© May 27, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17313 mono digital
THE SUN ROCK BOX 1954 - 1959

''At Sun Records in the rock and roll days'', said Sun artist Mack Self, ''there would be the stars' pink Cadillacs parked up front on Union Avenue. Out back, there would be the beat-up Fords and pickup trucks of country boys like me trying to make it''.

Here on eight CDs and in the accompanying 224-page hardcover book authored by Hank Davis, Colin Escott, and Martin Hawkins, is the story of rock and roll on Sun Records, the place where it all began. Here are the mighta-beens, shoulda-beens, never-weres, fleeting stars, and forever stars. This is music from a mythic place and time: the Sun Records studio at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, between 1954 and 1959. This is the music that changed the world.

Here are Sun Records' great rock and roll stars, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison, alongside Sun legends like Sonny Burgess, Warren Smith, Billy Riley, Ray Harris, Hayden Thompson, Gene Simmons, Carl Mann, Bill Justis, and Ray Smith, together with all the great unknowns. Here are future country stars Ed Bruce, Charley Pride, Dickey Lee, Mickey Gilley, Charlie Rich, and Conway Twitty, shakin; it up for all they're worth! Above all, here is the sound of rock and roll at the moment of creation. Listen to it unfold week-by-week, session-by-session!

This upgraded edition of the legendary 12-LP set from 1986 includes songs from that box together with 33 additional performances. The stories, photos, discography, and sound have all been substantially upgraded.

Producers:
Sam C. Phillips, Jack Clement, Bill Justis, and Ernie Barton
Re-Issue Producers:
Hank Davis, Colin Escott, and Martin Hawkins
Disc/Metalpart Transfer:
Christian Zwarg
Source Research and Comparison:
Hank Davis, Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins
Mastering:
Jurgen Crasser
Liner Notes:
Hank Davis, Colin Escott, and Martin Hawkins
Additional Notes:
Dave Booth, Colin Davies, Bo Berglind, Rob Bowman, Ray Hobock, Ross Johnson,
Klaus Keltner, Craig Maki, Bill Millar, and Tony Wilkinson
Discography:
Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins
Transcription. Editing:
Evelyne Gerstenberger

Photos and Illustrations:
The Showtime Music Archive (Toronto), R.A. Andreas, Colin Escott,
Hank Davis, and Martin Hawkins
Photo Scans:
Andreas Merck
Photo Restoration:
Sam Malbuch
Artwork:
Mychael Gerstenberger 

Thanks to:
Dominique Anglares, the late Charlie Barbat, Danny Bowen, Jime Cole, Lane Cowart,
Ed Dettenheim, Peter Guralnick, Robert Loers, Bill Millar, Larry Rumsey,
Wayne Russell, Terry Stewart, Dave Travis, and Al Turner. 

Thanks also to John Singleton and Phyllis Hill at Sun Entertainment, Nashville 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

INTRODUCTION

"At Sun Records in the rock and roll days'', recalled country singer Mack Self, "there would be the stars' pink Cadillacs parked up front on Union Avenue. Out back, there would be the beat-up Fords and pickup trucks of country boys like me trying to make it''

Across these eight CDs, we have the full spectrum of rock 'and roll recorded at Sun Records. The mights-beens, should-beens, never-wears, fleeting stars, and forever stars. Here, everyone gets a chance to shine.

This music came from a mythic place and time: the Memphis Recording Service studio at 706 Union Avenue, Memphis during the mid-to-late 1950s. In an age of hyperbole, it's no exaggeration to say this music changed the world. That it came from such an unprepossessing place in an era of such stifling conformity makes it all the more remarkable, and magnifies the achievement of Sun Records president Sam Phillips. The fact that most of these artists had never recorded anywhere before they arrived at Sun places Phillips' accomplishment in even sharper focus. No one in the hundred-and-twenty-five year history of the record business has ever shown a comparable flair for discovering and nurturing unproven talent.

This is an upgraded edition of the 12-LP box issued in 1986. It couples many then unissued or alternative versions of classic recordings by Sun's heavy hitters with songs by performers who had entered the studio believing that success would be theirs if they could only stand where Elvis stood. For this CD edition, we have retained every song and all the banter from the original LP box and added another 33 songs. This collection is not only a companion to Bear Family's ''Sun Blues Box'' and ''Sun Country Box'', but to ''The Complete Sun Singles'', a series of six 4-CD boxes comprising every Sun, Flip, and Phillips International single. Certainly, there are some original singles here, but the focus tilts toward alternate takes and artists who didn't see their work on one of those fabled 45s.

The texts, photo selection, and sound have been substantially upgraded. This edition also includes Elvis Presley, whose invisible and inaudible presence loomed over the LP set. Practically everyone who recorded at Sun between 1955 and 1959 was there because of Elvis. That's not to say that they were there to copy him. Many of these performers had their own style. Many others gave Elvis only a passing nod. His influence came as much through his success. He, like them, was a hillbilly from some little podunk town. Success seemed tantalizingly attainable.

If you talked to the artists in this box - and we have talked to most of them - the majority of their biographies would go like this: they started out singing country music, perhaps with a little gospel, blues or pop thrown in. Then one day, they saw Elvis Presley on stage or heard him on the radio. Depending on the magnitude of their talent or ego, their reaction was, "help, that guy ain't doing anything I can't do" or "this guy has really got a cool new sound and I want in''. The details differ, but Elvis Presley's overarching influence was almost unavoidable.

It was just a short distance from up-tempo early 1950s hillbilly music to rockabilly. Hank Williams came pretty close, and cultural historians often point out that Elvis Presley's first record appeared nineteen months after Williams died, as if the baton had been passed after a brief intermission. But it's worth remembering that nine months before Hank Williams died, Bill Haley released ''Rock The Joint''. The Pennsylvania polka bars and union halls where Haley stumbled upon his music didn't have the eye candy appeal of Memphis after dark but if rock and roll was a hybrid of early 1950s rhythm and blues, country, and pop, then Haley was there first. Remember too that pop cover versions of rhythm and blues hits were starting to proliferate before Elvis. Only a cultural figurehead was needed. The unabashedly rural Hank Williams wasn't it, Bill Haley wasn't it, but Elvis was. Sam Phillips' achievement was to recognize and foster what Elvis could be.

As early as 1951, one year after starting the Memphis Recording Service, Sam Phillips recorded Frank Floyd, a white musician with an authentic take on black music, albeit the black music of the 1920s. The earliest records by white artists on Sun had titles that could pass for blues - ''Boogie Blues'', ''Blues Waltz'', ''My Kind Of Carryin' On'' - even if the music couldn't. Sam Phillips most assuredly knew what he wanted to hear, even if he hadn't yet heard it. And then came Elvis Presley. In his wake came the other artists on this set. To them, Sam Phillips brought his intuition, his patience, and his salesmanship. 1f it sometimes seemed random why one artist saw a release when another would see his tapes left on the shelf, it probably came down to the same sort of hunch that led Phillips to tell Presley to take another shot at ''That's All Right'' or led him to stop Jerry Lee Lewis's demo tape after thirty seconds and tell Jack Clement to go get him. If you want rational judgments, don't expect them from the guy who signed Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Along the way, Sam Phillips created a studio sound. An increment of delay in bouncing the signal between two tape machines wasn't Phillips' innovation, but he employed it as no one ever had. His tiny studio had an intimacy that forced the musicians to play with cohesion. And then there were the backing musicians themselves. For several years, Phillips used Billy Riley's Little Green Men as his studio band: drummer J.M. Van Eaton, guitarists Roland Janes and Riley himself, pianist Jimmy Wilson, and saxophonists Ace Cannon and Martin Willis. Before them, Phillips drew from a pool that included the more formal and less eccentric Johnny Bernero on drums, guitarists Brad Suggs or Buddy Holobaugh, and the ever-unreliable Smokey Joe Baugh on piano. Their pay was low, often two dollars an hour, but nothing else they ever did assured their place in history like their work at Sun Records.

Before we leave the impression that all was wonder and excitement at 706 Union Avenue, we have listened to every surviving Sun Records tape and we can state for a fact that Sam Phillips was most often correct in his judgment of what to leave on the shelf. To us, the value of this anthology is that it contextualizes the big hits that we've all come to know so well. The chronology supplies an even fuller picture. This is the way the story unfurled, week by week, session by session. And now CD by CD.

- Colin Escott on behalf of the producers:
Hank Davis, Colin Escott, and Martin Hawkins.

THANK YOU

Most of the research for the original LP set was conducted by us. The only additional help we had then was the use of some interviews by Dave Booth and Rob Bowman. For this revised CD version we have updated our own research and added to it, but we have also been grateful for the help of a number of other researchers and experts as we picked our way through the piles of new information - and misinformation - that has come to light in the last quarter of a century.

We asked a few people who had undertaken particular interviews whether we could adapt some of their original writing, and this box benefits from their help: they are Dave Booth, Colin Davies, Bo Berglind, Rob Bowman, Roy Hobock, Ross Johnson, Klaus Kettner, Craig Maki, Bill Millar, and Tony Wilkinson. Some of the biographies included here were read and checked by Wayne Russell whose knowledge of the foot-soldiers and kings of rock and roll is second to none. Researcher Bill Millar opened his considerable files and memory in our support, yet again. Several researchers and record collectors helped with information or discs; in particular Jim Cole, Robert Loers, Larry Rumsey, Al Turner, Ed Dettenheim, Danny Bowen, Dave Travis, Dominique Anglares and Lane Cowart. As always, Phyllis Hill at Sun Entertainment Corp in Nashville was willing to check their files and tapes for things we had forgotten or were unsure about. A large number of the singers and musicians who appear on these CDs helped with interviews or information. This is made clear in the biographies section.

- Hank Davis, Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins, October 2012

SAM PHILLIPS' ROCKING YEARS
Introduction and interview by Martin Hawkins

Sam Phillips almost invented rock and roll twice. First in 1951 with rhythm and blues musicians like Ike Turner, Jackie Brenton and Rosco Gordon, when he recorded top selling black hits such as ''Rocket 88''. Then again between 1954 and 1956 when Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins evolved with Sam the rockabilly style, and the Sun Sound.

In March 1986, some thirty years after Perkins' ''Blue Suede Shoes'' became the first really big-selling Sun rock and roll record, I talked to Sam about the origins of rockabilly and of Sun main artists. Sam had this to Say:

I started out recording country music and rhythm and blues We gained some hits in the blues field, too, but if couldn't get the music liked to a wider audience. I knew that a lot of white people, particularly the younger people. Were listening surreptitiously to black music. My only path into the white audience was a that time through country music. However, between the west coast and Nashville, I really didn't think there was of scope for me to overturn the patterns that were becoming established in pure country music. I knew I had to find something different.

You see, I knew that there was a lot of raw talent, in blues and music. I saw my role as being the facilitator. The man who listened to an artist for his native abilities, then tried to encouraged and channel the artist into what would be a proper outlet tor his abilities. I wasn't interested in just a good singer; there had to be something distinctive there me to decide to spend time with an artist.

So, really. the rock and toll we came out with was the result of a time of experimentation. Scotty Moore and Bill Black really kinda evolved the rockabilly sound through discussions that we had right there in the studio. I credit Scotty Moore with being one of the easiest persons to work with, and for having a real desire be innovative his mind was open and that was an awful lot of help to me. He had a lot of patience too, though he was serious in his intentions, He had been around the studio for a while hoping there was some way I could use him, and he was sympathetic to the thing I was trying to do - to see if we could come up with something a little different.

Scotty was maybe not the greatest overall guitar player I worked with, but he was able to develop style playing, first with Doug Poindexter and then with Elvis Presley. One thing did not like was that Scotty was a great fan of Chet Atkins and I didn't have that kind of playing in mind. But, like say, he was willing to try something else, end he was really keen to succeed. Bill Black was playing with Poindexter and Scotty Moore, and he just caught my ear as a real good rhythm bass player. He had a stand up that had an unusual sound, a slap beat and a tonal beat at one time. It was important that we worked a rhythm into the patterns since did not use drums much back in 1954. Both Scotty and Bill felt that w hat I was trying to do was right. When Elvis came along they were willing to work hard on coming up with a sound. Bill, though, was not nearly as it Scotty was Bill was a night gig type of person, at least at first.

You see, most artists that came into my studio were amateurs in the sense they had to be given time to get comfortable with recording. Only people like Slim Rhodes or someone who was on radio or gigging regularly with band would even begin to know what was involved in the techniques of recording. One Of these so-called was Elvis Presley. When he to me he was not gigging regularly. He didn't even know the protocol of how to get an audition with me. Apparently he walked past times he even had the courage to walk to 706 Union. Finally he got the courage to come in and ask to make a personal disc for his mother, which I did help him with. For all his inexperience - he had not played professional until he going on club dates with Doug and Scotty - Elvis was very accomplished in one way. He was very aware of what was going on in the music world. He knew all the black musicians and the country guys too. He could sing some pop. Mostly though, when I first saw him. he was very much into gospel quartet music.

The first time I saw Elvis was when he came into the studio one day, I can recall what he looked like. He was without hardly any means at all. He had a style about him but he was obviously from a humble background. Physically, he had the long sideburns which was unusual then, and the hair oil that was unconventional. He put too much oil on his hair because, I later found out, that he was disgruntled with his hair. It grew out in all directions. That was why he combed his hair all the time. Apart from those things, what impressed me was his eyes, which were very pure. Here seemed to he a genuine sort of person. He was very contrite, very keen but totally lacking in confidence. Anyway he went into the studio to make the record which he said was for his mother. When I first heard him on microphone, I was very impressed with the innate purity of his voice. It seemed to come through, even though in the audition situation he was under some stress.

As things evolved and I decided to work with Elvis to see if we could make a record, I found that music was such a great part of his life. He was so desirous of co-operating of being a success. I don't mean that he had stars in his eyes, that kind of thing. He to succeed just like did, but also he was a good student. He was very bright and he comprehended all kinds of music. He understood and listened to me when I told him that we had to be cautious and to take things slowly and come up with something good and new. Because he was the type of person who listened and who believed in my advice, he learned to know that I was trying to do things right. When I told him something was good. he know it. The basic talent was there, I knew that, but Elvis was ready to do anything, to sing anything, I helped him realise that it had to be done right.

Apart from Scotty and Bill, who developed a real fine feel with Elvis, the other person I used on Elvis' records later on was Johnny Bernero. I can't recall exactly how we came to use Johnny, but I believe he came in with his band which at that was a kind of western-swing band. Now Johnny was a good drummer. I mean is it was easy for him to behave in the studio. People forget that there were lot of microphones in studio in those days I only used one mike on the drums and it was important that the drummer could control his volume. Most people wanted to play to loud, but Johnny could not only play styles and execute real well but he could control the strength too. Later on, I began to use J. M. Van Eaton as our studio drummer. He had come in sometime in 1956 with Billy Riley and it seemed to me that he was maybe a little better drummer and certainly with more of a feel for the harder rock roll that was coming along. His fault was that he was prone to break time, but did have the rocking approach that was needed later on.

The first day I met Carl Perkins. I knew here was an artist I could work with. He came in, I believe, just little after Elvis came with us, and he was, like Elvis, open to suggestions. He was very eager, but he was also very polite and ready listen. Most of all, had talent in abundance.

My way was to audition an artist and area of music where he was the most comfortable, then to move him on from there to a style that he could live with but which was a little different and might lend itself to some record sales. Now when Carl Perkins very first came in, he was playing rockabilly guitar. I mean he had it all worked out, songs like ''Movie Magg'' which just impressed me so much. He was a tremendous honky tonk guitar picker. He had this feel 'pushing' a song along that very few people had. But I have to say that although I knew that Carl could rock, and in fact he told me right from the start that he had been playing that music before Elvis and Scotty came out on record, I was so impressed by the pain and feeling in his country singing that I originally wanted to whether this wasn't somebody who could revolutionise the country end of the business. I really felt that. This doesn't mean that we going to rock with Carl. That was because he had such a rhythm in his natural style. His success in the rock field came sooner than I planned or expected it would, however. It was really a combination of two things, his tremendously driving guitar style and the finding of the right song which of course was ''Blue Suede Shoes''.

There were so different types of people who along to me after Elvis Carl hit with rock and roll. My job then was to assess each person and see how best to use their energy because, as I said before, many of these people were amateurs in the entertainment business and certainly were new to recording.

One person I will never forget is Ray Harris, ''Come On Little Mama''. Ray was a very intense person. He really put himself into it, you know. In fact he looked like he was going to have a heart attack every time he played. He just gave it everything. He wanted it to be right. Of course, Ray was a steel worker and he was not really going out on the road with a band or anything. So he had to to build up a record in the studio from nothing. He had a player called Wayne Cogswell later in the Bill Black Combo, and he had drummer, Joe Reisenberg. Joe was an older man, maybe in his forties or fifties whereas most of the musicians I used would be in their twenties. I think they could have made it for all that, but they lacked a little confidence and maybe some patience. ''Rack em up boy, let's go'', that was Ray's saying. If it didn't go well, he would be off. He didn't stick around.

As we were talked rock and roll, then the person to give some credit to here is Sonny Burgess. Sonny was a rocker, man, I mean a real rocker. It was a real disappointment to me that Sonny never made it because, he was a pleasure to work with, he had awful lot of confidence in what he was doing, and we had some astoundingly good cuts on him, he didn't come off, we'll probably never know. Sonny could been as one of the greats rock and roll. I mean he had this band in Arkansas, and they were a working band. What knew what they were doing and they had a sound like never heard. They were pure Rock and roll. There was no way Sonny was going to be a ballad singer. Rock was his forté, he just never got the right break. We gave him several record releases because I believe in this guy. We gave him what exposure we could but ultimately it is the DJs and the public who make the decision. Maybe Sonny's sound was too raw, I know. But I tell this. He had a big-sounding voice and he was a very contagious performer. He had a rhythm that never stopped. Contrary to what the record charts say, in my mind Sonny Burgess was one of the great rockers of all time. He was committed to it.

Another good rocker from those days was Gene Simmons. I never did see him being what you'd call top line artist, but he was a rocker of some ability and we had some very fine cuts on Gene. I was not all surprised that he later came out with some hits on Hi Records. He had a belief in what he was trying to do, a real desire beyond the normal to get a hit. Gene Simmons love the stage, and he would play and perform all kinds of music, rock, blues ballads. I never did see him as a ballad singer, but he certainly had a feel rhythm music. That ''Drinkin' Wine'' sold have been a hit.

Talking of hits, there another person for whom I have no explanation why he didn't make it. That is Hayden Thompson. His ''Love My Baby'' is one my favourite records. It was a classic. Hayden had an awful lot talent and I would like to have had more time with him. He worked with his band a lot to get things right, and he was very confident and a good act. Maybe there was too much of an Elvis influence in him, that's all I can't think of. Probably the most intense person I recorded was Ray Smith. Nobody wanted recognition more than Ray. He was totally wrapped up in what he doing. The problem was that I could never seem to quite find a groove as far as making records although we did release several. I liked his ''Sail Away'', and then I thought that ''Rocking Little Angel'' was a good records and I was glad to see him get a hit event it wasn't on Sun. Also, Ray was e great showman. I got a kick out of watching him play the piano. He was not a great player but he had a lot of antics. There was never a dry thread on him after a show.

To end with. I say that I am proud that so many my artists came through. People like Elvis, Call, Jerry, Charlie and Bill Justis. Carl Mann too. But I just wish I more time then to work with other people who deserved to make it. Here I particularly Billy Riley, Hayden Thompson, Gene Simmons and Ray Smith. And mast of all Sonny Burgess. That guy had a band they just wouldn't quit.

SUN RECORDS - CONSISTENTLY BETTER RECORDSThe last sixty years - the rock and roll years - saw two largely interrelated changes in the way music is recorded. One was the ever-increasing role of the producer, and the other was the advent of multitrack tape. Sam Phillips was one of the first producers. He didn't just hit the "record" button and wave his hands when three minutes were up; he was an active participant in -the recording process. His records bore his imprimatur. But Phillips was reactionary as much as revolutionary. He believed in the sanctity of the performance, and never embraced multitrack. "I don't go for overdubbing'', he said. "I understand all the techniques and the bullshit, but I just don't see the spontaneity. You can have too many crutches. It might take one take or four takes, but you can do it yourself right here and now''.

The youngest of eight children, Samuel Cornelius Phillips was raised on a tenant farm near Florence, Alabama. A solitary child, he became an adult with many acquaintances but few friends. Unable to realize his dream of going to law school, he worked for a country mortician before becoming a radio announcer. In 1945, he moved to Memphis where he heard the music of African-Americans making their way north, the primitive yawp of hillbilly musicians on the outskirts of town, and the palm court orchestras. He truly, madly, deeply loved it all.

In January 1950, Phillips built a studio in a storefront he rented for seventy-five dollars a month. He called it the Memphis Recording Service. He did not, he insisted, want to start a record label. He would capture the music he loved, and peddle it where he could. Over the next couple of years, Phillips recorded B.B. King, and discovered Howlin' Wolf and Jackie Brenston. He sold his sessions to Chess and RPM/Moern Records, and when Brenston's ''Rocket 88'' became one of the best-selling rhythm and blues records of 1951, he knew he was onto something. Believing that Chess was unfair in its accountings, he decided to go it alone. "The sun to me, even as a kid back on the farm, was a universal kind ofthing. A new day, a new opportunity'', he reflected later. "I honestly feel I can say that I know what it's like to have a baby, That's what Sun Records was to me''. Phillips himself sketched out the label design in which a rooster crowed at dawn's first light.

The first thirty-five Sun releases included old time bluesmen, sharptip singers, vocal groups, white gospel singers, black gospel quartets, a couple of hillbilly bands, and a pop singer. If Phillips had a plan... and he later insisted he did, it wasn't clear to anyone but him. Then, one Monday evening in July 1954, Elvis Presley came to the studio to record a country love song. During a break, he suddenly revealed himself, cutting loose with ''That's All Right''. It's a measure of Phillips' genius that he did not tell Elvis to go back to the ballad, but immediately saw the way forward. Nothing like ''That's All Right'' was selling or had ever sold, but Phillips didn't care. It felt good to him, and he would release it. The music of the black and white people became one, and Sam Phillips was there. No one can take that away from him.

By late 1955, Phillips was in deep trouble. Distributors were paying for Elvis records with returned blues records. Sensing his dilemma, the major labels came calling, check-books in hand. Was the boy available? Phillips knew that Presley would leave when his deal was up, and he knew that he might well be forced into bankruptcy before then, so he negotiated with RCA. "I made a damn proposition I didn't think they'd take", he said. "I didn't think they'd be fool enough to take it, and it was the eleventh hour before they did take it. The price ($35,000) doesn't sound like anything today, but what I needed was the money just so could get on the mound and throw to a batter''.

As of November 16, 1955, Elvis Presley was on RCA, and Phillips was ecstatic. He had already signed Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, and had ''Blue Suede Shoes'' in the can. Within weeks, he would be spectacularly vindicated. Perhaps only Phillips would have recorded Johnny Cash with his ragged little two-piece band, and only Phillips could have created a sound so deep and rich from them. Jerry Lee Lewis had been turned away in Nashville, yet Phillips immediately saw his potential. He knew that he must let Lewis plunder the musical reliquary in his head before encouraging him to return to the one song out of ten or twenty that held promise. That's how ''Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On'' came about. They were destined to come together: the former divinity student tortured by an unfathomable religion, and the former mortician's assistant who had persuaded unlettered country folk to give up their dead.

Even when SUN's original rock and roll singles hit the airwaves in the 1950s, reviewers and disc jockeys recognized that they had artistic identity. "The back shack sound" was one tag that 'Billboard' applied as a backhanded compliment. During the period covered by this box set, 1954 until 1959, a little over one hundred Sun singles were released, many of them now viewed as cultural landmarks.

Yeah. I was just thirteen, you might say I was a musical proverbial knee-high
I heard a couple new-sounding tunes on the tubes
and they blasted me sky-high
And the record man said every one is a yellow Sun record
from Nashville
And up North there ain't nobody buys them -
and I said, 'But I will'

That was the Lovin' Spoonful's Nashville Cats, written in 1966. Of course, yellow Sun records came from Memphis, not Nashville, but Nashville rhymes with will, and a northerner might easily equate the two cities because they look so close on the map. The point is that no one wrote a song about multi-colored ABC Paramount singles from New York City.

