CONTAINS

Sun 191-200 Series
 
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The Prisonaires
"A PRISONER'S PRAYER" - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - James Proctor
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 85
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 191-A mono
A PRISONER'S PRAYER / I KNOW
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-3 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal
John Drue - 2nd Tenor Vocal
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal and Guitar
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal
Ike Turner - Piano and Electric Guitar
Unknown - Bass, possible Ike Turner

Only in the most technical sense is this a gospel recording. The subject matter is only remotely spiritual. More cynically, this is a pop record designed to capitalize on the unique status of the group. The composer was a white member of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Jim Proctor. As prison music, this is certainly a long way from work songs and field hollers, and it makes the penitentiary seem like a place of monastic calm and quiet contemplation. The reference to Cell Block 23 certainly brings it down to a nuts and bolts level. The vocal performance owes little to the classic quartet tradition, and equally little to then-current vocal group music. It centres more upon the lead singing of Johnny Bragg, dueting occasionally with bass singer Marcell Sanders. Sparse and effective instrumental support was provided by Ike Turner on electric guitar and William Stewart on acoustic guitar. The problem was that Sam Phillips had been the coverage of ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'', and decided that the Prisonaires' story was more significant than their music. In pandering to that, he got it wrong. After a gospel single pairing ''Softly And Tenderly'' with ''My God Is Real'', this was another commercial mis-step. (CE)(HD)

 
The Prisonaires
"I KNOW" - A.S.C.A.P. - 3:41
Composer: - Jennings-Brook
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 86
Recorded: - October 17, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 191-B mono
I KNOW / A PRISON'S PRAYER
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-4 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal
John Drue - 2nd Tenor Vocal
Williams Stewart - Baritone Vocal and Guitar
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal

With Sun 189 stiffing on all fronts, Sam Phillips had another Prisonaires record on the market barely two months later. The move had an element of damage control about it, and the record was a calculated play on the group's novelty appeal.

Arguably, this is the worst of the Prisonaires four Sun releases. ''I Know'' revives a 1946 hit by the Jubalaires that may have needed reviving like a fish needs a bicycle. Johnny Bragg gives a credible reading is a style that was almost self parodying when the Inkspots' Bill Kenny worked it a decade earlier. (HD)(CE)

 
Little Junior's Blue Flames
"MYSTERY TRAIN" - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - Herman Parker-Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 89
Recorded: - August 5, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 192-A mono
MYSTERY TRAIN / LOVE MY BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-5 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Herman Parker - Vocal
Probably Raymond Hill or
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
Floyd Murphy - Guitar
William "Bill" Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
John Bowers - Drums
James Wheeler - Tenor Sax

Only rarely can two versions of a song be hailed as classics, even less often are they on the same label. This beautiful poised blues tone poem is one of the finest of Phillips' early recordings, and Elvis Presley's striking re-imagination of it is, of course, is among rock and roll early defining moments. Everything meshes on Junior's record so that the end result is much greater than the sum of its parts. And the parts are really disarmingly simple' Junior's melodic composition and smooth, high pitched vocal; the gentle train rhythm established by the bass and drums; a breathy saxophone; and the instantly memorable guitar riff. In fact, it's the rhythm that provides the songs's hook. A piano is buried in the mix to no great effect. It's a deeply affecting, personal and atmospheric blues that stood little chance of repeating the success of its predecessor, ''Feelin' Good'', at least in part because the title appears nowhere within the song. When it originally appeared, ''Mystery Train'' was credited solely to Junior Parker and published by Memphis Music. By the time Elvis Presley recorded it in 1955 Sam Phillips had appended his name to the copyright (possibly in part settlement of Junior Parker's contract dispute) and the publishing had been transferred to Phillips' Hi Lo Music.
 
