© March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310 (1-8) mono digital
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

The greatest-ever blues box now significantly upgraded! During the 1950s Sun Records founder Sam Phillips captured many of the finest post-War blues artists of all time, including B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Little Milton, Rufus Thomas, Junior Parker, Rosco Gordon, Sleepy John Estes, Earl Hooker, Walter Horton, James Cotton, and Ike Turner. Among the noteworthy original recordings are Jackie Brenston-Ike Turner's ''Rocket 88'', Junior Parker original ''Mystery Train'', Rufus Thomas's ''Bear Cat'', B.B. King's ''She's Dynamite'', Walter Horton's ''Easy'', Howlin' Wolf's ''Moanin' At Midnight'', Rosco Gordon's ''Booted'', and Honeyboy Edwards' early Robert Johnson-styled recording of ''Sweet Home Chicago''. All of them are here in newly restored sound, together with many other rare and collectible songs by now-classic Fifties blues singers like Doctor Ross, Joe Hill Louis, Willie Nix, Billy Love, and Charlie Booker who brought the ageless soul of the Delta into modern times. As the electric guitar came to fore, it became the predominant sound of post-War blues, and Phillips knew how to record it like no other producer ever had. Here are blues guitar titans Pat Hare, Willie Johnson, and Floyd Murphy, and of course B.B. King, Little Milton, Earl Hooker and Ike Turner at the dawn of their careers.

Sam Phillips also recorded Southern gospel and vocal groups. In the 1950s, Memphis was home to many of the finest Southern gospel groups, including the Brewster, the Southern Jubilee Singers, and the Jones Brothers. Their most enduring work is here. Among the vocal group classics is the Prisonaires' original recording of ''Just Walkin' In The Rain''.

Several significant caches of unissued recordings have come to light since the 1980s LP edition of this set. Among them are Sam Phillips' commercial for a cure-all patent medicine; a primitive John Lee Hookerstyles singer named J.C. Cole; and never-heard recordings by Walter Bradford, the Jones Brothers, Billy ''Red'' Love, and many more.

In all, there are 10 CDs featuring 306 recordings, 14 of them previously unissued. Additionally, renowned experts Steve LaVere, David Evans, and Jim O'Neal have made decades of research available, including biographical information and – above all – breathtaking photos from the golden era of Memphis blues. The essays and photos are housed in a 184-page, hardbound book authored by Hank Davis, Colin Escott, and Martin Hawkins.

Sam C. Phillips
Re-Issue Producers:
Hank Davis, Colin Escott, and Martin Hawkins
Disc/Metalpart Transfer:
Christian Zwarg and Steve LaVere
Source Research and Comparison:
Hank Davis, Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins
Jurgen Crasser
Liner Notes:
Hank Davis, Colin Escott, and Martin Hawkins
Additional Notes:
Steve LaVere, Rob Bowman, and Bez Turner
Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins
Evelyne Gerstenberger

Photos and Illustrations:
Steve LaVere, Victor Pearlin, George Paulis, David Evans, Doug Seroff,
The Showtime Music Archive (Toronto), R.A. Andreas, Colin Escott,
Hank Davis, Martin Hawkins, Cilla Huggins,
Dick Shurman, Bill Greensmith 

Photo Scans:
Andreas Merck and Steve LaVere
Photo Restoration:
Sam Malbuch
Mychael Gerstenberger 

Thanks to:
David Evans, Jim O'Neal, Bill Greensmith, Chris Bentley, Cilla Huggins,
Peter Guralnick, Bill Millar, Eric LeBlanc, Bob Eagle, Terry Stewart,
Jim Cole, Joe Filisko, Dale Franklin, Robert Loers, Doug Seroff, and
John Singleton and Phyllis Hill at Sun Entertainment, Nashville's 

Special thanks to the late Sam Phillips and the late Shelby Singleton 

For Biographies of Artists see: > The Sun Biographies <
For music (4-Star/Chess/RPM/Checker/JB/Trumpet/Sun standard singles) on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

