© August 2002 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16609 (1-6) mono digital
MEMPHIS BELLES - THE WOMEN OF SUN RECORDS

6 compact disc boxed set. Yellow label, the letters SUN with sun rays pressed in light brown at the top of the label. Modern white rooster on the label left the hole. Catalog number and Bear Family logo on bottom. Contains original Sun recordings. The boxed set includes every originally released single by a female singer, plus over 100 alternate takes and originally unissued tracks. Also included in the boxed set includes a 120-page book with extensive biographical information on both known artist and discoveries, and a wealth of unpublished photos of the women whose recordings for Sun Records have remained unknown or underestimated until now.

Original Producers: Sam C. Phillips, Ernie Barton, Jack Clement,
Bill Justis, Charles Underwood and Others
Re-Issued Producer: Hank Davis
Compilation: Hank Davis
Tape, Research and Tape Comparison: Hank Davis
Mastering: Jurgen Crasser
Biographies and Liner Notes: Hank Davis
Discographical Data: Hank Davis
Art-direction: Holger van Bargen
Artwork: Wolfgang Taubenauer

Photos and Illustrations:
R.A. Andreas, Bill Beard, Sandy Bell, Hank Davis, Colin Escott, Hannah Fay,
Vince Giordano, Richard Grant, Mary Johnson, Glenn Korman, Alice Leslie,
Michael Panico, Del Puschert, Dave Sax, Barbara Thomas, The Townsel Sisters,
Dave Travis, Hideki Watanable

Thanks to:
Sam C. Phillips, John and Shelby Singleton, Sandy Bell, Tank Edwards,
Colin Escott, Hannah Fay, Howard Harger, Gene Harrell, Martin Hawkins,
Mary Johnson, Peggy Lamb, Sid Maddux, Bill Millar,
Michael Ochs Archives, Barbara Pittman, Del Puschert,
Wayne Russel, Dave Sax, Barbara Thomas

SAM PHILLIPS ON RECORDING WOMENSam Phillips has always had a complicated relationship with women. Certainly, his personal life would not be fodder for a family-rated TV movie of the week. During his - and Sun's – golden age, Sam was a ladies man. A charmer. Some would say a womanizer. That same charisma played an undeniable role in the studio, even with his male artists. He usually worked with the underdog – undereducated and poor-stricken whites and blacks, alike. They trusted him, often revered him. His power over them drew within themselves, and rarely achieved elsewhere if their careers continued. 

Women, too, were an underclass in the 1950s South. Sam's charisma, not to mention some powerful biological forces, led to some predictable outcomes in and out of the studio. In an early discussion about this project, Phillips commented that in deciding whether to record women he had to ''play with them on the side'' in order to determine ''if I could approach them in a way that would give distinction to what they did''. Phillips indicated that he had used the same approach to decide which male artists he could work with in the studio. Forget the sexual connotation of his words. It's pretty clear that Phillips' meaning was nothing as crude as saying ''I had to sleep with every woman I recorded''. For him, ''playing with them on the side'' was likely an experience of the mind. Power. Control. Ming games. Disregard the implications of these words in the Politically Correct 21st Century. Sam Phillips was talking, purely and simply, about whatever it took to get the best work on tape. 

In fact, Phillips went on to say that he never got to the point of ''playing with them on the side'' to the extent that he originally anticipated in making decisions about which women to record. Thus Sam Phillips fell back on Plan B. ''I decided if I could find some unbelievable harmonies, maybe that would be a way to go''. 

To be sure, no one knew better than Sam Phillips that women were a saleable commodity. Remember, it was Phillips who started the nation's first ''All Girl'' radio station in Memphis. This was commercial savvy, not the act of a proto-feminist. Phillips knew a business opportunity when he saw one and did not miss the chance to develop and sell WHER, when the time was right. 

How did all of this translate into the way Sam Phillips recorded women? It remains anybody's guess. When he was still actively involved in the day-to-day decisions at Sun, Phillips recorded and released sides by an angeless old-style blues shouter (Big Memphis Marainey), a 13 year old hillbilly singer (Maggie Sue Wimberly), a teenage white singer with a deep love of gutsy blues (Barbara Pittman), and two Mississippi sisters-in-law (The Miller Sisters) whose unerring sweet country harmonies can still evoke chills. 