As early as 1958, Phillips was making plans to move from the little studio where the magic was, to a large modern studio where the magic evaporated along with the sales. Phillips' last star was Charlie Rich who Ieft Sun in 1963, within weeks of Jerry Lee Lewis's departure. Sun limped on for another six years until Phillips sold it to former Mercury producer Shelby Singleton.

Sam Phillips' maverick ear led him to artists like Howlin' Wolf, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, but that same maverick spirit wouldn't let him operate like a real record company. ''Sam was a genius with three or four pieces'', said Ray Harris, a former Sun artist who went on to co-found Hl Records. "When it got beyond that. Boom''. Phillips at least had the self-knowledge to understand that he belonged in a three-piece, three chord, single-track universe. It was there that he could work his magic. "You could look into his eyes'', said Memphis record producer Jim Dickinson, "and see whirling pools ofinsanity. You know he was looking down into your guts, and you think to yourself, 'That's how he looked at How!in' Wolf, that's how he looked at Elvis. Something happened. Maybe it can happen to me''.

From the time that Phillips designed his first piece of stationery, his slogan was "Consistently better records for higher profits''. The years covered by this boxed set show a remarkable commitment to that goal. For that, Sam Phillips became a prophet with honor. When Martin Hawkins and I first ventured to Memphis in 1971, Sam Phillips had just sold Sun Records and hadn't given an interview in years. We heard him give a rambling speech at an awards banquet, but several more years would pass before he would agree to be interviewed. By the time of his death, he made himself freely available. I suspect that some of his recollections had a degree of retrospective spin, but there's no questioning that he created the most important independent label in the history of popular music. For that he became one of the charter in- ductees into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.

Sam Phillips died in Memphis on July 30, 2003. His passing was recognized by newspapers and media around the world. In its obituary, the 'New York Times' highlighted one of his oft-quoted aphorisms: "Mr. Phillips liked to say, 'if you're not doing something different, you're not doing anything'''.

The Roots Of The Rock Box
by Martin Hawkins

People who've been buying Sun records for a long time - not just the original 78s and 45s but the now bewildering range of reissue packages, good, bad and indifferent - may easily have heard and owned far more than Sam Phillips, mindful of quality and his reputation, ever intended the world to heur. They'll have heard the classics of rock and roll and those great songs that didn't become hits; the big-name artists, the obscure artists, the weird artists, and the demos. They'll have probably become blasé about the easy availability of Sun recordings and dismissive of the budget line CDs to be found in chain stores and petrol stations, and everywhere on the internet.

But in 1986 when this boxed set was first compiled as 12 LPs, the songs it contained were largely unissued or difficult to find. Less than a third of the tracks had been issued on the original Sun label. The majority were previously unissued songs, little-known songs, or interesting alternative versions of well-known songs. And, for the first time, there were false starts and some of the session chatter that went on between the songs - the makings of an audio depiction of what happened in the Sun studio during Sun's rocking years. We included the complete range of rock and roll made at 706 Union Avenue during the classic years of 1954 to 1959 and we focused on singers who'd seen little oftheir music is sued or reissued up to that point. We included some music by all the great artists of Sun rock and roll but we put them alongside singers and songs no-one had heard at all up to that point.

Of course, it is sometimes difficult to say who was on which side of the dividing line between great Sun rockers and great Sun country artists, That line didn't really exist, then or now. So we made some judgement calls, and we bore in mind that there is also a ''Sun Country Box''. We decided that Warren Smith would appear on both boxes but he would be featured in the country box. And, although Charlie Feathers has become revered far his iconic rockabilly recordings on the Meteor and King labels, we decided his Sun sessions really should appear in the country box, not here.

Within this larger CD box you'll find all 221 songs from the LP box - and you may be surprised to find that many of those have never been reissued since, not in these versions.

Before working on the original LP box, I had spent 15 years compiling Sun music onto Phonogram abd Charly LPs and there were already indepth retrospectives of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Riley, Sonny Burgess, Warren Smith, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich; the classic names associated with Sun. There'd been the ''Legendary Performers'' series and single-artist double LPs and LP boxes; there'd been the ''Sun Rockabilly'' and ''Roots Of Rock'' LPs containing one or more tracks by artists of whom little if anything was then known. But there were still over 1200 boxes of session tapes largely untapped. I'd had to turn down Shelby Singleton's job offer to catalog them in 1978 and eventually that monumental task was undertaken by Billy Self, a musician whose own band was hidden somewhere in those boxes. Billy got most of the artist and song identifications right, but there remained many loose ends, snippets of sessions and songs he had never heard of. I went through all these tape boxes in 1981, and many times I'd find something so startling it just had to be included in the original LP box.

On Sun's 60th anniversary, it would have made some sense to create these CDs with exactly the same content as the LP box - it had become an iconic release in the history of rock and roll record collecting, after all. But it soon become clear that, just as the biographies needed updating after 25 years, it was important to add even more tracks to acknowledge some of the music we and others have exhumed in that time, so here you'll find the Kirby Sisters, Charlotte Smith, Hannah Faye and other Memphis belles who were under-represented first time around. You'll also find Bill Bowen, Joe Lewis ond other legends of the underground of rock and roll. We've included Andy Anderson, Curtis Hobock, Jesse Lee Turner and others whose demo sessions just didn't seem as inportant in 1986 as they do now. We've added Mack Allen Smith - who always told me he recordcd at Sun and whose session was eventually found buried away deep in the vaults and filed under another name. In all, we've added 33 tracks to give the set a better balance and reveal a richer picture of Sun Records in their rocking years. You'll even find the singer who started it all off - Elvis Presley - who couldn't be with us on the LPs for contractual reasons. There are a total of 254 tracks here now and you'll go a long way to find a better collection of rockand roll music.

Forty Years On...
by Colin Escott

By the early 1970s, blues and jazz musicians were becoming habituated to questions from pale, serious Europeans about records they'd quite likely forcotton. And then it was the turn of the rockabillies. On the weekend of September 11-12, 1971, one of the Memphis newspapers advertised the grand opening of Joel's Furniture at 3339 Jackson Avenue the following Monday. Eddie Bond was scheduled to play. Martin Hawkins and I figured out a tortuous bus route that would take us there from the Hotel Tennessee in Memphis' forlorn downtown core. During the intermission, we quizzed Bond about records he'd made fifteen years earlier. In common with most of these we interviewed, Bond was bemused, engaging, and unfailingly polite. On that same trip, Malcolm Yelvington broke out his old guitarr tuned it up, and gave impromptu concert for two. Jack Clement gave elliptical answers to painted questions, setting them to mandolin accompaniment. Records were everywhere, in far greater number than we could possibly afford_ Photos were foisted upnn us. It was, in every way, an intoxicating beginning to a forty-plus year journey.

A few years earlier, in 1969, Shelby Singleton bought the Son catalog and sold the British rights to Formerly Philips Records, Phonogram was the parent company of Mercury, where Singleton had begun its career. By the early 1970s the flaw of product from Singleton had slowed considerably, and Phonogram was still unrecouped on the deal. Phonogram term was slated to end in the summer of 1974, and the Sun product manager, Leon Campadelli, wanted to make back as much as he could by then. Our first suggestion was a rockabilly compilation. Campadelli asked what we thought it would sell. We told him we'd get back to him. Across town, Mike Leadbitter had just returned from lunch. We asked him fot a figure that would ensure that the album would he issued. ''Tell them seven thousand'', he said. Our guess would have heen nearer 700. When Campadelli was interviewed by 'Billboard' in December 1973, he said ''We expect to have exhausted virtually all the unissued material by the end of the present contract''. ''Sun Rockabillys'' had been out for eight months and had already sold six thousand copies, he said. Soon after ''Sun Rockabillys Volume 3'' appeared, the license passed to Pickwick and Charly Records, and only then did the full extent of the unissued recordings become apparent. Shelby Singleton chose to reveal the existente of basement full of 1260 boxes of session tapes. We had no idea that these tapes existed when we catalogued the tape inventory in 1971, 1973 and 1974 and when we'd told Campadelli that nothing much else remained to be issued. In those out-take boxes lay the story of the studio at work - the story we tell in this box set and its companions.

In the early 1970s, Shelby Singleton looked and acted like a record mogul from central casting. By no means was he pleasant to us, but it was fairly apparent that we weren't his top priority. He dreamed in Technicolor in that very American way. Some people get into the music business because they passionately love music (I should know because I'm one of them) but I think Shelby Singleton got into it because it suited his flamboy-ant temperament. I never heard him talk of any record as a fabulous piece of music. It was always about the deals, the sales, the angles, and the girls. I told him once that he should writi his life story, He snorted and aaid, "They'd never fuckin' believe it. When Martin and I first went to his warehouse Nashville's Jefferson Street, workers used old Sun 75s as frisbees. Shelby and his buddies swooped out of the head office building on Belmont Boulevard in their Cadillacs to see two wan Englishmen standing at the bus stop with their boxes of these old Sun records. But, as Shelby's success in the country and charts withered, he shrewdly realized that the future lay in the past. In one sense, the Sun catalog could have found no better custodian. Singleton allowed us and others uncounted and unbilled hours in his studio going through tapes. If Sun had gone to Columbia (a label that wanted it only to get the old Johnny Cash masters off the market) or another major, its riches would have remained squirreled away in a remote tape vault. (Columbia's tapes are currently in an underground facility as part of 22 million movies, audio tapes, and computer backup files, so even now we might not know what was in those twelve hundred out-take boxes). Singleton kept the Sun name alive. He kept himself in business in the process, so it wasn't an act of altruism, but there was a generosity of spirit in him that transcended commercial motives.

In 2003, Shelby Singleton asked me to come to a reception in Jackson, Tennessee to receive an award. Sam Phillips had just died. Jack Clement was there and his eyes still welled up with tears when he spoke of Phillips. The death of Johnny Cash earlier that year probably left him feeling like the last man standing. In 2009, Shelby died. Held just bought a Rolls-Royce on eBay, but never got a chance to drive it or even look at it. Leon Campadelli retired in 1980, but we have no idea if he is still among us. This is probably among the last if not the last Sun compilation we'll work on that combines music, words, and photos into a tangible product. But then it was forty years ago, in late 1972, that we finalized the tape order for ''Sun Rockabillys'', pretty much convinced that Sun archaeology would end there.

Fifty Years On...
by Hank Davis

Colin and Martin have been afflicted by this Sun madness for over 40 years. I can beat them by a decade and an ocean. Lucky me. I grew up an the right-side (actually the left) of the Atlantic, which made my addiction a whole lot easier. And I used that extra ten years well: I inflicted my Sun obsession on a number of close friends so their lives, like mine, were incomplete without those little yellow 45s.

Colin, Martin and I have been friends and musical colleagues for about 35 years. We're like three junkies, happily working together on a project with undiminished enthusiasm It's madness, to be sure: grown men seriously talking about which side of Billy Riley's first record was cut at WMPS or the identity of the quartet on the tape box labeled only as Hunky Dori or whether William Stewart of the Prisonaires might be the same William Stewart who recorded some unissued country blues for Sun in 1951. But what isn't so crazy is the fact that none of our lives would have been the same if it weren't for intense connection to Sun Records and everything about them. It's as simple as that. We can all make you lists of the things we've done', the places we've been, the joy we've known, and a lot of it doesn't happen without Sam and Sun.

I went to high school in New York in the 1950ss. Not much was as important to me as music. While I tried to keep an open mind to the day's music, and that included doo wop, rhythm and blues, hillbilly and jazz, nothing hit me as powerfully as Sun. I even bought a guitar and cut a bunch of records myself (recently reissued by Bear Family BCD 17319), which didn't hurt my reputation in high school. The influence of the Sun Sound was stamped all over everything I did. I Can tell you where I was standing the first time I heard ''Blue Suede Shoes'' on the radio. I remember Alan Freed playing ''Crazy Arms'' and saying, 'That was Jerry I.ee Lewis on the Sun record label'. I started to put two and two together, didn't know what that tiny label down in Memphis was all about, but I was having an unnatural emotional response to what they were releasing. Then there was Johnny Cash. And more Carl Perkins singles like ''Matchbox''. And the first time I heard Warren Smith or Charlie Rich an the radio I was hooked. Hell, I remember calling local DJ Ralph Cooper ("Coopie doo, me and you, wail an through!"') so many times asking him to play ''Miss Froggie'' on his show that he asked me "Do you work for Sun''. His question threw me for a loop! I was 15 years old. Did I work for Sun? You mean could actually do something like that? Work for Sun! Maybe I'd quit high school and go ask them for a job. Was it really possible? My parents got moderately upset when mentioned the possibility over dinner that night.

I never did guit high school, but three years later I drove down to Memphis with two friends whose addiction to Sun I had personally stage-managed. But by then I was enrolled at Columbia University so my parents were a bit less concerned. We took our Fender Stratocasters and a small set of drums and headed south in a beat-up Studebaker. There weren't many collectors ahead of us and the Europeans weren't on the Sun trail We had the place nearly to ourselves and we barely knew what do with it. Sun had just moved into the new digs on Madison Avenue and the old studio on Union and Marshall was a mess. Boxes of unsold 45s and 78s lay all over the floor, several feet deep in places. We couldn't take a step without breaking something. We filled several boxes with singles until Barbara Barnes, Sam's office manager du jour, shooed us out of there, we went the new studio and walked in on an informal Charlie Rich session with a very unhospitable Charles Underwood in charge.

''Can I hep you'', he asked, none too pleasantly. Who are these odd-looking guys and what are they doing here, he must have wondered. Meanwhile Charlie Rich sat at the piano, bottle of Beefeaters at the ready. I don't know what we stuttered in response to Underwood, but we ended up pretty quickly back out on the street. We went back the next day and encountered Stan Kesler outside the building, working on the big Sam Phillips Recording Service sign. The first person we saw inside was Scotty Moore, who seemed to be entrusted with keeping the likes of us away from anything breakable or expensive. Scotty Moore? This wasn't possible. How many times had I listened to his solo on ''I Forgot to Remember To Forget''? Studied it. Memorized it.

I'm pretty talkative. I teach 600 university students at a time. I can do phone interviews in my sleep (and have). But I was tongue-tied with Scotty. And Charlie Rich. And Stan Kesler. I hadn't come down to do interviews. Neither had my buddies Barry and Steve. They couldn't utter a sound either. There was no Sun scholarship back then. That wouldn't happen for another 10 or 15 years. Today it's commonplace. But in June 1960?

The trip wasn't a total write-off. We did visit Fernwood and listened to a session through the front door. It still sounded great. We visited WDIA and met a most gracious Rufus Thomas. We hooked up (I'm tempted to say "picked up'') three girls on Beale Street who had contacts all over town. Dottie Ayers was a friend of Elvis'. We went out to Graceland with them (Elvis was out of town.) We went over to Hi and cut a session with one of the girls, named Darlene Wallace. Ray Harris engineered it (yes, the Ray Harris). I talked to him in the control room - the closest thing I did to an interview. Ray loved to talk and was a wonderful storyteller, He played me outtakes from a Jay B. Lloyd session to illustrate the singer's timing problems. When we finally drove back to New York in our dilapidated 1953 Studebaker, the back seat was stuffed to the brim with dirty clothes and boxes of Sun 45s.

Twenty-three years later I was back in town for the Memphis Blues Festival. Rosco Gordon, who had become a good friend over the past 4 years, was a headliner. Colin Escott and I traveled around the city together, at one point shepherding Harmonica Frank Floyd to and from the motel to the Palace Theatre on Beale Street. We drove way out (I mean, way out) into the country to interview Raymond Kerby of the Ripley Cotton Choppers of Sun 190 fame. And, oh yes. We had a rather lengthy interview with the man, himself. Samuel Cornelius Phillips shared the pleasure of his company with us at his radio station, WLVS. He seemed to enjoy it, sharing his professional life story with a couple of guys who knew what they were talking about and asked him knowledgeable questions. And this time, none of us was tongue-tied.

How do I pay back the debt? Working on these projects is certainly one way. And as Colin, Martin and I can tell you, the amount of intense work that goes into each of them is staggering, Most of the work may be invisible to the average consumer and maybe that's the way it should be. But the women in our lives will tell you - we're quite preoccupied while these projects are underway. Selecting tracks; finding sources for best possible masters; doing side by side tape comparisons to make sure we're got the right one; researching; listening and writing; tracking down photo sources. We all share the view that the Sun Blues box, the Country box, and this Rock box aren't going to be done again. We know we can't reach perfection, but we want to come damn close.

Paying the debt? Colin, Martin and I have produced tons of projects like this for a number of labels, but none better than Bear Family. You know it, we know it. This is the Cadillac of the reissue industry. Just how many times can one go back to the well? I've done the six volume ''Complete Sun Singles'' collection. The com- piling part took care of itself, but the accompanying books were a huge labor of love. Every track had to be discussed in print. ''Memphis Belles'' was one of my favorites, and not just because of the critical acclaim it would receive. I loved the sleuth work. When a woman from 1957 disappears it becomes a world class mystery to find her 45 years later. Women have this annoying habit of getting married and moving. Worse yet, some of them die. I can't tell you the adventure and challenges that project offered. ''Sun Gospel'' was another one I loved from start to finish. I'll admit, it wasn't among Bear Family's best selling projects, but to his credit, label-boss Richard Weize gave me a free hand. Ditto ''Sun Ballads''. And then there were all the second tier artists that got first rate treatment: men like Mack Self, Gene Simmons, and Ernie Chaffin. And then there were the third-tier guys, unissued artists like Jimmy Wages, whom Colin and I dug out of deepest Tupelo and helped present to the world.

I'm not saying the debt is repaid. It probably never will be. But I am saying that I recognize the enormity of the debt in my own life and I will never stop trying to repay it.

- Colin Escott

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

The 8 CDs in this box pretty much define what Sun rockabilly and southern rock and roll music was all about. The CDs take us on a journey that starts with the originators - Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins - and threads its way through a number of phases and styles to arrive at the saxophone-led sounds of Bill Justis and Ace Cannon that kicked off the next Memphis Sound.

You can read about the principal singers and musicians in the artist biographies, but here's a summary of the music they made, disc by disc.

CD 1 Contains
For music on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

PUT YOUR CAT CLOTHES ON

The lightly-strummed A-chord that introduced Elvis Presley's ''That's All Right'' introduced rock and roll as we know it. With Presley's fifth single, ''I Forgo! To Remember To Forget''/''Mystery Train'', in the country charts, Sam Phillips sold his contract, and, with the funds, paid some bills and promoted a song he'd just recorded, Carl Perkins' ''Blue Suede Shoes''. We have a new twist on ''Blue Suede Shoes'': a radio edit, currently in the possession of collector Larry Rumsey. The word liquor was crudely edited out and replaced by pop, One of the first stars of rock and roll, Carl Perkins was also among its first casualties. Too much has been made or the car accident. His pop music career wasn't doomed when his Chrysler slammed into a poultry truck; it was doomed because you simply could not take the country out of Carl Perkins by substituting far liquor on ''Blue Suede Shoes''. And did he seriously think that ''Dixie Fried'' or ''That's Right'' would get played anywhere but 500-watt hillbilly stations?

In the years since these recordings were made, ''rockabilly'' has become an industry catchphrase, if not catchall. In case we forget, Carl Perkins' Sun recordings are always there to remind us that rockabilly means ''rocking hillbilly'' music. To get a sense of how Perkins innovatively transformed hillbilly into rockabilly, listen to Rex Griffin's ''Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby'' from 1936. An occasional novelty song aside. the pop market has never accepted roots music. Released when the rules governing pop airplay were rewritten daily, ''Blue Suede Shoes'' was part novelty and part roots, and Perkins doubtless deserved the moment of good fortune. It was probably little compensation to him, but there was mare sure knowledge of the roots of American music in his recordings than you'll find in most pop songs of the era. Sure, those pop records sold more copies back then, but ''Dixie Fried'' sounds better every year. We should always approach Carl Perkins' early recordings on hended knee.

With a voice so barbed and rural that Carl Perkins sounds up - Jack Earls recorded timeless rockabilly during his two years hanging around Sun Records. Unlike most of his Sun contemporaries, he was originally from east Tennessee, so he knew the secrets of true hillbilly music. Only one record was released and the reasons are pretty clean. Earls was not only too countrified for the market that Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins had found, he lacked dedication to music. With a wife and a young family, he was unable or unwilling to tour, He couldn't take a shot at the Top 40 from his weekend gig at Memphis's Palm Club, but by never letting the Top 40 cross his mind, his music kept its untutored country soul intact.

Coming to Sun Records at the dawn of the rockabilly era, Glenn Honeycutt had a smoother approach than mast of his contemporaries. His lone Sun single had a half-decent chance of attracting pop airplay in 1957. If Sam Phillips was looking for something that would make the hair stand up on the back of his neck, Honeycutt wasn't it, but with the session mafia and the seamless harmonies of the Miller Sisters behind him, his sole outing Sun was a sweet anomaly

''Curl my britches up to my knees/Mama, mama play house with me... Gone go fishin', have a good time/Git you a woman and a gallon of wine''. That was rural and then same that was Ray Harris. His two luminous Sun singles are just about a working definition of rockabilly. In fact, ''Come On Little Mama'' might just be the first psycho-billy record. If for nothing other than releasing ''Come On Little Mama'', Sam Phillips earns his place in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. ''Greenback Dollar'', like ''Crawdad Hole'' and ''Black Jack David'', was an old mountain song that adopts surprisingly well to its rockabilly makeover. During the 35 years that hillbilly music had been recorded, it had never been this unfettered. This was something new. (CE)

Some liner-notes taken from ''The Complete Sun Singles Collection'' and notes from ''Sun Outtakes'' boxen.

Elvis Presley

*1 - That's All Right (Take 1, 2, 3) (1:53) 1987 (Elvis Presley) > Not Originally Issued <
(Arthur Crudup) (Wabash Music Corporation)
Recorded July 5, 1954 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis Presley (vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass)

The song Elvis Presley tried was the one that was to thrust him into regional musical prominence, and turn Elvis Presley's very first recording session into a hit-producing one. Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right" was originally recorded on September 6, 1947, for RCA Victor's Chicago-based Bluebird label. Elvis Presley, again, had some difficulty recording Crudup's tune. Whereas most of the songs he sang tended to follow the same phrasing as the original performer or demo singer, his interpretation of Crudup's country blues song bore little relationship to the original. So, it was a moment of great creativity as Elvis Presley interpreted "That's All Right" in his own unique manner.

The trouble with the song developed as a result of the fact that Sam Phillips offered Elvis Presley more freedom than he would. At this stage, although practiced and professional when it came to songs for which he had an original basis - a "model", as it were - Elvis Presley wasn't sure how to fully use a situation which gave him total freedom and creativity. As a result of this inexperience, Elvis' vocal on the first take of "That's All Right" was laboured. It was not until later, when they were all tired and had taken a short break during which Elvis Presley began clowning around, that he broke into a faster version of the song that electrified Sam Phillips, who in turn hollered for Scotty Moore and Bill Black to join in.

All of a sudden", said Scotty Moore, "Elvis just started singing this song, jumping around and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass, and he started acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, I think, had the door to the control booth open, I don't know, he was either editing some tape, or doing something, and he stuck his head out and said, 'What are you doing? And we said, 'We don't know'. 'Well back up', he said, 'try to find a place to start, and do it again". "So we stopped, we talked a few minutes about what we were doin', I tried to figure some kind of turnaround or instrumental part on it, we ran through it probably two or three times, and that was it".

2 - Good Rockin' Tonight (2:13) 1954 (Elvis Presley) > Sun 210-A <
(Roy Brown ) (Blue Ridge)
Recorded September 10, 1954 at Sun Recording Studio, Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis Presley (vocal and guitar), Scott Moore (guitar),
Bill Black (bass)

This time, Sam Phillips was not going to lose momentum. two Presley records in a row. Never before again in Sun's history were there consecutive releases by the same artist (Sun 234 and 235 might have been an exception, had 235 not been withdrawn from release). The message was clear: Phillips was concentrating all attention and resources on the new phenom - this alternately shy and outrageous truck driver from Crown Electric.

