CONTAINS

Sun 174-180 Series
 
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Jackie Boy & Little Walter
''BLUES IN MY CONDITION''/"SELLING MY STUFF (WHISKEY)" - B.M.I. - 1:20
Publisher: - Copyright Control- Promotional Copies Only
Matrix number: - None - Only Acetate - Sun 174 was never issued
Incomplete a fragment of side-B of the ''lower deck'' survived
Recorded: - February 25, 1952
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - March 1, 1952
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm acetate SUN 174-B mono
SELLIN' MY WHISKEY / BLUES IN MY CONDITION
Reissued: - 1996 Charly (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-2-7 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
 
Walter Horton and Jack Kelly were typical of the Delta bluesman who warmed to Sam Phillips' new recording climate. "Blues In My Condition'' b/w ''Sellin' My Whiskey'', chosen from their various meanderings, was nominated as the first Sun single. However, due to an adverse reaction from area radio stations, the recording never made it past the promotional stage. Fortunately a fragment of the 'lower deck' survived, allowing the true beginnings of the Sun label to be represented, right at the moment of conception.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jack Kelly - Vocal and Piano
Walter Horton - Vocal, Harmonica and Kazoo
Joe Hill Louis - Guitar and Drums

In the Memphis Recording Service logbook, under Walter Horton, Marion Keisker wrote, ''2/25/52, Session with Joe Hill, Jack Kelly and -, ''Cut several sides on tape''. Best were with Jack Kelly doing vocal and Mumbles (Horton) on harmonica. Tentatively billed on these number as 'Little Walter' and Jackie Boy''. Under Kelly's name, she wrote that two cuts were made that day, crossing out and changing both titles, ''Sellin' My Stuff (Ain't Had A Drink)'' and ''Wanderin' Woman (Blues In My Condition)''. On March 5, dubs of Kelly-Horton, Johnny London, and Walter Bradford were sent to Chess, but on March 8, Marion noted that dubs of Kelly/Horton were sent to ''Teamer, Aired on WHHM as intro to Sun''. Teamer was WHHM's 9 p.m. to midnight rhythm and blues jock, Screamin' Eddie Teamer, who got Walter Bradford's sides, too. A dub was also sent to 'Jack The Bellboy' at KWEM. On March 10, masters of Kelly-Horton and Johnny London were shipped to the Shaw record planting plant in Cincinnati. The following day, dubs were sent to Rufus Thomas and Walter Bradfort in Forrest City. At some point very soon thereafter, Phillips decided to pull the plug on Kelly-Horton and Bradford, and launch Sun with Johnny Londen. Presumably, it was the disc jockeys' reaction that precipitated this change of heart.

And so Sun 174 remained unseen and unheard until Robert Loers found an acetate bearing the label Sun 174 and Steve LaVere later found a fragment of the song on another acetate. It's a rollicking Saturday night song, harking back to Kelly's roots in the South Memphis Jug band. Horton apparently played a Prince Albert tobacco can, accounting for the kazoo-liked sound. There's a very busy drummer, so Joe Hill Louis cannot be playing drums and guitar simultaneously and it's hard to determine which instrument he's playing. The identity of the fourth guy, indicated by Marion with the blank line, can only be guessed at.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Johnny London - Alto Wixard
"DRIVIN' SLOW" - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Johnny London
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 51 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - March 8, 1952
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 1952
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 175-A mono
DRIVIN' SLOW / FLAT TIRE
Reissued:- 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-2 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hall - Piano
Johnny London - Alto Saxophone
Charles Keel - Tenor Saxophone
Julius Drake - Drums