The guitar work on ''Mystery Train'' is by Floyd Murphy, a Memphis native. Sam Phillips said that Floyd had an amazing ability to make one guitar sounds like two, and that ability is in evidence on this track. While Junior is singing and Floyd is accompanying the vocal with a simple figure, the record quite full. But when Floyd plays the melodic single-note lines in his solo, the sound thins out as if some band members had stepped out for fresh air. Those simple melodic lines are a variation on the song's tune and they fit integrally into the record. (CE) (HD)

 
Little Junior's Blue Flames
"LOVE MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - Herman Parker
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 88
Recorded: - August 5, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - November 1, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 192-B mono
LOVE MY BABY / MYSTERY TRAIN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-6 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Herman Parker - Vocal
Probably Raymond Hill or
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
Floyd Murphy - Guitar
William "Bill" Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
John Bowers - Drums
James Wheeler - Tenor Sax

This extraordinary track is certainly one of the earliest rock and roll records. It is arguably one of the earliest rockabilly as well. The song originally appeared on the flipside of ''Mystery Train'' often overshadows it. When Jud Phillips went on the road in November 1953, disc jockeys were picking ''Love My Baby'' as the follow-up to ''Feelin' Good''. The recording sports an instantly catchy guitar riff, although the guitarist loses was momentarily and blows one chord change during the third verse. Parker's high creamy tenor soars over the instrumental back drop. Three years later, when Sun's blues era was firmly consigned to the past, Phillips would play Parker's uptempo records to his rockabilly artists, asking the guitarists to duplicate Floyd Murphy's riffs. The guitar playing on this track crept into the consciousness of a whole generation of rockabilly and rock guitarists who have never heard of Junior Parker, much less guitarist Murphy. Perhaps the first to be influenced by this solo was Sun's most famous sideman: Scotty Moore. When Hayden Thompson recorded it for Sun in 1957, Roland Janes was handed the task of replicating Murphy's work. An interesting footnote to this track is that it once again reveals that, despite his eminence as a producer, Sam Phillips was totally uncomfortable with fadeout endings. He either shunned them or never mastered the rudimentary skill of producing one during Sun's peak blues years. (HD) (CE)

 
Doctor Ross
"COME BACK BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Isiah "Doctor" Ross
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 90
Recorded: - October 3, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - December 24, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 193-A mono
COME BACK BABY / CHICAGO BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-7 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Doctor Ross - Vocal, Guitar, Drums and Harmonica
Wiley Galatin - Guitar
Reuben Martin - Washboard
Robert Moore – Broom

The music of Dr. Isaiah Ross is instantly recognisable. True to form, this track is totally engaging. It's not music to sit still through. The song's enduring appeal surely has nothing to do with the totally forgettable lyric or the one-chord backing. Once again, the good Doctor riffs off another song; in this case, the verses (''I got a gal...'ect) come from ''Step It Up And Go''. But somehow Ross, with his warm delivery and back country dance rhythm charms the hell out of all us patients. A fine track. Fine then; fine now. (HD) (CE)

 
Doctor Ross
"CHICAGO BREAKDOWN" - B.M.I. - 2:53
Composer: - Isiah "Doctor" Ross
Publisher: - Memphis Music
Matrix number: - U 91 - Take 3
Recorded: - October 3, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - December 24, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 193-B mono
CHICAGO BREAKDOWN / COME BACK BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-8 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Doctor Ross - Vocal, Guitar, Drums and Harmonica
Wiley Galatin - Guitar
Reuben Martin - Washboard
Robert Moore – Broom

This time out, Doc Ross plagiarizes himself. The ''Chicago Breakdown'' lick is much the same as his ''Texas Hop'' lick. He's promoting ''Chicago Breakdown'' as the next dance craze to follow Red Saunder's ''Hambone''. It didn't happen, of course, but what a wild, percussive joy this song is. Up in Detroit some ten years later, Ross recycled ''Chicago Breakdown'' almost note-for-note and word-for-word as ''New York Breakdown''. He even re-used the wonderful colloquialism ''all y'all''. (CE)

