CONTAINS

Sun 181-190 Series
 
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Rufus Thomas
"BEAR CAT" - B.M.I. - 2:49
Composer: - Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 63
Recorded: - March 8, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - March 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 181-A mono
BEAR CAT / WALKING IN THE RAIN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-11 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas - Vocal and Piano
Joe Hill Louis contributes some stinging guitar work
especially during his extended 36-bar solo
Houston Stokes - Drums
Tuff Green - Guitar and Acoustic Bass soon to be known as 'slap'.

Later pressings without the ''answer to Hound Dog'' statement for copyright reasons.

Billboard was not joking when it noted that ''Bear Cat'' was ''the fastest answer song to hit the market''. Big Mama Thornton's ''Hound Dog'' was recorded in August 1952 and shipped in January or February 1953. ''Bear Cat'' was recorded on March 8, 1953 and was in the stores by the end of the month, if not before. On April 4, Duke/Peacock Records boss, Don Robey, whose Lion Music published ''Hound Dog'', wrote to Sam Phillips informing him that the Harry Fox Agency, which issued mechanical song licenses, had not received a request for ''Bear Cat'' as an answer disc to ''Hound Dog''. Routinely, writers and publishers of answer songs had to surrender at least 50% of the composer and publisher share to the original composer and publisher. Phillips claimed 100% of both. By not securing permission ahead of time, Phillips left himself open to Robey claiming 100% the publisher and composer's share, and that was happened. Robey instructed Fox to issue a mechanical license for ''Bear cat'' giving him 100%, and Phillips refused the license. ''Bear Cat'' entered the carts on April 18 and reached its high point to number 3 on May 2. On May 18, Phillips paid Robey's Lion Music $1580 together with another 4500 to a law firm, Shepherd Tate, suggesting that he'd already bowed to the inevitable. His first hit on Sun left him with a sour taste, and very financial benefit.

Gimmickry aside, ''Bear Cat'' is a very primitive record. It is driven by Tuff Green's very percussive string bass and Joe Hill Louis's spare electric guitar. Louis has an extended 36 bar solo, after which Rufus elbows his way back in. To his credit, Louis does not run short of ideas, many of which were borrowed directly from Pete Lewis, who played on the original record. The real problem is that gimmickry can't be put aside and as such this record hasn't weathered as well as some of the commercially less successful recordings from the same period. Thirty years later, Sam Phillips' only comment was, ''I should have known better. The melody was exactly the same as theirs but we claimed credit for writing the damn thing''.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Rufus Thomas
"WALKING IN THE RAIN" - 1 - B.M.I. - 2:21
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 64
Recorded: - March 8, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - March 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 181-B mono
WALKING IN THE RAIN / BEAR CAT
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-12 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas - Vocal and Piano
Joe Hill Louis contributes some stinging guitar work
especially during his extended 36-bar solo
Houston Stokes - Drums
Tuff Green - Guitar and Acoustic Bass soon to be known as 'slap'.

Rufus does a credible job on his own minor key blues. Joe Hill Louis plays aggressively in the now famous over-amplified and distorted style perfectly at 706 Union. He's supported by an under-recorded acoustic guitar, probably played by bassist Tuff Green, and a comping piano probably played by Albert Williams. The song only makes a brief two-bar foray into a major key.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Dusty Brooks and His Tones
"HEAVEN OR FIRE" - B.M.I. - 2:38
Composer: - Bernstein
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 65
Recorded: - April 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - May 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 182-A mono
HEAVEN OR FIRE / TEARS AND WINE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-13 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Dusty Brooks And His Tones
Juanita Brown - Vocal on "Heaven Or Fire"
Janie McFadden - Vocal on "Two Blue Devils"
Joe Alexander - Vocal

Sun 182, A-side and B-side remains one of the most obscure and ultimately, one of the most issued by Sun. Could this material actually have been recorded by the same man who had just issued ''Bear Cat'' and was holding preliminary sessions with Little Junior Parker?