This is the first Sun record to hit the streets, apparently part of a batch of three scheduled in April 1952 but the only one to be pressed for commercial sale. Londen was a local rhythm and blues and jazz musician who walked in to make some demos and was snapped up by Sam Phillips. His marvellous sinewy alto sax is heard to great advantage here. There are the inevitable shades of Charlie Parker and Earl Bostic, but London is essentially his own man. With minimal support from tenor sax player Charles Keel and pianist Joe Louis Hall, London unleashes a tortuous improvisation drenched in blue. If London's performance and Phillip' approach to recording it had a forebear, it was Johnny Otis's 1945 hit record of ''Harlem Noctume'' with Rene Bloch's wiry alto sax weaving in and out of the gloriously simple arrangement. Phillips achieved a recording balance here that creates the illusion that London is playing in the next apartment, all of which adds to the discs after-hours charm. London never had another record out, but his pianist, Joe Hill Hall, recorded with Willie Mitchell's combo, and played piano on Hi Records' first hit, Bill Black's ''Smokey''.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Johnny London - Alto Wizard
"FLAT TIRE" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Johnny London
Publisher: - Hi Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 52 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - March 8, 1952
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - April 1952
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 175-B mono
FLAT TIRE / DRIVIN' SLOW
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-1 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hall - Piano
Johnny London - Alto Saxophone
Charles Keel - Tenor Saxophone
Julius Drake - Drums

So the automobile imagery continues on this flip-side. Charles Keel is a busy man, honking the same riff repeatedly as London wails over the top. It's short on finesse and long on mood, ''Flat Tire'' wasn't Phillips' first choice for a flip-side. Initially, it was to be a song called ''When I Lost My Baby'' sung by his wife, Becky, to London's accompaniment. Dewey Phillips aired the two tunes on the day were recorded, and dubs were mailed to Chess. Three days later, March 8, 1952, Phillips re-recorded ''Drivin' Slow'' together with ''Flat Tire''. Within the space of the next two days he decided to launch Sun with that coupling. On March 10, he sent masters to Shaw record plating in Cincinnati and shipped the pressing parts to Plastic Products in Memphis. Rufus Thomas played the tunes on one of his WDIA shows the following day. The first Sun records were pressed on March 27. It was a brave step releasing an instrumental as the first offering on Sun but it signaled Phillips' intention to do it differently. According to London, the records reached number 1 on some local charts (WHBQ, he remembers), and a copy of the 78 was affixed to the studio entrance at 706 Union for years. But London's principal recollection of the session is that Phillips had holes in his shoes when he put his feet up on the desk. ''He was scuffling''.

An undated entry in Phillips' check register notes that he paid Plastic Products $135. For most of the 1950s, Plastic Products charged $0.135 per pressing so it seems as Phillips ordered one thousand copies of the first Sun record.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Walter Bradford & The Big City Four
''DREARY NIGHTS''/''NUTHIN' BUT THE BLUES''
(SUN 176)
 
In all the forty-plus years that Sun Records have been collected no-one has yet found a copy of this, giving credence to the notion that it never reached the streets - not even in Bradford's home town, Forrest City, Arkansas. Bradford was a discjockey there, so it would have been a politically correct move to release a record by him, but it appears as though the reaction to the advance dubs from other discjockey was sufficiently negative to convince Phillips not to do it. (CE)

 
Gay Garth & Handy Jackson
"GOT MY APPLICATION BABY" - B.M.I. - 3:04
Composer: - Sam C. Phillips-Handy Jackson
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 55 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - Probably December 1952
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - January 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 177-A mono
GOT MY APPLICATION BABY / TROUBLE (WILL BRING YOU DOWN)
Reissued - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-3 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Gaylord Garth - Vocal & Piano
Willie Wilkes - Saxophone
Robert Carter - Guitar
William Cooper - Drums
 
Sun's false dawn in April 1952 produced just one commercial-issued record and two intended releases that somehow never made it to the retail counters. This was the second Sun record, issued at the end of January 1953 along with discs by Joe Hill Louis and Willie Nix. The flow of records ended fifteen years later in January 1968.

