I should correct a couple of errors in the title and sub-title of this album.
The tracks aren't all rock'n'roll classics. To muster 100 such classics for even someone as undoubtedly great as Carl Perkins would be asking a bit much. The tracks aren't even all rock'n'roll. As early as on track 8 a polished country number appears followed by another not unlike one of the earlier RCA Presley slowies. No, this is a rounded collection and indulges Carl as much in his love of country as it does in his love of rock'n'roll. Which is probably as well for 100 up tempo rockers might have been a bit much (again, even for someone as good as Carl). And that's all fine with me.
The second point I'd raise is that the sub-title, (1954 - 1961) strongly suggests that this is all public domain material - the set came out in January 2011 which would fit with that assumption. In fact if you progress a bit further into the album you get to track 12, "Monkey Shine" which, according to my records was Carl's fifth Decca single released in 1964. And that's not a freak. Without a fine detail check against the man's discography I'd say that most, if not all, of both sides of all the singles Carl recorded for Columbia (up to `62 in his first incarnation there) and Decca (up to `64) are present plus the album containing all rock'n'roll tracks which came out in `66 in the UK on Realm! And that's not all. There are tracks here I can't trace but which I assume are out takes for Columbia and/or Decca.
But the set doesn't ignore the essentials. The Sun tracks are present and correct. Not masses of them but I'd say all the "Must-haves" are here plus some of the more obscure rockers like "Her love rubbed off" and "Look at that Moon", and there are a couple of instrumentals which don't appear in most collections. We also get a cut of "Down by the Riverside" - I'm not sure but this might be a million dollar quartet one. If not it's even more rare.
So, a veritable treasure trove. Specially when one considers that it's not easy to get hold of the Columbia and Decca material unless you're willing the pay the somewhat steep price for the Bear box set. Yes I know that the latter will have the attention to detail, the chronological sequencing and the scholarly notes that you'd expect from Bear Family, but I'm afraid it's still a bit dear for my budget.
In terms of attention to detail this is at the opposite pole from a typical Bear Family offering. But it does have the music and lots and lots of it. At the end of the day isn't that what it's about?
And don't let anyone tell you that Carl didn't record anything of value after he left Sun. It's true that that relatively small number of tracks that he recorded for Sun which have been repackaged so many times, do represent the pinnacle of his recording career. However the slightly later stuff, particularly the Columbia tracks are all good even if the ballads get a touch too close to Nashville countrypolitan at times and the rockers sometimes have a little excess fat on them. Carl's singing is always spot on as is his guitar playing (though it gets less of a chance to shine). The quality of some of the rockers is as good as the Sun ones - "Jive after Five", "Pointed Toe Shoes", "Pink Pedal Pushers" and "L-O-V-E-V-I-L-L-E" are great examples, lyrics slanted at all the teen obsessions and rhythms that jump out at you. And I wouldn't be without "Hambone", where Carl essays a Diddley style song with considerable success. And "Pop, let me have the car" is great even if it wasn't penned by Carl.
The collector might turn his or her nose up at this collection. I'd just say, take a listen. You might be pleasantly surprised.