 
Little Milton
"BEGGIN' MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:23
Composer: - James Milton Campbell
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Tristan Music Limited - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 92
Recorded: - July 28, 1953
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - December 24, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 194-A mono
BEGGIN' MY BABY / SOMEBODY TOLD ME
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-9 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Milton Campbell - Vocal and Guitar
Ike Turner - Piano
C.W. Tate - Tenor Saxophone
Jesse Knight - Bass
Willie Sims - Drums

''Ike Turner had a little three or four piece band'', Little Milton told Jim O'Neal. ''Himself, Junior (Jesse Knight) who was his nephew, Willie Sims who we called Bad Boy. And I took the saxophone from my band, C.W. Tate. Ike introduced me to Sam Phillips. 'You want to cut a record'? 'Yeah', So start singing and playing'. We had not rehearsed anything, but two or three of those tunes I was doing with my Playmates of Rhythm. Sometimes you'd get in (to Sun) around one or two o'clock in the afternoon and we'd be there all night, sometimes into the next day. Nobody worried about the time. Ike, he'd be playin' piano, showin' you different things. Sam Phillips, he'd be running the board'', said Milton. 
 
From the rolling and melancholy 4-bar piano introduction, it was clear that ''Beggin' My Baby'' was a winner. As Little Milton's Sun legacy reveals, the man was truly a chameleon at this point in his career, capable of turning his talents to a variety of contemporary styles. Arguably, this was not the kind of artist that lawsuit-prone Sam Phillips needed on his roster. Here Milton turns his attention to a barely disguised version of Fats Domino's 1953 hit ''Going To The River''. Despite its derivative nature, Milton's performance is totally arresting. Even Billboard concurred given ''Beggin' My Baby'' highest marks and observing in January 1954 ''Here's a sock rendition of a most melodic new effort by Milton over a pounding backing. The lyric has suspense and Milton sings it for all he's worth. A solid slicing that could easily break out for the big coin''. (HD)(CE)

 
Little Milton 
"SOMEBODY TOLD ME" - B.M.I. – 2:52
Composer: - James Campbell
Publisher: - Memphis Music - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 93 - Take 1
Recorded: - July 28, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - December 24, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records 78/45rpm standard single SUN 194-B mono
SOMEBODY TOLD ME / BEGGIN' MY BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-10 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Milton Campbell - Vocal and Guitar
Ike Turner - Piano
C.W. Tate - Tenor Saxophone
Jesse Knight - Bass
Willie Sims - Drums

Once again Milton contributes a highly charged blues performance, but it lacks the punch of his best Sun work because he is constrained by the mambo rhythm. Milton's vocal phrasing is ill-suited to the lathin beat and his guitar doesn't get a chance to shine. Fortunately, the band shucks the mambo during the chorus and extended instrumental break. Just as fats Domino inspired one side of Milton's first single, so this side was ripped from B.B. King's 1953 hit ''Woke Up This Morning''. King used an almost identical arrangement down to the stinging guitar-over-mambo intro, and the switch to 4/4 on the chorus and break. (CE)HD)

 
Billy ''The Kid'' Emerson
"NO TEASING AROUND" - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - F 10
Recorded: - January 11, 1954
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 20, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 195-A mono
NO TEASING AROUND / IF LOVIN' IS BELIEVING
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-11 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
William Robert Emerson - Vocal and Piano
Ike Turner - Guitar
Jesse Knight Jr. - Bass
Oliver Sain - Trumpet
Eugene Fox - Tenor Sax
Willie Sims – Drums

Billy Emerson was one of the most musically sophisticated bluesmen ever recorded by Sam Phillips. His songs were consistently a cut above the average. Several contain lyrical or musical hooks that rendered them borderline novelty records, so it's little wonder his music has been covered by white artists, and crosses genres and decades.