CD 1 Contains ''Down South Blues''
1 - Cool Down Mamma (Lost John Hunter) > 4-Star 1492-A <
2 - Schoolboy (Lost John Hunter) > 4-Star 1492-B <
3 - Y-M And V Blues Lost John Hunter)  > 4-Star 1511-A <
4 - Boogie For Me Baby (Lost John Hunter) > 4-Star 1511-B <
*5 - Shorty The Barber (Charlie Burse) 
6 - Boogie In The Park (Joe Hill Louis) > It's The Phillips 9002 <
7 - Gotta Let You Go (Joe Hill Louis) > It's The Phillips 9001 <
*8 - Registration Day Blues (Sleepy John Estes) 
*9 - Policy Man (Sleepy John Estes) 
*10 - Rats In My Kitchen (Sleepy John Estes) 
*11 - Runnin' Around (Sleepy John Estes) 
12 - Doctor Ross Boogie (Doctor Ross) > Chess 1504-B <
13 - Country Clown (Doctor Ross) > Chess 1504-A < 
*14 - Cat Squirrel (Doctor Ross) 
*15 - Little Soldier Boy (Doctor Ross) 
*16 - Shake 'Em On Down (Doctor Ross) 
*17 - Down South Blues (Doctor Ross)
*18 - Texas Hop (Doctor Ross)
*19 - Can't Love Me And My Money Too (L.B. Lawson & James Scott)
*20 - Flypaper Boogie (L.B. Lawson & James Scott)
*21 - Got My Call Card (L.B. Lawson & James Scott)
*22 - Scott's Boogie (L.B. Lawson & James Scott)
*23 - They Call Me (William Stewart)
*24 - County Farm Blues (William Stewart)
*25 - Forty-Four Blues (William Stewart)
*26 - Rattlesnakin' Mama (William Stewart)
27 - Pretty Baby Blues (Woodrow Adams) > Checker 757-A <
28 - She's Done Come And Gone (Woodrow Adams) > Checker 757-B <
*29 - If You Don't Want Me (Woodrow Adams)
*30 - Last Time (Woodrow Adams)
*31 - Train Time (Woodrow Adams)
*32- Train Is Comin' (Woodrow Adams)
Original Sun Recordings

CD 2 Contains ''Everybody's In The Mood''
1 - Moanin' At Midnight (Howlin' Wolf) > Chess 1479-A < 
2 - How Many More Years (Howlin' Wolf) > Chess 1479-B <
*3 - Mr. Highway Man (Howlin' Wolf)
*4 - My Troubles And Me (Howlin' Wolf)
5 - Getting Old And Grey (Howlin' Wolf) > Chess 1510-A < 
*6 - My Baby Walked Off(Howlin' Wolf)
*7 - Everybody's In The Mood (Howlin' Wolf)
*8 - Decoration Day Blues (Howlin' Wolf)
*9 - Bluebird Blues (Howlin' Wolf)
*10 - Well That's Alright (Howlin' Wolf)
*11 - Come Back Home (Howlin' Wolf)
*12 - Little Walter's Instrumental (Walter Horton)
*13 - In The Mood (Walter Horton)
14 - We All Gotta Go Sometime (Walter Horton)
15 - West Winds Are Blowing (Walter Horton) > Chess 1529-B <
16 - Little Walter's Boogie (Walter Horton) > Chess 1529-A <
*17 - Off The Wall (Walter Horton)
*18 - Party Line Blues (Jimmy DeBerry)
*19 - Midnight Showers Of Rain (Willie Nix)
*20 - Prison Bound Blues (Willie Nix)
*21 - Ridin' In The Moonlight (Willie Nix)
*22 - Take A Little Walk With Me (Willie Nix)
*23 - That Ain't Right (Henry Hill & Doctor Ross)
*24 - Deep Down In The Ground (Doctor Ross)
*25 - Ain't Gonna Tell You No Lie (James Banister)
*26 - Love You, Love You Baby (Dennis Binder)
*27 - Baby Child (Elven Parr & His In The Groove)
*28 - I'm A Good Man (Elven Parr & His In The Groove)
*29 - In The Groove Rumba (Elven Parr & His In The Groove)
*30 - Skin And Bones Woman (Elven Parr & His In The Groove)
Original Sun Recordings