This time Phillips paired a pop song, ''I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine'', with another rhythm and blues tune, Roy Brown's ''Good Rockin' Tonight''. Even after just two records, it was becoming clear that conventional musical categories had little meaning in Elvis Presley's hands. (HD)

3 - Baby Let's Play House (2:26) 1955 (Elvis Presley) > Sun 217-B <
(Arthur Neal Gunter) (Excellorec Music)
Recorded January 30/February 5, 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis Presley (vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass),
Jimmie Lott (drums), Probably Doug Poindexter (guitar)

Both sides of Sun 217 remain distinctive records, among Presley's best. ''Baby Let's Play House'' was adapted from Arthur Gunter's Excello single which had received considerable airplay throughout the south. Gunter was a laconic vocalist and his primitive good natured recording bore little similarity to Presley's highly charged performance. This single has probably done more than any other to establish the hiccup as an essential rockabilly mannerism. There is an undeniable energy and tension to ''Baby Let's Play House''. It stems not just from Presley's confident vocal, also from Scotty and Bill's minimalist instrumental virtuosity. What follows Elvis's cry of ''Hit it''! is the stuff of rockabilly guitarist's wet dreams. (HD)

4 - Mystery Train (2:28) 1955 (Elvis Presley) > Sun 223-A <
(Herman Parker-Sam Phillips) (Memphis Music)
Recorded July 11, 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Elvis Presley (vocal and guitar), Scotty Moore (guitar),
Bill Black (bass), Johnny Bernero (drums)

If Elvis Presley (or anyone) ever made a better two sided record than this, it has yet to be found. On ''Mystery Train'', all you have is quintessential rockabilly: a confident, virile vocal, staccato reverb lead guitar, audible rhythmic guitar strumming by Elvis, and driving percussive bass. If anyone ever asks you what a slap bass sounds like, just play them this record. There is not much room for improvement here. Even the abortive fadeout, during which Elvis's ''wooooo'' disintegrates into unselfconscious laughter, seems part of the magic. The distance between this track and Little Junior Parker's original (Sun 192) is immense, from the telling lyrical change (Parker's ''It's gonna do it again'' is transformed by Presley into ''It never will again'') to the tempo change from a sluggish freight to a runaway locomotive.

Scotty Moore was the guitarist who backed Elvis during his earliest, and best) years, both on stage and on record. He contributed more than his share of memorable guitar moments to the music of his era. In 1964, Billy Sherrill arranged that Scotty record an album of instrumentals called ''The Guitar That Changed The World''.

''Mystery Train'' provides one of Scotty's most notable outings. In part, its effectiveness comes from his brand new custom-made Ecgosonic amplifier, an amp that could add a little echo to the sound of the guitar. The filled-out sound coming out of that amp helped energize his performance and the entire record. Where Little Junior's record was a subdued blues, Elvis's record is an unstoppable train at full throttle. The distinctive figure that Scotty plays behind it is a dramatic revision of what Floyd Murphy had played behind Junior Parker. It caught on as a signature riff; Al Caseay recreated it behind Sanford Clark's record of ''Lonesome For A Letter''. Scotty's solo is not complicated but has a perfect contour - starting mid-high and rising to an apex before descending so that the guitar line returns smoothly to its place under the return of Elvis's vocal. Simple but elegant. (HD)

Carl Perkins

*5 - Carl Perkins In Memphis (Advertising Spot) (1:03) 1986 (Carl Perkins) > Not Originally Issued <
Probably Bob Neal announcing a forthcoming Stars Inc. stage show

*6 - Blue Suede Shoes (Test Acetate) (1:03) 2013 (Carl Perkins) Unissued
(Carl Perkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 19, 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins (vocal and guitar), James Buck Perkins (guitar),
Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)
Unidentified one-word overdub

*7 - You Can't Make Love To Somebody (2:34) 1986 (Carl Perkins) < Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Perkins) (Copyright Control)
Recorded July 11, 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins Vocal and guitar), James Buck Perkins (guitar),
Quinton Claunch (guitar)Stanley Kesler (steel guitar),
Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

This wonderful track ''You Can't Make Love To Somebody'', recorded after ''Blue Suede Shoes'' was a hit, gives us a fine exhibition of the transition from hillbilly bop to rock and roll. W.S. Holland provides a strong back-beat on the snare drum and his cymbal work is, uncharacteristically for a Sun recording, prominent in the mix. He also tosses in frequent little accent and short rolls. Those all sound like ad libs, feeling of the moment as if he were silently singing along with Carl. All of that doesn't add up to a truly rock and roll performance. Holland's drumming, and the totality of the record, is far more free, and swinging than, say, ''Blue Suede Shoes'' which the Perkins band had recorded fully four months earlier. And it's far less a rock and roll record than ''Boppin' The Blues'' which they recorded at this same session as this track. Their authentic country roots were still showing in this country song.

*8 - Everybody's Tryin' To Be My Baby (1:56) 1976 (Carl Perkins) > Not Originally Issued <
Recorded March 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins (vocal and guitar), James Buck Perkins (guitar),
Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

Although this song got recorded at several sessions in March 1956, it remained unreleased until Carl's album came out in 1958. Its origins deserve some discussion. According to his biography, Carl claimed that he was inspired by an offhand remark that he made to Jay at a club date and it quickly turned into a song. When bio author David McGee pointed out that the song actually dated from the 1930s, Carl opined that perhaps he'd heard someone sing it at some honky tonk or another.

*9 - Dixie Fried (1:42) 1986 (Carl Perkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Perkins-Howard "Curly" Griffin) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins (vocal and guitar), James Buck Perkins (guitar),
Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

There's no doubt that Carl was drawing on some real life experience when he wrote the lyric for ''Dixie Fried''. But did Sam really thinks he could sell it? Were the same kids who danced to ''Blue Suede Shoes'' ready to join Carl in this after-hours romp thru the Jackson honky tonks? The interesting thing is, the title ''Dixie Fried'' was not a common term for being drunk. The words had a lot to do with how you might cook a steak or a chicken, but applying it to the after-effects of a bottle of Jim Beam was uniquely Carl's doing. There's no doubt this is a clever lyric that, once again, showcases Carl's talent as a song writer. But the song was really written for the very people it showcases, and there just ain't enough of them to make a hit record. We hope you're interested in the song and its evolution because we've preserved just about every second of tape committed to it in the studio.

*10 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (1) (3:08) 1986 (Carl Perkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Perkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins (vocal and guitar), James Buck Perkins (guitar),
Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

Carl Perkins spent more studio time at Sun working on ''Cat Clothes'' than he did any other song. Thee sheer number of takes felt behind dwarfs any other title in Carl's Sun legacy. More than the total number of outtakes of ''Movie Magg'', ''Tennessee'', Blue Suede Shoes'', Honey Don't'', ''Boppin' The Blues'', ''Matchbox'', ''Forever Yours'', ''Lend Me Your Comb'' and ''That's Right'' combined. And what came of it? Nothing. ''Put Your Cat Clothes On'' never appeared on the original Sun label - not as a single and not on Carl's Sun LP. There's quite ' a disconnect there. The title was worth all that studio time and tape, but the results were never good enough to release.

The saga began on or around March 1 956 when the first few takes were recorded, when Carl and the boys still sounded much like the country band they had been when they started. You can readily hear the difference in this approach from what emerged at the December 1956 session, when the final takes with Jerry Lee Lewis on piano were recorded. Obviously Sam and Carl had enormous faith in the song but never heard a take that satisfied them. And we thank we know what made this one so hard to get right. There are eighteen full takes and some false ends. It's obvious why most - of them never made it out into the world - there are mistakes galore. But even the flawed ones have lots of virtues. The result is that listening to all of these takes not become boring. When the mistakes happen, they're a variously frustrating, disappointing, annoying and often interesting. But the energy driving this song is limitless and unrelenting.

*11 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (2) (2:42) 1986 (Carl Perkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Perkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 4, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins (vocal and guitar), James Buck Perkins (guitar), Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass),
W.S. Holland (drums), Jerry Lee Lewis (piano)

*12 - That Don't Move Me (1:54) 1986 (Carl Perkins) > Not Originally Issued <
Recorded Probably 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins (vocal and guitar), Thomas E. Cisco (Eddie Star) (guitar),
Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)
Jimmy Smith (piano)

A real oddity, this song. Carl Perkins is known as a fine lyricist and songwriter but you'd never convince anybody by playing them ''That Don't Move Me''. The melody contains three chords and four notes - G A C C (in the key of C). Likewise, the lyrics aren't going to send Irving Berlin or Leiber and Stoller running for cover. There's basically nothing to this song. And that is exactly its strength.

It is pure energy. This is a tense, incessant, driving song that might as well have been an instrumental. The words mean next to nothing. All you need is that sample little guitar figure. If you insist on lyrics, the chorus and title phrase are all you get. Those extra lyrics in the verses are clunky and Carl has obvious difficulty phrasing them.

*13 - Only You (3:20) 1957 (Carl Perkins) > Sun LP 1225 <
(Buck Ram-Ande Rand) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins (vocal and guitar), James Buck Perkins (guitar),
Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

There is no outtake, but there is a pretty good story. The Platters' record of ''Only You'' hit the charts on October 1, 1955 and stayed there for 22 weeks. It became a favorite of Carl's and he often sang the song for his own entertainment. On December 12, 1955. Carl played a show in Amory, Mississippi along with Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley (how'd you like to travel back in time to see that one?) Carl performed ''Only You'' to an enthusiastic response from the crowd, although he had never recorded it and it was not the kind of song audience expected Perkins to perform. W.S. ''Fluke'' Holland recalls that Carl ended up singing it three times that night. ''Elvis went over to Bob Neal and told him jokingly, 'Don't book me on any more shows with that Perkins boys''. After the show, Carl told W.S. And the band that they ought to think about recording it the next time they went for a session.

The most recent Carl Perkins discography (BCD 15494) shows the recording date as March 1956, only a few months after the Amory performance. The original Sun Session discography (Escott/Hawkins) showed the session implausibly taking place in early 1957. In any case, the track appeared on Carl's Sun LP issued in 1958 and can be heard on BCD 15494 and BCD 17213.

*14 - Pink Pedal Pushers (2:27) 1986 (Carl Perkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Perkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Probably Late 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins (vocal and guitar), James Buck Perkins (guitar),
Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

Although it is tempting to categorize ''Pink Pedal Pushers'' with ''Blue Suede Shoes'' and ''Put Your Cat Clothes On'' as Carl's apparel-oriented songs, we think it doesn't along with those other two. ''Blue Suede Shoes'' is abut someone's devotion to his own shoes and ''Cat Clothes'' consists of Carl's getting his woman dressed up fancy 'causes they;re going out dancing. ''Pink Pedal Pushers'', on the other hand, is actually about fashion. In the right clothes, it says, you'll be good-looking, desirable, and popular. Mark Twain said, ''clothes make the man''. We can safely extend that to women and high school is where that becomes about as important an idea as it's ever likely to. So this song belongs with Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones' ''Black Slacks'' (BCD 15972) a top 20 hit in 1957 and the following year's ''Short Shorts'' by the Royal Teens (which reached number 3) and ''Tight Capris'' by Jody Reynolds (flip side of the big hit, ''Endless Sleep''. Pedal pushers and capris, by tie way, were much alike - tight calf- length pants that were popular with the younger set.

Maybe the most obvious lyrical connection to ''Pink Pedal Pushers'' occurs in Gene Vinent's classic track “”Be Bop A Lula''. Admiring Ms. Lula's clothing, Vincent sings ''She's the girl in the red blue jeans/ She's the queen of all the teens''. In Perkins' case, he too is ready to extend the crown to his well-dressed girl. ''Her pink pedal pushers made her the queen of them all'' Royalty was quite easy to come by in Teen Land in the 1950s.

A humorous aside: Carl wrote this song before shopping malls had become a commonplace part of life. Today's teenagers might have thought he'd said ''made her the queen of the mall'' instead of ''made her the queen of them all'', and still thought it made perfect sense. It's yet one more reminder that the world has changed in the past half century.

It's hard not to hear all song as Carl trying to pander to the target teenage market in the hopes that the kids will put him back on the charts. Here's a 25-year-old man (with a wife, a receding hairline and three young kids) telling 16-year-old girls how terrific they look in tight pants. At least, he doesn't sing it with an audible leer.

Fortunately for us, Carl didn't fully degrade himself or his music to the point where he would sound like he was actually part of the world he was hoping to connect with. All that ''oo-wop-a-doo'' scat singing was not what the kids were doing. Carl adopts a vocal style played perhaps for laughs or perhaps for drama - pay attention to his vocal intonation on the line, ''the older folks said she kinda favors her mom''. He sings off the beat a great deal as well, adding to the sense that he's somewhere between singing and narrating a story. This grown-up vocal performance is altogether inconsistent with the subject matter of the song. He's on the outside looking in, and telling the story to the people who are on the inside. It's quite odd.

Also odd is the chord progression in the verses. Carl walk-down chord progression in the first two lines of each verse is not what the kids were rocking to, by and large. That walk-down maneuver was more common in minor-key songs. Examples include Ruth Brown's number 10 rhythm and blues hit ''Sweet Baby Of Mine'' from 1956, the Ventures' ''Walk, Don't Run'' was number 2 in 1960 and Ray Charles' hit ''Hit The Road Jack'' which reached number 1 pop in 1961. Carl ultimately abandoned those chords in favor of a more conventional set of changes on our last two Sun outtakes.

*15 - That's Right (2:53) 1986 (Carl Perkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Perkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 28, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Perkins (vocal and guitar), James Buck Perkins (guitar),
Lloyd Clayton Perkins (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

Anybody who thought "That's Right" was going to be a teen hit was in serious need of a reality check. Not since "Dixie Fried" had Carl Perkins come through with such a slice of southern lowlife. Precious few urban white teens were going to connect with the sentiments and moods of this ol' disc. In truth, its a menacing, rather mean spirited lament delivered in a slurred, palpably drunken style. How many 16 year olds could identify with the singer's life?. A mean, short tempered guy, suspicious of cheating, both at cards and love. And then there was that word "booger" which was just a little too close to "bugger" for comfort in Canada (where the line was excised) and in England (where the entire verse ended up on the cutting room floor). This has made British and Canadian pressings of this record perversely collectable.

Jack Earls

*16 - Crawdad Hole ((2:48) 1986 (Jack Earls) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jack Earls) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date January 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jack Earls (vocal and guitar), Lucky Yarborough (guitar), Johnny Black (bass),
Danny Wahlquist (drums), Tiny Dixon (steel guitar)

Until that point, most of Sun's releases were straight country or blues, with the exception of Presley and Perkins. Before the Jimbos saw their record come out in April of 1956, Warren Smith (from Mississippi) and Roy Orbison & the Teen Kings (from Texas) began to cut rock and roll sessions at the studio. With a sligh different version of the Jimbos, Jack Earls returned the studio in early 1956 with steel guitarist Tiny Dixon and singer-guitarist Lucky Yarbrough. They recorded a couple takes of the old to ''Crawdad Hole'', which survived to present times (why use the term survived?' Phillips often reused tapes he judged to be nonessential to his business including old recording sessions).

''Tiny was our steel player. He was a big guy weighed about 300 pounds'', said Earls ''Luc Yarbrough was a singer and band leader, but Sam didn't like his voice. So. he didn't last long''. The band's unique arrangement featured various instruments playing through what to have been the last lines of each verse, allowing the listener to imagine the original lyrics, or replace them with something more racy. (Another version of the song was cut without Dixon a Yarbrough, but with Gregory on guitar. Judging by the sound of Earls' voice, it could have be recorded at the same session as ''Hey Jim'').

An example of Phillips' role in the product process can be heard at the start of a record of ''Crawdad Hole'', with Dixon and Yarbrougt. Someone in the studio asked him what he thought was wrong with the performance they'd just concluded, and Phillips said, ''That damn ending sounds like we ... sounds exactly like we are: We don't know what were gonna do''. The end of the take that follows Phillips' observation sounds as final as an exclamation point. Three takes of "Crawdad Hole" with Tiny Dixon survived on this session, and the group obviously had another go when Dixon was not present and recorded a third version without steel.

*17 - If You Don't Mind (2:27) 1986 (Jack Earls) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jack Earls) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 14, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jack Earls (vocal and guitar), Johnny Black (bass), Danny Walker (drums),
Warren Gregory (guitar), Luther Perkins (guitar)

There was a veil of uncertainly over the personnel on Jack Earls sessions, with the likes of Bill Black and Luther Perkins cited as the musicians. However, this apparently was due to Sam Phillips' detailing these names on official session lists filed with AFM, as only Jack Earls was a union member. In fact Jack's band backed him on all his Sun recordings.

18 - Slow Down (2:19) 1956 (Jack Earls) > Sun 240-A <
(Jack Earls) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 14, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jack Earls (vocal and guitar), Johnny Black (bass), Danny Walker (drums),
Warren Gregory (guitar), Luther Perkins (guitar)

Late one night in the back seat of his '52 Buick, Jack Earls came up with the song that became his calling card in decades to come: ''Slow Down''. Said Earls, ''The band worked up the song, and we went into cut another session. Now, Sam already had ''Hey Jim'' ready to go. He turned on the tape recorder and we played ''Slow Down'' for him one time. When we got done playing the song, Sam come out of the control room jumping up and down, yelling, That's it! That's gonna be a hit''!

''Slow down (group response: Slow down! set me free 'Cause my ha-ha-heart's a- goin'round and round You live too fast, you got so much class Slow down, baby. slow down''. The band's performance was as natural and spontaneous as anything Presley had recorded - sounding just as fresh and tough. The arrangement let everyone get their two cents in, from Gregory and Wahlquist's instrumental calland-response at the beginning, to Black's bass solo over the rest of the band and Earl's expressive vocal. ''Sam was always looking for something ... and when he found it, that was it'', said Earls. Phillips wisely refused to let them record another take. The early April session also included a couple more sweet country hoppers: ''If You Don't Mind'' and ''Coming Back Home'', a recording that Sun Records researchers could not find in later years (Earls also claimed a 1950s version of ''Game Of Love'' is lost).

Jack Earls was a baker who lived in Memphis and, for all his time in the studio, saw only one disc released by Sun. His life and music are recounted in detail on Bear Family Records BFX 15273. earls possessed a nasal tenor voice with almost no range; in short, it was perfectly suited for the music he made. Jack Earls also performed "A Fool For Lovin' You" when the Opry Show visited Memphis, and then toured with the road show.

Jack Earls came to Sun at an opportune moment; with Elvis having paved a pioneering rockabilly trail, 1956 was a vintage year at Sun for that musical genre, and one that the Sun reputation is mainly based on. With Elvis Presley gone, Sam Phillips was more receptive to new talents. This was the year that Sonny Burgess cut "We Wanna Boogie" and "Red Headed Woman", that Roy Orbison recorded "Ooby Dooby", that Billy Lee Riley launched his "Flying Saucer Rock And Roll" and that Warren Smith flirted with "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby". Jack Earls solitary single "Slow Down"/"A Fool For Lovin' You" stands up well in such exalted company. Although Earls states that he is surprised that Sam Phillips saw anything in him on that first occasion when they came into the Memphis Recording Service, it is an undoubted fact that Jack Earls had all the prerequisites of the classic rockabilly singer; a rural upbringing with a leavening of country music and an untrained tenor voice with an intensity that was so far back in the hills as to be out of sight.

"Slow Down", indeed Jack Earls himself, embody the very heart of Sun's appeal. This is a spare, tense, minimalists, brooding record. It may also be the only rockabilly record with a 12 bar bass solo. His sidemen would have been comfortable jamming with Luther Perkins, whose lack of instrumental prowess was legendary. If Sun 240 improved tenfold it would not be a slick record. But there is much to love here. Not quite as stinging and electrified as the wildest of Sun's rockabilly, there is drive and energy to savor here.

"Hey Jim" was going to be the top side of my first single but then I wrote "Slow Down" overnight. We worked it up and went to see Sam and the first time we cut it, Sam came out of the control room jumping up and down. He thought it was terrific. He forgot all about "Hey Jim" even though he'd already named the band The Jimbos".

Although Sam Phillips scrapped "Hey Jim" and went for "Slow Down" instead, he stuck to his original notion of putting "A Fool For Loving You" on the B-side. Whilst "Slow Down" never actually charted, it sold quite healthily as reflected in the $2500 royalty cheque Jack recalls receiving. On that basis it sold some 40-50,000 copies.

19 - A Fool For Loving You (2:45) 1956 (Jack Earls) > Sun 240-B <
(Jack Earls) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded October 15, 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jack Earls (vocal and guitar), Johnny Black (bass), Warren Gregory (guitar)
Danny Rehnquist (drums)

Although Earl's song "A Fool For Lovin' You" had met with Sam Phillips approval, by the time the boys came to the studio, Jack had worked up a new repertoire. "I'd sit up all night writing songs. I'd sit in my car a '52 Buick Roadmaster, pick away and write. That's how I wrote "Hey Jim".

This was one of the songs that was recorded at the session, and it so impressed Sam Phillips that he promptly named backing group "The Jimbos". They recorded the number several times and on one take Jack slipped up and sang "Hey Slim".

*20 - Sign It On The Dotted Line (2:09) 1976 (Jack Earls) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jack Earls) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded June 4, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jack Earls (vocal and guitar), Johnny Black (bass), Warren Gregory (guitar)
Danny Rehnquist (drums)

In June 1956, while the world outside Memphis was reeling from Presley's rocking, the Jimbos put several more songs on tape, including ''Sign It On The Dotted Line'', ''My Gal Mary Ann'', ''Let's Bop'', and ''When I Dream'' (another version of this was cut in 1955). In ''Sign It On The Dotted Line'', Gregory quoted Scotty Moore's ''Heartbreak Hotel'' licks at the start, to establish the rockin' blues that followed.

Glenn Honeycutt

*21 - Rock All Night (2:01) 1986 (Glenn Honeycutt) > Not Originally Issued <
(Glenn Honeycutt) (Copyright Control)
Recorded December 28, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Glenn Honeycutt (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

"Rock All Night" was intended to be the first single, but it was considered too risqué and was bounced in favor of the two other songs.

22 - I'll Be Around (2:47) 1957 (Glenn Honeycutt) > Sun 264-A <
(Glenn Honeycutt) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 28, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Glenn Honeycutt (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums)
Elsie Jo Miller & Mildred Wages(vocal chorus)

In some ways, this is one of the strangest Sun Records ever. Not strange bad like Winnie The Parakeet, but strangely unexpected. After nearly six months of demoing rockers in the Sun studio, Glenn Honeycutt marched on this day and recorded two ballads. Both bear the unmistakable stamp of the Presley ballad style. In that way, they are standard Memphis fare for the day and time. What makes the record curious is that both sides feature slow songs. A two-sided mellow record, Memphis style circa 1956. Because his style is molded so closely on Elvis Presley's, Honeycutt brings an undeniable gospel sound, or what Billboard called "a touch of sacred feeling" to the proceedings.

23 - I'll Wait Forever (2:37) 1957 (Glenn Honeycutt) > Sun 264-B <
(Glenn Honeycutt) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 28, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Glenn Honeycutt (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums)
Elsie Jo Miller & Mildred Wages(vocal chorus)

"I'll Wait Forever" is actually a very powerful song. Honeycutt is aided by female voices that remained anonymous for many years, until a mid-1980s interview with the Millers' career, Sam Phillips used them as studio singers twice. Their impressive efforts with Cast King on country gospel material sadly remained unissued until Bear Family's Sun Country Box (BFX 15211). Their work here is the only issued sample of their backup style. Honeycutt returned to the Sun studio once more in early 1958, but this remains his only Sun release.

*24 - Be Wise, Don't Cry (2:14) 1986 (Glenn Honeycutt) > Not Originally Issued <
Recorded December 28, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Glenn Honeycutt (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

Ray Harris

*25 - Come On Little Mama (1) (2:17) 1976 (Ray Harris) > Not Originally Issued <
(Ray Harris-Wayne Cogswell) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded: - June 20, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Harris (vocal and guitar), Winston Wayne Cogswell (guitar),
Joey Reisenberg (drums), Unknown (bass)

This alternate take, if anything, even more frantic than the original.

26 - Where'd You Stay Last Night (2:11) 1956 (Ray Harris) > Sun 254-A <
(Ray Harris-Wayne Cogswell) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded: - June 20, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Harris (vocal and guitar), Winston Wayne Cogswell (guitar),
Joey Reisenberg (drums), Unknown (bass)

Ray Harris' unbridled enthusiasm comes through on both sides of his debut Sun single. The instrumental work on these sides, while spirited, is thin - even by Sun's spartan standards. If there was a bass player on this session, he might have been in Taylor's Cafe next door when they nailed these takes.