Emerson's first record for Sun was probably his least exploitable. Both sides of Sun 195 are intense and powerful blues that were probably overlooked. On reflection, both showcased Emerson as a singer and songwriter. ''No Teasin' Around'' is driven by Ike Turner's eerie tremolo guitar work and Emerson's pleading but insistent vocal. ''Don't mess with me'', says Billy the Kid. ''I'm not in the mood''. Turner's guitar extends the message. It sounds fragile yet seems capable of considerable force if necessary. (HD)

 
Billy ''The Kid'' Emerson
"IF LOVIN' IS BELIEVING" - B.M.I. - 2:10
Composer: - William Robert Emerson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 11
Recorded: - January 11, 1954
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 20, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 195-B mono
IF LOVIN' IS BELIEVING / NO TEASING AROUND
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-12 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
William Robert Emerson - Vocal and Piano
Ike Turner - Guitar
Jesse Knight Jr. - Bass
Oliver Sain - Trumpet
Eugene Fox - Tenor Sax
Willie Sims – Drums

''If Lovin' Is Believing'' builds considerable tension but is ultimately hemmed in by its stop rhythm. The tag line is delivered in an unexpected minor key. Curiously, Billboard missed the boat on these sides, giving them low marks and calling the material ''rather weak''. Sam Phillips knew better and kept going back to the well with Emerson. (HD)

 
Hot Shot Love
"WOLF CALL BOOGIE" - B.M.I. - 2:34
Composer: - Coy Love
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Copyright Controll
Matrix number: - F 12 - Take 1
Recorded: - January 8, 1954
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 20, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 196-A mono
WOLF CALL BOOGIE / HARMONICA JAM
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-13 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Coy "Hot Shot" Love - Vocal and Harmonica
Pat Hare - Guitar
Mose Vinson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes – Drums

This engaging track was recorded in January 1954 with the help of several of Sun's stalwart session men, including guitarist Pat Hare and drummer Houston Stokes. A note under the session reads, ''Transportation for Stokes and Pat from P.C. $4.75''. Was P.C. an acronym for penal colony, prison camp, police custody, Plantation Club? We'll never know, of course. The inspiration for this record was probably Sonny Boy Williamson's ''Jivin' The Blues'', but Phillips might have been drawn to it because of its passing similarity to ''Feelin' Good''. Love blows his harp and jive talks his way along the bar of a juke joint that sounds like the distant prototype of a singles bar. His style is irrepressible. At the time he made this record, Love as an itinerant musician based on Gayoso Street in Memphis. Before his death in 1980, he earned his living as a sign painter and played for tips on Memphis's Mid American Mall. Both his jacket and his bicycle were emblazoned with epigrams. A man who did his own thing fifteen years before doing your own thing became a hippie mantra. (CE)(HD)

 
Hot Shot Love
"HARMONICA JAM" - B.M.I. - 2:31
Composer: - Coy Love
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - F 13
Recorded: - January 8, 1954
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 20, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 196-B mono
HARMONICA JAM / WOLF CALL BOOGIE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-14 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Coy "Hot Shot" Love - Vocal and Harmonica
Pat Hare - Guitar
Mose Vinson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes – Drums

The title tells it all. It sounds like one of those sessions where the wine flowed and everyone had a fine old time. Love does his patented shtick here, jive talking and shouting through his harp in the style popularized by Sonny Terry. Guitarist Hare manages to hit one clam but, as Sam Phillips would tell you, all was forgiven by the overall feeling. (HD)(CE)

 
Earl Peterson – Michigan's Singing Cowboy
"BOOGIE BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Earl Peterson
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Peer Music
Matrix number: - U 102
Recorded: - January 4, 1954
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 20, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 197-A mono
BOOGIE BLUES / IN THE DARK
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-15 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Earl Peterson - Vocal and Guitar
Unknown Guitar, Steel Guitar, Fiddle

