CONTAINS

Sun 291-300 Series 

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Jack Clement
"TEN YEARS" - B.M.I. - 2:15
Composer: - Jack Clement
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 296 - Master
Recorded: - February 17, 1958
RCA Studio B, 30 Music Square West
Nashville, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 291-A mono
TEN YEARS / YOUR LOVER BOY
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-1 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jack Clement - Vocal and Guitar
Bob L. Moore - Bass
Jimmy Wilson - Piano
Chorus The Anita Kerr Singers

"Teen Years", like the aforementioned "Teenage Queen", tells a tale of love lost through disuse. In "Teenage Queen", there's a last minute happy ending for the kiddies. This is the adult version: there's no such luck here. Perhaps the only highlight for Sun fans is Clement's I-IV acoustic guitar fills between verses. They're a nice touch, but it would take a miracle to overcome the effects of the chorus, whose lines are mixed up far too prominently, even by 1958 pop music standards. (HD)

 
Jack Clement
"YOUR LOVER BOY" - B.M.I. - 2:14
Composer: - Jack Clement
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 297
Recorded: - February 17, 1958
RCA Studio B, 30 Music Square West
Nashville, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 291-B mono
YOUR LOVER BOY / TEN YEARS
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-2 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jack Clement - Vocal and Guitar
Bob L. Moore - Bass
Jimmy Wilson - Piano
Chorus The Anita Kerr Singers

On the undubbed bed track of ''Your Lover Boy'' shows that Clement and his buddies had cranked up a rocking opus from a slender premise. If you listen to the lyrics, you can see that they are almost totally nonsensical, full of non-sequiturs, etc. However, the undubbed master gives us a clearer view of the innate drive and simplicity that was diluted by the overpowering chorus. Clement obviously intended to overdub a chorus because there are gaping holes in the arrangement, but, with almost sixty years perspective, the song probably sounds better in its nakedness. (HD)

 
Edwin Bruce
"SWEET WOMAN" - B.M.I. - 2:40
Composer: - Edwin Bruce
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 298
Recorded: - January 26, 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 292-A mono
SWEET WOMAN / PART OF MY LIFE
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-3 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Edwin Bruce - Vocal and Guitar
Billy Riley - Guitar
Stan Kesler - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Jimmy Wilson – Piano

Edwin Bruce signed with Sun in 1957 when he was 17-year-old newspaper delivery boy for the Memphis Press-Scimitar. You might expect that story-line to result in some teen fluff about a high school hop or being jilted at the senior prom. Not here. At least not at Sun and not in 1957.
 
Bruce's first two records were dark. From the sound of them, you'd never know he was a kid delivering newspapers. Here included his second record, "Sweet Woman" was enough to rekindle the faith of Sun fans in early 1958. From the first 4 bars, it was clear we were in the presence of greatness. Everything works here. This is an edgy, tense record with not the slightest concession to pop sensibilities. Its hard to imagine two guitars, a bass and drums put to better use. In fact, the guitar work features a duet between Edwin Bruce and Billy Riley. Riley provides a solid boogie figure under the vocal and joins forces with Bruce during the 12-bar solo. Bruce's vocal is a standout.
 
The same bass notes had introduced Jimmy Bowen's hit record ''I'm Stickin' With You'' just a year earlier and that memorable guitar figure also turns up on Elvis's ''One Night'' in 1958.
 