Tall and imposing, with sharp, angular features, Ray Harris carries about him a frightening intensity, and speaks with an impenetrable accent that almost demands subtitles for a listener not from Mississippi. He sat in his wife's Chrysler one humid summer night a few years ago, holding a cassette of a band he had just recorded. As it played, his eyes burned as it reached the parts he liked. He stabbed at the cassette deck. "There! There! I tell you, them boys have got it!. As abruptly as it had arise, though, the energy subsided. (MH) (HD) (CE)

27 - Come On Little Mama (2) (2:31) 1956 (Ray Harris) > Sun 254-B <
(Ray Harris-Wayne Cogswell) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded: - June 20, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Harris (vocal and guitar), Winston Wayne Cogswell (guitar),
Joey Reisenberg (drums), Unknown (bass)

There is a priceless anecdote about Ray Harris, practicing his vocal craft in a non-air conditioned Memphis apartment in July, standing in his overalls, dripping with sweat, bellowing his heart out to his undeserving neighbors. Folks living blocks away got to preview an a cappella version of these sides, which Billboard later called "dangerous".

All the practicing apparently paid off for Harris, whose voice Billboard described as "extreme" and "emotion packed". In his more staid later life, Ray Harris spent years as the resident engineer at the Hi Records studio across town.

In its original 45rpm form "Come On Little Mama" proved to be a serious challenge for the avid listener as the single was pressed on particularly low grade vinyl. Only in recent years, with the advent of the digital format, has it been possible to soak up the full impact of what Ray Harris first set out to archieve. As a point of interest, his right hand man was a fine guitarist by the name of Wayne Gogswell who saw success of his own when he penned "Teensville" for Chet Atkins.

"Come On Little Mama" was one of the original Holy Grail Sun singles... and with good reason. Its one of the most berserk records of the era. Ray Harris took his song to Sun. Sam Phillips, surely knowing that he couldn't sell Harris to the mass market, nevertheless responded to his maniacal energu. "I'll never forget it, he was so intense", says Phillips. "Ray was a very intense person. He really put himself into it. He looked like he was going to have a heart attack every time he played. 'Rack 'em up, boy, let's go!. That was Ray's saying".

"Come On Little Mama" was a definitive statement of supercharged rockabilly: a word apart from country, but not identifiably rhythm and blues or pop. The lyrics were virtually unintelligible, the musicianship limited, and the production sparse, but the performance was irresistible. "Come On Little Mama" apparently sold well locally, and Ray Harris was invited back to cut a follow-up. (MH) (HD) (CE)

*28 - Love Dumb Baby (Take 2) (3:14) 1986 (Ray Harris) > Not Originally Issued >
(Ray Harris-Wayne Cogswell) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Harris (vocal and guitar), Winston Wayne Cogswell (guitar),
Joey Reisenberg (drums), Red Hensley (guitar)

*29 - Green Back Dollar, Watch And Chain (1) (2:36) 1976 (Ray Harris) > Not Originally Issued <
Recorded April 7, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Harris (vocal and guitar), Winston Wayne Cogswell (guitar), Joey Reisenberg (drums),
Wayne Cogswell, Red Hensley, Roy Orbison (vocal chorus)
Unknown (piano), Unknown (bass)

Given the number of alternate takes in the Sun vaults, it is amazing how rarely one can second-guess Sam Phillips decision of which take release. Having said that, this may be one of those few cases where the alternate was stronger than the version originally released. What distinguishes this take of "Greenback Dollar" from the single? Clearly, both are full of enthusiasm and energy. However, this version - which was first issued nearly 40 years after it was cut - has some qualities missing from the original 45. Harris vocal is strong, perhaps more focussed and melodic than on the single. The guitar solo is noticeably more stinging here, but things really come together during the piano solo. On this version there is a decidedly bluesy edge to the playing that is wholly missing from the single. The final verse is different here ("Mama said..."), although it is hard to imagine that the lyric was cause to bury this version in the can for four decades. There is amazing drive on this take without any of the assertive drumming that graces the single. Also missing is the memorable ending of the original 45 - Joe Reisenberg's famous drum roll to nowhere.

30 - Foolish Heart (2:10) 1957 (Ray Harris) > Sun 272-B <
(Ray Harris-Wayne Cogswell) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 7, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Harris (vocal and guitar), Winston Wayne Cogswell (guitar), Joey Reisenberg (drums),
Wayne Cogswell, Red Hensley, Roy Orbison (vocal chorus)
Unknown (piano), Unknown (bass)

"Foolish Heart" is a wonderful loony tune of a record. A doowop chorus welded onto a minimalist bluesy ballad. Other than the voice, the sound is not appreciably different from Harris' previous outing (SUN 254), which was markedly under produced even by 1956 standards. Wayne Cogswell and Joey Reisenberg are all over this record. Every empty space is a personal challenge to be filled by guitar and drums. Their playing is so assertive that the missing bass player is hardly noticed.

Ray Harris contributes here on this session a fine vocal, even for a self-professed non-singer. The party atmosphere adds a delightful touch and enhances both instrumental breaks. The unknown piano player is suitably high spirited, although his style is notably un-Jerry Lee-like. If things weren't sufficiently off-the-wall, this record ends on a drum roll. Not exactly an everyday occurrence, made doubly bizarre by the studio fade. Precious few Sun record ended with fade-outs, despite how commonplace the practice was elsewhere. When we finally get a Sun fade, it focuses not on a repeated vocal or instrumental line, but on a drum roll. What a label!.

For many years it was thought that Elvis Presley played piano on both of Ray Harris Sun release. However, research has discovered that Charlie Rich was the piano player. The vocal backing was provided by Roy Orbison, Wayne Cogswell, and Red Hensley. (HD)

*31 - Lonely Wolf (2:50) 1977 (Ray Harris) > Not Originally Issued <
(Ray Harris-Wayne Cogswell) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 7, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Harris (vocal and guitar), Winston Wayne Cogswell (guitar), Joey Reisenberg (drums),
Wayne Cogswell, Red Hensley, Roy Orbison (vocal chorus)
Unknown (piano), Unknown (bass)

Ray Harris' second session for Sam Phillips was a rampant affair, akin to one of the famous Sun studio parties that, if folklore is to believed, were fuelled by copious amounts of Thuderbird wine. Although it didn't win a release at the time, the teeth-baring "Lonely Wolf" was too good to be left on the shelf and it fully deserves its place here. The title was a tab prophetic, as the entrepreneurial Harris would soon be on his way to helping set up the rival Hi Records label in Memphis.

32 - Green Back Dollar, Watch And Chain (2) (2:57) 1957 (Ray Harris) > Sun 272-A <
(Ray Harris-Wayne Cogswell) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 7, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Harris (vocal and guitar), Winston Wayne Cogswell (guitar), Joey Reisenberg (drums),
Wayne Cogswell, Red Hensley, Roy Orbison (vocal chorus)
Unknown (piano), Unknown (bass)

Casting around for material, Ray Harris lighted upon the old hill country ballad "Greenback Dollar", and he worked up a surprisingly commercial version of the song. There was a contagious party atmosphere on the record, highlighted by whistles and hollers during the instrumental breaks. "A lot of people though I was gonna have a big one", recalled Harris, "so I got carried away and went and bought a new Mercury. Ended up diggin' ditches for six months to pay for it". Harris provides hos own epitaph on his Sun career: "I never did get a hit. Probably had too much country in my style. I tell everyone I sure had a good time trying', though".

Ray Harris' second single, "Greenback Dollar, Watch And Chain", comes from the folksy end of public domain and features a young Roy Orbison in the chorus, and went on to make a pretty nice career for him self three years later. Although the session musicians were essentially the same as Sun 254, the results were quite different this time around. Featured again on guitar was Rhode Island native Wayne Cogswell and the drummer was Memphis resident Joe Reisenberg.

"Greenback Dollar" is a loony tune, and no less lovable. And what a mixture of styles!. A doo wop chorus, and more of the wild and woolly guitar / drum sound from the flipside. Only this time around a piano and slap bass player have been added. A truly overproduced record by Sun's delightful 1957 standards. Everybody did his part live, right off the floor, with no overdubbing. As Wayne Cogswell recalls, ''I was singing and playing lead guitar at the same time. Nothing fancy on that record''. Part of the prodigious amount of energy in the room stems from Reisenberg's drumming. The whole record comes close to being a drum solo rather than conventional 2/4 rhythm. You can hear guys shouting and whistling in the background during the guitar and piano solos. It sounds like a party going on and the drums certainly contribute to the mood. When the piano solo starts, Joe moves to his crash cymbal for emphasis. And then there's that memorable fade on a drum roll! How many records do you know, Sun or otherwise, that end on a drum roll? If Sam hadn't faded it, Joe might have kept at it until moved uptown in 1960.

Although Jimmy Van Eaton recalls playing on what may have been an earlier practice version of Harris's song, no tapes of that session remain and there is little doubt that the issued version of ''Greenback Dollar'' features Joe Reisenberg. In a 1960 conversation with Hank Davis, Ray Harris spoke about his drummer, Reisenberg, and how different he and Joe were. Harris seemed bemused, but proud of the association.

Reisenberg's story has never before appeared in the annals of Sun archeology. ''Little Joe'' Reisenberg was born to an immigrant Jewish family in 1912 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He began playing drums at an early age and, according to his son Gene, ''would have played 24 hours a day. seven days a week if he could''. But he couldn't. He had a wife and three kids to support. Sun recording logs show no record of Reisenberg doing any session work other than with Ray Harris. However, he seems to have done semi-regular session playing in Nashville during the mid-1950s, just before Nashville became a major recording hub for so-called country politan music.

Reisenberg's younger cousin Ronald Harkavy recalls Joe travelling to Nashville for sessions with mainstream artists including Perry Como and Kay Starr. There is also a strong indication that Joe played drums with Bob Wills in Texas during the 1940s although we can't back that one up with photographs or recordings.

In an interview with Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins, Ray Harris recalled, ''Joe Reisenberg owned a scrap yard and used to smoke cigars all the time. He'd be playing drums and the cigar would burn plumb up to his lips''.

Reisenberg, who died in 1987, was by all reports an extremely like-able man. His cousin Ronald recalls him as being personally ''very down to earth and humble'', although in larger social situations he could become the gregarious life of the party. Gene recalls, ''My father love to joke and dance around and on stage he'd twirl his drumsticks''.

One of Joe's early friends in the music business was the King, himself. ''Elvis loved Joe'', recalls Harkavy. ''He used to come by the house and give the two sons rides on his motorcycle. He was very generous with Joe and gave him presents, which really made a difference. Joe wasn't rich and every little bit helped. Joe played drums with Elvis at local shows, maybe in 1954 or early 1955, before Elvis was a star. Elvis asked him to come on the road with him but Joey refused. He was very devoted to his wife and family (two sons and a daughter) and he wouldn't just pack up and go off with them. He was in the 40s by then and it just didn't seem right to him''. (HD) (MH) (SP)

© 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 <
 
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

CD 2 Contains
For music on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

GO GO GO

Johnny Bernero played drums on Sun records by Elvis Presley, Warren Smith, Barbara Pittman, Billy Riley, Smokey Joe, and many more. His kit was set up in the studio, and Phillips would place a call across the street to Bernero's place of employment, Memphis Light Gas & Water. Seeing fifteen bucks for records that sold hundreds of thousands of copies, Bernero finally convinced Phillips to record his own combo. Bernero's unweird sound was deeply rooted in western swing and his tapes were shelved immediately after the sessions. Perhaps his music fit no known definition of rock and roll, but its contagious energy and innate musicality counts for something. Bernero always spoke highly of Hugh Jeffreys' steel guitar playing, and now we understand why. He was barely outclassed by Joaquin Murphey, Leon McAuliffe and the other giants of western swing steel guitar.

Stylistically, the Kirby Sisters' exquisite harmonies belonged with Johnny Bernero, and neither of them belonged on Sun. It's Bernero we hear again on Barbara Pittman's first Sun single. She recorded inconsistently for Sun over a four year period, and saw four singles hit the market to very little acclaim. Better suited to rock and roll than her contemporaries, the Miller Sisters, her road-house voice belonged in clubs. Records magnified her limitations, but with jack Clement as her boyfriend, she was unlikely to be dropped.

Although most Sun artists came from the Tri-State area (Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas), the label's allure brought Roy Orbison from west Texas, and, in Orbison's wake came Wade (Moore) and Dick (Penner), the pair who'd written Orbison's first hit, ''Ooby Dooby''. There's no better illustration of the studio at work than the two very different takes of Penner's ''Don't Need Your Lovin' Baby''. Another Penner song, ''Cindy Lou'', sported a guitar lick curiously similar to Tommy Blake's ''Lordy Hoody''. Guitarist Don Dow Gililliand (yes, it's spelled that way) earns an occasional mention in vintage guitar mags for his work on Penner's recordings. It was exotic, spooky stuff for 1957. Partially sighted since birth, Gililliand co-wrote Sid King's ''Sag, Drag And Fall'' and became a jazz guitarist in Dallas while holding down a day job at Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Trivia note: he was in ''Rock Baby, Rock It'', the movie that starred Johnny Carroll and Rosco Gordon.

Roy Orbison never played as much guitar as he did on Sun. Not as spiky or inventive as Gililliand or some of the other pickers on this set, Orbison was no slouch on the six strings. Only toward the end of his life did Orbison see any merit in the music he recorded at Sun, but ''Cat Called Domino'' would have been his best record on Sun if it had been released. The guy in the song was everything that Orbison wasn't. ''Domino'' also featured Orbison's finest guitar playing. Crudely overdubbed, it first appeared on a 1962 budget LP, ''Orbiting With Orbison''.

Dean Beard also made the two-day trek from west Texas with his hopes high. ''Rakin' And Scrapin''' later found release on Atlantic, but it's hard to make the case that his Sun recordings deserved a better fate in 1956. Another Texan, Johnny Carroll, contacted Sam Phillips after meeting Elvis, Scotty and Bill in Shreveport. Carroll sold a few songs to Phillips, two of which appeared in the first batch of Phillips International releases in 1957. An unissued song ''Rock Baby, Rock It'', titled the low budget teen flick made in Texas with Carroll, Rosco Gordon and Don Gililliand. Carroll's song was paint-by-numbers rock and roll with none of the blinding originality heard elsewhere in this collection.

And finally, Hayden Thompson's ''Rock-A-Billy Gal'' earns a mention as one of the very few 1950s songs with ''Rock-a-Billy'' in the title. Set to a light mambo rhythm, the original was a west coast record by Jonathan Craig with the Colby Wolf Combo that had as little connection with rockabilly as Guy Mitchell's song ''Rock-A-Billy''. Phillips left Thompson's ''Rock-a-BilIy Gal'' on the shelf. Trivia note: Colby Wolfe's original record was released at the same time and on the same label as Richard Berry's original ''Louie, Louie''.

Some liner-notes taken from ''The Complete Sun Singles Collection'' and notes from ''Sun Outtakes'' boxen.

Johnny Bernero Band

*1 - Cotton Pickin' Boogie (3:10) 1986 (Johnny Bernero Band) > Not Originally Issued <
(Unknown) (Copyright Control)
Recorded November 4, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Thurman Enlow (vocal and piano), Hugh Jeffreys (guitar), Herman Hawkins (bass),
Johnny Bernero (drums), Ace Cannon (saxophone), Hank Bowers (trumpet)

According to vocalist/pianist Thurman Enlow, this next and other tracks recorded by The Johnny Bernero Band were never leased by Sam Phillips simply because they were "too good". By "good", Phillips was no doubt referring to the distance between Bernero's style and the more promitive rock and roll sounds that were sweeping the marketplace. And who knew this better than Sam Phillips?

In an interview with Colin Escott, Bernero reflected that he'd sat in Taylor's Café next door to Sun. "I looked at the jukebox and there were maybe five or six Sun records on there and I'd played on all of them. All the guys were driving Cadillac's, making big money and I was getting $15 a session. That's when I got the idea of bringing my own band in". Even if Bernero's perception of his Sun brothers' fortunes was a bit exaggerated, this was plainly not the music Sam Phillips was looking for in 1956. These guys were too good.

Their style was firmly rooted in western swing and big band music. Nevertheless on this track the band comes as close as it could to the sound Phillips was after. Enlow's vocal may be a bit laid back, but there is a real edge to the playing here, with a fine sax break by Dick Horton and a wonderful guitar solo by Buddy Holobaugh when he comes in for the final eight bars.

*2 - Rockin' At The Woodchopper's Ball (3:20) 1986 (Johnny Bernero Band) > Not Originally Issued <
(Unknown) (Copyright Control)
Recorded November 4, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Thurman Enlow (vocal and piano), Hugh Jeffreys (guitar), Herman Hawkins (bass),
Johnny Bernero (drums), Ace Cannon (saxophone), Hank Bowers (trumpet)

*3 - It Makes No Difference Now (2:33) 1986 (Johnny Bernero Band) > Not Originally Issued <
(Floyd Tillman) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Thurman Enlow (vocal and piano), Buddy Holobaugh (guitar), Bill Tarrance (bass),
Johnny Bernero (drums), Dick Horton (saxophone)

Until comparatively recently, Johnny Bernero was a virtual unknown in the history of Sun Records. His own recordings were not known to have existed and his standout drumming on records by Elvis Presley, Warren Smith, Smokey Joe, The Miller Sisters, and several others was usually attributed to someone else. The real misfortune was that Bernero's preferred style of music became overlooked in the rush to record rockabilly.

Toward the end of Bernero's affiliation with Sun, Sam Phillips allowed him to bring his own band, featuring singer-pianist Thurman ''Ted'' Enlow. If categorized, those tapes would be filed under western swing, and, for that reason, they sat in a session reel box marked ''Bernero's Band'' for upwards of thirty years. If Bernero had shown up at Sun a year or two when Phillips was finding his way in the business, he might have seen his name on a Sun record, but he arrived a little to late.

Both Bernero and Enlow left town for extended periods in the 1960s and 1970s, but eventually returned home. Enlow had just undergone cancer surgery when Colin Escott spoke to them both in Bernero's modest house in the north end of Memphis. Bernero was selling insurance, traditionally the musician's nightmare, but a career that Bernero insisted suited him just fine.

The song, "It Makes No Difference Now", composed by Floyd Tillman in 1938, has one of the finest pedigrees in country music. In Billboard magazine's first-ever country hit parade listing in 1939, this tune was number 1. Later versions by Jimmie Davis (who added his name to the composer credit) and Eddy Arnold hit the charts as well, and it was even crossed over into pop music with Bing Crosby and rhythm and blues with Ray Charles.

Music sleuths will notice that the first line here is the melodic inspiration for the first line of Harlan Howard's "Heartaches By The Number" - a megahit in 1959. This kind of unconscious plagiarism is the essence of country songwriting. Fortunately for Howard (and Ray Price and Guy Mitchell), the fleeting memory of "It Makes No Difference Now" evaporated after only one line.

"One time I was sitting in the 81 Club restaurant waiting for Smokey Joe", recalled Johnny Bernero. "I looked at the jukebox and there were maybe five or six Sun records on it and I'd played on them all. Those guys were driving Cadillacs and I was getting $15 a session. So I'd gotten to be real good friends with Sam and I talked him into letting me bring my own group in".

The Johnny Bernero band cut at least two sessions at Sun which were rooted in a different style from the music that was selling for Sam Phillips at that point in time. As a result, they sat on the shelf for thirty years.

*4 - Bernero's Boogie (4:05) 1986 (Johnny Bernero Band) > Not Originally Issued <
(Unknown) (Copyright Control)
Recorded November 4, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Thurman Enlow (vocal and piano), Hugh Jeffreys (guitar), Herman Hawkins (bass),
Johnny Bernero (drums), Ace Cannon (saxophone), Hank Bowers (trumpet)

The 1947 Spade Cooley classic is dressed up fit to kill on this stunning version by the Bernero Band. Probably dating from 1956, it was delightfully at variance with the rockabilly trend that was sweeping Memphis and, of course, stood little or no chance of getting released. At the very least, it shows that the high regard in which Hugh Jeffries was held by local musicians was well justified. His steel playing is outstanding and the ensemble work is very tight and swings beautifully. Johnny Bernero was a powerhouse on drums, always to be found accenting and pushing at the right moments. This was the music that he loved to play, even though many of the rockabilly classics from 1955 and 1956 bear his imprint. Ted Enlow recalled that Jack Clement asked him to sing half a tone higher than he wanted on this cut, but he doesn't sound uneasy. This is compelling music and there is little doubt that the group would have seen some releases on Sun if they had arrived a couple of years earlier. Phillips loved this style of music to, but he also had a fine grasp of what was selling.

*5 - I Don't Mind (2:56) 1986 (Johnny Bernero Band) > Not Originally Issued <
(Unknown) (Copyright Control)
Recorded November 4, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Thurman Enlow (vocal and piano), Hugh Jeffreys (guitar), Herman Hawkins (bass),
Johnny Bernero (drums), Ace Cannon (saxophone), Hank Bowers (trumpet)

The Kirby Sisters

In his last interview from Malcolm Yelvington just a couple of weeks before his passing in February 2001, he offered the possibility that his piano man, Reece Fleming, might have been involved in the recording of "Blond In Red Velvet" by The Kirby Sisters. Despite a distinctive boogie in the solo, Malcolm was unable to shed any further light on the subject. The girls themselves showed promise with their well-drilled harmonies on this records and demos dating from February 1956.

Clarence Edwards recalls the Kirby Sisters as being very professional: "They were good musicians, man. I was very taken with them. I mean, they played standards! Just about everybody I knew back then was playing country. But Bette and her sister could play standards. They'd play tunes like "Body And Soul" and "Stardust" and then mix them in with Chuck Berry tunes. It opened up my eyes to a lot of music. I have to give them credit for that". Edwards recalls that Bette, the younger of the two, was a piano player and her sister Mary play clarinet. "She'd play down in that lower range. Mary had spent some time in Memphis and she had absorbed a lot of blues feeling".

The Kirby Sisters band also included Bette's husband, drummer Bill Fairbanks. Edwards recalls: "I was real impressed with him as well. Bill was from up in Chicago. He had a large record collection and he used to let me listen to it. I learned a lot of music in a very short time. I had grown up listening to nothing but Hank Williams and western swing. We didn't even have a record player. Being around the Kirbys was just unbelievable. I was still wet behind the ears. They gave me a chance to play and to listen". Tonk Edwards put me in tough with two other musicians who had worked with the Kirbys: sax player Del Puschert and guitarist Gene Harrell. Puschert's contact with the Kirbys had been a lot more personnel. ''I was in love with Bette, man. I was just crazy about her. I was q 22 year old kid in love with a married 24 year old piano player. I followed her all over the country. That's how I ended up in Texas''.

To this date, Puschert maintains a discreet Bette Kirby archieve of memorabilia. Puschert, himself, went on to a notable career as a blues-playing saxman, whose touring and recording history was recounted in a 'Washington Post'' feature on March 26, 2001. He fronted a black group called the Van Dykes, who recorded for Atlantic Records in the early 1960s. Some 40 years later, Puschert notes, ''I'm retired now, but I still blow the hell out of the horn''.

*6 - The Blond In Red Velvet (2:21) 2002 (Kirby Sisters) > Not Originally Issued <
Recorded February 5, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bette Kirby (vocal and piano), Mary Kirby (vocals), Sandy Kirby Unknown instrument),
Clarence "Tonk" Edwards guitar), Gene Harrell (guitar), Ivan Greathouse (steel guitar),
Bill Fairbanks (drums), Del Puschert (saxophone)

"Blond In Red Velvet" deserves special mention. It is both a memorable and sexually confused song. Reference to a "blond in red velvet" normally conjures up images of a woman. Yet, the Kirby's (or Johnnie) are plainly pining away for this mysterious figure in their dreams. It seems almost an afterthought to turns this red velvet apparition into a man in order to keep the song in the mainstream.

After all, we can't have girl singers lusting after a blond woman in red velvet; at least, not in 1956. The situation becomes even more amusing when one listens carefully to some of the alternate takes in which the Kirbys can plainly be heard changing the sex of the pronoun ("There must be some reason / she haunts me in my dream". Just what was going on here? It's not all that surprising that this little streak of Arkansas bizarro would have appealed to Sam Phillips' search for something different.