CD 3 Contains ''Real Gone Rockers''
1 - Rocket 88 (Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats) > Chess 1458-A <
2 - I'm Lonesome Baby (Ike Turner & His Kings Of Rhythm) > Chess 1459-B <
3 - Heartbroken And Worried (Ike Turner & His Kings Of Rhythm) > Chess 1459-A <
4 - B. B. Blues (B.B. King)She's Dynamite (B.B. King) < RPM 323-A <
5 - She's My Dynamite (B.B. King) > RPM 323-B <
6 - Independent Woman (Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats) > Chess 1472-B < 
7 - Ridin' The Boogie (Lou Sargent) > Chess 1465-A <
8 - My Real Gone Rocket (Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats) > Chess 1469-A <
9 - Tuckered Out (Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats)  > Chess 1469-B < 
*10 - Juiced (Billy Love)
11 - Booted (Rosco Gordon) > Chess 1487-A <
12 - Sam's Drag (L.J Thomas & His Louisiana Playboys) > Chess 1493-A < 
13 - Baby Take A Chance With Me (L.J Thomas & His Louisiana Playboys) > Chess 1493-B < 
14 - Drop Top (Billy Love) > Chess 1508-A <
*15 - It Ain't No More (Billy Love)
*16 - T Model Boogie (Rosco Gordon)
*17 - Wade Through Muddy Water (Rosco Gordon)
*18 - Decorate The Counter (Rosco Gordon)
19 - Decorate The Counter (Rufus Thomas) > Chess 1517-B <
*20 - Married Woman (Rufus Thomas)
*21 - You'll Be Sorry Someday (Houston Stokes)
*22 - We're All Gonna Do Some Wrong (Houston Stokes)
23 - Hi-Tone Mama (Walter ''Tang'' Smith) > J-B 606-B < 
24 - Every Monday Morning Blues (Walter ''Tang'' Smith) > J-B 606-A <
*25 - Early In The Morning (Billy Love)
26 - Early In The Morning, Baby (Tiny Kennedy) > Trumpet 187-A <
27 - Strange Kind Of Feeling (Tiny Kennedy) > Trumpet 187-B <
28 - Blues Disease (Tiny Kennedy) > Trumpet 188-B <
29 - Don't Lay This Job On Me (Tiny Kennedy) > Trumpet 188-A <
30 - Hot Fish (Sherman Johnson & His Clouds Of Joys) > Trumpet 190-A <
31 - Pretty Baby Blues (Sherman Johnson & His Clouds Of Joys) > Trumpet 189-A <
*32 - Got Me A Horse And Wagon (Unknown Artist)
Original Sun Recordings

CD 4 Contains ''Selling My Stuff''
1 - Selling My Whiskey (Incomplete) Jackie Boy & Little Walter > Sun 174-B <
2 - Drivin' Slow (Johnny London) > Sun 175-A <
3 - Flat Tire (Johnny London)  > Sun 175-B < 
*4 - Untitled Blues (Incomplete) Walter Bradford)
5 - Got My Application Baby (Handy Jackson) > Sun 177-A <
6 - Trouble (Will Bring You Down) (Handy Jackson)  > Sun 177-B <
7 - We All Gotta Go Sometime (Joe Hill Louis)  > Sun 178-A < 
8 - She May Be Yours (But She Comes To See Me Sometime) (Joe Hill Louis) > Sun 178-B <
9 - Seems Like A Million Years (Willie Nix) > Sun 179-B <
10 - Baker Shop Boogie (Willie Nix) > Sun179-A <
11 - Easy (Jimmy DeBerry & Walter Horton) < Sun 180-A <
12 - Before Long (Jimmy DeBerry) > Sun 180-B <
13 - Bear Cat (The Answer To Hound Dog) (Rufus Thomas Jr.) > Sun 181-A < 
14 - Walkin' In The Rain (Rufus Thomas Jr.) > Sun 181-B <
15 - Greyhound Blues (D.A. Hunt) > Sun 183-B <
16 - Lonesome Old Jail (D.A. Hunt) > Sun 183-A <
17 - Call Me Anything (But Call Me) (Big Memphis Ma Rainey) > Sun184-A <
18 - Baby, No No! (Big Memphis Ma Rainey) > Sun 184-B <
19 - Take A Little Chance (Jimmy DeBerry) > Sun 185-A <
20 - Time Has Made A Change (Jimmy DeBerry) > Sun 185-B <
21 - Baby Please (The Prisonaires) > Sun 186-A <
22 - Just Walkin' In The Rain (The Prisonaires) > Sun 186-B <
23 - Feelin' Good (Little Junior's Blue Flames) > Sun 187-A <
24 - Fussin' And Fightin' Blues (Little Junior's Blue Flames) > Sun 187-B < 
25 - Save That Money (Rufus Thomas Jr.) > Sun 188-B <
26 - Tiger Man (King of the Jungle) (Rufus Thomas Jr.) > Sun 188-A <
27 - Mystery Train (Little Junior's Blue Flames) > Sun 192-A <
28 - Love My Baby (Little Junior's Blue Flames) > Sun 192-B <
29 - Come Back Baby (Doctor Ross) > Sun 193-A <
30 - Chicago Breakdown (Doctor Ross) > Sun 193-B <
31 - Wolf Call Boogie (Coy Hot Shot Love)  > Sun 196-A <
32 - Harmonica Jam (Coy Hot Shot Love) > Sun 196-B <
Original Sun Recordings