If there's a pattern here, it escapes us.
by Hank Davis 

For music (Sun and PI standard singles) on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

Disc 1 Contains - Rock And Roll
1 - Everlasting Love (Barbara Pittman) (1958) 1:55 > PI 3527-A <
2 - What Are You Gonna Do Now (Charlotte Smith) (2002) 2:23
3 - Blond In Red Velvet (Kirby Sisters) 91985) 2:18
4 - Rock 'N Roll Simmon Tree (2) (Maggie Sue Wimberly) (1985) 2:03
5 - Voice Of A Fool (Barbara Pittman) (1985) 2:29
6 - Five Minutes More (Demo) (Gloria Brady) (2002) 1:19
7 - Someone To Love (Patsy Holcomb) (2002) 2:54
8 - Handsome Man (Undubbed Master) Barbara Pittman) (1989) 2:21
9 - Sentimental Fool (1) (Barbara Pittman) (1985) 2:30
10 - While I'm Trying (Mikki Milan) (2002) 2:38
11 - Sweetest Guy (Mikki Milan) (2002) 1:58
12 - Chains Of Love (1) (Millers Sisters) (1976) 2:15
13 - Miracle Of You (1) (Hannah Fay) (2002) 2:44
14 - Talk Baby Talk (Demo) (Gloria Brady) (2002) 1:47
15 - Chilly Bones (Demo) (Gloria Brady) (2002) 2:06
16 - Diamond Mine (Dotty Abbott) (2002) 0:41
17 - I Just Discovered Boys (Demo) (Bobbie Jean Barton) (2002) 1:33
18 - To Tell The Truth (Bobbie & The Boys) (1959) 2:10 > PI 3543-A <
19 - C.C. Rider (Linda Gail Lewis) (2002) 2:38
20 - Ten Cats Down (Miller Sisters) (1986) 2:27
21 - I Need A Man (Barbara Pittman) (1956) 2:52 > SUN 253-A <
22 - Sentimental Fool (3) (Barbara Pittman) (1989) 2:32
23 - Love Is A Stranger (The Sunrays) (1958) 2:59 > SUN 293-A <
24 - Wear My Ring Around Your Neck (Demo) (Unknown Singer) (2002) 2:19
25 - Sittin' And Thinkin' (Linda Gail Lewis) (1963) 2:44 > SUN 385-B <
26 - I Wanna Rock (1) (Patsy Holcomb) (1976) 2:26
27 - Oo That's Good (1) (Patsy Holcomb) (1996) 1:56 
28 - I'm Getting Better All The Time (Demo) (Barbara Pittman) (1989) 1:33
29 - The Eleventh Commandment (Barbara Pittman) (1960) 3:07 > PI 3553-A <
30 - I Just Discovered Boys (Charlotte Smith) (2002) 1:47
Original Sun Recordings

Disc 2 Contains - Rock And Roll
1 - I Wanna Rock (Patsy Holcomb) (1996) 2:25
2 - Ten Cats Down (Miller Sisters) (1956) 2:18 > SUN 255-A <
3 - The Titles Will Tell (Barbara Pittman) (2002) 3:01
4 - Baby (Mikki Milan) (2002) 2:21
5 - Sentimental Fool (2) (Barbara Pittman) (1985) 2:29
6 - Ain't Got A Worry (Wanda Ballman) (1986) 1:56
7 - I'm Getting Better All The Time (Alternate Take) (Barbara Pittman) (1989) 2:51
8 - Oo That's Good (2) (Patsy Holcomb) (2002) 1:53
9 - Chains Of Love (Alternate Take) (Miller Sisters) (1996) 2:25
10 - Ain't Nothing Shakin' (Linda Gail Lewis) (1963) 1:59 > SUN 385-A <
11 - These Silly Blues (Bobbie & The Boys) (1959) 1:37 > PI 3543-B <
12 - Love Is A Stranger (Alternate Take) (The Sunrays) (2002) 2:59
13 - Rock 'N Roll Simmon Tree (1) (Maggie Sue Wimberly) (1986) 2:07
14 - I'm On My Way (Demo) (Gloria Brady) (2002) 1:43
15 - Miracle Of You (2) (Hannah Fay) (2002) 2:39
16 - I Won't Worry (Bobbie Jean Barton) (2002) 3:01
17 - Take A Tip (Bobbie Jean Barton) (2002) 2:24
18 - You're Free To Go (Patsy Holcomb) (2002) 2:22
19 - Mexican Rock 'N Roll (Demo) (Unknown Singer) (2002) 1:47
20 - Blond In Red Velvet (Kirby Sisters) (2002) 2:19
21 - Nothing To Compare (Mikki Milan) (2002) 2:48
22 - Got You On My Mind (Miller Sisters) (1976) 2:58
23 - Just One Day (Barbara Pittman) (1989) 2:36
24 - I Forgot To Remember To Forget (Barbara Pittman) (1989) 3:04
25 - What Are You Gonna Do Now (Bobbie Jean Barton) (2002) 2:16
26 - I Just Discovered Boys (Bobbie Jean Barton) (2002) 1:59
Original Sun Recordings