*7 - You'll Always Belong To Me (2:34) 2002 (Kirby Sisters) > Not Originally Issued <
Recorded February 5, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bette Kirby (vocal and piano), Mary Kirby (vocals), Sandy Kirby Unknown instrument),
Clarence "Tonk" Edwards guitar), Gene Harrell (guitar), Ivan Greathouse (steel guitar),
Bill Fairbanks (drums), Del Puschert (saxophone)

"You'll Always Belong To Me" was composed by Gene Harrell, guitarist of the group at the time, later to be replaced by Scotty Johnson and for a while Tonk Edwards.

*8 - So Tired (2:06) 2002 (Kirby Sisters) > Not Originally Issued <
(Bette Kirby) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded February 5, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bette Kirby (vocal and piano), Mary Kirby (vocals), Sandy Kirby Unknown instrument),
Clarence "Tonk" Edwards guitar), Gene Harrell (guitar), Ivan Greathouse (steel guitar),
Bill Fairbanks (drums), Del Puschert (saxophone)

"So Tired", a 12 bar blues is probably composed by Bette Kirby. Tonk Edwards remembers it being a regular part of their live set. Guitarist Gene Harrell recalls a fifth title from the session called "Hello Stranger", but there is no record of the song among the Sun tapes.

"I remember three things very clearly about that session", recalls Gene Harrell. "One is how nervous I was. Sam was very nice to all of us but I kept thinking 'That's Sam Phillips! They don't get any bigger than Sam Phillips'. I remember how Sam took us all out to lunch. He bought me a cheeseburger and a beer. It's funny how things like that stick in your mind. I also recall that Sam had just received an acetate copy of

"Heartbreak Hotel". Elvis had sent it to him just after his first RCA Victor session. The record wasn't even out yet. Sam played it for all of us and asked us what we thought. We were all very impressed and told him it was sure to be a hit. He seemed pleased. I remember Mary, who was older than most of us, she was probably in her mid-30s, saying something like 'It even makes an old grandmother like me perk up her ears'".

Barbara Pittman

*9 - Sentimental Fool (2:29) 1978 (Barbara Pittman) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 15, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Barbara Pittman (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Buddy Holobaugh (guitar),
Marcus Van Story (bass), Smokey Joe Baugh (piano), Johnny Bernero (drums)
Johnny Ace Cannon (saxophone)

Roy Orbison was the new star on the horizon, unquestionably. But there were others for whom Sam Phillips had great hope as well. One was ''sultry feline redhead'' Barbara Pittman, the new Snearly Ranch Boys vocalist, applauded by Billboard for ''the back shack sound, female style of her Sun debut. Pittman had run away with cowboy star and bull-whip performer Lash LaRue's traveling show in her mid-teens and was told by Sam Phillips ''to go out and learn how to sing'' the first time she presented herself at the studio in the end of 1955.

It's Johnny Bernero we hear on Barbara Pittman's first Sun recordings. She recorded inconsistently for Sun over a four year period, and saw four singles hit the market to very little acclaim. Better suited to rock and roll than her contemporaries, the Miller Sisters, her roadhouse voice belonged in clubs. Records magnified her limitations, but with Jack Clement as her boyfriend, she was unlikely to be dropped.

Barbara Pittman, she was, as she's fond of saying, one of the few female singers at Sun Records. Her voice had enough raw power for her to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the male singers at Sun. Here, on a 1956 recording, she's backed by the Snearly Ranch Boys. The band hits a solid country boogie groove, and Barbara's vocal is appealing husky. Earlier, Barbara Pittman hung out at Sun Records with Elvis Presley, but Sam Phillips wouldn't sign her until he heard her demo of Stan Kesler's "Playing For Keeps". This number probably dates from the next session, the time that Barbara's first single was recorded in April 1956.

There were three more singles on Phillips International spread over the next three years, all far more commercial than this. Any one of them could have made it. Barbara Pittman's treatment at Sun Records galls her to this day. She says that Sam Phillips preferred female singers to sound like Doris Day. If that was the case, he definitely should have left Barbara Pittman alone.

10 - I Need A Man (2:54) 1956 (Barbara Pittman) > Sun 253-A <
(Barbara Pittman-Stanley Kesler) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 15, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Barbara Pittman (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Buddy Holobaugh (guitar),
Marcus Van Story (bass), Smokey Joe Baugh (piano), Johnny Bernero (drums)

Still very much in her teens, Barbara Ann Pittman earned her professional grounding in familiar Memphis nitespots such as the Eagles Nest and the Cotton Club. She fronted an outfit led by local drummer Clyde Leoppard and several of his sidemen were on hand when her inaugural recordings were made at 706 Union. There was little doubting what she had in mind with this title, to wit, the light soprano she'd been displaying on stage was convincingly replaced by a hot-blooded growl.

Not many Sun labels have borne the names of women. One side of Barbara Ann Pittman first Sun single (several records later appeared on Phillips International) was a conscious attempt to expand the boundaries of rockabilly to include female vocalists or, as Billboard called it, "the backshack sound, female style". Along with Janis Martin, Wanda Jackson and several others, Barbara Pittman has been dubbed a "female Elvis". She was indeed a chum of the King, but as an artist she was much more.

"I Need A Man", was an obvious attempt by Sun to climb onto its own rockabilly bandwagon with a female artist. Driven by a slap bass, this track helped challenge rockabilly's 'men only' bias. Billboard magazine responded colorfully by saying "Here the back shack sound, female style". (MH) (HD) (CE)

*11 - Voice Of A Fool (2:28) 1986 (Barbara Pittman) > Not Originally Issued <
(Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell) (Copyright Control)
Recorded April 15, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Barbara Pittman (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Buddy Holobaugh (guitar),
Marcus Van Story (bass), Smokey Joe Baugh (piano), Johnny Bernero (drums)

Not many Sun labels have borne the names of women. One side of Barbara Ann Pittman first Sun single (several records later appeared on Phillips International) was a conscious attempt to expand the boundaries of rockabilly to include female vocalists or, as Billboard called it, "the backshack sound, female style". Along with Janis Martin, Wanda Jackson and several others, Barbara Pittman has been dubbed a "female Elvis". She was indeed a chum of the King, but as an artist she was much more. (HD)

12 - I'm Getting Better All The Time (2:52) 1957 (Barbara Pittman) > PI 3518-B <
(Stan Kesler) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded June 5, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Barbara Pittman (vocal), Hank Byers (Vocal), Roland Janes (guitar),
Jack Clement (guitar), Jerry Lee Lewis (piano),
James Van Eaton (drums), Stan Kesler (bass)

On this flip-side, written by Sun alumnus Stan Kesler, comes far closer to the sound and feel of vintage rockabilly, yet it too is muted by comparison. Gone is the maniacal energy and slap bass of Sun 253, replaced by a more subdued, neo-huffle rhythm and bopping chorus (which probably includes Barbara's voice overdubbed). Roland Janes takes a wonderfully melodic 16 bar solo and shows off a style rarely in evidence on his more famous work with Jerry Lee. Barbara has a really distinctive voice, with a smoky edge and undeniably sexy quality. It is well suited to the theme of this surprisingly risque work. "I may not be the best lover in the world, honey, but if we keep doing it, I'm going to get better and better". What good ole boy couldn't smile at a deal like that? (HD)

13 - Everlasting Love (2:25) 1957 (Barbara Pittman) > PI 3527-A <
(Stan Kesler) (Crystal Music Incorporated)
Recorded June 5, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Barbara Pittman (vocal), Sid Manker (guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Jack Clement (guitar),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), James Van Eaton (drums), Bill Justis Orchestra,
The Gene Lowery Singers

Sun's house-bass player Stan Kesler, became Barbara Pittman's representative knowing full well that the company had yet to launch a successful female act. After his artist's debut single was released, he set about reorganising her status with the result that Barbara signed to the Phillips International imprint simply because "the label looked pretty". "Everlasting Love" the second of her three fine singles, was a cover of Don Hosea's original on the Kesler-owned Crystal label. (HD)

The College Kids

14 - Bop Bop Baby (2:09) 1956 (The College Kids) > Sun 269-A <
(Wade Lee Moore-Allen Richard Dick Penner) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 14, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Wade Moore (vocal), Dick Penner (vocal and guitar), Don Gililliand (bass),
Bob Izer (guitar), Probably Roger Berkely (drums)

If Wade Moore and Dick Penner are remembered by Sun fans, it will not be for this recording. The Collage Kids primarily remembered for writing the immortal "Ooby Dooby", brought to fame on Roy Orbison's first Sun record.

As vocalists, the duo offer an appealing blend, although Dick Penner's high voice predominates and works against the sterotyped virile Sun style. In fact, both sides of this recording have a minor key sound not typically associated with Sun artists. North Texas State University in Denton was their seat of learning and part of their daily routine was to lie in the sun on the frat house roof and write songs for sun.. This session was taped during the Yuletide vacation of 1956

"Bop Bop Baby" lives up to its name with a solid stop-rhythm and excellent instrumental work. The side is unusual in that it flirts with being in a minor key throughout. Minor key rockers were uncommon on Sun's or anyone release schedule. The guitar work on the first solo is sparkling and nicely complemented by the electric bass. The second solo forsake minor key magic and borrows liberally from the melody line of "Roll Over Beethoven". (HD)

*15 - Don't Need Your Lovin' (1) (2:59) 1977 (The College Kids) > Not Originally Issued <
(Wade Lee Moore-Allen Richard Dick Penner) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 14, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Wade Moore (vocal), Dick Penner (vocal and guitar), Don Gililliand (bass),
Bob Izer (guitar), Probably Roger Berkely (drums)

16 - Don't Need Your Lovin' (2) 2:43) 1956 ((The College Kids) > Sun 269-B <
(Wade Lee Moore-Allen Richard Dick Penner) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 14, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Wade Moore (vocal), Dick Penner (vocal and guitar), Don Gililliand (bass),
Bob Izer (guitar), Probably Roger Berkely (drums)

The flipside "Don't Need Your Lovin' Baby" is really a solo vehicle for Dick Penner. The guitar work has a distinctive oriental flavor to it, yet it rocks in a solid bluesy groove. Again, there are enough flatted thirds to keep the song;s key signature ambiguous. What is quite clear here is the marvellous interplay between the lead guitar and an unidentified drummer. Not since Jerry Lee and Jimmy Van Eaton, has such rapport been heard on a Sun record. Billboard was also impressed and touted this "wailing minor blues" in its May 27, 1957 review.

Although Dick Penner was back in the Sun studio two months later as a solo act, this is Wade and Dick's only appearance on this session. (HD)

*17 - Wild Woman (2:45) 1976 (The College Kids) > Not Originally Issued <
(Wade Lee Moore-Allen Richard Dick Penner) (Copyright Control)
Recorded December 14, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Wade Moore (vocal), Dick Penner (vocal and guitar), Don Gililliand (bass),
Bob Izer (guitar), Probably Roger Berkely (drums)

Dick Penner

Although most Sun artists came from the Tri-State area (Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas), the label's allure brought Roy Orbison from west Texas, and, in Orbison's wake came Wade Moore and Dick Penner, the pair who'd written Orbison's first hit, ''Ooby Dooby''. There's no better illustration of the studio at work than the two very different takes of Penner's ''Don't Need Your Lovin' Baby''. Another Penner song, ''Cindy Lou'', sported a guitar lick curiously similar to Tommy Blake's ''Lordy Hoody''. Guitarist Don Dow Gililliand (yes, it's spelled that way) earns an occasional mention in vintage guitar mags for his work on Penner's recordings. It was exotic, spooky stuff for 1957. Partially sighted since birth, Gililliand co-wrote Sid Kings'''Sag, Drag And Fall'' and became a jazz guitarist in Dallas while holding down a day job at Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Trivia note: he was in ''Rock Baby, Rock It'', the movie that starred Johnny Carroll and Rosco Gordon.

18 - Cindy Lou (2:19) 1957 (Dick Penner) > Sun 282-B <
(Dick Penner) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 19, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dick Penner (vocal and guitar), Don Gililliand (guitar), Unknown (bass)

Sam Phillips invited one half of 'the College Kids' back to the studio in an attempt to work up some of the elusive magic he had heard during the session for SUN 269. In truth, Phillips succeeded, although the rewards were not financial, and spelled an end to Penner's association with Sun.

Dick Penner seemed to gravivate to eerie, soaring minor key mid-tempo ballads with a decidedly romantic cast. "Cindy Lou", an ode to the woman he would eventually marry, is one such case. In fact, it is more than that. This is a really extraordinary record that has been overlooked in the reissue sweepstakes. There's a lot going on here and there are only three people doing it. The lead guitar work is incredibly assertive and its interplay with Penner's gentle understated vocal is brilliant. The drumming is restrained, although its use of the cowbell is quite unusual for 706 Union. The electric bass player has the easiest job in town, and for a very special reason. "Cindy Lou" may be the only Sun record that never changes chords. This entire song is performed in a single chord. The bass player could have earned his fee by simply alternating two notes for the whole session. He adds a couple of grace notes here and there, perhaps to stay awake, but they were technically unnecessary. Not surprisingly, this limited structure creates a heap of tension, which the strident guitar player continues to punch at throughout the recording. This is a fine, fine record. (HD)

19 - Honey Love (2:12) 1957 (Dick Penner) > Sun 282-A <
(Dick Penner) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 19, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dick Penner (vocal and guitar), Don Gililliand (guitar), Unknown (bass)

The structure of "Your Honey Love" is a lot more conventional and again, the three musicians make a lot of music. The bass player is finally free to do some playing and uses the opportunity well, providing a fat sound to underpin the bluesy changes. The lead guitar is as strident as ever (where did this guy go?), and Penner's voice is, once more, disarmingly gently.

Now Dick Penner is retired, travelling around the world and taking very artistic pictures, but his music is still played worldwide. (HD) (MH)

*20 - Fine Little Baby (2:33) 1977 (Dick Penner) > Not Originally Issued <
(Allen Richard Dick Penner) (Carlin Music Corporation)
Recorded February 19, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dick Penner (vocal and guitar), Don Gililliand (guitar), Unknown (bass)

*21 - Move Baby Move (1:59) 1977 (Dick Penner) > Not Originally Issued <
(Allen Richard Dick Penner) (Copyright Control)
Recorded February 19, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dick Penner (vocal and guitar), Don Gililliand (guitar), Unknown (bass)

Note: Don Dow Gililliand (commonly misspelled as Gilliland; born 31 January 1939 Dallas, Texas) is a jazz guitarist and composer who is best known for having recorded three rockabilly hits in 1956 on Sun Records with Wade & Dick, ''The College Kids'', led by Wade Lee Moore (born 1934) and Dick Penner. Gililliand has been legally blind since birth but has always been able to get around. Gililliand played guitar with Buster Smith. Gililliand also worked 26 years for the Oak Cliff Tribune, becoming managing editor. He currently works for Dallas Area Rapid Transit and still performs in the evenings.

Roy Orbison

One of the many who came to Sun in the wake of Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison tried for a few years to become a rock and roll singer. By his own admission, his heart remained elsewhere. Despite the fact that Orbison made periodic forays back into the country and rock music of his youth, the heart of his style was rooted in pop ballads. Hillbilly and rockabilly were essentially southern musics; the hits Orbison scored in the 1960s were timeless and placeless. Like Elvis Presley, but unlike Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins Roy Orbison transcended his roots.

At Johnny Cash's suggestion, Roy Orbison had already approached Sam Phillips at Sun Records, but Phillips had rebuffed him, declaring, "Johnny Cash doesn't run my record company". But Orbison had stronger ally in Cecil "Pop" Holifield, who operated the Record Shop in Midland and Odessa and had booked Elvis Presley into the area. Holifield played a copy of the Je-Well Record of "Ooby Dooby" over the phone to Phillips, who heard something unique in the strangely fragile voice, and asked him to send along a copy. "My first reaction", recalled Sam Phillips many years later, "was that "Ooby Dooby" was a novelty-type thing that resembled some of the novelty hits from the 1930s and 1940s. I thought if we got a good cut on it we could get some attention. Even more, I was very impressed with the inflection Roy brought to it. In fact, I think I was more impressed than Roy".

In Odessa, Texas, Roy Orbison roomed with James Morrow, Jack Kennelly, and Billy Pat Ellis, who recast themselves as the Teen Kings. The original bassist from the Wink Westeners, Charles Evans, had guit to get married and had been replaced by Jack Kennelly. The Teen Kings were joined by the diminutive Johnny "Peanuts" Wilson on rhythm guitar, and with that line-up they secured themselves on an television show on KOSA, sponsored by the local Pontiac dealer. Roy Orbison had also returned from Denton with original song, "Ooby Dooby", that he had acquired from Wade Moore and Dick Penner, who had written it in fifteen minutes on the flat roof of a frat house at North Texas State. It was copyrighted in May 1955, and Orbison apparently first recorded it at some point in late 1955 during a demo session for Columbia Records at Jim Back's studio in Dallas. That session also yielded a version of the Clovers hit, "Hey Miss Fanny".

It appears as though it was first recorded by the Wink Westeners, reconstituted as the Teen Kings, at Norman Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico, together with 12 or 14 other songs. At roughly the same time "Ooby Dooby" was re-recorded in Arlington, Texas. An acetate was submitted to Columbia who later gave it to Sid King, who recorded "Ooby Dooby" on March 5, 1956. A day earlier, Roy Orbison had re-recorded the song at Norman Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico. That session yielded essential rockabilly, such as "Domino", as well as "An Empty Cup (And A Broken Date)" pitched by Petty to Buddy Holly. In the Petty sessions the Teen Kings sang backup vocals similar to those popularized by rhythm and blues groups.

"Ooby Dooby" did good business nationwide, eventually reaching number 59 on Billboard's Hot 100 and selling roughly 200,000 copies. It would be the biggest hit that Orbison would have for four years. He bought his first Cadillac. "That's what we all wanted", he asserted, "a Cadillac and a diamond ring before out twenty-first birthday".

*22 - Ooby Dooby (2:10) 1976 (Roy Orbison) > Not Originally Issued <
(Wade Lee Moore-Allen Richard Dick Penner) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Probably March 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roy Orbison (vocal and guitar), Johnny ''Peanuts'' Wilson
n (guitar), James Morrow (mandolin),
Jack Kennelly (bass), Billy Pat Ellis (drums)

There are many Sun out-takes of ''Ooby Dooby'', all of them very close to the finished version, and very close to the Je-Wel and Columbia versions. True, the song lacked profundity, but it was a remarkable record that can't be dismissed as easily as Roy later tried to dismiss it. Roy's guitar solo was marvellously lyrical. He repeated it note-for-note on the second break and on all existing alternate takes and alternate versions, proving that he was already a painstaking craftsman rather than a spontaneous creator. But the record's most unusual feature was its ending. What other record ended with five descending bass notes?

23 - Go! Go! Go! (2:08) 1956 (Roy Orbison) > Sun 242-B <
(Roy Orbison-Billy Pat Ellis) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Probably March 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roy Orbison (vocal and guitar), Johnny ''Peanuts'' Wilson (guitar), James Morrow (mandolin),
Jack Kennelly (bass), Billy Pat Ellis (drums)

"Go! Go! Go! was copyrighted in 1956 as a co-write between Roy Orbison and his drummer Billy Pat Ellis. In just a matter of months the song yielded further spoils when it was reworked as "Down The Line", the flipside of "Breathless" by Jerry Lee Lewis. By this stage, Roy had waved goodbye to The Teen Kings and Ellis' contribution was ungraciously erased. Sam Phillips wanted one of his own copyrights on the flip-side "Go!, Go!, Go!". The coupling was released in April 1956. Billboard praised its "spectacular untamed quality" and surmised that it would "cash in for plenty of loot in the rural sectors". In fact, it did good business everywhere, eventually reaching number 59 on Billboard's Hot 100.

24 - Rockhouse (2:05) 1956 (Roy Orbison) > Sun 251-B <
Recorded Probably June 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roy Orbison (vocal and guitar), Johnny ''Peanuts'' Wilson (guitar), James Morrow (mandolin),
Jack Kennelly (bass), Billy Pat Ellis (drums)

Roy Orbison makes a return engagement as a rockabilly singer here, but failed to capitalize on the momentum of "Ooby Dooby". Despite his prowess as a songwriter, Orbison turned to outsiders for this both sides of this disc. Its plain that he knew his way around the bluesy stop rhythm of "You're My Baby". In contrast, there is nothing funnier in the Sun archives than listening to Johnny Cash stumble his awkward way through the original demo of this tune.

There was a welcome surprise on MCA's recent Conway Twitty box: the original version of "Rockhouse". It really existed, and it revealed, among other things, that Roy Orbison had earned his half-share of the composer credit. He had more-or-less rewritten Twitty's theme-song, although that did nothing to stop Twitty from griping at the time and for years after. The tune became the title track for Orbison's lone LP on the original Sun label, a compilation the singer reviled to his dying day. (CE)

*25 - Domino (2:13) 1973 (Roy Orbison) > Not Originally Issued <
Recorded Probably 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roy Orbison (vocal and guitar), Johnny ''Peanuts'' Wilson (guitar), James Morrow (mandolin),
Jack Kennelly (bass), Billy Pat Ellis (drums)

When designated as "Cat Called Domino", this untypical mumble-fest from Roy Orbison nowaday's carries a co-writer credit for Norman Petty. Petty was Roy's original producer down in Clovis, New Mexico, and this tenuous sharing of the spoils is attributable to Roy recutting the song during a return visit to the Petty studio in 1957. Despite the strong performance here, the track was released - albeit with unnecessary overdubs - only after Roy Orbison had achieved international success.

Hayden Thompson

*26 - Rock-A-Billy Gal (2:28) 1978 (Hayden Thompson) < Not Originally Issued <
(Bob Colby-Jack Wolf) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded April 3, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Hayden Thompson (vocals and guitar), Dusty Rhodes (harmony vocals),
Roland Janes (guitar), Brad Scruggs (guitar), Slim Rhodes (guitar),
Speck Rhodes (bass), James. M. Van Eaton (drums)

Sometime around March 1957, Flip Records of Hollywood issued a jazzy disc by the Colby Wolf Combo with vocalist Jonathan Craig. It was about a girl who became enthralled by the new rocking music and set off in pursuit of "the crazy rhythm" and the man who performed it.

Bob Colby and Jack Wolf's song ''Rock-A-Billy Gal'' was reviewed in the trade press in mid-April 1957 by which time it had already found its way to 706 Union Avenue in Memphis and a Slim Rhodes' recording session on April 3.

It is unclear who picked the song up, but the title was crying out to be given the Sun treatment. Surprisingly few songs from the 'rockabilly' era had that word in their title: although the phrase had been coined by record reviewers at the trade paper 'Billboard' around 1955, the performers from the mid-South who from left; Billy Hurt, Bill Gunter, Jimmy Hill were at the centre of the storm very rarely used the term.

Jack Clement recognised a good idea when he heard it though and he, Slim Rhodes, and Hayden Thompson meticulously worked up an arrangement of the song with Hayden singing lead, and they captured many versions on tape. Hayden thinks he ''may have added a verse to if something like that'', but all the surviving versions are identical. They feature a harmony vocal by Dusty Rhodes. Slim's brother, although somehow it wrongly became part of Sun mythology for many years that the second voice was that of Roy Orbison. We have included here two previously unissued versions of ''Rock-A-Billy Gal''.

He released ''Love My Baby'' and ''One Broken Heart'' in September 1957 in the first batch of releases on his newly-launched Phillips International label. Hayden's record was promoted well locally and everyone at Sun had high hopes for it, but another Phillips International disc, the instrumental ''Raunchy'' by Bill Justis, started to become a major hit. The Sun/Phillips promotional campaign swung behind Justis, good as ''Love My Baby'' was.

Jack Clement recognised a good idea when he heard about the disc "Rock-A-Billy Gal" it though and he, Slim Rhodes, and Hayden Thompson meticulously worked up an new arrangement of the song with Hayden singing lead, and they captured many versions on tape. Hayden thinks he "may have added a verse to it, something like that", but all the surviving versions are identical. They feature a harmony vocal by Dusty Rhodes. Slim's brother, although somehow it wrongly became part of Sun mythology for many years that the second voice was that of Roy Orbison.