Frustratingly, there remains some mystery about the singer and about the attribution of both sides of this disc to Handy Jackson. Sam Phillips logged ''Got My Application'' by a man named Gay Garth, and in 1984 he told Martin Hawkins that he ''remembered'' Gay Garth as ''a local musician who had potential for making both blues and jazz''. Sam said that he ''did not recall'' Handy Jackson and, surprisingly, couldn't remember why the recording appeared as by Jackson. At first, he said Garth was Jackson, and then said he wasn't for sure. When Gaylord Garth was finally interviewed in 2004, he confirmed that he was indeed the singer and pianist on this song but he didn't know Jackson's name. He recorded ''Application'' with another song, ''Screamin' And Cryin''', at the end of a session where he was part of a band led by saxophonist Willie Wilkes. Garth and Wilkes were employed to back s singer who was not part of their band and whose name Garth had forgotten. ''Application'' opens with saxophonist Wilkes playing plaintively and Garth comes in sounding appropriately an quished about his baby's delay in singing his application papers. If she doesn't hurry up, he'll begone again. It is not clear what he's applying for; perhaps for a stay from armed service duty, perhaps even for marriage. The Korean War was on and if a man was a woman's sole support or the father of her children he could claim an exemption from the draft. Garth plays some piano fills around the sax solo and the band was, according to Garth, anchored by guitarist Robert Carter, who'd played but not recorded back in the jug band era, and drummer William Cooper who, Garth recalled, ''used to do tricks with his drumsticks'', Garth said that all these men played with Rosco Gordon and, if so, they may have been on Gordon's early session. The drummer certainly sounds familiar. It is surprising then that the players wander in and out of synch with each other, making chord changes at different times, one still in 8b while another has switched to Eb. It is also noticeable that whereas Sam Phillips always mic'd his classic sides to perfection this sound as though he had just gathered four guys around a mic placed in the middle of the piano.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Gay Garth & Handy Jackson
"TROUBLE (WILL BRING YOU DOWN)" - B.M.I. 2:58
Composer: - Handy Jackson-Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 56 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - Probably December 1952
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - January 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 177-B mono
TROUBLE (WILL BRING YOU DOWN) / GOT MY APPLICATION BABY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Records Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-4 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Handy Jackson - Vocal
Gaylord Garth - Piano
Willie Wilkes - Saxophone
Robert Carter - Guitar
William Cooper - Drums

Sam Phillips did not log this song as one of the two Gay Garth sang for him, but he put the name handy Jackson after the titles. So Jackson was presumably the man Wilkes and Garth had come in to support that day. His name appears as songwriter on both sides of the record label and while he may have just been the writer whose name somehow became the artist credit, more likely he was the singer on this side of the disc. If Jackson was sufficiently well known around Memphis to have come to Phillips' attention, none of that fame has been recorded for us in newspapers or in the memories of other Memphis based musicians, or even in the memory of Sam Phillips himself. What we are left with is a fairly standard slow blues about the singer's baby leaving town. Garth's jazzy piano is mixed upfront and there is an echoey, insistent, alto solo played either by Willie Wilkes or, Garth thought, by Richard Williams, a member of Wilkes band at the time. The Unbalanced sound makes this second Sun disc a first cousin to Johnny London's release six months earlier.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Joe Hill Louis
"WE ALL GOTTA GO SOMETIME'' - B.M.I. - 2:40
Composer: - Walter Horton-Joe Hill Louis
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 57 - Take 2 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - December 8, 1952
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - January 30, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 178-A mono
WE ALL GOTTA GO SOMETIME / SHE MAY BE YOURS (BUT SHE COMES TO SEE ME SOMETIME
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 1501-1-5 mono digital
THE SUN COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hill Louis - Vocal, Guitar and Drums
Walter Horton - Harmonica
Albert Williams - Piano