Earl Peterson and his mother parked their 1953 Buick in front of 706 Union and went inside to audition "Boogie Blues". Whether Sam Phillips knew or remembered 'Michigan's Singing Cowboy' from his disc jockey days, or whether it was mother Pearle's stony insistence, the result was a recording session. "Boogie Blues" is not a great record, but it is Sun's first foray into modern country music and market, some three months before Elvis Presley's debut. Peterson apparently despised this recording of ''Boogie Blues'' but his vocal performance is strong and personable, and the innate drive of the song lends an astringent edge to Peterson's creamy style. The song derives from a number of pre-War songs in the Jimmie Rodgers-Gene Autry style. However, Columbia seemed to think that it had a place in the post-War market. They signed Peterson just a few months after his Sun debut and re-recorded two sessions in October 1954 of ''Boogie Blues'' that were apparently much closer to Peterson's heart. However, they lacked much of the sparkle of the Sun version. Columbia released the new version in February 1955. (HD)

 
Earl Peterson – Michigan's Singing Cowboy
"IN THE DARK" - B.M.I. - 2:33
Composer: - Ollie F. "Mack" McGee
Publisher: - Perco Music - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U 103
Recorded: - January 4, 1954
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 20, 1954
First appearance:- Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 197-B mono
IN THE DARK / BOOGIE BLUES
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-16 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Earl Peterson - Vocal and Guitar
Unknown Guitar, Steel Guitar, Fiddle

According to Sam Phillips, earl Peterson and his mom arrived at the front door of 706 Union with this and a clutch of other songs brought down from Michigan. This ballad allows Peterson to show off his smoother side, and is close to the ''twilight on the trail'' style which was appearently Peterson's first love. This is a lovely song and Peterson turns in a finely crafted performance. Oliver McGee registered the song with BMI on February 26, 1954. By that point, he was probably living in Nashville but had been a friend of Peterson's from the old days in and around Lansing, Michigan. (HD)

 
Howard Seratt
"TROUBLESOME WATERS" - S.E.S.A.C. - 3:03
Composer: - J.B. Karnes-Ernest Rippetoe
Publisher: - Sesac - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U 51
Recorded: - Late 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 20, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 198-A mono
TROUBLESOME WATERS / I MUST BE SAVED
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-17 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Howard Seratt - Vocal and Guitar
Red Candel - Guitar
Travis Burkett - Bass
Keith Clayton - Guitar

One of the joys of being the sole proprietor of a record company is that one can issue titles that are commercial suicide but nevertheless deserve to be issued. Surely Sam Phillips could not have held out great hopes for this title but its overarching simplicity is so moving that it cried out for release. Even after the passage of 30 years, Phillips remembered Seratt, ''Oh that man. I never heard a person, no matter what field of music, could sing as beautifully. The honesty! The integrity The communication! He had such an unpretentious quality. It had a depth of beauty about it in its simplicity. Oh God Almighty, that was a sad thing because I could have recorded him 'ad infinitum' and never got tired'', told Sam.

The assumption underlying a lifetime pact with Sun, however, was that Seratt would have to switch to secular music and perhaps that would have been self-defeating because it is Seratt's faith, expressed in the understated gentleness of his style, that makes this performance outstanding. The hymn was an obscure one, Published in 1940 by Stamps-Baxter in a songster called ''Golden Key'' (another minor classic, ''Gathering Flowers For The Master's Bouquet'', first saw light-of-day there, too). The words were by Mrs. Karnes and the music by Ernest Rippetoe. Ten years later, Johnny Cash recorded it, crediting it to his mother-in-law, Maybelle Carter, her husband, Ezra, and their house-guest, Dixie Deen (the soon-to-be wife of Tom T. Hall). It's entirely possible that Cash remembered Seratt's record or remembered the song from the original hymnal. Flatt and Scruggs recorded it two years after Johnny cash, similarly crediting the carters and their housequest. (MH)