Actually, the answer is ''no''. If it's any consolation, Sun 182 was sent to Sam by his then partner, Jim Bulleit. Whether is was recorded by Bulleit in Nashville or acquired from the west coast is unclear, although the fact that the contracts were mailed to Los Angeles suggests the latter. Phillips was simply trying to survive by covering all his bases, from the backporch crowd. to the nightclub patrons. It was clear which of those audience Dusty Brooks and Juanita Brown were destined for.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Dusty Brooks and His Tones
"TEARS AND WINE" - B.M.I. - 2:36
Composer: - Bernstein
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 67
Recorded: - April 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - May 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 182-B mono
TEARS AND WINE / HEAVEN OR FIRE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-14 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Dusty Brooks And His Tones
Juanita Brown - Vocal on "Heaven Or Fire"
Janie McFadden - Vocal on "Two Blue Devils"
Joe Alexander - Vocal

Actually, Dusty Brooks was no stranger to the entertainment business. He had previously recorded and enjoyed some limited success on the west coast, where he had also won some fame as an actor in black films. The Vegas lounge act sound of ''Heaven Or Fire'', or the torchy crooning of ''Tears And Wine'' were in no way out of character for Brooks. Rather, it is collectors who have trouble reconciling this form of black music with what they know and love most about Sun.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
D.A. Hunt
"LONESOME OLD JAIL" - B.M.I. – 2:57
Composer: - D.A. Hunt
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 69
Recorded: - Probably March 11, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 183-A mono
LONESOME OLD JAIL / GREYHOUND BLUES
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-15 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Daniel Augusta Hunt - Vocal and Guitar

This performance is even gloomier than Hunt's first as he reflects on his woman while locked up in his cell. The similarity to Lightnin' Hopkins is almost uncanny: the little flash of falsetto at the end of the line, the sour spoken asides, the interplay between vocal and guitar. According to researcher Steve LaVere, Hunt actually served time in one of Memphis's jail, but that was later. In 1953, his address was noted as Anniston, Alabama, and he was to be contacted via the Reverend Noble Ulynn. Hunt was probably recorded in March 1953 and was back in Memphis in August to collect a nine dollar loan from Sam Phillips. As far as we know, he never recorded again.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
D.A. Hunt
"GREYHOUND BLUES" - B.M.I. - 2:35
Composer: - D.A. Hunt
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 70
Recorded: - Probably March 11, 1953
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 183-B mono
GREYHOUND BLUES / LONESOME OLD JAIL
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-16 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Daniel Augusta Hunt - Vocal and Guitar

Lightnin' Hopkins was clearly Hunt's model, right down to the pinched vocal, spoken asides and signature four-note closing lick. It was an almost eerie recreation of Hopkins' sound. From sixty years' distance, it's hard if not impossible to penetrate the logic behind what got released or remained unreleased on Sun. Lightnin' himself was becoming a tough sell by 1953, so Phillips certainly wasn't jumping on a bandwagon as he was with ''Bear Cat'', Perhaps he simply liked Hunt's record. Perhaps a distributor around Hunt's home town of Anniston, Alabama guaranteed a sufficiently big order to justify a small run. Perhaps... we'll never known.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Big Memphis Marainey - Onzie Horne Combo
"CALL ME ANYTHING, BUT CALL ME" - B.M.I. - 2:58
Composer: - Dubrover-Mitt Addington
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 71
Recorded: - April 19, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 184-A mono
CALL ME ANYTHING, BUT CALL ME / BABY NO! NO!
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-17 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
"Big Memphis" Lillie Mae Glover - Vocal
Pate Hare - Guitar
Houston Stokes - Guitar
Onzie Horne - Piano and Vibes
Tuff Green - Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums
T.S. Lewis - Drums

Lillie Mae Clover's style has its origins in a different tradition from most of the tracks on Sun Records. Her full throated delivery is straight out of vaudeville blues and the lady obviously considers herself an their to this tradition by virtue of her pseudonym. For this recording she was paired with Onzie Horne, an arranger who worked for Sam Phillips transcribing songs for copyright. A schooled musician and an educator who tutored Phineas Newborn and Charles Lloyd, Horne hosted a talk show on WDIA. At one time or another, he was the musical director at the Beale Street theaters where Glover plied her trade, and, for a time, worked with Duke Ellington's arranger, Billy Strayhorn. One of his last arrangements was Isaac Hayes' 'Theme From Shaft''. Horne died in 1973, aged 49, Clover's record is at best a curious mishmash of styles. Pat Hare's decidedly blue guitar vies uneasily for space with Horne's sophisticated vibes.