Bruce was barely 18 when he recorded these sides, which more than fulfilled the promise of his first Sun outing (See SUN 276). (HD)

 
Edwin Bruce
"PART OF MY LIFE" - B.M.I. - 2:10
Composer: - Heath-Heath
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 299
Recorded: - January 26, 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Releases: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 292-B mono
PART OF MY LIFE / SWEET WOMAN
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-4 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Edwin Bruce - Vocal and Guitar
Billy Riley - Guitar
Stan Kesler - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Jimmy Wilson – Piano

As he had previously, Bruce uses the flipside to demonstrate his interest in ballad singing. Curiously, the style here owes more to northern doo wop than it does the Memphis churchy moaning popularized by Elvis Presley. Edwin Bruce went on to record for Sun until mid-1956, although he never again saw his name on a yellow label from Memphis. In 1959 Edwin Bruce extended his talent into acting and made his television debut in the police drama, The Naked City on ABC TV. In 1962 he found success as a songwriter with "Save Your Kisses" (the B-side of Tommy Roe's "Sheila"), ahead of enjoying hits of his own for RCA and Monument. (HD)

 
The Sun Rays
"LOVE IS A STRANGER" - B.M.I. - 2:59
Composer: - Stan Kesler
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 300
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 293-A mono
LOVE IS A STRANGER / THE LONELY HOURS
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-5 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Barbara Pittman - Vocal
Elsie Sappington – Vocal
Jimmy Knight - Vocal and Guitar
Hank Byers - Vocal
Stan Kesler - Steel Guitar
Clyde Leoppard - Drums
Smokey Joe Bauch - Piano

In a 1989 interview with Barbara Pittman, all was revealed. "Stan Kesler had in mind that he wanted to put together a vocal group, an Anita Kerr type of thing. He got us all into the studio. It was horrible. The voices just clashed. It was real difficult. The arrangement was all Stan's. Elsie Sappington sang that little solo on there. I was just a kid and my voice hadn't developed enough for me to hit those high notes. I sang lead all the way through until that part of the song". The Sunrays consisted of Barbara, along with Elsie Sappington, Hank Byers and Jimmy Knight.

In truth, "Love Is A Stranger" isn't that bad a record. The instrumental backing track is particularly solid and  driving. The lyric is servicable, and the key modulations provide a fair amount of tension. Probably the  worst thing about SUN 293 is that it appeared on a Sun label. The expectations were just too high. (HD)

 
The Sun Rays
"THE LONELY HOURS" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Stan Kesler
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 301
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 293-B mono
THE LONELY HOURS / LOVE IS A STRANGER
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-6 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Barbara Pittman - Vocal
Elsie Sappington - Vocal
Stan Kesler - Steel Guitar
Jimmy Knight - Vocal and Guitar
Clyde Leoppard - Drums
Hank Byers - Vocal and Trumpet
Smokey Joe Bauch – Piano

How many Sun fans bought this record back in 1958 and wondered what had hit them? No review in Billboard. No advance publicity. Virtually no air play north of the Tennessee state line. Who were the Sunrays? That mystery stayed pretty well intact until recently (even the redoubtable Sun Records Discography by Escott and Hawkins came up empty. "Unknown vocal group. Unknown date. Possibly 706 Union". (HD)

 
Magel Priesman
"I FEEL SO BLUE" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Magel Priesman
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 302
Recorded: - Unknown Date July 1957
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 294-A mono
I FEEL SO BLUE / MEMORIES OF YOU
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-7 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Magel Priesman - Vocal
Roland Janes - Guitar
Unknown Musicians

For many years, Magel Priesman was an enigma to Sun collectors. Her lone single - SUN 294 - was released in April 1958, nearly a year after it was recorded. Nobody, it seemed, had a line on the oddly named Ms. Priesman. Because her style was far removed from the qualities that attracted most Sun fans, there seemed little impetus to track her down. Fortunately, researcher Colin Escott made contact with her in time to include her story on Volume 3 of the Complete Sun Singles (Bear Family 15803). The double-tracked vocal seemed to hark back to the early 1950s sound of Patty Page. (HD)

 
Magel Priesman
"MEMORIES OF YOU" - B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: - Magel Priesman
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 303
Recorded: - Unknown Date July 1957
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 294-B mono
MEMORIES OF YOU / I FEEL SO BLUE
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-8 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Magel Priesman - Vocal
Roland Janes - Guitar
Unknown Musicians