 
Howard Seratt
"I MUST BE SAVED" - S.E.S.A.C. - 2:55
Composer: - J.B. Coats
Publisher: - Sesac
Matrix number: - U 53X
Recorded: - Late 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 20, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 198-B mono
I MUST BE SAVED / TROUBLESOME WATERS
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-18 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Howard Seratt - Vocal and Guitar
Red Candel - Guitar
Travis Burkett - Bass
Keith Clayton - Guitar

Despite Sam Phillips' affection for Seratt, there is not a single artifact in the Sun files to suggest that he was ever there. The tapes were probably recorded over when funds fell short. The session details were never entered in the log book and the record itself is obscenely rare. This side, while surprisingly melodic for its simple chord structure, does not have quite the same impact as ''Troublesome Waters''. Somehow the simplicity in Seratt's style is less in evidence here. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful recording. Even on another label or in another era, this would be a standard. Seratt or Phillips titled the song. It was a J.B. Coats hymn originally titled after the first line, ''In All My Sin There Was Not One Who Cared'', and first published in another 1940 songster ''Old Camp Meeting Songs''. (MH)

 
Howard Seratt
"MAKE ROOM IN THE LIFEBOAT FOR ME" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Delmore Brothers
Publisher: - Sesec
Matrix number: - U 49
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 1954
First appearance: - St. Francis Records (S) 78rpm St. Francis 100-A mono
MAKE ROOM IN THE LIFEBOAT FOR ME / JESUS MEANS ALL TO ME
Reissued: - 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 – 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311 FK-2-5 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Howard Seratt - Vocal, Guitar and Harmonica

From the very first harmonica notes it is clear that this is going to be no ordinary record. It is not that  harmonica players were a rarity in the mid-South, for Howard Seratt is merely adapting the music of Lonnie  Glosson and Wayne Raney who had been firm radio favorites for many years. Indeed, it was Wayne Raney's  pals, the Delmore Brothers, who originated ''Make Room In The Lifeboat For Me'' recording it for Decca in  1940. It has more to do with the reassuringly solid execution of both guitar and harmonica styles and the  convincing tone in which Howard delivers the moving lyrics. This recording was made in 1953 by Sam  Phillips as a custom order for the short-lived St. Francis label of Forrest City, Arkansas. It would not be long  before Sam Phillips would invite Howard back to record for Sun.

Note: Howard Seratt actually recorded this single at his own expense, at the time of his first (and only) Sun release. The U-49 and U-50 matrix numbers and the vinyl trail-off etchings, shows that the record was manufactured at the same time and place as the Sun release. In fact, Sun 198 indeed has the words ''St Francis'' etched into the trail-off grooves, indicating that it wasn't intended for Sun use. (MH)

 
Howard Seratt
"JESUS MEANS ALL TO ME" - B.M.I. - 2:16
Composer: - Howard Seratt
Publisher: - Sesec
Matrix number: - U 50
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1953
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - February 1954
First appearance: - St. Francis Records (S) 78rpm St. Francis 100-B mono
JESUS MEANS ALL TO ME / MAKE ROOM IN THE LIFEBOAT FOR ME
Reissued: - 1986 Bear Family Records (LP) 33rpm BFX 15211 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY YEARS 1950 – 1959
Reissued: - February 15, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17311 FK-2-6 mono
THE SUN COUNTRY BOX 1950 - 1959

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Howard Seratt - Vocal, Guitar and Harmonica

On ''Jesus Means All To Me'', again adapting the harmonica style of Lonnie Glosson and Wayne Raney, this  time at a brighter tempo, Howard Seratt leads into another deeply felt religious message that is so attractively  delivered and yet so disarming as to momentarily convert even the most confirmed of atheists. It is at this  faster pace that one can particularly see the reason why Sam Phillips was so taken with Howard's music and  so anxious to open negotiations with him about the possibility of recording of some secular music.

