Carl Perkins back in the Sun studio seriously trying to recapture his place in the pop market. Jerry Lee Lewis was sitting in on piano trying to make enough money to buy his folks some Christmas presents. Elvis Presley dropped by to see what was shaking at his old stomping ground and sing a few songs. 
 
Before the so-called "MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET" session started, Elvis Presley listened to the tapes of Carl Perkins' newest songs and declared that they had real potential.
 
It is hard to know exactly what Elvis Presley heard that day. Carl Perkins originally planned to couple an old blues standard, "Matchbox", with a novelty rock number called "Her Love Rubbed Off" on which he mumbled some of the lyrics in a manner that would have done credit to Jimmy Reed. Interviewed by Ronnie Weiser twenty years later, Carl Perkins had no recollection of "Her Love Rubbed Off", concluding that he must have been two thirds drunk when he performed it.
 
STUDIO SESSION FOR CARL PERKINS
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1956
 
SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: TUESDAY DECEMBER 4, 1956
SESSION LOGGED JANUARY 30, 1957
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS
''MATCHBOX''
 
According to Carl's biography, it was his father Buck who suggested (at the recording studio just after ''Your True Love'' had been completed) that the band do this 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson song of which Buck remembered only the chorus (about wondering ''would a matchbox hold my clothes''). So Carl cobbled together a few other stock blues verses and thus was one of Carl's greatest records born. What Carl recorded contains two additional verses with lyrics that appear on most Top Ten lists of blues cliches (e.g., ''Let me be your little dog...''). Indeed, wondering whether a matchbox will hold your clothes goes back at least to Ma Raney's 1924 record of ''Lost Wandering Blues''. Songs resembling Lemon Jefferson's and using something like his record's title (''Matchbox Blues'') got recorded many times in the 1930s and 1940s, both by black blues and white country singers. Carl was part of a long tradition when he recorded ''Matchbox''. Its a tradition that has continued since Carl's record, including versions by the Beatles, Sleepy LaBeef and Warren Phillips & The Rockets.
 
In a way, it's disappointing that Perkins did not learn the song directly from the old 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson record. It's fun to picture Carl sitting alone in the wee hours, playing an old Paramount 78, transcribing lyrics on a potato sack. But it just didn't happen that way.
 
This songs recording date, listed as December 4, 1956, was Carl's first experience with the young session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis impressed Carl as cocky and arrogant, a point of view borne out by Jerry Lee's performance on the one alternate take present here. His piano-styling intends more to be attention -grabbing and showy than to fit into a Carl Perkins record. And so there are numerous glissandos, gratuitous high-key doodling, and ''Hey listen to me!'' moments. Sadly, one of thorn occurs when he gets lost in the harmonic complexities of a 3-chord 12-bar blues in the chorus between the two guitar solos. Somehow. Carl and company tamed Jerry between takes - to our everlasting benefit.
 
Carl's vocal and guitar solos are much like what he performed on Sun 261 and this outtake sounds like a warm-up for the the real thing. More interesting is the pair (the released version has only one) of singlestroke drum rolls leading into the guitar solos, both extending two beats ''too long''. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland was certainly blazing a new trail here when he played a drum ro11 that extended two beats into the bar. The fact that it occurs on an outtake here as well makes it seem likely that this moment of memorable and aspired drumming were carefully planned. Not so, according to W.S. ''I didn't I really now what I was doing. I didn't know there were four beats to a bar. I didn't I know what a bar was. (laughs) I was doing what felt good. The truth is, back then I didn't know if I was right or wrong. I didn't know where to start or end anything. If I had known anything else to do. I might have done it differently. But I didn't''.
 
Most of the outtakes remedied unheard until someone thought to dig them up and issue them. But not this one. When Carl made an appearance on the ''Town Hall Party TV'' show and performed a lip-synched version of ''Matchbox'', it was to this outtake and not to the actual released! Joe Maphis was on-stage standing behind Carl, off to his left, a sax and trumpet player pretended lo contribute to a rockabilly classic that has no horns whatsoever.
 