On December 8, 1952, Walter Horton recorded ''We All Gotta Go Sometime'' backed by Joe Hill Louis, pianist Albert Williams, and a drummer reputed to be Willie Nix. That same day, Joe Hill Louis recorded with Williams and a drummer. Marion noted ''Walter Horton, harp'' and then crossed it out, but it's possible that Horton is playing on this because there is harmonica under the vocal when Louis sings ''got grandfather told''. Sixty years on, our best guess is that both Horton and Louis recorded ''We All Gotta Go Sometime'' on the same day. Louis's version has considerably more vigor, and Nix, if indeed it's him, kicks the record along in tandem with the piano. As noted above, the song was credited to Louis, but was essentially (John Lee) Sonny Boy Williamson's 1941 song, ''Shotgun Blues'' (Williamson offered his woman twenty dollars to return, while Louis held the line at ten). A Big Bill Broonzy record from later in 1941, ''I Feel So Good'', provided the melody for the chorus. But Williamson's and Broonzy's records were cleanly and precisely executed. This, in comparison, is folk art.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Joe Hill Louis
"SHE MAY BE YOURS (BUT SHE COMES TO SEE ME SOMETIME" - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis-Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 58-3 - Take 3 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - November 17, 1952
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - January 30, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 178-B mono
SHE MAY BE YOURS (BUT SHE COMES TO SEE ME SOMETIME / WE ALL GOTTA GO SOMETIME
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 1501-1-6 mono digital
THE SUN COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Joe Hill Louis - Vocal, Guitar
Albert Williams - Piano
Willie Nix - Drums

Playing harmonica fills between vocal lines while playing guitar necessitated a harmonica rack and the rack was positioned squarely between Joe Hill Louis's mouth and the microphone, hence the distorted vocal. Drummer Willie Nix and pianist Albert Williams were always perfectly attuned to Joe Hill Louis's music, never more so than here. It's hard to know which side of Sun 178 was considered the A-side, assuming Phillips even thought in those terms back then. Certainly, both were excellent rowdy blues. In its issue of March 28, 1953, Billboard picked this as a A-side, commenting on what was then the suggestive nature of the subtitle. The vocal sounds a little distant on the other side, ''We All Gotta Go Sometime'', but doesn't have the distortion heard here because there's almost certainly someone else playing harmonica. It's clear that Sam Phillips had his eyes on the prize with this one. Instead of using Louis in his customary One Man Band role, Phillips added a drummer and piano player to the session and the effect is quite positive. There's no mistaking the presence of a full drum kit and a musician who was able to concentrate on drumming, rather than singing, playing harp and guitar at the same time. The piano is far more in balance on this issued version as well. The One Man Band routine may have increased Louis's fortunes on the street, but when it came time to record, bringing in some other musicians to fill out the sound was a wise decision.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Willie Nix (The Memphis Blues Boy)
"BAKER SHOP BOOGIE" - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Willie Nix-Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 60 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - October 2, 1952
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - January 30, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 179-A mono
BAKER SHOP BOOGIE / SEEMS LIKE A MILLION YEARS
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-7 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Willie Nix - Vocal and Drums
Joe Willie Wilkins - Guitar
Albert "Joiner" Williams - Piano
James "Jimmy" Cotton - Harmonica

We're hearing Nix and his KWEM cohorts. Joe Willie Wilkes makes one of his rare appearances at Sun together with James Cotton and Albert Williams. Cotton is an especially busy man. As imited as Nix as a vocalist and as insufferable as he was personally, ''Baker Shop Boogie'' rocks out. This wasn't the first baker-sex analogy, and it's not as well known as Lonnie Johnson's ''He's A Jelly Roll Baker'' or even Blind Lemon Jefferson's ''Baker Shop Blues'', but it's irresistible nonetheless.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Willie Nix (The Memphis Blues Boy)
"SEEMS LIKE A MILLION YEARS" - B.M.I. - 2:39
Composer: - Willie Nix-Sam C. Phillips
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 59 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - October 9, 1952
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - January 30, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 179-B mono
SEEMS LIKE A MILLION YEARS / BAKER SHO BOOGIE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-8 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Willie Nix - Vocal and Drums
Joe Willie Wilkins - Guitar
Albert "Joiner" Williams - Piano
James "Jimmy" Cotton - Harmonica