Note: Howard Seratt actually recorded this single at his own expense, at the time of his first (and only) Sun release. The U-49 and U-50 matrix numbers and the vinyl trail-off etchings, shows that the record was manufactured at the same time and place as the Sun release. In fact, Sun 198 indeed has the words ''St Francis'' etched into the trail-off grooves, indicating that it wasn't intended for Sun use. (MH)

 
James Cotton
"MY BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:20
Composer: - James Cotton
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - U 98
Recorded: - December 7, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 15, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records 78/45rpm standard single SUN 199-A mono
MY BABY / STRAIGHTEN UP BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-19 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
James Cotton - Vocal
Tom Roane - Tenor Saxophone
Harvey Simmons - Tenor Saxophone
Pat Hare - Guitar
Billy Love - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums

It's unclear whether James Cotton's pronunciation was slurred by his Mississippi origins or a half-bottle of Ripple, but it's straight out of the Jimmy Reed school of diction. Nevertheless, Cotton manages to crank up a pretty rocking opus out of a slender riff. Sax and guitar cover a lot of grounds here that might otherwise have been handled by a horn section. Both solos show distinct jazz leanings. (HD)

 
James Cotton
"STRAIGHTEN UP BABY" - B.M.I. - 2:19
Composer: - James Cotton
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 99
Recorded: - December 7, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 15, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 199-B mono
STRAIGHTEN UP BABY / MY BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-20 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
James Cotton - Vocal
Tom Roane - Tenor Saxophone
Harvey Simmons - Tenor Saxophone
Pat Hare - Guitar
Billy Love - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums

It is really unclear which side of Sun 199 was destined to be the plug side. Arguably both this and ''My Baby'' are competent performances with solid riffs. ''Straighten Up Baby'' seems to take its cue from Nat King Cole's classic ''Straighten Up And Fly Right'', but both sides of Cotton's debut single lacked the special excitement to distinguish them from the other 30-40 rhythm and blues releases of that week in April 1954. (HD)(CE)

 
Little Milton
"IF YOU LOVE ME" - B.M.I. - 2:32
Composer: - James Cambell
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 108
Recorded: - March 30, 1954
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 15, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 200-A mono
IF YOU LOVE ME / ALONE AND BLUE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-21 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Milton Campbell - Vocal and Guitar
Ike Turner - Piano
C.W. Tate - Tenor Saxophone
Lawrence Taylor - Alto Saxophone
Cleophus Johnson - Bass
Lonnie Haynes – Drums

Milton display his gift for imitating bordering on plagiarism. This time it barely matters that he was plowing someone else's furrow. He borrowed the irresistible intro from Elmore James' ''Dust My Broom'' which, in turn, was the inspiration for B.B. King's 1953 hit, ''Please Love Me''. And, like B.B., Milton didn't play slide but approximated it with perpendicular-to-the-neck vibrato. Milton turns in a strong vocal, ably assisted by Ike Turner's piano and some persuasive percussion. B.B. King remembered Turner as one of the finest pianists he had heard and these tracks by Milton bear him out. (HD)(CE)

 
Little Milton
"ALONE AND BLUE" - B.M.I. - 3:07
Composer: - James Campbell
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 109
Recorded: - March 30, 1954
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 15, 1954
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 200-B mono
ALONE AND BLUE / IF YOU LOVE ME
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-22 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Milton Campbell - Vocal and Guitar
Ike Turner - Piano
C.W. Tate - Tenor Saxophone
Lawrence Taylor - Alto Saxophone
Cleophus Johnson - Bass
Lonnie Haynes – Drums

So who was Little Milton channelling this time? Percy Mayfield's lugubrious ballads, most likely. Sam Phillips certainly saw promise in Milton's sharp-tip rhythm and blues, but it's hard to know why Ike Turner, who functioned as Milton's mentor-producer-session pianist didn't inject some of his fabled commercial logic into Milton's anonymous songs. Milton was tantalizingly close to success in commercial rhythm and blues. Just one great song was all he needed, but ''Alone And Blue'' wasn't it, and he wouldn't find it until ''We're Gonna Make It'' eleven years later. (CE)

 


 

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