Rock N Roll as we know it mutated from various musical styles from as far back as the 1920s, however, play a Sam Phillips early Sun Records track, and the sound you hear is true roots of Rock n Roll!
Sam Phillips was a great innovator, one of the first to use tape echo machines to give a full and dramatic sound, evident on Elvis Presley's 'That's alright mama' track on this collection. Elvis, of course covered other Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup songs including 'My Baby left me,' originally a 1947 recording by Crudup, and essentially one of the first rock n roll records, becoming firmly established so by the ELvis version in the mid 50's.
This set is a very good selection of artists and important tracks, from stripped down production, stripped down bands, classic songs that have since been covered by countless artists since. Here are the originals, like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, some of the more famous names we know today, and also Carl Mann, Warren Smith, Malcolm Yelvington, least well known unless you happen to be an afficianado of the genre and the early years of the music.
I generalise here, but the set also includes great tracks by Carl Perkins and many other notables, these are great renditions of these songs by the young artists, forging their own distinctive styles of music, at an early stage in their careers, before television exposure and the big concert venues and tours that would follow.
Really, this set serves as a good primer for you to go and uncover other early Sun and similar recordings made by these and other artists, being only a small set, it allows maybe or 3 at most tracks by each singer or group, so it serves to give a flavour of known and lesser known Sun 'recordees' and I would hope you'll like me go on and check out the output of these names beyond this Sun set.
So what is it about these Sun recordings? The atmosphere for a start. Take 'That's alright Mama,' on this set by Elvis Presley and his original backing band, Scotty Moore on Guitar, Bill Black on Double Bass and D.J. Fontana on drums. The opening bars of Elvis strumming his Martin acoustic guitar before he breaks into the verse, have a magical, pure and clean sound.
Immediately it is different to our ears, now as then, it is unique, it is Sun. The Sun sound.
I highly recommend this set, the songs are great and the roots of country, rock n roll, hillbilly and rockabilly seem to coalesce into a sort of musical crucible in the Sun house of Sam Phillips. This is where the medium called pop music emananted from!
If I wanted I could also have bought Essential Rockabilly collections from the RCA, Dot, Columbia, MGM, Decca, London America, and Imperial labels. But that way lies madness.
I mean, why would I want 400 tracks of something that is a fairly narrow musical sub genre which is basically a countrified version of the emerging Rock'n'Roll with the Blues taken out? It's very rhythmic, up-tempo with the guitar given prominence and a tendency for most of the male singers to sound like Elvis wannabees; maybe it was something in the water at the time. Whether it's a precursor of Country Rock is debatable. It's what I call primitive music in that it's direct, simple and unsubtle. It also happens to be enjoyable in its limited way and in small doses. So I picked this one on the grounds that it was probably the best of the lot. I mean, just look at the names on the CD cover -you can add Charlie Rich and Charlie Feathers as lesser known but important names (in other words, I've heard of them). Plus I've a fondness for Sun Records given Sam Phillips recording and promotion of Blues artists even if he did pretty much lose interest in them once he found Elvis.
Something often forgotten in these days when music is available as cheaply and easily as water from a tap, all the tracks on these CDs (not just Rockabilly) were originally released as singles and played to death while the buyer saved up to buy another one. They weren't, as Charles Shaar Murray pointed out in his book Blues On CD (way out of date but still interesting), intended to be listened to one after the other like eating peanuts or popcorn. So in this form it's inevitable that the parameters (or limitations if you will) become more obvious and the songs inevitably sound samey.
Another great album in the Essential Rockabilly Collection. Some of the more commonly known tracks on here but a must have especially if you want to here from the likes of Billy Lee Riley who should have been a bigger star than he was at the time these were originally recorded. Don't hesitate you won't be disappointed.
Excellent, in every way many great songs, upbeat from the greatest Elvis,Roy Orbison,Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis to name a few you will find your self singing along,fully recommended to all glad to add to my collection.