A few weeks after this song was recorded, one of its writers, Milton ''Mitt'' Addington, pitched another song, ''Burned Fingers'', to western swing star Wade Ray, who did fairly well with is. One year or so later, Sam Phillips asked him to write songs for Elvis Presley, but he demurred. In 1965, he wrote a by-god hit, ''Laurie Strange Things Happen In This World)'', during the short-lived craze for death discs. performed by another Sun alumnus, Dickey Lee, it was published by yet another, Jack Clement. Around the same time, Lee and Addington combined to write ''Memphis Beat'' for Jerry Lee Lewis. Addington, who made his career as a psychologist, died in 1979, aged 55.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Big Memphis Marainey - Onzie Horne Combo
"BABY, NO, NO!" - B.M.I. - 3:00
Composer: - Marion Keisker-Mitt Addington
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 72
Recorded: - April 19, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 184-B mono
BABY NO! NO! / CALL ME ANYTHING, BUT CALL ME
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-18 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
"Big Memphis" Lillie Mae Glover - Vocal
Pate Hare - Guitar
Houston Stokes - Guitar
Onzie Horne - Piano and Vibes
Tuff Green - Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums
T.S. Lewis - Drums

This is a considerable improvement on its A-side, being a standard jump blues complete with stops in the verse, although performed with none of the usual instrumentation. Here, Ma Clover's husky vocal is backed only by a trio - fronted by the ubiquitous Hare, who sounds a little less distorted than usual. On balance, this disc is a real oddity: it seems to have been aimed squarely at the black habitues of the local nightclub scene, and Sam Phillips probably had little ambition of selling it outside Memphis - hence its phenomenal scarcity value (at the time the original Sun Blues Box was being compiled, Ms Glover commented that she was unable to get a copy). The song had been composed by Milton "Mitt" Addington, a consulting psychologist who also wrote Sonny Burgess' "Restless", and amateur songwriter, together with Marion Keisker, who typed it out at her desk in the front office at 706 Union. Almost until her death in April 1985, Lillie Mae Glover was still performing without a marked diminution of exuberance. Records never really mattered to her.  (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
Jimmy DeBerry
"TAKE A LITTLE CHANCE" - B.M.I. - 2:17
Composer: - Jimmy DeBerry-Rebecca Sam Burns
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 73
Recorded: - May 16, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 185-A mono
TAKE A LITTLE CHANCE / TIME HAS MADE A CHANCE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-19 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jimmy DeBerry - Vocal and Guitar
Mose Vinson - Piano
Raymond Jones - Drums
Raymond Jones Combo

On the face of it, Jimmy DeBerry does not deserve the obscure status into which he seems to have been consigned. his entire recorded studio output was restricted to two pre-War singles for Vocalion and OKeh, together with his two Sun singles - a meagre output for someone possessed of such obvious talent. This side showcases his abilities as a superbly expressive vocalist: however, it also serves to demonstrate his biggest problem, i.e. one of timing - which is further exacerbated by some asthmatic-sounding groans during the solo. The song, credited to DeBerry and Sam Phillips (under the name of Sam Burns), the song was based quite closely on Robert Lockwood's 1941 recording of ''Take A Little Walk With Me'', itself based on ''Sweet Home Chicago''.

 
Jimmy DeBerry
"TIME HAS MADE A CHANCE" - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Jimmy DeBerry-Rebecca Burns
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 74
Recorded: - May 16, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - June 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 185-B mono
TIME HAS MADE A CHANCE / TAKE A LITTLE CHANCE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-20 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Jimmy DeBerry - Vocal and Guitar
Mose Vinson - Piano
Raymond Jones - Drums
Raymond Jones Combo

The fuller instrumentation suggests that this song may have been the plug side but it is markedly inferior to its flipside. This arguably the least affecting and sloppiest of DeBerry's recordings for Sam Phillips. The lead instrument, Mose Vinson's bar-room piano, competes with rather than complements DeBerry acoustic guitar. The timing surrounding the stops is so noticeably ragged in places that it is surprising Phillips saw fit to release this track. Again, the ''Burns'' who claimed half of the composer credit is none other than Phillips, whose wife's maiden name was Burns. In January 1954, DeBerry's contract was up, and Phillips wrote to him in Jackson, Tennessee, saying, ''Even though to be commercial (from a sales point of view) we still believe we can come up with something''. At that point, DeBerry was owned $12.45 in back royalties, but never, as far as we know, recorded at Sun again. In fact, he made no further recordings, except a comeback session for Steve LaVere. (CE) (HD) (MH)

 
The Prisonaires
"JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN" - B.M.I. - 2:47
Composer: - Robert Riley-Johnny Bragg-Buddy Killen
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U-76
Recorded: - June 1, 1953
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 186-A mono
JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN / BABY PLEASE
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-21 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal (A-side)
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal
John Drue - Lead Tenor Vocal (B-side)
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal and Guitar
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal
Possible Joe Hill Louis - Guitar
Willie Nix – Drums

Variations labels. The demand for this hit record, was so strong that out of town pressing plant capacity was needed. Therefore, there are genuine 1953 first pressings both with and without push marks. The last 45rpm depicted is the re-release on thin vinyl with push marks.