So why was this outtake chosen for lip-synching? Was it a simple mistake where someone provided the wrong tape? Was there actually a (pre-release) time when Sam or Carl believed this outtake was the version they'd soon be putting out on Sun? Did someone think that if Carl lip-synched a version that the audience hadn't already heard, then it might be more convincing as a live-performances? We'll never know.
 
It's not a bad choice, though. Much of what is wonderful about the released version is wonderful in this outtake as well. The rhythmic energy driven by all five players, the solid bottom provided by Jerry Lee's left hand, the crisp drumming, Carl s exuberant vocalizing. All of that is here. Unlike on the released version, Carl sings an ''extra'' third verse on this outtake before launching into his familiar guitar solo. It's a bit surprising to hear, but like most of the track, you can learn to love it. This outtake is a mighty good, if spotty, recording. And it led to Sun 261 which is simply sublime. And by the way, W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland says that ''Matchbox'' is still one of his favorite things to play after 55+ years, and notes that his band still performs it every night.
 
1(1) - "MATCHBOX" - B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - March 1982
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 101 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm 15494 EH-2-28 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
 
If a Sun collector dies and hears the first four bars of "Matchbox", its a sure sign he's gone to heaven. This track is a landmark recording in Perkins' work for Sun Records. Although credited to Carl, the song had been kicking around in one form ar another longer than he had.
 
What makes this record great, however, is hardly the lyric or melodic structure. Rather, it is the sound the musical energy that literally shook the walls of 706 Union. The Perkins Brothers band was loose, and young session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis brought a manic enercy and drive that brought everything to life. Even Carl's instrumental work carries an aggressive edge that goes beyond his own fiery standards. When he cries "Let her go boy, go go!" the skies literally open up for 12 bars. Even drummer W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland sounds inspired as he boots things along.
 
1(2) - "MATCHBOX" - B.M.I. - 2:08
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 231 - Master Take 2
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - January 23, 1957
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 261-A mono
MATCHBOX / YOUR TRUE LOVE
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3-15 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2

The Beatles recorded "Matchbox" which was no more from Perkins' pen than it was from Lennon and McCartney's. However, they attributed the song to Perkins  because they had learned it from his "Dance Album". Thus, Perkins began receiving astronomically high airplay and publishing royalties from a song that had been a thrwaway flipside to perhaps his least creditable Sun single. In view of the sums of money at stake, it is surprising that no-one was slimy enough to contact the surviving relatives of Blind Lemon Jefferson who had recorded "Matchbox Blues" back in October 1927, thereby creating a protracted and messy court battle. 
''YOUR TRUE LOVE''
 
These five complete takes all sound different from what was released on Sun 261 because, as is well known, Sam Phillips had the final master tape speeded up before committing it to vinyl. That trick was routine for Fats Domino records; they were mastered on a tape machine with a special capstan that sped them up and raised the pitch so that Fats sounded younger and the band sounded peppier. And lots of Fats 'speeded-up records were very big hits.
 
So Sam must have thought that speeding up records was a good thing to do. In Shakespeare's As You Like It, Rosalind asks, ''can one desire too much of a good thing?''. The answer here is a resounding YES. Fats' records were speeded up enough the change the pitch by just one half-tone (e g., from C to C-sharp or from E to F). But Sam speeded up Carl's tape enough to raise the pitch by a full tone (from E to F-sharp). And as a result the vocals on ''Your True Love'' on Sun 261 don't just sound youthful and energetic, they sound perilously close to Alvin & the Chipmunks. Sam never tried this trick again despite the fact that ''Your True Love'' did make it onto the lower reaches of the ''Billboard'' charts.
 