"Memories Of You" was a lovely evocation of a lost love affair, but Sam Phillips delayed its release for almost a year, and by the time it hit the streets Connie Francis was high in the charts with "Who's Sorry Now". The passing similarity between Connie Francis' double-tracked vocal and Magel Priesman's doubletracket vocal might have convinced Sam that Magel's moment had come. Not so. (HD)

 
Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two
"GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY" - B.M.I. - 1:47
Composer:  - Jack Clement
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 304 - Overdubbed Master
Recorded: - April 9, 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 295-A mono
GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY / COME IN STRANGER
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-9 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Cash - Vocal and Guitar
Luther Perkins - Guitar
Marshall Grant - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Jimmy Wilson - Piano

Overdubbed Session May 1958
Edwin Bruce, Sara Bruce, Nita Smith,
Lee Holt, Vocal Harmony

This was a landmark record for Johnny Cash. It was also his last major hit for Sun Records, although the releases kept coming for quite some time. SUN 295 was a brilliant two-sided release. On "Guess Things Happen That Way", Jack Clement provided Cash with a potent piece of material, and a clever arrangement. Its even possible to forgive most of the postsession sweetening. The chorus is less strident here. For once, it also has a more 'masculine' sound, which may have contributed to the overall effect. It still seems gratuitous for anyone to have to soften Luther's single note guitar runs by singing over them, but the net effect was a massive hit for Cash, in both the pop and country fields. (HD)

 
Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two
"COME IN STRANGER" - B.M.I. - 1:38
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 305
Recorded: - April 9, 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 295-B mono
COME IN STRANGER / GUESS THINGS HAPPEN THAT WAY
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-10 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Cash - Vocal and Guitar
Luther Perkins - Guitar
Marshall Grant - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Jimmy Wilson - Piano

If there were any hard feelings among the purists, they were more than assuaged by this flipside "Come In Stranger". Johnny Cash is at his minimalist best here. Despite its seemingly happy subject matter, this still manages to retain a dark, brooding feel that has not been diluted by unnecessary instrumental or vocal work. The sound of the original Tennessee Two has been fleshed out by a piano and drum but, beyond that, Jack Clement knew enough to keep his hands off things. Or maybe he was shrewd enough to to produce any competition for the air play that would otherwise accrue to his composition on the flipside. At only 1:38 in length, "Come In Stranger" was likely to please Sun and Cash fans, but not dilute the commercial success of Jack Clement's composer/producer work. (HD)

 
Jerry Lee Lewis & His Pumping Piano
"HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL" - B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Jerry Lee Lewis-Ron Hargrave
Publisher: - Penron Music
Matrix number: - U 306 - Master
Recorded: - February/March 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - May 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 296-A mono
HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL / FOOLS LIKE ME
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-11 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jerry Lee Lewis - Vocal and Piano
Roland Janes and/or Billy Riley - Guitar
Jay W. Brown - Bass
Jimmy M. Van Eaton - Drums
 
 
His classic 5th single, and the title track from the movie of the same name which features Jerry and his band performing the song over the opening and closing credits. Although it was 25 years before we knew it, Sam Phillips spliced the ending from a different take onto the original release (the unspliced take was finally issued on ''The Sun Years'' box-set in 1983). Like several of his hits, this song was re-cut both for 1963’s ''Golden Hits'' and the 1989 (recorded 1988) ''Great Balls Of Fire''! movie soundtrack album. Incidentally there’s also an instrumental version of the song on ''The Session'' from 1973, but this does NOT feature Jerry Lee Lewis.
 
Sun 296 reached at number 21 on the Billboard's Pop charts; at number 5 on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart, and number 9 on the Billboard's Country and Western charts.