CD 5 Contains ''Listenable Wax For The Southern Market''
*1 - Reward For My Baby (Walter Bradford)
*2 - Love For My Baby (Walter Bradford)
*3 - Too Blue To Cry (Walter Bradford)
*4 - Lucy Done Moved (Walter Bradford)
*5 - Sweet Home Chicago (Honeyboy Edwards)
*6 - Rumble Chillen (Albert Williams)
*7 - Hoo Doo Man (Albert Williams)
8 - When I Am Gone (She Treats Me Mean And Evil) (Joe Hill Louis) > Checker 763-B <
9 - Dorothy Mae (Joe Hill Louis) > Checker 763-B <
*10 - Keep Your Arms Around Me (Joe Hill Louis)
*11 - I'm A Poor Boy(Joe Hill Louis)
*12 - She May Be Yours (Sweetest Gal In Town) (Joe Hill Louis)
*13 - Hydramatic Woman (Joe Hill Louis)
*14 - Tiger Man (Joe Hill Louis)
*15 - Shine Boy (Joe Hill Louis)
*16 - Mistreatin' Boogie (Mose Vinson)
*17 - Worry You Off My Mind (Mose Vinson)
*18 - Reap What You Sow (Mose Vinson)
*19 - 44 Blues (Mose Vinson)
*20 - Come See Me (aka My Love Has Gone) (Mose Vinson)
*21 - Feelin' Bad (Little Junior's Blue Flames)
22 - My Baby (James Cotton) > Sun 199-A <
23 - Straighten Up Baby (James Cotton) > Sun 199-B <
24 - Cotton Crop Blues (James Cotton)  > Sun 206-A <
25 - Hold Me In Your Arms(James Cotton) > Sun 206-B <
*26 - Cheating And Lying Blues (aka I'm Gonna Murder My Baby) (Pat Hare)
*27 - Bonus Pay (Pat Hare)
*28 - Harpin' On It (Coy Hot Shot Love)
*29 - Blue And Lonesome (Houston Stokes)
*30 - Baby's Gone And Left Me (Houston Stokes)
*31 - High (Kenneth Banks)
*32 - Blue Man (Kenneth Banks)
Original Sun Recordings

CD 6 Contains ''Kings Of Rhythm''
*1 - Long Gone (Raymond Hill)
*2 - My Baby Left Me (Raymond Hill)
*3 - I'm Back Pretty Baby (Raymond Hill)
*4 - Somebody's Been Carryin' Your Rollin' On (Raymond Hill)
*5 - Love Is A Gamble (Bonnie Turner)
*6 - Old Brother Jack (Bonnie Turner)
*7 - Blues Train (Tot Randolph)
*8 - Ugly Woman (Peg Leg Baby) (Johnny O'Neal)
*9 - Dead Letter Blues (Johnny O'Neal)
*10 - Johnny's Dream (Johnny O'Neal)
11 - Beggin' My Baby (Little Milton) > Sun 194-A <
12 - Somebody Told Me (1) (Little Milton) > Sun 194-B < 
*13 - I Love My Baby (Little Milton)
*14 - Carry My Business On (Houston Boines)
*15 - Standing In The Courthouse Crying (Houston Boines)
16 - If You Love Me (Little Milton) > SUN 200-A <
17 - Alone And Blue (Little Milton) > SUN 200-B <
*18 - She's My Queen (Little Milton)
*19 - Re-Beep (Previously issued as Re-Beat) (Little Milton)
*20 - Lookin' For My Baby (Little Milton)
*21 - Rode That Train (Lookin' For My Baby) (Little Milton)
*22 - Homesick For My Baby (Little Milton)
*23 - Steel Guitar Rag (Earl Hooker)
*24 - Blue Guitar (Earl Hooker)
*25 - The Drive (Earl Hooker)
*26 - Move On Down The Line (Earl Hooker)
*27 - The Hucklebuck (Earl Hooker)
*28 - Believe I'll Settle Down (Boyd Gilmore)
*29 - Pinetop's Boogie Woogie (Pinetop Perkins)
*30 - Gonna Leave You Baby (Sammy Lewis & Willie Johnson)
*31 - I Feel So Worried -1 (Sammy Lewis & Willie Johnson)
32 - I Feel So Worried -2 (Sammy Lewis & Willie Johnson) > Sun 218-A <
33 - So Long Baby Goodbye (Sammy Lewis & Willie Johnson) > Sun 218-B < 
Original Sun Recordings