Disc 3 Contains - Country
1 - The House Of Sin (Dusty & Dot Rhodes) (1955) 2:42 > SUN 225-A <
2 - A Honky Tonk Girl (Wanda Ballman) (1986) 2:26
3 - Heartbreak Girl (Wanda Ballman) (1996) 2:42
4 - Honey, Tell Me Some More (Wanda Ballman) (2002) 1:32
5 - I've Got The Graziest Feeling (Kirby Sisters) (1996) 2:47
6 - You'll Always Belong To Me (Kirby Sisters) (2002) 2:32
7 - Gonna Romp And Stomp (Alternate Take) (Dusty & Dot Rhodes) (2002) 2:19
8 - I've Never Been So Blue (1) (Dusty & Dot Rhodes) (1976) 2:19
9 - Uncertain Love (Dusty & Dot Rhodes) (1955) 2:12 > SUN 216-B <
10 - They Who Condemn (Maggie Sue Wimberly) (1986) 2:22
11 - How Long (Maggie Sue Wimberly) (1955) 2:48 > SUN 229-B <
12 - Daydreams Come True (Maggie Sue Wimberly) (1955) 2:54 > SUN 229-A <
13 - There's No Right Way (The Miller Sisters) (1956) 2:21 > SUN 230-A <
14 - You Can Tell Me (The Miller Sisters) (196) 2:37 > SUN 230-B <
15 - Woody (The Miller Sisters) (1986) 1:48
16 - Someday You Will Pay (The Miller Sisters) (1955) 2:20 > Flip 504-A <
17 - You Didn't Think I Would (The Miller Sisters) (1955) 2:50 > Flip 504-B <
18 - Chatter (The Miller Sisters) (2002) 0:23
19 - Look What You've Done (The Miller Sisters) (1986) 2:28
20 - I Know I Can't Forget You (Miller Sisters) (1986) 2:52
21 - I've Never So Blue (2) (Dusty & Dot Rhodes) (2002) 2:18
22 - No Letter Today (Sterling Sisters) (2002) 1:56
23 - How's The World Treading You (Demo) (Unknown Singer) (2002) 2:25
24 - I've Got The Graziest Feeling (Kirby Sisters) (2002) 2:40
25 - Gonna Romp And Stomp (Dusty & Dot Rhodes) (1956) 2:19 > SUN 238-A <
26 - I Saw A Man (Demo) (Sterling Sisters) (2002) 2:57
27 - Bound For That Kingdom (Demo) (Jean Hornbeck) (2002) 2:28
28 - House Of Gold (Unknown Singer) (2002) 2:59
29 - Do You Know Jesus (Unknown Singer) (2002) 2:50
30 - More Like Jesus (Unknown Singers) (2002) 1:58
Original Sun Recordings

Disc 4 Contains - Blues
1 - 24 Hours Every Day (1) (Hannah Fay) (2002) 2:05
2 - Old Brother Jack (Bonnie Turner) (1976) 2:14
3 - Love Is A Gamble (1) (Bonnie Turner) (1976) 2:09
4 - So Tired (1) (Bette Kirby) (2002) 2:03
5 - Call Me Anything (Big Memphis Ma Rainey) (1953) 2:59 > SUN 184-A < 
6 - Call Me Anything (Maggie Sue Wimberly (1985) 2:55
7 - I Won't Be Rockin' Tonight (Jean Chapel) (196) 2:09 > SUN 244-B <
8 - I Know What It Means (Demo) (Miki Wilcox) (2002) 2:17
9 - I Know What It Means (Mikki Wilcox) (1961) 2:26 > PI 3573-A <
10 - Willing And Waiting (Mikki Wilcox) (1961) 2:34 < PI 3573-B <
11 - Two Blue Devils (Jeannie McFadden & Dusty Brooks) (2002) 2:45
12 - Nothing Down (Jean Dee) (1961) 2:22 > PI 3570-B <
13 - Handsome Man (Barbara Pittman) (1960) 2:22 > PI 3553-B <
14 - Handsome Man (Alice Leslie) (2002) 2:16
15 - Baby No! No! (Big Memphis Ma Rainey) (1953) 2:40 > SUN 184-B <
16 - Listen (Demo) (Gloria Brady) (2002) 1:52
17 - Welcome To The Club (Jean Chapel) (196) 1:51 > SUN 244-A <
18 - You Send Me (2002) 3:02
19 - Good To Me (Unknown Singers) (2002) 3:35
20 - Way Down In The Congo (Bonnie Turner) (1976) 3:02
21 - Love Is A Gamble (2) (Bonnie Turner) (1987) 2:08
22 - So Tired (2) (Betty Kirby) (2002) 2:32
23 - St. Louis Blues (Demo) (Sterling Sisters) (2002) 3:10
24 - 24 Hours Every Day (2) (Hannah Fay) (2002) 2:05
25 - Heaven Or Fire (Juanita Brown) (1953) 2:39 > SUN 182-A <
26 - I'd Rather Hurt (Bobbie Jean Barton) (2002) 1:43
Original Sun Recordings
 