Until the ill-fated bioflick "Great Balls Of Fire" hit the big screen in the early 1990s, this was Jerry Lee's closest flirtation with Hollywood. In retrospect, all it did was saddle him with a contrived piece of material and an association with a slapdash exploitation film that did about as much for his career as for Mamie Van Doren's. "High School Confidential" was written by Ron Hargrave, with Jerry Lee cut in for half by his manager, but neither of them could manage the trick of actually including the title in the song.  (HD)(MH)

 
Jerry Lee Lewis & His Pumping Piano
"FOOLS LIKE ME" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Jack Clement-Pee Wee Maddux
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 307 - Master
Recorded: -Mid-March 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - Mid-March 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 296-B mono
FOOLS LIKE ME / HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-12 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jerry Lee Lewis - Vocal and Piano
Roland Janes - Guitar
Unknown - Bass
James M. Van Eaton – Drums

Overdubbed
Vocals chorus overdubbed, April 8, 1958
Roy Orbison, Jack Clement, Roland Janes

This flipside of SUN 296, "Fools Like Me", it was the second time Jerry Lee Lewis had revealed his country leanings to the rockers who supported his hit records. His first country outing on Sun ("You Win Again" on the B-side of "Great Balls Of Fire") had shown his ability to interpret a classic Hank Williams tune. Here, the pianist offers a solid reading of a Pee Wee Maddux tune written especially for Jerry Lee Lewis, one on which Jack Clement had managed to cut himself in for half. This was hardly a throwaway outing. Considerable time went into the arrangement and recording. Even an unusually restrained chorus (consisting of Roy Orbison, Roland Janes and Jack Clement) was overdubbed for release. Billboard observed that SUN 296 was "strong stuff for all markets". In retrospect, it was the country flipside that did more to solidify Jerry Lee's career and point to the market that would extend him a lifetime welcome. (HD)

 
Dickey Lee & The Collegiates
"DREAMY NIGHTS" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Dickey Lee
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 309
Recorded: - March 3, 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Release: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 297-A mono
DREAMY NIGHTS / FOOL FOOL FOOL
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-13 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Dickey Lee - Vocal and Guitar
Marvin Pepper - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Charlie Rich - Piano

The Collegiates
Allen Reynolds - Chorus
Bill Talmadge - Chorus
David Morris - Chorus
Eddie Well - Chorus
J.L. Jerden - Chorus
David Glenn - Chorus

Another outing in the not-very-typical Sun record sweepstakes. As on his previous outing (SUN 280) and on the obscure Tampa record that preceded it, Lee demonstrates his penchant for harmony singing. Lee had been parachuted onto Sun by dee-jay Dewey Phillips who had virtually demanded that Sam Phillips sign him. Lee cheerfully admits that he didn't belong there.

Neither side of this record is very southern. The ballad side, "Fool Fool Fool" (recorded August 10, 1957), contains some rather adventurous tempo changes that all but doom the tune as dance music. The uptempo "Dreamy Nights"" rocks along just fine, but it owes more to Dion and The Belmonts that to anyone in the vicinity of Union Avenue. (HD)

 
Dickey Lee & The Collegiates
"FOOL FOOL FOOL" - B.M.I. - 2:29
Composer: - Dickey Lee-Allen Reynolds
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 308
Recorded: - August 10, 1957
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 297-B mono
FOOL FOOL FOOL / DREAMY NIGHTS
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-14 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Dickey Lee - Vocal and Guitar
Allen Reynolds - Vocal and Guitar
Marvin Pepper - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums

The Collegiates
Allen Reynolds - Chorus
Bill Talmadge - Chorus
David Morris - Chorus
Eddie Well - Chorus
J.L. Jerden - Chorus
David Glenn - Chorus