CD 7 Contains ''Red Hot Rhythm''
*1 - Gee I Wish (Billy Love)
*2 - The News Is All Around Town (Billy Love)
*3 - Hey Now (Billy Love)
*4 - Way After Midnight (Billy Love)
*5 - Hart's Bread Boogie (Billy Love)
*6 - Sittin' At The Bar (Little Junior's Blue Flames)
*7 - Sittin' At The Window (Little Junior's Blue Flames)
*8 - Sittin' Drinkin' And Thinkin' (Little Junior's Blue Flames)
9 - The Snuggle (Raymond Hill) > Sun 204-B <
10 - Bourbon Street Jump (Raymond Hill) > Sun 204-A <
*11 - Shim Sham Shimmy (Billy 'The Kid' Emerson)
12 - When It Rains It Pours (Billy 'The Kid' Emerson)  > Sun 214-B <
13 - Move Baby Move (Billy 'The Kid' Emerson) > Sun 214-A <
14 - Red Hot (Billy 'The Kid' Emerson) > Sun 219-A <
*15 - Satisfied (Billy 'The Kid' Emerson)
16 - Something For Nothing (Billy 'The Kid' Emerson) > Sun 233-B <
17 - Little Fine Healthy Thing (Billy 'The Kid' Emerson) > Sun 233-A <
*18 - Baby I'm Coming Home (Charlie Booker)
*19 - Walked All Night (Charlie Booker)
*20 - Don't Dog Me Around (Eddie Snow)
*21 - Mean Mean Woman (Eddie Snow)
*22 - Stay With Me Baby (Eddie Snow)
*23 - Who's Been Drinking My Wine (Eddie Snow)
*24 - Sorry Little Baby (Eddie Snow)
*25 - Got To Put You Down (Eddie Snow)
26 - Bring Your Love Back Home (Eddie Snow) > Sun 226-B <
27 - Ain't That Right (Eddie Snow) > Sun 226-A <
*28 - That's What You Do To Me (Rosco Gordon)
*29 - I Found A New Love (Rosco Gordon)
*30 - I'm Gonna Shake It (Rosco Gordon)
*31 - Let's Get High(Rosco Gordon)
*32 - Go Ahead On (Guitar Red)
*33 - Baby Please Don't Go (Guitar Red)
Original Sun Recordings

CD 8 Contains ''There Is Love In You''
*1 - Just Walking In The Rain (2) (The Prisonaires)
2 - A Prisoner's Prayer (The Prisonaires) > SUN 191-A <
*3 - Don't Say Tomorrow (The Prisonaires)
4 - There Is Love In You (The Prisonaires) > Sun 207-A <
*5 - Gonna Have To Let You Be (The Five Tinos)
6 - Don't Do That (The Five Tinos) > Sun 222-A <
7 - Sitting By My Window(The Five Tinos) > Sun 222-B <
*8 - New Orleans (Rosco Gordon)
9 - Shoobie Oobie (Rosco Gordon) > Sun 257-B <
*10 - Mean Old Gin (Ed Kirby)
*11 - Blue Nights (Ed Kirby)
*12 - Gonna Break That Lock (Big Lucky Carter)
*13 - I Want My Baby Back (Hunky Dory)
*14 - Baby Don't Leave Me (Hunky Dory)
*15 - I Wonder Why (Hunky Dory)
*16 - This Misery (Hunky Dory)
17 - Where Shall I Be (When That First Trumpet Soul (The Brewsteraires) > Chess 1502-A <
18 - (The Lord Gave Me) Wings For My Soul (The Brewsteraires) > Chess 1502-B < 
*19 - There's A Man In (The Jerusalem Southern Jubilees)
*20 - Forgive Me Lord (The Jerusalem Southern Jubilees)
*21 - He Never Left Me Alone (The Jerusalem Southern Jubilees)
*22 - Blessed Be The Name (The Jerusalem Southern Jubilees)
23 - Softly And Tenderly (The Prisonaires) > Sun 189-B <
24 - My God Is Real (The Prisonaires) > Sun 189-A <
*25 - Amazing Grace (The Jones Brothers)
*26 - Gospel Train (The Jones Brothers)
27 - Look To Jesus (The Jones Brothers) > Sun 213-A <
28 - Every Night (The Jones Brothers) > Sun 213-B <
*29 - I'm Sealed (Brother Russell)
*30 - Every Night (The Jones Brothers)
*31 - A Lady Called Mother (Hunky Dory)
*32 - Workin' On A Building (Hunky Dory)
Original Sun Recordings