Disc 4 - Contains - Pop
1 - It Only Hurts For a Little While (Miller Sisters) (1989) 2:35
2 - Got Nothin' But The Blues (Mikki Wilcox) (2002) 2:54
3 - Have You Ever Been Lonely (Demo) (Dottie Abbott) (2002) 1:01
4 - The Lonely Hours (The Sunrays) (1958) 2:50 > SUN 293-B <
5 - My Blue Heaven (Mikki Milan) (2002) 2:16
6 - The Picture (Mikki Milan) (1958) 2:24 > PI 3533-B <
7 - River Of No Return (Mary Johnson) (2002) 3:35
8 - No Matter Who's To Blame (Alternate Take 1) (Barbara Pittman) (2002) 2:40
9 - Sentimental Journey (Mikki Wilcox) (2002) 2:17
10 - Steady Freddie (Demo) (Gwen McEwan) (2002) 1:53
11 - My Greatest Hurt (Jeannie Dee) (1961) 2:34 > PI 3570-A <
12 - It's A Sin To Tell A Lie (Mikki Wilcox) (2002) 1:56
13 - Finders Keepers (Miller Sisters) (1956) 2:54 > SUN 255-B <
14 - My Heart Is A Chapel (Mary Johnson) (2002) 1:53
15 - Tell Me, My Love (The Teenangels) (1963) 2:24 > SUN 388-B <
16 - All Right, Ok, You Win (Mikki Wilcox) (2002) 2:41
17 - Somehow Without You (Mikki Milan) (1958) 2:01 > PI 3533-A <
18 - So Many Beautiful Man (Mikki Wilcox) (20020 2:37
19 - Finders Keepers (Alternate Take) (Miller Sisters) (1996) 2:56
20 - We'll Have A Ball (Gwen McEwan) (2002) 0:59
21 - That's When I'll Stop Loving You (Juanita Brown) (2002) 2:51
22 - Where Are You? (Mikki Wilcox) (2002) 2:34
23 - No Matter Who's To Blame (Barbara Pittman) (1956) 3:09 > SUN 253-B < 
24 - I Feel So Blue (Magel Priesman) (1958) 2:33
Original Sun Recordings