Dickey Lee made one more record at Sun Records in 1963, but the results were destined for the Dot label, where they were no doubt more at home. By that time, Lee had moved on to Jack Clement's little musical frontier in Beaumont, where he wrote "She Thinks I Still Care". ("I think of Jack Clement as Moses in another life because he led us all over the place", Lee once said). As a pop, then country singer, Dickey Lee charted consistently from the early 1960s until the early 1980s. At last sighting, he was Professional Manager at Polygram Music in Nashville, and had just written a charted song for MCA's Tracy Byrd - the latest in a long line of custom-written hits. Hus buddy in the Collegiates, Allen Reynolds, also went to Nashville, and became the producer of Garth Brooks. (HD)

 
Ray Smith
"RIGHT BEHIND YOU BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:22
Composer: - Charlie Rich
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 311 - Master
Recorded: - March 19, 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 298-A mono
RIGHT BEHIND YOU BABY / SO YOUNG
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-15 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ray Smith - Vocal and Guitar
Dean Perkins - Guitar
Stanley Walker - Guitar
James Webb - Bass
Gary Diamond - Drums
Charlie Rich - Piano

Charlie Rich had a major hand in writing and producing Ray Smith's first Sun record. The results reflect the kind of rockabilly that was likely to emerge from Sun in 1958. There was plenty of energy here, but the sound was a little more intentional. This music has been thought through in advance, both lyrically and instrumentally. It is calculated for the teenage marketplace. The guitar solos are still hot and the vocals still sexy, but something had plainly been learned from all the wild excesses of 1956 - namely that radio didn't play them. (HD)

 
Ray Smith
"SO YOUNG" - B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: - Charlie Rich
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 310 - Master
Recorded: - March 19, 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 298-B mono
SO YOUNG / RIGHT BEHIND YOU BABY
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-16 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ray Smith - Vocal and Guitar
Dean Perkins - Guitar
Stanley Walker - Guitar
James Webb - Bass
Gary Diamond - Drums
Charlie Rich - Piano

"So Young" tells the tale of teenage angst. In that sense, the results seem a little dated. There's something incongruous about the possibility of a wildman like Ray Smith crying when whispers drift his way. "Right Behind You Baby", creates a solid groove and never lets up. The double length instrumental solo is a special treat for Sun fans. Charlie Rich's presence on the session is subtle but undeniable. His piano turns those stop rhythm chords into inversions that might be more at home at a Stan Kenton session than a Union Avenue gig. (HD)

 
Gene Simmons
"DRINKIN' WINE" - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Eugene Morris Simmons
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 214 - 2555 - Master
Recorded: - January 3, 1957
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 299-A mono
DRINKIN' WINE / I DONE TOLD YOU
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-17 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Gene Simmons - Vocal
Carl Simmons - Guitar
Jesse Carter - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Unknown - Piano

The A-side of Gene's only Sun release was "Drinkin' Wine". This, too, is an interesting story. The song began life as "Drinkin' Scotch" but within several takes Scotch had morphed into Wine. Gene jokingly suggested that Sam's taste in beverages might have had something to do with it. Carl suggests, "Wine was a gentler image and they may have been concerned about radio play in those days". That may be closer to the truth, but the sentiment seems laughable now. Even when you remove the scotch in favor of a chilled class of Chardonnay, you're still stuck with a guy drinking bourbon while he's "sipping along slow on my bottle of brew". Now to mention the threat of violence against his two-timing woman. All in all, it's a delicious slice of southern lowlife that wasn't going to become a mainstream hit even if the scotch had been phased out. 
 
After changing Scotch to Wine, Phillips was still not happy with the result and brought in drummer Jimmy Van Eaton. The change in sound is telling, especially when Van Eaton decided or was told to play through the stops. As originally conceived by Gene, this was a stop-rhythm talking blues. It sure didn't end up that way. Surprisingly, at the end of "Drinkin' Wine", a piano can be suddenly heard in the mix. Has it been there along? Aural evidence suggests not, but when the dust clears during those final drumbeats, there is the unmistakable sound of a piano. Session logs are imprecise but Carl Simmons remembers recording several sessions with  Charlie Rich present on piano. However, Rich had not yet joined the scene in January 1957, when this session is suggested to have occurred. In any case, "Drinkin' Wine" is a hell of a special record. A very southern 12-bar talking blues about a guy who's been done wrong by his woman and is getting drunker by the minute and thinking about killing her. On the other hand, it's a showcase for some fine, fine musicianship and unbridled energy in an era when such expression was quickly becoming verboten. 
 