Johnny Bragg and Robert Riley were walking to the prison laundry when Bragg remarked to Riley, ''Here we are walking in the rain. I wonder what the little girls are doing''. ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' was the song that stemmed from that observation, and it played to Bragg's strengths as a vocalist. He sang exquisitely and with deep feeling, both on the Nashville demo and on the master version. The bridge (''People come to window...'') perfectly captured the yearning and regret he must surely have felt on so many occasions during his long incarceration. Although no lover of close harmony groups, Phillips released ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' on July 8, 1953. On July 28, Sam Phillips' brother, Jud, went to Nashville to meet Bulleit and the Prisonaires. Jud had joined Sun a few months earlier to work on promotion and distribution. ''The boys are getting from 10 to 25 letters a day from all over the country'', wrote Jud. ''They plan to bring all of them to you they come over. They make me think of a bunch of baby birds. They are fine boys all of them. I get great joy out of helping people like that... I know you do too''. Phillips also got great joy from watching the orders roll in. Ebony magazine reported that the record sold over 200,000 copies, and the group started making personal appearances on day passes throughout the state, and - with considerable complication - outside the state. They were held up by warden James Edwards and Tennessee Governor Frank Clement as shining examples of rehabilitation. ''The hopes of tomorrow rather than the mistakes of yesterday'', gushed Clement. Although it didn't chart, ''Just Walkin' In The rain'' was a hit. One who took notice was Joe Johnson who worked for Columbia's country artist and repertoire man, Don Law. Johnson soon moved to California to work for one of Law's acts, Gene Autry, and told him about ''Just Walkin' In The Rain''. Autry acquired the music publishing from Wortham, who probably thought the song had run its course. Johnson pitched the song to Don Law in 1956, who recorded it with one of his act, Dick Richards. law gave Richard's disc to Columbia's New York artists and repertoire man, Mitch Miller, who produced Johnny Ray number 2 pop hit version. Bragg was invited to the annual BMI banquet in New York, but found himself otherwise engaged that night. (CE)

 
The Prisonaires
"BABY PLEASE" - B.M.I. - 2:48
Composer: - Robert S. Riley
Publisher: - Warner Chappell Music Limited
Matrix number: - U-75
Recorded: - June 1, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 186-B mono
BABY PLEASE / JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-22 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor Vocal (A-side)
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal
John Drue - Lead Tenor Vocal (B-side)
William Stewart - Baritone Vocal and Guitar
Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal
Possible Joe Hill Louis - Guitar
Willie Nix – Drums

Variations labels. The demand for this hit record, was so strong that out of town pressing plant capacity was needed. Therefore, there are genuine 1953 first pressings both with and without push marks. The last 45rpm depicted is the re-release on thin vinyl with push marks.
 
According to a July 1953 report in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, a country music publisher and promoter, Red Wortham, went to the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville to check out a hillbilly songwriter, and was asked to listen to a group of inmates who called themselves the Prisonaires. Back in his Nashville office, Wortham played a tape of the Prisonaires to his cousin, Jim Bulleit, who had become a minority partner in Sun. They particularly like a song called ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' written by singer Johnny Bragg and another inmate, Robert Riley. Bulleit persuaded Sam Phillips to record the group, while Wortham retained the music publishing. And so, early on the morning of June 1, 1953, a prison vehicle made its way from the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville down Highway 70 toward Memphis with five convicts, an armed guard and a trusty, ''Gee look at that funny cemetery'', said Bragg, as they passed an empty drive-in movie theater.