Disc 6 Contains - Pop
1 - Cold Cold Heart (1958) 2:34 > PI 3527-B <
2 - No Matter Who's To Blame (Alternate Take 2) (Barbara Pittman) (2002) 2:38
3 - Mood Indigo (Mary Johnson) (2002) 2:02
4 - Two Young Fools In Love (Barbara Pittman) (1957) 2:23 > PI 3518-A <
5 - Two Young Fools In Love (Demo) (Barbara Pittman) (2002) 2:05
6 - Two Young Fools In Love (Jeanne Newman) (2002) 1:31
7 - Thanks A Lot (Jeannie Newman) (1963) 2:31 > PI 3585-A <
8 - You Burned The Bridges (Demo) (Bobbie Jean Barton) (2002) 2:07
9 - You Burned The Bridges (Bobbie Jean Barton) (1960) 2:07 > SUN 342-B <
10 - The Boy I Met Today (Jeannie Newman) (1963) 2:36 > PI 3585-A <
11 - The Whole Night Through (The Townsel Sisters) (2002) 2:29
12 - Cheaters Never Win (Bobbie Jean Barton) (1960) 1:58 > SUN 342-A <
13 - Cheaters Never Win (Jeannie Newman) (2002) 1:49
14 - Take My Sympathy (Barbara Pittman) (1989) 1:10
15 - I'll Wait Forever (Anita Wood) (1961) 3:01 > SUN 361-A <
16 - I Can't Show How I Feel (Anita Wood) (1961) 2:00 > SUN 361-B <
17 - I'm Getting Better All The Time (Barbara Pittman) (197) 2:50 > PI 3518-B <
18 - Your Cheatin' Heart (Mary Johnson) (2002) 1:25
19 - Danny's Dream (Jeanne Newman) (2002) 1:56
20 - Yellow Roses (Jeanne Newman) (2002) 2:19
21 - Paper Of Pins (Jeanne Newman) (2002) 2:44
22 - Memories Of You (Demo) (Magel Priesman) (2002)
23 - Memories Of You (Magel Priesman) (1958) 2:35 > SUN 294-B <
24 - Willie Willie (Sherry Crane) (1959) 1:57 > SUN 328-A <
25 - Winnie The Parakeet (Sherry Crane) (1959) 2:22 > SUN 328-B <
Original Sun Recordings

 © Original Sun Recordings, licensed from Sun Entertainment, Inc. 

For Biographies of Artists see: > The Sun Biographies <
Sun recordings can be heard on the playlists from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <
 
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

THE SUN DEMOS - Sam Phillips did not record all the music. It is very important to him that we emphasize that point. Much of it was recorded by men Phillips hired - musicians like Jack Clement, Bill Justis and Ernie Barton and others. In addition, some of the music was recorded outside of Sun and submitted in the hope that Sam or someone would be interested. Why include these demos? Sam Phillips expressed understandable concern. "These aren't even Sun Records", he observed, presumably in the sense that "Blue Suede Shoes" is a Sun Record. He's right, of course.

But it is the case that Sun fans and collectors have moved far beyond wanting to acquire Carl Perkins' Greatest Hits. If that were the limit, the Sun reissue industry would have closed up shop 25 years ago. There is more to the picture. There is a deeper understanding, not just of Sam and Sun, but the surrounding music scene in general. We already know who was inside the walls of 706 Union, but we lack a clearer picture of who was outside, beating on the walls trying to get in. We will provide a rare glimpse of those artists.

Demos by male singers - the Elvis wannabees - have long been released over the years as part of the Sun legacy, even though they were not technically part of what Sam or Sun recorded. They did show us what was going on outside while Sun went about its business creating legends. They also gave us a notion of what Sam found waiting for him in the morning mail and an insight into how he made his selection. To understand the genius of Sam Phillips, it is necessary to see only what he chose, but also what he chose not to do.

Now, for the first time, we have a comparable look at the women who wanted to see their names on a yellow Sun label. Like their male counterparts, they represented a variety of styles and varying leve's of professionalism. They have one thing in common - other than their desire to be a Sun recording artist: They were all rejected by Sam Phillips or by someone who listened to anonymous submissions at 706 Union Avenue.

Sam worried that the release of these rough demos might make him or the artists look bad. "I have a certain feeling about going into somebody's dressing room when they're naked. That's how I consider a demo. Its an audition and an audition is like the dressing room".

Maybe so, but these naked auditions were submitted to a commercial recording company by artists who hoped to share their music with the public. Their performances weren't secretly recorded or stolen from the privacy of their homes. Moreover, they are plainly packaged as what they are: demos. No one is suggesting that these efforts should be compared to fully orchestrated, professionally recorded masters. Moreover, there are those who believe that the sparsely recorded sound of a demo can be a more intimate showcase for talent. Just listen to the unadorned Hank Williams demos that have become a staple of his most recent collections. Or - closer to home - listen to Elvis Presley's first halting steps on those primitive early demos. Would we want to be without them? Have they in any way been a source of embarrassment?

Rather than undermining the reputation of Sam Phillips, we think the demos have the opposite effect. To the extent that they reflect on Phillips at all (remember, he did not actually record them) they enhance his reputation as a producer. Bear in mind that these demos represent the best of what was found in the reject pile; the worst of them were unimaginably bad. Nevertheless, many of them still reveal how far Phillips had to go to make some of his records sound as good as they did. Here are samples of the raw clay from which Sam Phillips chose and fashioned his masterpieces. They, too, are part of the Sun Records story.

by Hank Davis 

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© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©