The record should have hit the streets in January 1957, when it was recorded, not in April 1958 when it finally did. The reasons for the delay are unimportant. What matters is that what little chance for success it might have had were now all but gone.
 
There weren't a lot of talking blues records issued by Sun, and certainly not by a white man in 1958. What might have been some down-home backporch music was turned by Gene Simmons and his band into something quite unusual. Carl Simmons was a fine picker and his guitar work is highlighted on the disc. However, it's the drumming, most likely by session man Jimmy Van Eaton, that lands the record here. ''After all this time I'm about 70% sure that's me playing on there. I know that's not my usual style but I was pretty adaptable and that song required something different''.
 
Jimmy Van Eaton works the hi-hat and snare during the verses and, following some deft two-bar drum rolls, switches to backbeat for the chorus and guitar solos. It's not clear how else Jimmy (or any drummer) could have approached ''Drinkin' Wine''. Something had to distinguish the recitation from the chorus, and whatever playing you did under the spoken verses had to be tasty yet unobtrusive.
 
An enduring mystery surrounds the odd fade-out after the seemingly final bass drum and cymbal crash. During the fade we hear a series of drumbeats and repeated piano notes that lead nowhere. We assumed that this may have been either a rehearsal or an outtake that nobody expected to use. But there's another possibility, suggested by Van Eaton, himself, during a recent listening session. ''That sounds like a bit of reverb that just went on too long; like the drum and piano just got caught up in that slap-back echo'' It's an intriguing idea even if it suggests some sloppy editing when it came time to master the original tape.
 
True to his credo, Sam Phillips found something in the ''feel'' of this track that overrode the need for technical perfection, and so he chose to release it as is. Actually, subsequent reissues have often rushed the fade so that the odd-sounding piano/drum extras were barely noticrable. Pity. The original single release with Van Eaton's drum beats to nowhere sounding crisp and clear were our favorite version. (HD)(MH)(SP)

 
Gene Simmons
"I DONE TOLD YOU" - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - Eugene Morris Simmons
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 215 - 2556 - Master
Recorded: - January 3, 1957
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 9, 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 299-B mono
I DONE TOLD YOU / DRINKIN' WINE
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-18 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Gene Simmons - Vocal
Carl Simmons - Guitar
Jesse Carter - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Unknown - Piano

Between late 1955 and early 1957 Gene Simmons and his brother Carl (lead guitar) and bass player Jesse carter were frequent visitors at 706 Union Avenue. They arrived, they spent the day in the studio laying down tracks, and they drove back down to Tupelo. Over and over, and they had nothing to show for it.
 
When Gene finally decided to try his luck at Hi Records and enjoyed some success in 1958, it was time for Sam to go through the mountain of tape boxes with Gene Simmon's name written on them. At a Hi Records party, well lubricated as ever, Sam announced that Gene was ''the most patient man I've ever worked with'' and released ''I Done Told You'' backed with ''Drinkin' Wine''.
 
The guitar playing on this side is highly unusual, to say the least. For one thing, the whole record is like a time warp. If it had been released in a timely manner (not nearly two years later) it would have appeared around the time of ''Dixie Fried'' and ''We Wanna Boogie''. So sitting there among the slightly more polished early 300 Sun number series, it sounds a bit raw. And this comes at a time when the pop music industry was starting to slick itself up and leave any hint of redneck menace behind. The lyric here, with references to a hard drinking jilted lover carrying a gun were commercial suicide. But Sam saw it as the best of what he had in the can and, besides, he liked how it sounded.
 