At 10:30 a.m., they grouped themselves around a microphone at Sun while the guard and trusty went next door to Taylor's Restaurant. The Prisonaires usually featured Bragg as lead singer but one of the songs they recorded ''Baby Please'' was led by another tenor, John Drue. After the Prisonaires had sung ''Baby Please'' for Sam Phillips, he called over to vending machine operator, Drew Canale to ask if his houseboy, Joe Hill Louis, could come and sit in on guitar. Louis was at the polar opposite extreme of black music; raw, unsophisticated and bluesy. ''You guys are good'', Louis said to Bragg, ''but you've got to stick together''. Bragg replied that, with three of the group in for 99 years, there was not much chance of doing otherwise. It took until 8"30 p.m. to finish the two songs. Louis imparted a tough, bluesy edge to ''Baby Please'', for which he was paid $10.00, but the group persuaded Phillips that Louis should sit out ''Just Walkin' In The Rain''. They didn't want its poignancy destroyed by his slash-and-burn guitar. Upon release, Phillips saw ''Baby Please'' as the plug side, and was surprised when ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' became a hit. (CE)

 
Little Junior's Blue Flames
"FEELIN' GOOD" - B.M.I. - 2:50
Composer: - Herman Parker
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated - Knox Music Ltd - Bluesman Music
Matrix number: - U 77
Recorded: - June 18, 1953
Memphis Recording  Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 187-A mono
FEELIN' GOOD / FUSSIN' AND FIGHTIN' (BLUES)
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-23 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Herman "Little Junior" Parker - Vocal
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
Floyd Murphy - Guitar
William "Struction" Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
John Bowers - Drums

Sun Records' first charted hit. It always sounded as if two guitars were on the session, but Sam Phillips recalled that Floyd Murphy exhibited amazing dexterity on the guitar. ''He could make it sound like there were two man playing at one''. The whole performance owes a debt to the king of the one-chord boogies, John Lee Hooker. Junior saw himself as a slick uptown singer and disavowed Hooker's sound. Phillips did not like the material that Junior was offering, and so, when Phillips went out to answer the telephone, the boys in the studio agreed to give him a taste of down home music. To Hooker's template, Parker added some vocal finesse and an effective wall going up from flatted 7th to 8 similare to that he had already used on his very earliest recording (''You're My Angel'') for Modern. Phillips was thrilled and to Parker's surprise ''Feelin' Good'' became his first hit. On November 14, Phillips paid $50.23 in royalties to both Parker and the session's pianist, William ''Struction'' Johnson, suggesting that Johnson might have been the co-leader of the Blue Flames (certainly, when Parker began recording for Duke, his group was billed as Bill Johnson's Blue Flames).

In 2011, an Austin, Texas-based garage soul band, Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, revisited ''Feelin' Good'' almost not-for-note as ''Mustang Ranch''. So someone's still listening. (CE) (HD)

 
Little Junior's Blue Flames
"FUSSIN' AND FIGHTIN' (BLUES)" - B.M.I. - 2:55
Composer: - Herman Parker
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated - Bluesman Music
Matrix number: - U 78
Recorded: - June 18, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 187-B mono
FUSSIN' AND FIGHTIN' (BLUES) / FEELIN' GOOD
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-24 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Herman "Little Junior" Parker - Vocal
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
Floyd Murphy - Guitar
William "Struction" Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
John Bowers - Drums

This very mellow outing based on Eddie Boyd's 1952 hit ''Five Long Yours'', stands in marked contrast to ''Feelin' Good''. When Junior revived Boyd's hit in 1958 for Duke, his vocal was almost a note for note copy of this performing. This recording is notable for Floyd Murphy's omnipresence; he fills between vocal lines, plays under the vocal, and takes a solo. Add his work on ''Feelin' Good'' and Phillips got good value for Murphy's session fee that day. (HD) (CE)

 
Rufus Thomas
"TIGER MAN (KING OF THE JUNGLE)" - B.M.I. - 2:46
Composer: - Joe Hill Louis-Rebecca Sam Burns
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated - Knox Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 79
Recorded: - June 30, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 188-A mono
TIGER MAN / SAVE THAT MONEY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-25 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas - Vocal
Floyd Murphy - Guitar
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
William "Strutcher" Bill Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums

