got comfortable with it and then we were saying, ‘Well if we can do ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’’ and it comes off, let’s try some other stuff.’ So, that’s the one that established it for us.”

The Bellamy Brothers Photo Credit
Derrek Kupish

   Produced by the Bellamys and Randy Hiebert, the 12-song album kicks off with a cover of the late Charlie Rich’s 1973 hit “The Most Beautiful Girl.” “I had a lot of fun doing ‘The Most Beautiful Girl.’ I love that song,” Howard says. “I actually got to travel with Charlie Rich and Jim Stafford a lot on tour for a long time during the peak of that song. So, that was fun. They were all fun to record because they’re all hit songs. I mean how can you go wrong?”

   Recorded at their Florida ranch, Covers from the Brothers, also serves up the Bellamys’ renditions of Don Williams’ “Lord I Hope this Day is Good,” Joe South’s “Games People Play,” Dylan’s ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,’ Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” “You wouldn’t think of that as a R&B song and being able to adapt it to harmonies for a duo, but somehow it fit right into our style,” Howard says. “All the people who’ve done successful cover albums are mainly stylists like Willie [Nelson]. You know it’s Willie when you hear it. He does it his way and we’re fortunate enough to be able to do that, to stylize it into our way.”

   The also put their unique spin on Bonnie Tyler’s pop classic “It’s a Heartache.” “It’s a gender switch,” Howard says of the brothers tackling the song made popular by Tyler in 1977. “We used to do a lot of TV with Bonnie in Europe in the old days and that was even before she had this record. She had some hits in Europe that weren’t hits here and we did a lot of things with her. And the old Joe South song that’s on there, we used to play that in clubs back in the late ’60’s and early ’70s. So, a lot of these songs we have a lot of history with.  We really scrutinized this album because they are great songs done by great artists. . .I finally have gotten very comfortable with it, which is a good feeling because I tend to pick at stuff. We picked at this really hard, and I think it paid off.”

   The brothers also deliver an affecting cover of the late Paul Davis’ rodeo anthem “Ride ‘Em Cowboy.” “Paul Davis was really kind of underrated. He did some really good records,” David says of the singer/songwriter known for such hits as “I Go Crazy,” “Sweet Life,” “65 Love Affair” and “Cool Night.” “

   Fiddler Jenee Fleenor, who won the 2019 CMA Award for Musician of the Year, joins the Bellamys on the old Delaney & Bonnie tune “Never Ending Love.” “We’ve got Jenee on fiddle and she sings with us. It’s amazing how her voice works with us,” Howard says. “It’s like a sister. Her voice blends so well with ours. She’s great and she’s one of those younger people who knows every old song. You can tell she was raised in a musical home.  There’s not a song you can take her that she hasn’t heard.  She’s an old soul.”

The Bellamy Brothers with Dennis Quaid Photo Credit
Derrek Kupish

   The Bellamy Brothers also enlisted actor/singer Dennis Quaid to join them on Billy Swan’s 1974 hit “I Can Help,” and debuted the song during an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry in July.  “I love the way Dennis is. He’s so animated the way he sings,” David says. “He acts what he sings. I love that!”

   Quaid is a longtime Bellamy fan and was excited about collaborating. “Growing up their music was just part of the fabric of my life,” Quaid says.  “They are wide open. They are fun. They are unpretentious. They are just real, and they still are. They were back then, and they still are.”

   “I Can Help” is the first single and video released from the album and the brothers have been using it to close their shows on the current tour.  “We’ve been doing ‘I Can Help’ for an encore and people really love it,” David says.  “We haven’t done any of the other ones yet. We’ll probably do maybe one or two as we go along.  We’ve been working so much lately. We really haven’t had time to rehearse much and put something new in the show.”

   The Bellamys have been busy on the road as well as filming their TV show “Honky Tonk Ranch,” which airs on the Circle Network. “We actually finished the third season during Covid because we did them down at the ranch where everybody was kind of isolated anyway,” David says of their Florida homestead. “There’s a lot of fun stuff and fun people.  We have another episode in season three with Blake Shelton and there’s a lot of guest stars like T. Graham Brown and a lot of friends who stopped by, plus the normal craziness that goes on down there.”

   The Bellamys also just celebrated the one-year anniversary of their partnership with the Florida-based medical marijuana company Trulieve. “The only thing good about the pandemic is our weed sales went through the roof,” David says with a laugh. “That was the best thing that happened to us during the pandemic.”

   “That’s the last thing we ever expected was for that to happen,” Howard adds. “Oddly enough, we go to places now that don’t know anything about our music, but they know our weed.”

   That point was driven home recently when a young guy delivered an Amazon package to the ranch. “I happened to be outside, and he said, ‘Are you one of the Bellamy Brothers?’” David recalls. “I said, ‘Yeah,’ and he said, ‘Well I’ve been wanting to meet you all,’ and he handed me the package. I said, ‘You look a little young to know our music,’ and he goes, ‘I don’t know your music. I know your weed.’”

The Bellamy Brothers Photo Derrek Kupish

   In addition to their busy schedule of concerts dates in the U.S., the brothers will be heading back to Europe in January. “The tour schedule is slammed.  It’s non-stop right now,” David says, “and we’re set to do 18 shows in Norway and Sweden in January.  The tickets are on sale and Scandinavia is open, so we’re planning on being there in January.”

   When asked if they’ll record another covers album, they haven’t decided yet. “Depends on if our writer’s block goes away,” David laughs. “It’s really hard to tell.  This is something that kind of came out of the blue. We’ve got the songs sounding like we want them to and it’s something that we’ve never done before so we thought it was kind of a good hook.”

   They aren’t discounting the possibility of another covers collection. “There’s so much great material out there to do this,” Howard says. “You can definitely do another couple or so and still have great songs.  It’s hard to tell.  We’ll see how it’s accepted and go from there.”