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.
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.
"MATCHBOX" - B.M.I. - 2:26
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
PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm 15494 EH-2-28 mono
THE CLASSIC CARL PERKINS