Rufus' menagerie was starting to fill out, although the Dog and the Funky Chicken were still some years away. Joe Hill Louis and Sam Phillips (aka Sam Burns) were obviously wearing their hit maker's hats when they concocted ''Tiger Man''. Louis also played the insistent lick on the guitar. Rufus comes across as an engaging personality but a limited singer with ragged timing. Joe Hill takes a primitive solo that hints at some rather than stating them, but is no less effective for that. On some level, this panders to African stereotypes, but Houston Stokes' simulation of tribal drums, was pretty far out for its time. Red Saunders' 1952 hit ''Hambone;; had a proto-Diddley beat, but was tame compared with this. Surprisingly, the record failed to reach the charts and Rufus moved on to Phillips' local competitor, Les Bihary at Meteor. Phillips eventually got a payday from ''Tiger man''. In 1968 when Elvis Presley filmed his comeback TV special, ''Elvis'', he received ''Tiger Man'', replicating Louis's guitar lick as closely as he could. It was dropped from the show and the accompanying LP, but soon appeared on a budget LP. The likeliest scenario is that Phillips had given it to him back in 1954 or 1955, suggesting that he might like to cover it for Sun. Introducing the song on-stage in 1970, Elvis said, ''This was my second record, 'cept no one got to hear it''. Louis would have benefitted if Elvis had revived it in 1954 (he might even have made enough for the tetanus shot that would have saved his life), but he wasn't around to collect his share of the 1970s bounty. 
 
Houston Stokes was Sun's versatile all-purpose house drummer in the early days. He played behind hillbilly piano player Red Hadley and bluesmen Jimmy DeBerry and Walter Horton, as well as rhythm and blues icon Rufus Thomas. In this ''Tiger Man'', after an introductory scream, Rufus proudly announced himself to be the ''king of the jungle''. What sort of drumming does that cal for? Probably something that sounds like what got played in the era-s B-movie about jungles - steady beats on tom-toms. And that is just what Houston Stokes provides - an unrelenting series of eighth notes with accents on all four beats in every measure. Once it starts, it just doesn't stop. Occasionally, toward the end of the record, Stokes puts some accents in some other (by this time, more interesting) places and he even gets to have something of a drum solo at the record's end. Once the sound of the drum grabs you, it becomes almost hypnotic. Four years later, Jerry Allison would take the same approach to drumming when he accompanied Buddy Holly on ''Peggy Sue''
 
Houston Stokes was one of the few drummers who was also a vocalist, and he made several unissued blues recordings at Sun as a singer. When not recording, Stokes played in a Memphis jazz band led by Al Jackson and taught the leader's young son something about drumming. That worked out well for Al Jackson Jr. He grew up to become the drummer in Booker T's MGs - the house band at Stax Records who also had some hits under their own name. The first and biggest being ''Green Onions''. (CE) (HD)(SP)
 

 
Rufus Thomas
"SAVE THAT MONEY" - B.M.I. - 2:41
Composer: - Rufus Thomas
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated - Tristian Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 80
Recorded: - June 30, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - July 8, 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 188-B mono
SAVE THAT MONEY / TIGER MAN
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-26 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Rufus Thomas - Vocal
Floyd Murphy - Guitar
James Wheeler - Tenor Saxophone
William "Strutcher" Bill Johnson - Piano
Kenneth Banks - Bass
Houston Stokes - Drums

This ranks alongside Rufus Thomas's very finest recordings. The theme, no money equals no friends, is familiar enough, but Rufus sounds a passionate and engaged as he ever did, making the very most of his limited vocal chops. He tells his listeners to remember the Depression of 1929-1930 and put pack some money from their paychecks. Just about all of Thomas's hits were novelties, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he kept going back to that well, but it's really too bad he didn't take a shot at writing a few more songs like this. (CE)

 
The Prisonaires
"SOFTLY AND TENDERLY'' - B.M.I. - 2:30
Composer: - Will Thompson-Public Domain
Publisher: - Babb Music
Matrix number: - U 82
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Record (S) 78/45rpm single SUN 189-A mono
SOFTLY AND TENDERLY / MY GOD IS REAL
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-27 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

Recorded through the years by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Alan Jackson, and countless others, ''Softly And Tenderly'' was written by an Ohio businessmen, Will Thompson, in 1880. Thy hymn remains immensely popular among white congregations, but was sung at the memorial service for Martin Luther King at the Elbenezer baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 8, 1968. It's hard to know who or what induced the Prisonaires to record it jubilee style for their second single.