There was another "Rockabilly Gal" issued on Hudson Records by Mearl Allen, but for some reason, Sun decided eventually that they wouldn't go with Hayden's "Rock-A-Billy Gal" and instead Sam Phillips dug out the best Hayden Thompson takes he had earmarked from the December 1956 sessions.

Dean Beard

*27 - Rakin' And Scapin' (2:16) 1977 (Dean Beard) > Not Originally Issued <
(Dean Beard-Slim Willet-Ray Dogget as Elmer Ray in the credits) (Copyright Control)
Recorded August 26, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dean Beard (vocal and guitar), James Steward (guitar), Jimmy Seals (saxophone),
Johnny Black (bass), Johnny Bernero (drums)

One of the two Sun sessions, Dean Beard told Wayne Russell that he recorded with Jimmy Seals on saxophone, Johnny Bernero, and Johnny Black. Asked why he didn't see a release, Beard said that he ran around town with Sam Phillips' girlfriend, Sally Wilbourn, thereby ensuring that his sessions would remain in the can. The truth might have been more prosaic: the recordings weren't that good. The songs were undistinguished and if it's Seals saxophone he sounds like an angry goose.

Sam Phillips had many options at the end of 1956, and Dean Beard simply wasn't the best one. One of the Sun recordings ''Rakin' And Scrapin''', was co-written with Ray Doggett, who later wrote one of Kenny Rogers' earliest hits and became a rockabilly cult hero.

*28 - Long Time Gone (2:50) 1977 (Dean Beard) > Not Originally Issued <
(Dean Beard) (Copyright Control)
Recorded August 26, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dean Beard (vocal and guitar), James Steward (guitar), Jimmy Seals (saxophone),
Johnny Black (bass), Johnny Bernero (drums)

Johnny Carroll

Given the rich talent pool on his doorstep in Memphis, it is surprising that Sam Phillips saw fit to sign Texas resident Johnny Lewis Carroll, and its still not entirely clear how or why Carroll made their way onto Phillips' new Phillips International label. Sam Phillips would have been aware of Carroll because he had been on Decca in 1956 and he'd covered "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby". Carroll had also appeared in a sub-B movie called "Rock Baby, Rock It" with another Sun artist, Rosco Gordon.

Johnny Carroll has an interesting story about Phillips International that may or may not be true. This is the way he related it to Bill Millar: "I flew to Memphis 'cause Sam wanted to talk to me. He said he was gonna start this new label and spend a tremendous amount of money on it. He said that Phillips the electronic company were planning on coming to the USA, and - provided he established his label with one or two hits - they'd have to buy him out. He said, 'You can go ahead and be released on Sun, or you can wait a couple of months and go on Phillips International''.

''I'm gonna release five discs in one package and whichever one the jockeys start playing, I'm gonna put everything behind that one record and go with it as hard as I can. 'So I took my chances and went on Phillips International. You know the rest; the jockeys picked up on "Raunchy'".

Sam Phillips eventually folded Phillips International in 1963, ceding rights to Philips BV in Holland, so perhaps Carroll's story is not so far-fetched.

29 - That's The Way I Love (2:34) 1957 (Johnny Carroll) > PI 3520-A <
(Johnny Carroll) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded June 23, 1957 at Cliff Herring Studio, Forth Worth, Texas
Johnny Carroll (vocal and guitar), Bill ''Billy'' Buntin (bass),
George "Mickey" Jones (drums), Jay Salam (guitar),
Bill Hennen (piano)

In "That's The Way I Love" his sole single for Phillips International, the "ba ba diddle it" chant was an unashamed lift from the Cadillacs "Speedo", the doo wop smash from a couple of seasons previous. The vocal riff on "That's The Way I Love" owes a considerable debt to the Cadillacs' Speedoo, and there's a case to be made for saying that Carroll borrowed more than a vocal lick or two. The stop-line release was also lifted almost note-for-note from "Speedoo". Its a cinch that Sam Phillips knew nothing of the New York doo wop scene or he wouldn't have touched these sides with a ten foot pole. In the unlikely event they had sold or received northern airplay, Phillips International would have been approached by New York lawyers bearing writs rather than Dutchmen bearing cheques.

Johnny Carroll went on to become a fan favorite in Europe in the 1970s and beyond, and many were saddened to hear of his death in February 1995 following a liver transplant.

*30 - Rock Baby, Rock It (2:21) 1975 (Johnny Carroll) > Not Originally Issued <
(Johnny Carroll) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded June 23, 1957 at Cliff Herring Studio, Forth Worth, Texas
Johnny Carroll (vocal and guitar), Bill ''Billy'' Buntin (bass),
George "Mickey" Jones (drums), Jay Salam (guitar),
Bill Hennen (piano)

"Rock Baby Rock It" was the title of a juvenile movie that had such a marginal showing, it has become better known in recent years than at the time of its release. The song was one of four sides cut by Johnny Carroll in Texas and dispatched to Sam Phillips for possible licensing consideration. Two of the more commercial submissions from the session made it on to a single, whilst this tour de force, which was much nearer to his Decca sides from a year previous, languished in its tape box.

To the abouced point, there sold to Sam Phillips by Johnny G. Tiger (a.k.a. Jack Goldman) as part of a projected movie soundtrack, and after they fell out he worked the Louisiana Hayride with Scotty and Bill. Apparently, it was Bill Black who suggested to Johnny Carroll that he contact Sam Phillips, and Phillips bought a four-song session that Carroll had recorded in Fort Worth, Texas.

© 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 <
 
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

CD 3 Contains
For music on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

TENNESSEE ZIP

Jackson, Tennessee, was a fertile source of talent for Sun Records. Carl Perkins and Carl Mann came from there, and never moved away. Cliff Gleaves, Rayburn Anthony, Ramsey Kearney, Curtis Hobock, Danny Stewart, and Tony Austin also came to Sun from Jackson without seeing much success, but Kenneth Parchman was the unluckiest of all. Two of Parchman's recordings, ''Love Crazy Baby''/''Feel Like Rockin''', were assigned a release number (Sun 252) but withdrawn after tapes had been sent for processing. ''If Feel Like Rockin''' had been a hit, there would have been a lawsuit because it was litigiously close to Piano Red's ''Rockin' With Red'', but ''Love Crazy Baby'' surely deserved a shot. Parchman's recording of ''You Call Everybody Darlin''' came in the wake of the rocked-up-oldie formula that Carl Mann brought to Sun. Although Parchman eventually saw a release on Jaxon Records, he soon gave up on music and became a successful house-builder.

If Luke McDaniel hadn't been so hard-assed, he might have seen a record on Sun, but he wasn't as naive as most of those crossing Phillips' threshold, and wasn't putting up with Phillips' way of doing business. McDaniel's feel for the new music was so on-the-money, you'd never guess he'd made a clutch of stone hillbilly singles dating back to 1952. Nearly every one of the songs McDaniel left at Sun would have slotted perfectly into Sun's late 1956 release schedule, but they had to await the archivists.

No discussion of artists who almost saw a release on Sun would be complete without Harold Jenkins aka Conway Twitty; in fact, for years the speculation among collectors was that Sun 252 was destined to be Jenkins. His country soul had been rewired by Elvis Presley, and 706 Union was his first stop. From the hours of tape that Jenkins recorded at Sun only four boxes remained. An acetate of ''Rockhouse'' left Sun with him, remaining unheard for decades. Surprisingly, it was Jenkins' sometime bandmate in the Arkansas Wood Choppers, Mack Self, who eventually saw one re lease on Sun and another on Phillips International. Self's wonderfully archaic ''Easy To Love'' is on our companion country box, and should be the cornerstone of any 1950s country collection. Trying his hand at rockabilly, Self had mixed results. This version of ''Goin' Crazy'' is markedly different from the hillbilly version on the country box. If ''Mad At You'' was rockabilly caught out of time when it was released in October 1959, that's hardly surprising. It was recorded two years earlier, and was resurrected as the B-side of a Tom Dooley-soundalike, ''Willie Brown''. Collectors figured that it was Charlie Feathers singing the bluegrass-style harmony on ''Mad At You'', a belief that Feathers fostered, but it was actually Jimmy Evans.

Jim Williams recorded two groups of sessions that could almost by different guys. First time at Sun in 1956, Williams was in a Freddie Bell showroom rock and roll groove. His band, the Dixie Landers, played society functions, as if you couldn't tell. Back again in January, May and June 1957 with the Little Green Men, he finally recorded two sides that Phillips liked enough to release. One released cut, ''Please Don't Cry Over Me'', bore a striking similarity to Elvis Presley's version of ''How Do You Think Feel'', but didn't sell sufficient copies to get lawyers excited. Williams had dual careers in music and aviation. At the time of his Sus recordings he was living in Little Rock, Arkansas, and recorded there for Foster Johnson's Dub International Records in 1958, but was last heard of in St. Louis. (CE)

Some liner-notes taken from ''The Complete Sun Singles Collection'' and some from ''Sun Outtakes'' boxen.

Kenny Parchman

*1 - Tennessee Zip (2:20) 1986 (Kenny Parchman) > Not Originally Issued <
(Kenneth Parchman-Jerry Lee Smith) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded September 9-10, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Kenneth Parchman (vocal and guitar), Ronnie Parchman (drums), Jerry Lee Smith (piano),
Willie Stevenson (bass), Bobbie Cash (drums)

"Tennessee Zip" is very much in the mode of Sun's big star from Jackson, Carl Perkins. Parchman has nailed Perkins' style right down to the scats.

When the rockabilly revival of the 1970s and 1980s and the exploration of the Sun Records catalog came about, one track was guaranteed to fill the dance floors of the rock and roll clubs, and it was ''Tennessee Zip'' by Kenny Parchman.

No one ever came closer than Kenny to having a record issued on Sun in its halcyon days. Release Sun 252 was assigned to ''Love Crazy Baby''/''I Feel Like Rockin''', but it was withdrawn at the last minute. We had to wait twenty-five years to get our hands on those and other great slabs of true original rockabilly music from Kenny Parchman.

It was pianist Jerry Lee Smith who made the contact with Sam Phillips via Carl Perkins. Phillips liked ''Love Crazy Baby'' and ''I Feel Like Rockin''' and readied the record for release but at the eleventh hour decided not to issue. Two songs were cut, publishing contracts were signed, recordings were mastered, assigned an issue number, scheduled... then cancelled at the last moment.

The reasons for this have never explained but when Kenny was asked years later about the circumstances, he told Colin Escott: ''God man, I don't know why Sam Phillips never released my record. My manager left town shortly before the record was to be released''. ''Maybe Phillips didn't want to release a single if I didn't have a manager behind me. I felt for sure we were going to have a record out on Sun''.

*2 - I Feel Like Rockin' (2:32) 1986 (Kenny Parchman) > Sun 252-B Unissued <
(Kenneth Parchman) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded September 9-10, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Kenneth Parchman (vocal and guitar), Ronnie Parchman (drums), Jerry Lee Smith (piano),
Willie Stevenson (bass), Bobbie Cash (drums)

*3 - Love Crazy Baby (2:08) 1977 (Kenny Parchman) > Sun 252-A Unissued <
(Kenneth Parchman) (Copyright Control)
Recorded September 9-10, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Kenneth Parchman (vocal and guitar), Ronnie Parchman (drums), Jerry Lee Smith (piano),
Willie Stevenson (bass), Bobbie Cash (drums)

Kenny Parchman came achingly close to having a record on Sun. Two songs were cut, publishing contracts were signed, recordings were mastered, assigned an issue number, scheduled... then cancelled at the last moment.

For years the mystery of what was intended to be SUN 252 beguiled collectors. Then a Sun master number listing seemed to indicate that it was to be Kenny Parchman, and then a safety tape of compiled masters for SUN 251, 252, and 253 put the issue beyond doubt.

No one knows why SUN 252 was canned, leased of all Parchman. He said that his manager skipped town just before the record was due to be released, and perhaps Sam Phillips didn't want to release a record by an artist with no management. Perhaps. (MH) (HD) (CE)

*4 - Treat Me Right (3:00) 1977 (Kenny Parchman) > Not Originally Issued <
(Kenneth Parchman) (Copyright Control)
Recorded September 9-10, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Kenneth Parchman (vocal and guitar), Ronnie Parchman (drums), Jerry Lee Smith (piano),
Willie Stevenson (bass), Bobbie Cash (drums)

*5 - Get It Off Your Mind (2:29) (Kenny Parchman) > Not Originally Issued <
(Kenneth Parchman) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 10, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Kenneth Parchman (vocal and guitar), Richard Page (guitar), Ronnie Parchman (drums),
Jerry Lee Smith (piano), Willie Stevenson (bass), Bobbie Cash (drums)

*6 - What's The Reason (2:13) 1986 (Kenny Parchman) > Not Originally Issued <
(Kenneth Parchman) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 10, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Kenneth Parchman (vocal and guitar), Richard Page (guitar), Ronnie Parchman (drums),
Jerry Lee Smith (piano), Willie Stevenson (bass), Bobbie Cash (drums)

Parchman generally worked with local bands, and it might be his brother Ronnie we hear dueting with him on "What's The Reason".

*7 - You Call Everybody Darlin' (2:17) 1976 (Kenny Parchman) > Not Originally Issued <
(Sam Martin-Ben Trace-Glenn Watts) (Copyright Control)
Recorded October 5, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Kenneth Parchman (vocal and guitar), Richard Page (guitar), Ronnie Parchman (drums),
Jerry Lee Smith (piano), Willie Stevenson (bass), Bobbie Cash (drums)

The pop classic ''You Call Everybody Darling'' was written by Sam Martin, Ben Trace and Glenn Watts and was first published in 1946. It was number 1 hit in 1948 for Al Trace and his Orchestra, and in the rock and roll era it was revived by Bill Haley and Fabian. Several versions were recorded that charted in 1948 (mostly recorded that year, but at least one possibly in the previously year) by Al Trace (Clem Watts' real name; the biggest-selling version), Anne Vincent, Jack Smith, The Andrew Sisters, Jerry Wayne, and Jack Lathrop. The song was also recorded by Art Lund that year. The Al Trace recording was released by Regent Records as catalog number 117. The record first reached the Billboard charts on June 18, 1948 and lasted 22 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 1. A separate Al Trace recording, recorded 1946 for Sterling 3023, reached number 21 in Billboard's ''Most Played In Juke Boxes'' survey in a 3-week chart run. Bob Vincent sang lead on both versions. The Anne Vincent recording was released by Mercury Records as catalog number 5155. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on July 23, 1948 and lasted 12 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 13. The Jack Smith recording was recorded about December 30, 1947 and released by Capitol Records as catalog number 15155. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on August 13, 1948 and lasted 9 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 13. The Andrew Sisters recording was recorded on July 26, 1948 and released by Decca Records as catalog number 24490. The flip side was ''Underneath The Arches''. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on August 27, 1948 and lasted 9 weeks on the chart, running at number 16. The Jerry Wayne recording was recorded on July 7, 1948 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number 38286. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on September 10, 1948 and lasted 1 week on the chart, at number 26. The Jack Lathrop recording was released by RCA Victor Records as catalog number 20-3109. The record first reached the Billboard magazine charts on September 17, 1948 and lasted 2 weeks on the chart, peaking at number 27. The Art Lund version was recorded on July 16, 1948 and released by MGM Records as catalog number 10258. Country singer Lamar Morris revived the tune as a minor country chart song in 1973. American country music artist K.T. Oslin covered the song on her 1990 album, ''Love In A Small Town''. It was the fourth single released from the project and reached number 69 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Tracks chart.

At the end of 1957 or early 1958, Parchman back to the Sun studio for the penultimate time to re-cut a few songs. He also laid down one new number, ''Tennessee Zip'' with Carl Perkins' influence shining through. Sometime early in 1958, Kenny Parchman received an offer from Lonnie Blackwell to record for Blackwell's Lu label, headquarted in Jackson. The songs were ''Get It Off Your Mind'' b/w ''Satellite Hop''.

After Smoochy Smith left the band, he relocated to Memphis and worked as a session musician around the city. He recorded with Billy Riley, Rayburn Anthony, Warren Smith, and others. Often, he insists that he wasn't listed on the session sheets filed with the union. He went on to become a founding member of both the Markeys (he played on their big hit, ''Last Night'') and later The Sun Rhythm Section with Jimmy Van Eaton (subsequently D.J. Fontana), Stan Kesler, Sonny Burgess and Paul Burlison. With the Rhythm Section, he toured European several occasions.

Bill Bowen

*8 - Two Timin' Baby (1:54) 1999 (Bill Bowen) > Not Originally Issued <
(Bill Bowen) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bill Bowen (vocal), Probably The Rockets consisting of Charles Senn (guitar),
Earl Montgomery (bass), Jimmy Fago (piano), Eddie Goodwin (drums)

Wilbur J. Bowen, also known as Bill Bowen, was a rockabilly singer who recorded around June 1956 his only one single at the Meteor studios in Memphis for Les Bihari's Meteor record label. On his Meteor single, Bowen was backed by the Rockets, a group consisting of Terry Thompson (Meteor session guitarist), rhythm guitarist Charles Senn, bass player Earl Montgomery, pianist Jimmy Fago, and drummer Eddie Goodwin. However, releasing "Don't Shoot Me Baby (I'm Not Ready To Die)" b/w "Have Myself A Ball" (Meteor 5033) on June 30, 1956, the record didn't sell well and Bowen vanished from the music scene.

Ray Harris stated in an interview shortly before his death that Bowen and Harris played together in a country band around Memphis in 1954. They also played together on a radio station outside of Memphis. Bowen reportedly also cut a country version of "Don't Shoot Me Baby" at the Sun Studios. The reissue LP "Memphis Bop" also credited Bowen with cutting "Two Timin' Baby", and the singer on this tape sounds very much like Bowen. His Sun recordings probably were made after he went to Meteor. Anyway, Bill Bowen remains one of the most obscure figures in rockabilly music.

Luke McDaniel

In 1956 Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins urged Luke McDaniel to submit a demo to Sam Phillips. Sam was impressed and signed McDaniel to a contract with Sun Records. It's unsure whether he cut two sessions or just one at Sun (either September 1956 or/and January 6, 1957). Nothing was issued though, as Sam and Luke had a financial disagreement. The unissued Sun sides have now seen the light of day thanks to reissue labels like Charly Records.

"Uh Babe" is more seminal-Sun rockabilly with Jimmy Van Eaton on fine form behind the skinned boxes. "Go Ahead Baby" is more exciting bop and sounds like a cross between Hayden Thompson and Gene Simmons.

Luke McDaniel and Jimmie Otto Rodgers arrived at Sun Records in September 1956. The first session, which McDaniel recorded which culminated in a musically wonderful session. Musically wonderful, but financially not so! It seems that Luke had expected to pick up a session fee for the studio and work time he had put in, but it was not to be. Whilst Sam Phillips paid all the musicians, he would not pay Luke stating that he did not pay session fees to artists. Apparently harsh words were exchanged between Sam and Luke culminating in a very angry Luke McDaniel storming out of the studio.

Later, Luke was adamant that he only did the two day session at Sun in September 1956, despite claims to a second slightly later session. A change had also taken place in Luke's professional outlook. With the up and coming new rocking music, Luke decided to use the more commercial name of Jeff Daniels, which began with the Mel-A-Dee single. Not surprisingly perhaps, Sam Phillips decided not to issue any of Luke's recording made at that session.

*9 - Go Ahead Baby (2:10) 1976 (Luke McDaniel) > Not Originally Issued <
(Luke McDaniel) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded September 4-5, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Luke McDaniel (vocal and guitar), Jimmie Otto Rodgers (guitar),
Roland Janes or Buddy Holobaugh (guitar), Brad Suggs (guitar),
Marvin Pepper (bass), Martin Willis (tenor saxophone),
Johnny Bernero or Jimmy Van Eaton (drums)
Unknown (piano)

*10 - Huh Babe (2:14) 1976 (Luke McDaniel) > Not Originally Issued <
(Luke McDaniel) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded September 4-5, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Luke McDaniel (vocal and guitar), Jimmie Otto Rodgers (guitar),
Roland Janes or Buddy Holobaugh (guitar), Brad Suggs (guitar),
Marvin Pepper (bass), Martin Willis (tenor saxophone),
Johnny Bernero or Jimmy Van Eaton (drums)
Unknown (piano)

It sounds as if McDaniel was working with the guys who'd played with Warren Smith on some of his 1956 sessions. ''We just went to Sun and Sam Phillips had made all the arrangements for the musicians'', McDaniel said later. ''Huh Baby'' was interesting because of the first licks on the guitar. I arranged those myself. I had never heard that particular sound before''.

*11 - High High High (2:47) 1976 (Luke McDaniel) > Not Originally Issued <
(Luke McDaniel) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded January 6, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Luke McDaniel (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar),
Marvin Pepper (bass), Jimmy Van Eaton (drums)
Jimmy Wilson (piano), Martin Willis (saxophone)

*12 - My Baby Don't Rock (1:58) 1976 (Luke McDaniel) > Not Originally Issued <
(Luke McDaniel) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 6, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Luke McDaniel (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar),
Marvin Pepper (bass), Jimmy Van Eaton (drums)
Jimmy Wilson (piano), Martin Willis (saxophone)

The problems began for Luke McDaniel when the sessions ended. McDaniel expected to get AFM scale for the sessions but Phillips didn't work that way. He regarded the sessions as demos. He paid the backup musicians on an hourly basis (usually $2.00 per hour) and would not file the session with the AFM unless the results were destined for release. Upon release, Phillips would log a session with AFM members so that the titles could be cleared. McDaniel was probably expecting approximately $80 if not $160 as session leader and was told by Phillips that he was getting nothing unless the records were released. ''When I came out of the studio Sam Phillips was there and I was expecting to get paid for the session's'', he told Derek Glenister. ''I needed the money! Sam looked at me and said, 'We don't pay any pf the artists for the sessions. We take care of the musicians and then it's taken out of any money that is due to you''. I said, 'What do you mean you don't pay 'em? We're entitled to union scale'. That made me mad and Sam knew it. We just didn't see eye-to-eye at all and I let him know. And Sam let me know! He said, 'Well, if we can't come to an agreement then we just won't put the record out'. And that was that''. And so Luke McDaniel's affiliation with Sun Records ended on the sidewalk outside 706 Union. McDaniel was bitterly disappointed because he had broken his contract with Mel Mallory to sign Sun. The sidewalk outside Sun was the place to be in 1956 or 1957, but only if you were walking in, not if you were walking away pissed off. He went later on to record the hillbilly classic "You're Still On My Mind" for Venus Records.

''My Baby Don't Rock" sounds like a Sonny Burgess track with Martin Willis' sax to the fore and a firecracker solo from Roland Janes. "High High High" is another high class song in the best traditions of Sun.

*13 - That's What I Tell My Heart (3:05) 1976 (Luke McDaniel) > Not Originally Issued <
(Luke McDaniel) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded January 6, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Luke McDaniel (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar),
Marvin Pepper (bass), Jimmy Van Eaton (drums)
Jimmy Wilson (piano)

Four boppers and a ballad are put down live, all in one or two takes with the Sun house band, including guitarist Roland Janes, saxophonist Martin Willis, and drummer Jimmy Van Eaton. There's the amazing aforesaid "High, High, High'' and, the best of the bunch, perhaps, "My Baby Don't Rock'', defined by Luke's hair-raising yells and squeals, Willis's wailing sax, and a frantic guitar solo from Janes. The country-tinged "That's What I Tell My Heart'', sees a change of pace; an exquisite ballad, it shows there's more than one side to McDaniel at Sun.

When the session is over, Luke goes over to Sam. "Can I get my union fee?", he asks. Sam shakes his head. He doesn't pay union fees. Sparks fly, and the songs are put in the can, where they remain. Luke McDaniel's career at Sun Records was over just as it was beginning.

Harold Jenkins

No discussion of artists who almost saw a release on Sun would be complete without Harold Jenkins aka Conway Twitty; in fact, for years the speculation among collectors was that Sun 252 was destined to be Jenkins. His country soul had been rewired by Elvis Presley, and 706 Union was his first stop. From the hours of tape that Jenkins recorded at Sun only four boxes remained. An acetate of ''Rock House'' left Sun with him, remaining unheard for decades.