CD 9 Contains ''Outtakes''
*1 - (Have You Ever Had) Trouble (2) (Handy Jackson)
2 - You're Gonna Cry (Billy Love) > Chess 1508-B <
*3 - Runnin' Around -2 (Sleepy John Estes)
4 -* Skin And Bones Woman -2 (Elven Parr's In The Groove Boys)
*5 - Little Walter's Boogie -2 (Walter Horton)
*6 - That Ain't Right -2 Henry Hill & Doctor Ross)
*7 - She May Be Yours (But She Comes To See Me Some Time) (Joe Hill Louis)
*8 - Sweet Home Chicago -2 (Honeyboy Edwards)
*9 - Off The Wall -2 (Little Walker)
*10 - Believe I'll Settle Down -2 (Boyd Gilmore)
*11 - Ugly Woman -2 (Johnny O'Neal)
*12 - Dead Letter Blues -2 (Johnny O'Neal)
*13 - Johnny's Dream -2 (Johnny O'Neal)
*14 - Wolf Call Boogie -2 (Hot Shot Love)
*15 - Way After Midnight -2 (Billy Love)
*16 - Gee I Wish -2 (Billy Love)
*17 - The News Is All Around Town -2 (Billy Love)
*18 - Rode That Train/Lookin' For My Baby -3 (Little Milton)
*19 - I Feel So Worried -3 (Sammy Lewis & Willie Johnson)
*20 - So Long Baby Goodbye -2 (Sammy Lewis & Willie Johnson)
*21 - Left Job Boogie (Doctor Ross)
*22 - Walked All Night -2 (Charlie Booker)
*23 - Baby I'm Coming Home -2 (Charlie Booker)
*24 - (I Know) You Don't Love Me (Ike Turner & Tommy Hodge)
*25 - Down & Out (aka How Long Will It Last) (Ike Turner & Tommy Hodge)
*26 - You Ain't The One (Ike Turner & Tommy Hodge)
*27 - Matchbox (aka I'm Gonna Forget About You) (Ike Turner & Tommy Hodge)
*28 - Cheating And Lying Blues (aka I'm Gonna Murder (Pat Hare)
Original Sun Recordings

CD 10 Contains ''Revelations''
*1 - John The Revelator (Unknown Gospel Group)
*2 - Tree Of Life (Advertising Spot) (Sam Phillips)
*3 - I Am Bound For Canaan Land (Unknown Gospel Group)
*4 - Play The Game Baby (Lost John Hunter)
*5 - Ida Mae (J.C. Cole)
*6 - South Side Blues (J.C. Cole)
*7 - Move Me No More (J.C. Cole)
*8 - No Right Blues (Deep Blue Sea Blues) (J.C. Cole)
*9 - Outside Friend (Willie Carr)
10 - Beale St. Shuffle (The Four Cruisers) > Chess 1547-A <
11 - On Account Of You (Joseph Dobbin & The Four Cruisers) > Chess 1547-B <
*12 - Juicehead (Unknown Artist)
*13 - V O Baby (Unknown Artist)
*14 - Detroit Arrow Blues (Shy Guy Douglas)
*15 - Work With Her Boy (Shy Guy Douglas)
*16 - Hip Shakin' Mama (Shy Guy's Back In Town) (Shy Guy Douglas)
*17 - Oh Baby (Unknown Vocal Group)
18 - Lord Stop The War (Evangelist Gospel Singers Of Alabama) > Chess 1473-B <
19 - Leaning On The Lord (Evangelist Gospel Singers Of Alabama) > Chess 1473-A <
20 - Walk In The Light (Evangelist Gospel Singers Of Alabama) > Chess 1486-B < 
21 - Never Grow Old (Evangelist Gospel Singers Of Alabama) > Chess 1486-A < 
22 - I'll Search Heaven (Spiritual Stars) > Chess 1485-B < 
23 - Good Religion (Spiritual Stars) > Chess 1485-A < 
Original Sun Recordings 

© Original Sun Recordings, licensed from Sun Entertainment, Inc.
*- Not Originally Issued

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

> Page Up <


THE SUN BLUES YEARS - When Sam Phillips formally opened the Memphis Recording Service, large numbers of local blues musicians walked through the company front door. In order to understand Phillips' success, it is necessary to examine his relationship with Memphis musicians and key figures in the music business.