Out of every hundred versions surely 99 of them are dirgelike. Somehow, slow equals pious. But the Prisonaires are having none of that. With Ike Turner in the unaccustomed role of church pianist, the piano intro sounds a little similar to ''Rocket 88'' and the group approaches the tune with an energy and enthusiasm that must have raised a few sanctified eyebrows. The recording has a strong live feel, abetted by handclapping and shouts. This might have been a one-take wonder, a warmup effort that became a contender for release simply because of its spontaneous joy. That feeling is undiminished 60 years later. Without Johnny Bragg singing lead, though, it wasn't identifiably a Prisinaires record, and it wasn't about to get played on rhythm and blues stations. As an act of piety, it was touching. As a follow-up to ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'', it was a disaster. (CE)(HD)

 
The Prisonaires
"MY GOD IS REAL" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Kenneth Morris-Public Domain
Publisher: - Babb Music - Morris Music
Matrix number: - U 81
Recorded: - August 3, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single SUN 189-B mono
MY GOD IS REAL / SOFTLY AND TENDERLY
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-1-28 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

In its way, the Prisonaires' version of this classic is as good as any other, and others, who've recorded it include Mahalia Jackson, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Al Green. Bragg's lead is stilling. The piece was written in 1944 by an African American minister and hymnodist, Kenneth Morris, as ''Yes, God Is Real''. ''There are some places I cannot go'' was one of the most awfully true lines on a Sun record. That said, the Prisonaires were getting out of the prison gates on a fairly regular basis, and on one of their Sunday forays into the free world they attended a service with the legendary Clara Ward and her choir. Ward had recorded ''My God Is Real'' in 1949 and made it her own until Mahalia Jackson took ownership of it. Inspired by Ward, the Prisoniares recorded ''My God Is Real'' with ''Softly And Tenderly'' in Memphis on August 3, 1953. It became their second Sun single, and a commercial mis-step. (CE)

 
Ripley Cotton Choppers
"BLUES WALTZ" - B.M.I. - 2:52
Composer: - Mrs. R.M. Lawrence
Publisher: - Redwood Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 84 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - July 11, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 190-A mono
BLUES WALTZ / SILVER BELLS
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-1 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1
 
Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ernest Underwood – Vocal & Fiddle
Jesse Frost - Vocal
Jettie Cox - Vocal
Raymond Kerby - Guitar
James Kerby - Guitar
Bill Webb - Guitar
James Wiseman - Bass
Pete Wiseman - Bass
James Haggard - Mandolin

Sun's first country release was hardly typical of Memphis country music in the 1950s.  This side, "Blues Waltz", it features twin guitar work by Raymond Kerby and Bill Webb who played lead. This first country release was hardly typical of Memphis country in the 1950s. Rather, this side harks back beyond the era of the honky tonk to a time when country music was performed at church socials and family gatherings. Only the electric guitar dates it to the 1950s rather than the 1920s or 1930s. This track features Ernest Underwood and Jesse Frost in a vocal duet backed by guitars, bass, and James Haggard's mandolin (an instrument that was not over-represented at 706 Union). The original 78rpm credited the composition to Mrs. R.M. Lawrence, a resident of Ripley, Tennessee. This record was already doomed to obscurity by virtue of the fact it was twenty years out of date on the day of release but Phillips' lack of experience in marketing country music banished it to a distribution network that barely exceeded the Ripley City limits. (MH)

 
Ripley Cotton Choppers
"SILVER BELLS" - B.M.I. - 2:14
Composer: - E. Madden-P. Wenrich
Publisher: - Redwood Music Limited
Matrix number: - U 83 - 78rpm Only
Recorded: - July 11, 1953
Memphis Recording Service
706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Released: - September 1953
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78rpm standard single SUN 190-B mono
SILVER BELLS / BLUES WALTZ
Reissued: - 1994 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15801 DI-2-2 mono digital
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 1

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Ernest Underwood – Vocal & Fiddle
Jesse Frost - Vocal
Jettie Cox - Vocal
Raymond Kerby - Guitar
James Kerby - Guitar
Bill Webb - Guitar
James Wiseman - Bass
Pete Wiseman - Bass
James Haggard - Mandolin

This tune, composed by vaudevillian Percy Wenrich in 1910, was already a minor standard when the  Choppers took it to Sam Phillips. The record is really a showcase for the guitar of Bill Webb who is backed  by guitarists Raymond and James Kerby and the driving bass of Pete Wiseman. The back-country charm of  the record, one of Sun's rarest releases, compensates for some technical flaws, not the least of which is  Webb's slightly out-of-tune instrument. You'd think this wouldn't stand a prayer in the country music world  of the 1950s, but in 1955, Chet Atkins and Hank Snow took ''Silver Bell'' to the country charts. The label of  Sun 190 states ''Silver Bells'', which is the old Christmas standard. (MH)

 


 

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