Willie Nix seems to have endeared himself to Sam Phillips. Phillips recorded him first for RPM, then for Chess/Checker, and finally for Sun. Recorded on October 9, 1952, this and ''Baker Shop Boogie'' were destined for Chess, but Nix's first Chess/Checker single had sold very poorly and things were falling apart between Chess and Phillips. And so on January 30, 1953, it appeared on Sun. ''Seems Like A Million Years'' was given appropriately serious treatment, from the cascading piano work of Albert Williams to Joe Willie Wilkes' taut guitar. Nix's vocal is measured and his drumming simply follows the rhythmic line.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Jimmy DeBerry & Walter Horton
"EASY" - B.M.I. - 2:56
Composer: - Walter Horton
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 61
Recorded: - February 25, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - March 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 180-A mono
EASY / BEFORE LONG
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-9 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Walter Horton - Harmonica
Jimmy DeBerry - Guitar
Houston Stokes - Drums

Every Sun release from inception had been good, but this was the label's first classic. Walter Horton disingenuously denied knowledge of Ivory Joe Hunter's 1950 hit ''I Almost Lost My Mind'', but that's most assuredly what he's playing. He repeats the theme with mounting intensity, making ''Easy'' one of the most-erro-neously titled songs ever. As it progress, Horton assumes total control with a long, slow build-up as he climbs the harp's register to blow a harsh passage as the tune's bridge. There is often a saxophone quality to his playing, belying the cheapness of the harp, but what impresses most are his perfect sense of time and the create reverb, and the increment of tape delay seems to increase in tandem with the intensity of Horton's performance. Shimmering blue perfection. Truly a masterpiece, as well as the first known Sun release to be pressed on both and 45 rpm. Phillips was high on this release, judging by his check register. Two days after the session, he was running off dubs to send out to disc jockeys. It seems that he hand-delivered a dub to Eddie Teamer at WHHM because he charged back the cigarettes he gave Teamer. On March 2, he mailed out another four dubs in advance of finished copies.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

Sun 180
First Sun release to be pressed on both 78 and 45 rpm

 
Jimmy DeBerry & Walter Horton
"BEFORE LONG" - 1 - B.M.I. – 2:55
Composer: - Jimmy Dewberry
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 62
Recorded: - February 25, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - March 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 180-B mono
BEFORE LONG / EASY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-10 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Walter Horton - Harmonica
Jimmy DeBerry - Vocal and Guitar
Houston Stokes - Drums

This song refutes Sam Phillips' assertion, made to musicologist David Evans, that he never got a good cut out of Jimmy DeBerry. Perhaps Phillips heard something in a demo session that DeBerry never recaptured, but surely the blues comes no purer or blues than this profoundly moving record. Without prompting, Marion Keisker remembered these lines 30 years after DeBerry had sung them in the studio. ''Woman I love dead and in her grave / Woman I hate, I see her every day''. True, DeBerry was adapting some old blues lines (on ''I Will Turn Your Money Green'' back in 1928, Furry Lewis sang, ''Woman I hate see her every day (x2) / Woman I love, she so far away'') but he delivered them with undeniable feeling. ''Before Long's'' more immediate forbeat, though, was Tony Hollins' 1951 Decca recording of ''I'll Get A Break''. Hollins was a barber in Clarksdale and later in Chicago whose ''Crawlin' King Snake'' was an influential recording from ten years earlier when he also made ''Married Woman Blues'', another song with the ''before long'' refrain. None of this subtle or not-so-subtle plagiarism devalues DeBerry's record. It's spartan, even for 1953, but the performance is masterful. He crafted a beautiful poised country blues, vocal and guitar meshing perfectly with rudimentary support from Houston Stokes on drums. Not a note or vocal inflection is wasted; no other instrument is required.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

Sun 180
First Sun release to be pressed on both 78 and 45 rpm

 


 

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