At the time, the record business was dominated by corporate giants. The major record labels - Decca, RCA, Columbia, and Capitol - soon found that they were challenged by three new labels: MGM, Mercury, and London. To Phillips' surprise, none of these companies paid any attention to the blues. Several small labels - Chess, Atlantic, Imperial, and others - were competing for the artists at the center of Sam Phillips' attention, however.

At first, the Memphis Recording Service simply recorded master tapes for these other small labels to release. Leonard Chess or one of the Bihari brothers would order a tape, and Sam Phillips would record the artist. While there was no money in making these recordings for others, Phillips found it excellent training for future success with his own label.

Initially, Phillips' plan was to sign and record some of the best local artists, and sell the master tapes to the growing army of independent record labels. He began asking around about music groups that he could record. If a band could be recorded effectively, Sam Phillips reasoned, the master could be sold to a name record label by his recording company.

Bill McCall of 4-Star and Gilt-Edge Records became one of Sam Phillips' earliest customers. 4-star, a Los Angeles-based company, had discovered Cecil Gant, a black crossover piano player with a boogie-woogie sound. McCall also bought songs from an Oakland-based songwriter, Bob Geddins. Geddins was one of many black songwriters who convinced McCall that black artists could record in a white vein. The ties that Phillips established with McCall not only helped educate Sam about the record business, but McCall provided an example of a slick record promoter whose astuteness interested him even more in the commercial possibilities of black music.

When Bill McCall asked Sam Phillips to cut some demos for 4-Star, Sam jumped at the chance. In May and June 1951, Sam Phillips recorded two blues artists, a piano player, Lost John Hunter, and a blues guitarist, Charlie Burse. One song from this session "Cool Down Mama" (4-Star 1942) by Lost John Hunter and the Blind Bats was registered with B.M.I. in September 1951 and released to immediate obscurity. It is an important song, because this was Sam Phillips, first blues release.

Sam Phillips also entered into an agreement with Modern Records magnates Jules and Saul Bihari to produce tapes for their new RPM label. After recording Joe Hill Louis, Phineas Newborn, and the Gospel Travelers, Sam Phillips once again was struck with the notion of turning out his own records. The Joe Hill Louis tapes intrigued Phillips because he realized that Louis' versatile musical talents could be used in the studio to back other artists.

The Biharis recognized Memphis' unique musical talent. In the summer of 1949, B.B. King signed a contract with the RPM label and recorded songs that became Memphis hits. B.B. King's "Woke Up This Morning", "B.B's Blues", and "B.B's Boogie" were songs that Sam Phillips loved, and they influenced his decision to open his own record business. RPM had not only released B.B. King's records, but regularly scouted local Memphis clubs for new acts. When some of the artists that Sam Phillips recorded for the Biharis opted for other labels, there were harsh words. By late 1951, the tension between Phillips and Bihari brothers were obvious to most musicians hanging around the Memphis Recording Service; Phillips, everyone also noticed, thought incessantly about turning out his own records.

Sam Phillips' reputation as an innovative producer was largely due to his recording of "Rocket 88". The tune featured the lead vocal of Ike Turner's saxophonist, Jackie Brenston. Sam Phillips recorded Walter Horton's harmonica and jug band virtuoso Jack Kelly. Sam recorded Jackie Boy, Little Walter and Johnny London.

Sam Phillips was a perfectionist with an ear for the right sound, and if the sound wasn't exactly right he shelved plans for the record. The key to Sun Records reputation and success was the quality of its product. From the beginning, Sun recordings had to be commercial in order to be released. All of the early blues recording sessions, which took place at night because Sam was selling his products during the day, were supervised by Phillips' because he didn't trust the instincts of those around him.

