12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 7 July 2007
There are lots of introductory compilations to the Memphis-based record label run by ex-radio engineer Sam Phillips which launched the career of Elvis Presley in the 50s. This is probably as good as any other: sound is decent; it's cheap (especially, at the time of writing, from Marketplace); and although it doesn't favour the black performers whom Phillips started off recording - odd, given that this stuff is now in the public domain - as a hits-based compilation which doesn't favour any individual performer, even major names, too much this is pretty good.
You do get Little Junior Parker's original Mystery Train (Elvis, Scotty and Bill nicked the rhythm off Parker's B side - not included here - so it's not identical) and his sublime Feelin' Good which romps along but somehow feels light and controlled as well: when Parker opines of his backing group that "Ain't nobody boogie / Like the Blue Flames do," there's a sort of muted whoop of agreement with which I can only concur. There is a Rounder CD which collects all the Parker and Parker-related Sun sides in good sound.
Presley himself only figures as part of the Million Dollar Quartet - an impromptu singing sesh when the minted King happened by the Sun studios - but there are plentiful Presley CDs out there anyway. Individual tracks I'd recommend apart from the above, if you're really unfamiliar with this material (where have you been?!): Carl Perkins' Blue Suede Shoes - lighter (that term again), and with a far better guitar solo than Elvis' version; the Prisonaires' Just Walkin' in the Rain (covered by Johnny Ray); Jerry Lee Lewis' Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On. Warren Smith's Rock and Roll Ruby is a blast; pity there wasn't room for his mournful Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache.
Phillips' studio was notable for its reverb - what became known as the Sun Sound. I read that he refused to help RCA duplicate it for the Presley recordings there - an act of ego, a business decision, or simply recognition that what happened in his own studio could not be transferred? But no one can take away his innovation and his willingness to let the tapes keep running so that spontaneity was more easily caught.
Not every performer was the equivalent of a Presley but Carl Perkins' fusion of country and rhythm and blues and his patent honesty (as Ringo once said, when Perkins sings it, you believe it) mark him as a great performer (exploited, according to his autobiography, by Phillips) and one loved by all the Beatles including "Carl" Harrison as he once dubbed himself. When Perkins dropped in on a recording session for Beatles for Sale, Ringo called him "Mr Perkins" to which he responded: "There's only one Mr Perkins, and that's my daddy" - but he truly was an innovator who has been overshadowed by Presley and some spectacularly bad luck (car crash en route to a performance on Ed Sullivan).
Read Colin Escott's book on Sun or Perkins' own Go Cat Go for more info; but if you're looking for a good basic Sun compilation which concentrates on key hits then gamble a few quid on this and enjoy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 May 2011
It would not be while 2004 that Elvis Presley recordings could be added to the evergrowing Sun and rockabilly comps due to the 50 year copyright thing-in other words musical politics.
Its why Rockabilly Meltdown has been reissued with the 6 Elvis tracks added.
A little known fact about the Sun label is that the license was offered to Decca in the U K in 1954 who decided to pass and it was not till 2 years later when Carl Perkins was the first chart name that the company issued anything
So Decca didn't just turn down the Beatles they turned down Elvis too!
When RCA passed from HMV to its own imprint in 1957 did Decca get what theyd once refused