We have an early fragment of a warm-up done at Carl's home (we'll discuss the home-recording conditions later, in the notes on ''The Way That You're Living''), as well as five later complete takes (plus a false start starts), all presented at the original speed. They make clear that Carl and his band knew from the beginning how how they wanted to do the song, including backing vocals by Clayton and Jay, and that Jerry Lee Lewis fit right into a pre-existing arrangement.
 
One constant in all these versions is the wonderfully aggressive and growling guitar introduction (with only a slight rhythmic variation in the third full outtake). It's a brilliant and attention-grabbing intro, but it's also disorienting as hell. Those first few chords don't tell us what to anticipate of the song's tonality or how the melody will relate to it. For the first four bars we're kind of left floating in free musical space, not knowing what to expect. It's only when the solo guitar intro ends and the band joins in, we finally know exactly where we are even though we're not entirely sure about where we started. (Musicians will discover that the intro begins on a III chord).
 
Our first outtake is an early fragment with Carl and the boys working out the arrangement without Jerry Lee. The remainder of the tracks here include Jerry Lee. You may notice a slight change of key between the home tape and the later ones. The reason force the change is probably that at home the instruments merely needed to be in tune with each other and didn't have to anchor their tuning to the piano. It turns out they were playing In E-flat, a half-tone below where they would later pitch the studio sessions.
 
Once they get to the studio and Jerry Lee joins in things evolve only a little bit more. In the first studio outtake, Carl's vocal seems a bit timid at first but becomes more confident and energetic as the song progresses. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland plays a shuffle rhythm behind the band; he shifts to emphasizing the back-beat in the remained takes. Carl's guitar solos don't change much; they're mostly patterns of rhythmic chords rather than runs of single notes. He fiddles around with the second half of the solo a few times, but rhythmic chords are the choice. And the last line of the solo leading back into the vocal is solid am unchanging, dominated by Jerry Lee's left hand (playing pretty much what he does behind the line at the end of the release, ''and my baby she'll always be...'').
 
Our sixth outtake should sound the most familiar. It is the master recording without the speed change. This is Sun 261 as it was really played. And it's wonderful.
 
Not yet satisfied the band went on to try it one more time. But the seventh outtake is decidedly less good the the one sped up for the released version.
 
There are sensing vocal errors, such as Carl beginning the second verse by saying ''Your'' a bit early. It's also played a bit faster than the one sped up for release, perhaps in an attempt to do modestly what seeding up the tape would soon do excessively.
06(1) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:56
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-2 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 
 
06(2) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-3 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

06(3) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 0:19
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - False Start 1- Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-4 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 

06(4) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 3:02
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 3 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-5 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES  
 
06(5) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 3:03
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 4 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15494-2-27 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS
Reissued: April 29, 2012 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-6 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 
 
06(6) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 3:02
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 5 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - April 29, 2012
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240-4-7 mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES 
 
The tale of "Your True Love" being speeded up for release has often been told. Whether teens were fooled by the Chipmunk-sounding 'youthful' chorus is hard to tell. The record did sell in sufficient quantities for Perkins and Sam Phillips to see crossover potential lying within their grasp. However, this was Perkins' last serious flirtation with the pop charts. To their credit, Sun did not follow the Fats Domino model and release a neverending series of speeded up singles in order to attract the teen market. If it had been more successful, though, they might have.
 
"You True Love" climbed to number 67 on the pop charts before running out of steam. Ironically, it was the flip side that would reap the big pay-off, albeit ten years later.
 
06(7) - "YOUR TRUE LOVE" - B.M.I. - 2:43
Composer: - Carl Perkins
Publisher: - Knox Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 235 - Master Take 6
Recorded: - December 4, 1956
Released: - January 23, 1957
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 261-B mono
YOUR TRUE LOVE / MATCHBOX
Reissued: - 1995 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15802-3-15 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 2
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Carl Perkins - Vocal and Guitar
James Buck Perkins - Rhythm Guitar
Lloyd Clayton Perkins - Bass
W.S. "Fluke" Holland - Drums
Jerry Lee Lewis - Piano
 
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©