One of the most obscure but significant Memphis musicians was an harmonica player named James Cotton. In 1953, Cotton's band featured guitarist Pat Hare, and in December of that year Sam Phillips brought Cotton and his band into Sun Records to record two songs.

It was Les Bihari who made the deal with Sam Phillips to produce masters for Modern, and they released some Howlin' Wolf tunes. Many of the Howlin' Wolf songs that Phillips recorded were not released, because of arguments over songwriting credit.

Most Sun Records' artists have commented that Sam Phillips did pay his artists a fair royalty. He was often late with the royalty payments, but this was due to the lack of available cash. During recording sessions, Phillips paid a small, but fair, wage to his session men.

By 1952, however, Sun Records was established as a legitimate business. The first two years were experimental ones as Phillips learned the ropes. It was necessary to turn a profit with vanity records to guarantee that enough money could be generated to continue the Sun Records operation. Once the company began, however, Phillips was confident that he could turn out successful blues records.

From 1951 to 1953, Sam Phillips strongest efforts were in the blues field, where he turned out some of the finest music in the South. He recorded or listened to B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Big Walter Horton, Little Junior Parker, Willie Nix, Big Ma Rainey, Howlin' Wolf, Rosco Gordon, and Rufus Thomas among others. In Memphis, blues artists enabled Sam Phillips to sell large quantities of records. Phillips paid the artist a fair price for the music and didn't interfere with their recording style. It was this widespread confidence in Phillips' production techniques that fostered a word-of-mouth reputation which brought the South's best blues acts to the Sun studio.

By the oddest coincidence, the man who is ascribed as having written the first "Memphis Blues", in 1912, W.C. Handy, was born - like Sam Phillips - in Florence, Alabama. Handy became a bandleader, playing dances throughout the South, tunes like "Cotton Blossoms" or "Sousa's Stars And Stripes Forever". However, Handy also heard the music of the field hands and railroad workers as he travelled through the South, and one night in 1903 at Tutwiler railroad station he heard a "lean, loose-jointed Negro" play a blues which featured the line "Goin' where the Southern cross the Dog". It was a revelation to Handy, and he gradually incorporated elements of blues into his work. Like Sam Phillips would some halfcentury later, Handy too, worked in Memphis and in 1909 found himself hanging out at Pee Wee's saloon and gambling joint, and working to elect. E.H. Crump as Mayor. The tune he used gradually became the "Memphis Blues", with its 12-bar format. It was the first of many blues, but the (relatively unsophisticated) musicians whom Handy had learned from would have to wait their turn in the spotlight until he advent of the 78-rpm disc.

Black musicians had been recorded on wax cylinders as early as 1902, but what is widely accepted as the first blues recording - Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues" - wasn't made until 1920. Its subsequent success ensured that many more would follow, and after running the gamut of vaudeville singers, Jazz bands and Choirs, the record companies gradually picket up the courage to record country blues - and were frequently astonished at the resulting sales figures.

From 1927 onwards, Memphis was often the target of field recording units, but after the Depression this ceased - apart from one lone ARC session in 1939. Strangely enough, three of the singers featured here in this publication - Charlie Burse, Jack Kelly, and Jimmy DeBerry - got a chance to record then, their last sessions before recording for Sam Phillips more than a decade later.

The outbreak of World War 2, allied to record company policy, the shellac shortage, and the recording ban enforced by the AFM scotched any further local blues-oriented recording dates in the short-term. Meanwhile, the major record companies had settled into a formulaic rut (so what's new?) using session musicians, and generally ignoring individual talent from the South. They continued in this vein after the war, and were subsequently usurped by the burgeoning power of the Independent labels, who were quick to exploit public demand for more exciting, up-to-date rhythm and blues, and soon swept the majors out of the scene.

Sam Phillips was the forefront of this upsurge, and initially, he had Memphis - the natural migration point for blacks from the Tri-State area (Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee) - virtually to himself. He sought out local musicians via radio shows (notably his own spot on WREC radio and his "blood brother" Dewey Phillips daily WHBQ radio show) and talents scouts (e.g. Ike Turner) and quickly built up the roster of talent which earned him a formidable reputation - and ultimately, the successes which led to the appearance of serious competition locally via labels like Meteor Records.

After great blues came great rockabilly but after a decade of hectic recording Phillips started to lose interest and eventually sold out, investing his money in the Holiday Inn chain. But that's another story.

by Colin Escott, Hank Davis, and Martin Hawkins

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