"MONA LISA" - A.S.C.A.P. - 2:28
Composer: - Jay Livinston-Ray Evans
Publisher: - Famous Music Corporation
Matrix number: - P 343
Recorded: - Unknown Date October 1958
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - March 15, 1959
First appearance: - Phillips International (S) 45rpm standard single PI 3539-A mono
MONA LISA / FOOLISH HEART
Reissued: - 1998 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15806 DI-1-1 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 6
No. Of Instruments)
Carl Mann - Vocal and Piano
Eddie Bush - Guitar
Robert Oatsvall - Bass
W.S. "Fluke" Holland – Drums
This is a landmark record. It not only launched the career of 16 year old Carl
Mann, but provided an unexpected hit for the fledgling Phillips International label in the Spring of 1959. In fact, ''Mona Lisa'' very nearly didn't get released. Cecil Scaife, Sun's promotion manager at the time, recorded these sides in January 1959 and tried
in vain to talk Sam Phillips into releasing them. ''We don't release mediocre product'' was the response he got. Only after Conway Twitty's clone arrangement began stirring up attention as an LP cut, did Sam relent and allow his own single to reach the market.
Scaife went to town and promoted the record into a Top 30 hit.
version of ''Mona Lisa'' bears little resemblance to Nat Cole's hit record from 1951. The melody is all but gone and sections of original lyric have disappeared, but Mann and his buddies from Jackson, Tennessee have brought something very special to the party,
and it is undoubtedly these elements that drew young listeners in droves, while repelling many of the older folks who remembered Cole's melancholy version from earlier in the decade. The origins of the arrangement have been shrouded in mystery until recently,
when drummer W.S. Holland recalled to journalist John Floyd that he had taken his wife to a club just outside of Jackson where a singer, whose name has disappeared into the mists of time, was performing a set of souped-up Nat Cole tunes.
Setting a pattern that would haunt him for most of his Phillips International
recording career, Carl Mann offered a rather unemotional vocal against a smooth rolling rhythm. Guitarist Eddie Bush anchored this work with a muted string rock-a-cha rhythm that one could find on contemporary pop tunes like Bobby Darin's ''Dream Lover''.
Then, just when you thought it was safe to go into the water, Bush cut loose with one of his maniacal guitar breaks that woke up listeners in three countries. Bush's style, wildly emotional as it was, was not pure rockabilly. His work. with its patented descending
thirds, really owed more to the Mexican or mariachi style that could be heard on tunes like Marty Robbins' ''El Paso''. Drummer W.S. Holland, who had already graced the best Sun recordings by Carl Perkins (and would soon join Johnny Cash for a 40-year stint),
contributed some fine single stroke rolls at the end of each verse. Mann's piano playing was barely adequate, which was more than fine for this record. Like his workmanlike vocals, they merely set the stage for Bush's barely controlled outbursts.
Texan Eddie Bush, after a stint as a staff guitarisr at the Louisiana Hayride, was in Jackson, Tennessee, when he got recruited to play on
Carl Mann's first record on the Jaxon label. That record went nowhere but Bush and Mann stayed together long enough to get signed at Sun. Bush was an erratic and unreliable band colleague, sometimes disappearing for days at a time and sometimes missing gigs.
But when he showed up, he was worth the wait. (HD) (SP)