The verses are done as a talking blues and there aren't many of those on Sun. But mostly it's the guitar playing on the solos that draws attention. Carl Simmons is a good picker. He uses interesting chord inversions and jazz-based sequences. He pushes the simple chord changes. This could have easily been a three-chord record but in Carl's hand, it isn't. Just listen to the first four bars of the first solo. A lesser player could have just hammered away in that I-chord before he ever thought of the next chord change. Carl has already been through five chords. And when he gets to the IV-chord (A in the key of E) he's turned it into a minor chord! Whose idea was that? Unlike many Sun recordings that feature a second guitar break, Gene turns things around here and plays an entirely different solo. The man was bursting with ideas. (HD)(MH)

 
Tommy Blake
"I DIG YOU BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:13
Composer: - Tommy Blake-Jerry Ross
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 312
Recorded: - March 16, 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - June 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 300-A mono
I DIG YOU BABY /SWEETIE PIE
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-19 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Tommy Blake - Vocal and Guitar
Carl Bailey Adams - Guitar
William Edwin Bruce - Guitar
Roland Janes - Guitar
Sid Manker - Guitar
Stan Kesler - Bass
James M. Van Eaton - Drums
Jimmy Wilson - Piano

This effort, which included the cream of Sun's studio musicians. Everyone is here, from Roland Janes to Stan Kesler to Jimmy Van Eaton. Yet the results still seem a bit forced. Its hard to blame the band for what goes wrong here. So why aren't the results more engaging? It comes down to Blake's performance. Unlike the best of Sun's rockabilly, Blake sounds like he's posturing here; almost like an old man trying to sing young folks' music.

"I Dig You Baby" featured on Tommy Blake's second and last single for Sun. Neither enjoyed much commercial success. In fact, a harsh verdict might be that both are deservedly rare. Blake's efforts have been minimized even by most collectors who lionize every minute of music that ever appeared on a yellow Sun label, or every note ever played in the tiny studio on the corner of Union and Marshall Avenues in Memphis.

The puzzle is even more pronounced on "I Dig You Baby". The band is superb. From the first four bars, this record sizzles instrumentally. How could anyone or anything dilute its effectiveness? A Tennessee hound dog howling against this backing track might have produced a classic Sun record, but Blake isn't up to the challenge. His lyrics are strained ("At the drug store we did meet"). And, once again, vocally he manages to drag the proceedings to the level of mediocrity. At best, this is an almost great record. You won't hear better, more powerful instrumental work anywhere in Sun's release schedule in the 300 series. But you're going to hear lots of vocals that'll make you wish Blake had stayed in Shreveport, Louisiana. (HD)(MH)

 
Tommy Blake
"SWEETIE PIE" - B.M.I. - 2:05
Composer: - Tommy Blake-Jerry Ross
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated - Tristan Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 313
Recorded: - March 15, 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - June 1958
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 300-B mono
SWEETIE PIE / I DIG YOU BABY
Reissued: - 1996 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15803 DI-2-20 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 3

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Tommy Blake - Vocal & Guitar
Carl Bailey Adams - Guitar
Edward "Eddie Hall" Dettenheim - Bass
Jimmy M. Van Eaton - Drums

On "Sweetie Pie", drummer Van Eaton lays down a really fine track, emphasizing the cowbell. The band trades two bar phrases with Blake, working a slowed down Bo Diddley rhythm.

Shane Hughes asserts that Dale Hawkins and Carl Adams (who worked for Hawkins by this point) wrote the song, but it became a moot point because Blake's version wasn't a hit and Hawkins' version wasn't released for decades. Jerry Ross incidentally, left a demo at Sun as Gene Ross and later recorded "Everybody's Tryin" (the song he'd demo'd at Sun) for Murco Records in Shreveport. Blake was credited as the co-writer under the name Thomas Givens, probably to sidestep the Sun publishing contract. (HD)(MH)

 
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