*14 - Rockhouse (2:07) 2000 (Harold Jenkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Harold Jenkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Mid 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Harold Jenkins (vocal and guitar), Jimmy Ray Paulman (guitar)
Bill Harris or Jimmy Evans (bass), Billy Weir (drums)

During Conway Twitty's last years for his dead, he had good reason to reflect that country music was starting to take on much of the character of rock and roll as he remembered it. New faces, impossibly young and goodloking, coming and going so quickly. It was so like rock and roll in the fifties. Twitty probably knew that - in all likelihood - there would never be another career like this. His story spanned almost thirty years in the country charts before that. All told, there were five decades in which a Conway Twitty record was somewhere in the charts. It was an epic career with all the ingredients of the movie that will probably be made.

Conway Twitty's greatest gift was his intuitive understanding of his audience. When rock and roll changed in the mid-1960s, he realized that neither he nor his fans were listening to it any more, so he switched to country music. Country spoke to him and his audience in a way that rock didn't. As a country singer, he wrote songs and searched out songs that addressed everyday highs and lows. He followed a generation as it made its often awkward way into and through adulthood.

Whether rockin' and Bandstand or croonin' in Branson, Conway Twitty always knew what his audience wanted. He didn't need market surveys, media consultants, or spin doctors. He just knew. Conway Twitty wrote a theme song for his group. It was called "Rock House", and it allowed him to leapfrog the line of hopefuls that hung around Sun all day. Just about everything to do with Sun is riddled with obfuscation, and Twitty's months trying to get his name on a yellow Sun record are no exception.

Sam Phillips heard some potential in the song "Rock House", and acquired it for his publishing company. Roy Orbison, then coming off his first hit, reworked it considerably, taking half the composer credit, and it was issued on his second Sun single. "Rock House" was released in September 1956, suggesting that it was recorded in July or August - in other words, within days or weeks of Twitty's first appearance at Sun. In a posthumous MCA collection, Twitty's version of "Rock House" is dated to November 16, 1956 - the first known date of a Twitty session at Sun, but it was probably recorded several months earlier.

Much as Twitty wanted it otherwise, "Rock House" was the only Sun record with his name on it - and it was squirrelled away in brackets, appended to Orbison's name.

*15 - Crazy Dreams (2:43) 1972 (Harold Jenkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Ben Oakland-Herb Magidson) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded November 16, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Harold Jenkins (vocal and guitar), Jimmy Ray Paulman (guitar)
Bill Harris (bass), Billy Weir (drums), Martin Willis (sax)

*16 - Give Me Some Love (2:02) 1972 (Harold Jenkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Harold Jenkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded November 16, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Harold Jenkins (vocal and guitar), Jimmy Ray Paulman (guitar)
Bill Harris (bass), Billy Weir (drums)

The Rockhousers' drummer was Billy Weir, a local kid still in high school. In 1957, the band had a date in Canada but Weis's parents wouldn't let him leave school before graduation and so Jimmy M. Van Eaton was engaged to replace him for that gig.

The Rockhousers got an audition at Sun in late 1956 and their first recording session when Weir was barely 16 gave us this ''Give Me Some Love''. Weir may have been young, but he provides lots of presence in this performance. His drumming is continuous energy and, despite being the junior member of the band, he is not inclined just to hit the back beat and otherwise stay out of the way. In fact, he never goes through two entire bars without playing some rolls or extra accents. All that youthful exuberance provides much of the record's considerable appeal. It's frustrating to listeners today that the drums were not better recorded by Jack Clement. Weir recalls, ''They had me sitting all the way over by the door and there was one mike on the drums. The cymbals were lost. Those weren't ideal conditions to record drums. They actually sometimes had me come in and overdub drums where the original recordings were too muddy''.

The Rockhousers recorded at least three times at Sun, but Sam Phillips didn't sign them. Not long after their last session, they got a contract with Mercury Records and re-cut ''Give Me Some Love''. By that time, though, Harold Jenkins was using the stage name, Conway Twitty.

*17 - I Need Your Lovin' Kiss (1:59) 1972 (1:59) 1972 (Harold Jenkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Harold Jenkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded November 16, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Harold Jenkins (vocal and guitar), Jimmy Ray Paulman (guitar)
Bill Harris (bass), Billy Weir (drums), Martin Willis (sax)

"I Need Your Lovin' Kiss" which also sounds as though it might have been titled "Love And Happiness", Sam Phillips was right on both counts when it came to Twitty: he definitely had talent, but didn't display it at Sun. This is good journeyman rockabilly with all the energy and contagious enthusiasm that Twitty brought to his work, but it lacks the spark of originality that informs the very best Sun recordings, and would later inform Twitty's best recordings.

*18 - Born To Sing The Blues (2:19) 1972 (Harold Jenkins) > Not Originally Issued <
(Harold Jenkins) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded January 21, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Harold Jenkins (vocal and guitar), Jimmy Ray Paulman (guitar)
Bill Harris (bass), Billy Weir (drums)

While still hanging around Sun, Harold Jenkins (Conway Twitty) management was taken over by Don Seat. In the big band are, Seat had been a pianist (tutored he said by Count Basie). Later, he became an agent (Seat says a partner) with General Artists Corporation (GAC), one of the largest artist management companies in the United States. He worked with Johnnie Ray, Nat King Cole, Desi Arnaz, and many others. Twitty said that he got a letter from Seat, who'd been told him by someone who'd served with him in Japan. ''Seat wanted to know if I was doing this new rock and roll music that was happened down around Memphis'', Twitty said later. ''I wrote back and told him I was. He wrote back and asked for a demo tape, so I sent him a copy of two or three things I had done at Sun. A couple of weeks later I got a letter back saying that he could get me a contract with any label I wanted. I said, I want to go with Sun'. He said, 'No, not Sun. They're just a small label'''. Completely untrue, insisted Seat. He'd known Sam Phillips from the time when there had been plans to move Elvis from Sun to Columbia Records. He said he went to Memphis with Columbia's cheque for $25,000 in his pocket, and ''as soon as I saw Sam Phillips' face, I knew we didn't have a deal''. Seat said he was on his way back from another visit to Memphis when he met someone in Cincinnati who had a letter from Twitty in which Twitty said that he had written some songs for Elvis. Seat flew to Memphis, driving on to Helena to meet Twitty. This, he said, was around the time that Twitty was getting married for the second time, in other words October 1956. Seat sent him a tape recorder. A tape arrived from Twitty, and, in Seat;s account, he took it to Bob Shad, Mercury Records' New York head of A&R, and landed a contract. Around the same time, Harold Jenkins became Conway Twitty (needless to add, Seat and Twitty couldn't agree on how that came about, either).

The other members of Conway Twitty's band, the Rockhousers heard on these songs went their separate ways. Jimmy Luke Paulman went to Canada, first with Twitty and then Ronnie Hawkins. After a dispute over a girlfriend, Hawkins banished Paulman to Arkansas vowing that he would never work in Canada again. Hawkins' band, of course, became The Band, and drummer Levon Helm said that the character Luke in their song ''The Weight'' was based on Paulman. Bill Harris quit the line-up soon after Seat took over and became a merchandising manager for Quaker Foods. He later bought a large chunk of shares in Conway Twitty Enterprises. Billy Weis was too young to go to Canada and worked as a session drummer around Memphis. Many years later, he wrote a book, ''Rock-a-Billy''.

Its hard to know how many of Conway Twitty's tapes were recycled at Sun Records. Certainly very few remain, and if Sam Phillips really had the machine switched on hour and hour, week after week then most of the tapes were recorded over. Sam Phillips seemed to think that "Born To Sing The Blues" held the most promise. There are several versions of it remaining. Twitty is almost audibly trying to get out from under his debt to Elvis Presley, and not entirely succeeding.

Years later, after Twitty became successful, Twitty met Sam Phillips again. "I know you were disappointed that we didn't release a song on you", Phillips told him. Twitty said that he really wanted to be on Sun when the label was hot, so Phillips invited him to look in at Sun the next time he was in Memphis, and they'd listen to the old tapes. Twitty took him up on the offer and was amazed that they were so much worse than be remembered. ''I never really did write the right song at Sun, although there were times when I thought I had'', he said. ''I really felt that Sam Phillips didn't treat me right - that I had something to offer that he didn't see, but I found out I was wrong. Sam said, ''I knew you had something or I wouldn't have spent as much money as I did recording you all these hours, week after week but it just didn't come together for you and I''. The spark of originality wasn't there. The striking similarity of the alternate takes alone showed a dearth of creativity. Twitty was so in thrall of Elvis Presley that virtually all of his vocal mannerisms were caricatures of Presley. Perhaps the most affecting performance he left behind is the demo ''Just In Time'' when the rockabilly vocal tics fall by the wayside for a few precious moments and we hear a beautiful phrased and executed hillbilly ballad.

Returning to Nashville from Branson, Missouri, Conway Twitty took ill from a ruptured aneurysm in his stomach and died in Springfield, Missouri on June 5, 1993. (CE) (HD) (MH)

Mack Self

Mack Self was always a stone country singer at heart and the songs on his sessions are as good as any country music you will hear. Mack also tried a variety of other styles at Sun varying degrees of success, but he always retained a country purity in his vocal and his band was never going to let anyone knock off too many rough edges. The take-off lead guitar of Therlow Brown is a delight and combines with the slap bass playing of Jimmy Evans to support Mack in giving us all that was best in 1950s hillbilly music, Memphis style.

*19 - Goin' Crazy (2:22) 1978 (Mack Self) > Not Originally Issued <
(Mack Self) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Probably Late 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mack Self (vocal and guitar), Thurlow Brown (guitar), Stan Kesler (steel guitar),
Jimmy Evans (bass), Bill Cantrell (fiddle)

"Goin' Crazy", its surprising that this song never saw release on the original Sun label. If the amount of tape remaining in the vault is any indication. "Goin' Crazy" received more attention any of the songs Mack recorded at Sun Records. There are at least a dozen full takes of Goin' Crazy" and half that many false starts stored on various session reels. Somebody must have seen some merit in the material. This was a candidate for release Day 1, yet somehow never made the cut. Unfortunately, by the time Mack and Sun parted company, the style of songs like this had simply faded too deeply into Hillbilly Heaven to warrant release.

Like "Easy To Love", "Goin' Crazy" began life as a pure country tune driven by Bill Cantrell's fiddle. Jimmy Evans slap bass is also prominently miked. The arrangement gradually evolved in the direction of pop/rock and roll and ended life with a prominent drum part that owes a substantial debt to Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue". You can almost hear the arrangement shedding its pure country roots and moving further toward the mainstream.

The fiddle is packed away, the drums become hotter and the steel is mixed further and further away. Mack simply goes on singing about "skinning saplings", "eating paw paws" (a small, sweet fruit that grows wild in Arkansas) and "rooting like a hog", seemingly unaffected by changes in arrangement. You can bring in all the hot guitars you want to; he's still proud to be a country boy.

*20 - Mad At You (2:160 1986 (Mack Self) > Not Originally Issued <
(Mack Self) (Copyright Control)
Recorded February 1, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mack Self (vocal and guitar), Thurlow Brown (guitar), Stan Kesler (steel guitar),
Jimmy Evans (bass and harmony vocal), Johnny Bernero (drums)

Here included a previously unissued alternate take of "Mad At You", if anything, even more spirited than the originally released version. Is this one of the few times that Sam Phillips may have chosen the wrong take for release. Mack's uptempo songs like "Mad At You" contained down home lyrics like "My cow's gone dry/The hens won't lay".

Jimmy Williams

Jimmy B. Williams came twice to Sun Records, once with a dance band The Dixielanders, a sixteenpiece band that worked society venues throughout the mid-South. When new trends demanded change, he created the nucleus of a rock and roll combo and again with rockabilly on his mind and locted into 706 Union through the ever-resourceful Jack Clement. Unlike the gentle approach of his one Sun single, "Fire Engine Red" was considered too hot a prospect to be given a catalogue number at the time.

In a 1973 letter, he gave a brief rundown on his life to that point. "I was born in Memphis. In fact. I lived in a government housing project (Lauderdale Courts) along with Elvis Presley. I had a dance band called The Dixie Landers, a 16-piece band that pretty well had the market for dance and show gigs in the mid-South sewn up.

In 1956, Sam Phillips was beginning to hit big with Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins so I took the nucleus of my dance band and started a rock band. What we knew about rock, we learned from Elvis Presley and the movies".

Williams continued, "Seeing the way Elvis was received (clothes torn off and thousands of girls) and the way I was received (rotten eggs, tomatoes and Coke bottles), I decided to join the Air Force as a pilot". Later, he became a TWA pilot on the transatlantic route, and kept his hand in the music business by running a studio. People assume that ''Crazy Arms'' was teenage drummer Jimmy Van Eaton's first appearance in the Sun studio. Actually Van Eaton had been there previously, in the company of band leader/entrepreneur Jimmy Williams. ''Jimmy Williams was just a couple of years older than me bur he was a real go-getter. He was putting together bands, like 15 or 16 pieces, and they were playing in hotels and sorority dances. He used me as his drummer even though I was that young. ''Fire Engine Red'' came from the first session I did at Sun although none of it was released at the time. I remember that Sam engineered it'', recalled Jimmy.

The probably dates from December 1955 or January 1956, by which Van Eaton had been playing regularly with Williams for a while. Several months later in April 1956, Jimmy Van Eaton was back in the studio with his high school group, The Echoes. ''We had a couple of guitars, a stand-up bass and drums and we played Elvis songs. We were in the right place at the right time, that's for sure. The session with the Echoes was something we did on our own. It wasn't for Sun. We were using the Memphis Recording Service. We paid out money just like everybody else and walked out with an acetate dub of our songs. This time Jack Clement cut the session. Roland Janes was there too. They were looking for a bass player and a drummer to work with Billy Riley. They must have liked how we sounded 'cause they hired us on the spot''.

The career of the man, who ultimately played drums on more Sun record than anyone else, began right here. At first efforts go, it's quite a credible one with Van Eaton navigating the stop-rhythm with ease and accenting the instrumental solos.

The song is something else again. We don't know if this girl actually sets the fires, but once the fire-fighters are there in full regalia, she's in a full swoon. Forget money, forget fine cars. Just let her see that uniform and she's gone. Van Eaton recalls them carrying a large fire bell into the studio so they could get an authentic sound for the record. Sorry to say, but the effect, some 60 years later, sounds almost comic. The bell at the closing, in particular, sounds more like they borrowed a 10-year old kid's bike for the session. But far more important, we learn that Jimmy Williams (who went on to be an airline pilot) wasn't much good at singing rockers and Jimmy Van Eaton (who went on to be a studio drummer) was very good.

*21 - Good Lookin' Woman (2:37) 1986 (Jimmy Williams) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Williams (Copyright Control)
Recorded June 12, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
Unknown (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums), Unknown (saxophone)

*22 - Rock-A-Bye Baby (2:41) 1986 (Jimmy Williams) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Williams (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded June 12, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
Unknown (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums), Unknown (saxophone)

*23 - Sweet Rocking Mama (1:57) 1986 (Jimmy Williams) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Williams (Copyright Control)
Recorded June 12, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
Unknown (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums), Unknown (saxophone)

*24 - Sonny Boy (1:55) 1976 (Jimmy Williams) > Not Original Issued <
(Jimmy Williams (Copyright Control)
Recorded June 12, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
Unknown (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums), Unknown (saxophone)

*25 - Fire Engine Red (2:17) 1976 (Jimmy Williams) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Williams (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded June 12, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
Unknown (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums), Unknown (saxophone)

*26 - Tomorrow (2:36) 1986 (2:36) 1986 (Jimmy Williams) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Williams (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 25, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jerry Smith (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

Jim Williams recorded two groups of sessions that could almost be different guys. First time at Sun in 1956, Williams was in a Freddie Bell showroom rock and roll groove. His band, the Dixielanders, played society functions, as if you couldn't tell. Back again in January, May and June 1957 with the Little Green Men, he finally recorded two sides that Phillips liked enough to release. One released cut, ''Please Don't Cry Over Me'', bore a striking similarity to Elvis Presley's version of ''How Do You Think I Feel'', but didn't sell sufficient copies to get lawyers excited. Williams had dual careers in music and aviation. At the time of his Sun recordings he was living in Little Rock, Arkansas, and recorded there for Foster Johnson's Dub International Records in 1958, but was last heard in St. Louis.

27 - Please Don't Cry Over Me (2:40) 1957 (Jimmy Williams) > Sun 270-A <
(Jimmy Williams (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 25, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jerry Smith (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

For some reason Jimmy Williams has never grabbed his share of mythic status given most minor Sun artists. Perhaps the vocal gimmick on "Please Don't Cry Over Me" was enough to alienate most Sun fans, who wanted a bit more bite to their music. But that doesn't explain why the flipside hasn't become more of a collectable item. (HD) (MH)

28 - That Depends On You (2:21) 1957 (Jimmy Williams) > Sun 270-B <
(Jimmy Williams (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 25, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jerry Smith (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

"That Depends On You" offers a lot to love. The song is bluesy and surprisingly melodic, despite its conventional 12-bar structure. A deeper look at the melody reveals that Williams has borrowed liberally from "I Almost Lost My Mind", marking the second time Ivory Joe Hunter's classic has been co-opted by a Sun artist. The first was Walter Horton's instrumental gem, "Easy". Jimmy Williams voice may be thinner than most rockabillies, but there is an undeniable tension and broodiness to this side that might have won Williams more fans, if not commercial success.

Quite apart from the vocal, the instrumental work on this quiet; understated side is to kill for. Roland Janes' guitar and J.M. Van Eaton's drumming are thoroughly engaging, even in their minimal roles. In fact, the Little Green Men turned a throwaway B-side into an undiscovered Sun treasure. (HD) (MH)

*29 - All I Want Is You (2:07) 1977 (Jimmy Williams) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Williams (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 25, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jerry Smith (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

Although only one record came out on Sun, Jimmy Williams recorded several tapes-full of material during a year-long contract from June 1956 to June 1957. He possessed a naturally controlled and clear vocal style best applied to ballads and mid-paced material and he produced some rich tones on the two rock-ballads Sam Phillips chose to issue on Sun, ''That Depends On You'' and ''Please Don't Cry Over Me''. Before the record came out, though, in the first half of 1957 Williams had experimented with two other styles with mixed success.

He tried some medium-paced rockers like ''My One Desire'' backed by ably by session players Roland Janes and Jimmy M. Van Eaton. Before that, in mid-1956, Williams had arrived at Sun with his own band and recorded seven songs in a totally different and much faster, rocking style.

Although some of the early songs are acceptably good, it is clear throughout that Williams was affecting a breathless, mannered higher-pitched vocal in the way of a dance-band vocalist trying his hand at being Elvis.
Quite apart from the vocal, the instrumental work on this quiet; understated side is to kill for. Roland Janes' guitar and J.M. Van Eaton's drumming are thoroughly engaging, even in their minimal roles. In fact, the Little Green Men turned a throwaway B-side into an undiscovered Sun treasure.

Williams represents the softer side of rockabilly: mellow vocal and melodic constructions, although there is no shortage of tasty guitar work on "All I Want". This track is a winner, from the opening guitar riff borrowed from Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk" to Williams' wordless chants over what would otherwise by the guitar solos. Williams turns in a fine vocal performance that becomes truly memorable with the addition of those little "huh" asides at the end of each line. The ending is pre class.

*30 - My One Desire (1:53) 1977 (Jimmy Williams) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Williams (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 25, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Williams (vocal and guitar), Roland James (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jerry Smith (piano), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

© 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 <
 
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

CD 4 Contains
For music on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

WE WANNA BOOGIE

This was Sun Records' golden era, and these were some of the artists who made it so.

Most of Gene Simmons' Sun recordings are on CD 5 but these two songs probably date from his 1955 audition and a home-made tape. The Johnnie Jack-inspired ''Down On The Border'' certainly sounds like a studio recording, but ''Shake, Rattle And Roll'' doesn't. Taken together, they capture hillbilly music becoming rockabilly before our ears. The Miller Sisters recorded at Sun between 1954 and 1957. Although they were really sisters-in-law, they had the unerring sibling harmony. Like Simmons, they came from Tupelo. Singing sister acts were hot and the Millers were as good as the Fontane Sisters, McGuire Sisters, DeCastro Sisters, or any of the others, but simply couldn't grab the moment. ''Don't Let Me Down'' probably featured Roy Miller as the third voice, and sounds like a home recording. On their last single, ''Ten Cats Down'', they were backed by Johnny Bernero's combo with Ace Cannon on saxophone.

Malcolm Yelvington came from country music, or more precisely western swing. He saw what was selling and tried his damndest to get hip on his second and last Sun single, ''It's Me Baby''/''Rockin' With My Baby''. Returning to Sun in 1957, he recorded ''Trumpet'', and it's still a mystery why it was left in the can. Timing out at 1 minute, 22 seconds, it was a little short, but another solo would have taken care of that. What little is known of Rudi Richardson's life is recounted in our biographical bloc. It seems likely that ''Fools' Hall Of Fame'' was recorded in Nashville (perhaps that's Hank Garland on guitar) and leased to Sun. Clearly, Phillips loved the song because he encouraged Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash to record it without owning the publishing. Richardson, whose career dated back to the 1940s, turned in a blithely swinging performance that didn't belong on Sun but certainly belonged somewhere.

A very different African-American artist, Rosco Gordon had an affiliation with Sam Phillips that predated Sun Records. In the early 1950s, Phillips recorded him for RPM, Chess and Duke. Returning to Phillips in 1955, Rosco cut four singles that remained true to his credo while staying up on what was happening. The third, ''Cheese And Crackers'', was co-credited to Hayden Thompson. Gordon said that he found the song fragment on the piano. Thompson said he met Gordon next door to Sun at Taylor's Café and insisted that they wrote it together there. ''Hayden Thompson?" said Rosco. "No, I never met him. Never heard of him''. Billboard gave it a nomination as "Far Out Record of the Week" on January 5, 1957, adding, in its review that, "Cat is on a real screaming kick... a far-out novelty that youngsters may dig'', Sadly, not so. Rosco's last Sun single was a sweetly anomalous slice of black rockabilly, ''Sally Jo''. It would take a move to Vee-Jay to get his career back on track.

Sam Phillips had high hopes for Billy Riley, Sonny Burgess, and Warren Smith. Hours of tape remain in the vaults and probably as much again was recorded-over. If Elvis Presley inspired them, they soon found their own directions. Sonny Burgess and Billy Riley borrowed liberally from rhythm and blues. Riley even made a blues record as Lightnin' Leon while Burgess had a gloriously unsubtle rhythm and blues voice. Smith kept faith with rockabilly for three years reverting to his hillbilly roots. Riley paid the rent with endless hours of studio work at Sun, and then for numberless other labels, but the big hit always remained tantalizingly elusive. Sonny Burgess hung with music until the late 1960s, but returned as a prophet with honor years later. Why were they unsuccessful? Bad luck is a glib answer but contains a glimmer of truth. If one deejay across the country had picked up on any of their Sun singles and played it to death, the story might have been different. Flukes count for much more than the record business likes to acknowledge. Were their records too raw? Perhaps. Could handle more than one or two hit artists at a time? Barely. The paradox is that Warren Smith, Billy Riley and Sonny Burgess made records for Sun that might have been hits with a label push, but their music wouldn't have sounded this way they'd recorded for a corporate label that didn't understand them. (CE)

Itchy/Thunderbird. Which is which?

When ''Itchy''/''Thunderbird'' came out in August, 1958 it was clear which title went with which instrumental. ''Itchy'' was the slow side and ''Thunderbird'' (named after the rotgut wine that flowed freely in the studio) was the rocker. After 50 years of reissues, the titling has occasionally gotten confused after Jack Clement said that the titles had been reversed on the original 45s.There's no need for confusion any more. We talked to Mr. Albert E. Burgess of Newport, Arkansas. No reason not to go to the horse's mouth, from which we get the following: '"Itchy.' We recorded that one first. Got a nice bluesy feel on it. Then we did the fast one, ''Thunderbird''. But ''Itchy'' is the slow one. Don't let anybody tell you different''. And there, for the ten of you who still care, is the final word on Sun 304. (HD/MH)

Some liner-notes taken from ''The Complete Sun Singles Collection'' and notes from ''Sun Outtakes'' boxen.

Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons was no stranger to microphones. He sang into them at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, and on lots of stages at local clubs and in makeshift studios at radio stations. During the early years, if a friend had a halfway decent home tape recorder, Gene sang into that as well. When they were kids during the late 1940s and early 1950s, Gene and his older brother Leon entertained strangers in the town courtyard for spare change. Even though they were more involved in agricultural work than the music business, Gene and his brothers (by now Carl had joined them) did their share of singing into make believe microphones that were crafted out of tree branches, picked up in the fields they were plowing. Singing into tree-branch microphones was an image Gene shared with more than one interviewer long after his recording "Haunted House" hit the pop charts in 1964.

From the myopic point of view of most music journalists, Gene is a good example of a One-Hit-Wonder. He sort of came out of nowhere in the fall of 1964, scraped the Top 10 with his version of the Johnny Fuller song, Hauted House", and disappeared again. His follow-up record, "The Dodo", put in a three-week token appearance at number 83 on the Billboard charts, and then it was all over. To begin with Gene Simmons had already been at it for nearly ten years when "Haunted House" hit the charts.

Not just at it singing into make-believe microphones and tree branches. But at it singing on the radio, at local clubs and - most of all - traveling to Memphis, spending whatever time he could auditioning for and, finally, recording in that little hole-in-the-wall studio on the corner of Union and Marshall.

It was the same studio in which Mr. Phillips had discovered another unknown singer from Tupelo named Elvis Presley. Like Gene after him, Elvis had also done his share of singing into make-believe microphones and a few real ones when Sam Phillips finally got serious about experimenting with him in the studio. That was all Gene was asking for. Just a chance to show what he had.

According to Gene, it was Elvis Presley who, one way or the other, got him interested in Sun Records. Gene recalled, "Growing up in Tupelo, I never actually met Elvis. We never knew each other as kids. Right before his first record came out, we kind of crossed paths. Me and my kid brother Carl, had a radio show in Tupelo. There weren't many places to play. You'd play the Moose Club or you wouldn't play at all. Or you'd go down to Betty McKissick's house on Saturday afternoon for a jam session. She was a distant cousin of Elvis. So we're all down there and in walks Elvis. He had hitchhiked down from Memphis to spend a weekend with his grandmother in Tupelo. So Betty introduces us and tells us he can sing some too. So I hand him my guitar and he says, 'No. I don't really do it in public. I just play and sing for myself. 'Kinda shy, very polite, but I remember how weird he looked. Very greasy-like. Pink stripes his pants".

"A few months later, I heard his first record out on Sun and Betty tells me it's the same guy I had met back at her house. A while later I was at the radio station and Bob Neal, who had started managing Elvis, calls up and says, 'You have a radio show down there. This new boy is local and I'd like you to help promote him. You boys can play on his show. So that night I really got to meet with him and see him in action. I asked him, 'Can you get us an audition with that record label?. So he agreed to and a while later we went up there and met Sam Phillips".

In all likelihood, the show on which Gene appeared with Elvis and helped to promote on the radio was the June 15, 1955 date in Belden, Mississippi. It was held at the local high school gymnasium. Local disc jockey and promoter Bobby Ritter was on hand to MC the show of their earliest visits to Sun. Indeed, Ritters name appears on a tape box holding multiple takes of "Down On The Border", the very first song Gene auditioned at Sun Records. This suggests that Ritter may have been there as more than a casual friend from Tupelo, making the drive to Memphis for the fun of it.

*1 - Down On The Border (1:54) 1986 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Gene Simmons) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal and guitar), Carl Simmons (vocal and mandolin),
Jessie Carter (bass), John Green (fiddle)

Gene may have been eager to show what he had, but, at least initially, it was not exactly what Sam Phillips was looking for. Gene's brother Carl, who would become a spectacular lead guitar player, recalls those early years with a wistful smile. "We were really a bluegrass band when we first went up there. I wasn't even playing guitar. I brought my mandolin to the first audition. Sam Phillips told us, as politely as he could, that he wished we'd just lose the mandolin.

Actually Sam's exact words were, 'Wrap the mandolin around a telephone pole and pick up a guitar'. Back then, he was God so you did what he told you. All the musicians I knew wanted to go up to Sun Records and record''. ''I didn't actually wrap the mandolin around a telephone pole, but I did put it down and buy me a guitar. My first electric was a Kay". "I also had a Harmony at about the same time.

All the stuff I recorded at Sun was on one of those two guitars. I graduated to a Chet Atkins Gretsch after than and then, later on, I got really uptown and bought a Fender Telecaster.

Sam Phillips probably also told the boys to take the fiddle they had brought, played by John Green, and wrap it around the same telephone pole. Sam Phillips was just not looking for a pure hillbilly band, no matter how much dust they might kick up on a Saturday night dance floor. Phillips was not making a documentary about life in the rural honky-tonks in 1955. He was trying to sell records and that meant finding something different. Presley had been different. Carl Perkins, another soldier in the honky tonk wars, had been different. Could Phillips work his magic once again? Was there anything here he could work with?

Fortunately, we have samples of just what Phillips was listening to. You can almost feel Sam Phillips' presence as he tries to push the group beyond their familiar music into what they might become. The earliest recordings, like "Down On The Border", reveal the truth of Carl Simmons' words. They really were a bluegrass group. With Carl on Mandolin, John Green on fiddle, Gene on acoustic guitar, and Jessie Carter taking his first tentative steps on upright bass, these guys were raw and very country. The song itself is kind of catchy, but it would have been in alien territory in the Sun catalogue. Sam was right to have passed. He listened, even recorded several takes, but then uttered the immortal words, "What else you got?".

The Miller Trio

*2 - Don't Let Me Down (2:12) 1986 (The Miller Trio) > Not Originally Issued <
(Bill Cantrell-Quinton Claunch) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Elsie Jo Miller (vocal), Mildred Wages (vocal), Roy Miller (vocal), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Gene Simmons or Roy Miller (guitar), Jessie Carter (bass)

The Miller Sisters recorded at Sun between 1954 and 1957. Although they were really sister-in-law, they had the unerring sibling harmony. Like Gene Simmons, they came from Tupelo, Mississippi. Singing sister acts were hot and the Millers were as good as the Fontane Sisters, McGuire Sisters, DeCastro Sisters, or any of the others, but simply couldn't grab the moment. ''Don't Let Me Dow'' probably featured Roy Millers as the third voice, and sounds like a home recording. On their last single, ''Ten Cats Down'', they were backed by Johnny Bernero's combo with Ace Cannon on saxophone.

Gene Simmons

*3 - Shake Rattle And Roll (2:13) 1986 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Charles E. Calhoun) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1956 at radio WELO studio 1956
2214 South Gloster Street, Tupelo, Mississippi
Gene Simmons (vocal and guitar), Carl Simmons (guitar)
Jessie Carter (bass)

Carl Simmons did not recall recording either "Guitar Boogie" (not in this box) or "Shake Rattle And Roll", but confirmed that both had probably been recorded either at radio station WELO (Jessie suggested possibly WCPC in Houston, Mississippi) or at the home of "a guy from Tupelo whose hobby was to record us whenever he could. I don't remember his name, but he had a little home recorder. We'd go over to his house to rehearse and record".

Malcolm Yelvington

Malcolm Yelvington was probably the only artist who didn't come to Sun looking to emulate Elvis Presley for the simple reason that he had first recorded for Sam Phillips back when Elvis Presley came on the scene. According to Malcolm, he turned down an opportunity to go with RCA in the early 1950s because RCA wouldn't take his band, and came to Sun because it was the only game in town. Now that the King was gone, it was time to have another look at Yelvington's quirky stylins. This man would plainly never be a teenage hearthrob, but maybe there was gold in them musical hills after all.

His first single appeared between Elvis' first and second single. Malcolm was then left contemplating his future in a world that Elvis increasingly dominated.

''I went back to Sun with "Rockin' With My Baby", Malcolm recalled. "It's the only song I ever wrote in my life. We made a demo tape one Sunday and carried it down to Sam to listen to. He liked it, and he set up a date for us to come in and record''. This is a slightly mellower, more countrified version of what became Malcolm's second and last Sun record. Lately, in his retirement, Malcolm has taken to conducting your groups through the old Sun studio on weekends while his wife gets her hair done.

4 - It's Me Baby (2:27) 1956 (Malcolm Yelvington) > Sun 246-B <
(Reece Fleming) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 2, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Malcolm Yelvington (vocal and guitar), Reece Fleming (piano),
Gordon Mashburn (guitar), Billy Weir (drums), Jack Ryles (bass)

Yelvington does a better job on this side, an unpretentious blues featuring Frank Tolley's rolling piano. Yelvington continued to record at Sun, including the superb "Trumpet", but never again saw his name on a little yellow record.

"It's Me Baby" is so downhome, it rates as a thirteen bar blues. Equally intriguing is the stanza that bears a striking resemblance to Jay McShann's "Confessin' The Blues" - not that anyone was paying anything like that much attention to detail. The song's creator was Malcolm's longstanding piano player, Reece Fleming, a musician who covered his 88 keys in the stride fashion of a previous generation. The master-track emerged as a B-side in August 1956. (MH) (HD) (CE)

5 - Rockin' With My Baby (2:19) 1956 (Malcolm Yelvington) > Sun 246-A <
(Malcolm Yelvington-Jones) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 2, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Malcolm Yelvington (vocal and guitar), Reece Fleming (piano),
Gordon Mashburn (guitar), Billy Weir (drums), Jack Ryles (bass)

''Yelvington is one of the more recent of Sun's string of talented rockabillies'', said Billboard in September 1956, unaware that the man had been recording for the label since 1954. However, they were unfortunately correct when they concluded that ''Jumper... may not break out of the territories''. ''Rockin' With My Baby'' went on to sell approximately 8,500 copies, a respectable but unspectacular sale considering that Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins could move 20,000 or more copies a day. Yelvington, his false teeth removed, seems to be slightly ill at ease with the tempo but turns in a supercharged vocal performance. The song, of course, is a collage of song titles from across the eras: ''Birth Of The Blues'', ''Rootie Tootie'', ''Sixteen Tons'', ''Blue Suede Shoes'', etc. It's fun, if a little contrived, and makes an interesting comparison with an earlier version, ''Have Myself A Ball''. The guys had worked at shaking off their honky tonk-western swing-cowboy harmony roots and acquiring a harder-edged sound. Change or die, it seems. (MH) (HD) (CE)

*6 - Trumpet (1:21) 1978 (Malcolm Yelvington) > Not Originally Issued <
(Louie Newton Moore) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded October 5, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Malcolm Yelvington (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Sid Manker (bass),
Otis Jett (drums), Frank Tolley (piano)

For Malcolm Yelvington's second Sun session in 1957, which produced two songs, the hesitant Bubba Winn was apparently replaced by Sun's star session guitarist, Roland Janes, and the guitarist's spacey, ringing sound comes to the fore. It is just possible that Gordon Mashburn was back on this session, but the union payments went to Janes.

The songs Yelvington cut in 1957 were mostly upbeat ballads written by Louie Moore, a young man from Alabama, who turned up at the Sun studio with a file full of good unpublished songs. This session producing wonderful takes of two memorable Louie Moore songs, the clever "It's My Trumpet", and "Goodbye Marie", where Yelvington really sings his heart out. "I didn't try to imitate Elvis", Yelvington declared defiantly. "That's the one thing I didn't do that all the younger guys came in and did. I had been playing music my way for years. I couldn't have done it if I'd wanted to. I wanted to be on Sun Records. I was trying to do something upbeat that would be new to Sam Phillips. I called it boogie-woogie. Later, they called it rockabilly".

The sharp lyrics and brisk tempo are offset by Malcolm's engaging bullfrog baritone. "Trumpet" (or to given the song its proper title, "Got Me A Trumpet") is written by Louie Newton Moore, a gospel and country songwriter from Alabama who turned up a Sun one day with a handful of songs.

The Miller Sisters

7 - Ten Cats Down (2:17) 1956 (The Miller Sisters) > Sun 255-A <
(Bill Cantrell-Quinton Claunch) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Elsie Jo Miller (vocal), Mildred Wages (vocal), Buddy Holobauch (guitar),
Jan Ledbetter (bass), Johnny Bernero (drums),
Johnny "Ace" Cannon (tenor saxophone)

Here was a prime opportunity for Sun to tap into the growing teenage market rather than service a faltering country audience. Sax replaced fiddle as the sidemen, this time largely made up of players from Johnny Bernero's band, worked hard to make the track jump accordingly. Vocally-speaking the girls exude a great deal of savvy which gained them an entirely new mantle, far removed from the indigenous harmonies that had set the standard on their earlier releases.

"Ten Cats Down" was about as close as the Sisters ever came to rock and roll. They were, first and foremost, a country act and while they had an admirable feeling for the blues (listen their version of "Got You On My Mind") they were never fated to climb onto the emerging rock bandwagon. Even Ace Cannon's sax meanderings sound curiously stilted.

And of course, Sam Phillips hedged his bets on the Miller Sisters last record by pairing the lovely ballad ''Finder Keepers'' with the girls one attempt at a solid rocker. ''Ten Cats Down'' was as close as the ladies came to rockabilly but their sound was really ill equipped for it. It seems as though women and rockabilly have always had an unsteady romance, despite notable exceptions such as Wanda Jackson and Janis Martin. Arguably, the Miller Sisters were too country, too pure sounding to sound convincing on this type of song. The song needs a raging river and the girls are like a crystal stream. Nevertheless, this track is of considerable interest because it represent a previously unissued alternate take of the version issued on Sun 225. If anything, this version is closer to jazz than rock and roll and pushes the proceedings in the direction of western swing, which was surely not Phillips' intension in 1956. It marked the end of Quinton Claunch and Bill Cantrell's association with Sam Phillips, and Cantrell remembered it with a wince. (MH) (HD) (CE)

Rudi Richardson

Sun's 200 series is sacred, and justly so. It contains early and wondrous recordings by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny cash, Carl Perkins, Billy Riley, Sonny Burgess, Warren Smith, as well as several blues classics and one-off rockabilly jewels. Two records, one by Jean Chapel and another by Rudi Richardson, never seemed to belong in that fabled sequence, and with good reason: neither was a Sun recording. A couple of other leased-in productions from Hardrock Gunter didn't sound nearly as incongruous as Richardson's and Chapel's records. It seems as if Sam Phillips was hung up a song called ''Fools Hall Of Fame''. Written by Texas rockabilly singer Danny Wolfe, it was published by Gene Autry's Golden West Melodies.

Both Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison recorded it at Sun, but the first version was Rudi Richardson's. A year or two earlier, business-savvy Gene Autry had done well with ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'', a song originally recorded by the Prisonaires on Sun.

He'd acquired the music publishing, and his partner, Joe Johnson, placed the song on a Dick Richards hillbilly session. Johnson had once worked as an intern to Richards' producer, Don Law, and it was Law who handed the song to his A&R counterpart, Mitch Miller, who in turn produced Johnnie Ray's record. Ray's single netted Autry around $58,000, prompting him to fund Johnson’s dream of a record label. They wanted to name it Champion Records after Autry's wonder horse, but Decca owned that name so they chose Challenge Records. Be fore Challenge was launched, it's likely that Johnson produced a session by Rudi Richardson comprised of four songs that he and Autry owned. Two of them, ''Fool's Hall Of Fame'' and ''Teenage Hangout'', were Wolfe's (''Teenage Hangout'' was recorded by Mac Wiseman in April 1957 during his mercifully brief career as a rock and roll singer). The B-side of ''Fool's Hall Of Fame'', ''Why Should I Cry'', was written by Autry's Nashville song-plugger Troy Martin (aka Jerry Organ), Joe Johnson, and Wayne Walker. The fourth song, ''Not Until I Pray For You'', was written by Leon Cole and Jeanne Stevens, and was first recorded by Richardson but first released by Dick Richards, the singer who'd recorded ''Just Walkin' In The Rain'' before Johnnie Ray.

It was probably either Joe Johnson or Troy Martin who pitched Richardson's session to Sam Phillips in late 1956 or early 1957.An acetate shows that the original master numbers were U-238 and U-239, numbers eventually reassigned to Sonny Burgess's ''Restless''/''Ain't Got A Thing'', released in January 1957. Challenge was launched in March 1957, and Richardson's record was finally released in July or August. The recordings were probably made in Nashville. It's possible that Troy Martin, who spent many nights drinking in nightclubs, might have seen Richardson, who performed often Nashville, and brought him to Johnson's attention.

8 - The Fools Hall Of Fame (2:39) 1957 (Rudi Richardson) > Sun 271-A < 
(J. Freeman-Danny Wolf) (Golden West Music)
Recorded Unknown Date / Probably March 1957 in Nashville, Tennessee
Rudi Richardson (vocal and guitar), Unknown Musicians
Jimmy Hart, Steve Spear, Mike Gardner,
and James Tarbutton, David Beaver (vocal chorus)

To further complicate the puzzle, we also know that Johnny Cash, of all people, attempted a version of "Fool's Hall Of Fame" while at Sun, and so did Roy Orbison. After the Cash session, Sam Phillips wrote across the tape box "Never To Be Released", although his words later went unheeded. Even Elvis Presley wanted to record it.

Rosco Gordon

Rockabilly artist Hayden Thompson storms out of the Sun Recording Studio at 706 Union Avenue, after wasting the whole day with Sam Phillips. The boys had been trying to work up some material good enough for an upcoming single, most of the songs that day were covers of old blues songs, but one "Cheese And Crackers" was penned by Hayden himself. Unfortunately the song's awkward structure left Hayden creatively lost. Disgusted at the lack of inspiration with the song, Hayden left the lyrics on top of the studio's beat up Wurlitzer piano and headed for home.

''sittin' at the bar, high as a bat
when up walked to me, this old alley cat
he looked at me and said now son "Cheese and Crackers anyone?"
I said "No! I don't like 'em!"

''my friend got sick, laid up in the bed
Ole' doctor came over, you know what he said?
"Cheese and crackers anyone?"
I don't like 'em that's why I said No!

''when I was just boy, still at home
that's before I decided to roam
when the dinner bell rang, you could hear my daddy yell...
"Cheese and Crackers anyone?!"
I said No!

Sam Phillips calls Rosco Gordon and tells him to come to the studio for a night of recording, and Rosco finds Hayden's unused lyrics on the piano and in about 10 minutes he has worked up the song as a shuffle. The novelty song is so strange that Sam reserves it for the B side and has Roscoe cut a Fats Domino inspired song called "Shoobie Oobie". Neither side cracked the charts but "Cheese And Crackers" was quoted by Billboard as the "weirdest record of the week."

9 - Cheese And Crackers (2:49) 1956 (Rosco Gordon) > Sun 257-A <
(Hayden Thompson) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded October 25, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Rosco Gordon (vocal and piano), Phillip Walker (guitar), L.W. Canty (bass),
Joe W. Payne (drums), James Jones (tenor saxophone),
Lionel Prevost - Tenor Saxophone

His head to one side, and with the kind of inert enunciation that someone like Mose Alison would adopt in the seasons ahead, the irrepressible Rosco Gordon puts in yet another appearance on the Sun release schedule. A quick look at Sun's output reveals that Rosco was the only black artist who still caught Sam Phillips' fancy from January, 1956 until April of the following year. During his formative sessions at Sun, Hayden Thompson was trying to work up a lyric called "Cheese And Crackers", which he apparently left laying around the Sun studio in September or earlier October.

It was picked up by rhythm and blues singer Rosco Gordon, who finished the song and changed the melody a little in time to record the song at the end of October that year. Gordon's disc was issued within a month, at the end of November, while Hayden was still awaiting his break on the label. Nevertheless, id did give him his first credit as a songwriter apart from his Von disc.

Rosco Gordon used his larynx more as an instrument than as a vocal attribute: Witness his gargling fluid delivery on "Cheese And Crackers". Even more oblique is the rolling piano intro, which conjures up the accompaniment to a silent movie - the part where the villain makes his entrance. There must have been a permanent high at Sun cutting records like this.

"Cheese And Crackers", gives full vent to Rosco's zaniless. As Billboard noted, "Cat is on a real screaming kick here". The story goes that Hayden Thompson left the lyrics (or most of them, anyway) on the piano at Sun, and Rosco found them and worked them up into the song we know. Its an engaging tale if true, and almost too bizarre not to be true.

10 - Sally Jo (2:07) 1958 (Rosco Gordon) > Sun 305-A <
(Sam Phillips-Rosco Gordon) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date July 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Rosco Gordon (vocal and piano), Freddie Tavares (guitar), Unknown Musicians

The end of Gordon's affiliation with Sun is harder to piece together. He returned in 1957 to record the ersatz rockabilly tune "Sally Jo", which stands with some recordings by Ray Sharp, Tarheel Slim, and Roy Brown among the few examples of black rockabilly. Its appearance must have upturned a few eyebrows among Rosco's die-hard constituency; but if Gordon can be said to have "sold out", he did it with style and boundless enthusiasm: "Sally Joy" was delightfully at variance with everything else he recorded.

Sonny Burgess

On May 2, 1956, Sonny and the band drove to Memphis and auditioned at Sun. Impressed Sam Phillips cut their debut single that afternoon. ''We Wanna Boogie'' and ''Red Headed Woman'' stand among the rawest recordings released during the first flowering of rock and roll. The lyrics were almost unintelligible and the accompaniment teetered on the edge of atonality, giving the record an atmosphere of total abandon. It sounded as though the studio floor should have been littered with liquor bottles, although Burgess maintains that they were stonecold sober, even nervous. Despite being almost totally unmarketable according to established precept, ''We Wanna Boogie'' reportedly sold over ninety thousand copies, and charted in some unlikely places, such as Boston.

*11 - We Wanna Boogie (2:19) 1973 (Sonny Burgess) > Not Originally Issued <
(Sonny Burgess) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded May 2, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Sonny Burgess (vocal and guitar), Joe Lewis (guitar), Johnny Ray Hubbard (bass),
Russell Smith (drums), Ray Kern Kennedy (piano) Jack Nance (trumpet)

It wasn't too long ago that folks out to have a good time would refer to a night on the town as - "cuttin' a rug". When the rock and roll generation came into being, particularly south of the Mason Dixon line, the lingo got a tad more boisterous and mutated into "climbin' the wall". Growing up in Newport, Arkansas, Sonny Burgess understood such parlance and when the chance came to record at Sun, he conjured up in the mood perfectly with his all-pervading "We Wanna Boogie".

There is nothing particularly original about Burgess' work and his lyrics here are barely intelligible. Nevertheless, the first 12 bars of "We Wanna Boogie" establish an irresistible groove that elevates this record to greatness, although "Red Headed Woman" was the designated A-side. Once again, Sam Phillips knew what he was doing when he chose these sides to unleash on an unsuspecting world. Billboard commented that the record was "shouted and worked with plenty of spirit". Right they were.

*12 - Red Headed Woman (2:06) 1973 (Sonny Burgess) > Not Originally Issued <
(Sonny Burgess) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded May 2, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Sonny Burgess (vocal and guitar), Joe Lewis (guitar), Johnny Ray Hubbard (bass),
Russell Smith (drums), Ray Kern Kennedy (piano) Jack Nance (trumpet)

Allowing for some serious competition, Sonny Burgess boasted one of the wildest stage acts of all rockabilly performers. He endorsed this first Sun single by dying his hair a full-blooded crimson and working up an outlandish routine to get the message across.

"We Wanna Boogie" and "Red Headed Woman" stand among the rawest recordings released during the first flowering of rock and roll. The lyrics were almost unintelligible (although they repay close attention with some very funny couplets), and the instrumentation teetered on the edge of atonality. It was a record that sported an air of total abandon, sounding as if it had been created under the heavy burden of alcohol, although Sonny Burgess remembers that everyone was stone cold sober, and nervous to the point of apprehension. Despite being almost unmarketable according to established precept, "Red Headed Woman" reportedly sold over 90,000 copies. It did especially well in Boston, although Burgess was unaware of that fact until Jack Nance and Joe Lewis toured there a few years later with Conway Twitty.

Joe Lewis

*13 - Life's Too Short To Live (1:50) 1985 (Joe Lewis) > Not Originally Issued <
(Joe Lewis) (Copyright Control)
(Sonny Burgess) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded May 2, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Joe Lewis (vocal and guitar), Sonny Burgess (guitar), Johnny Ray Hubbard (bass),
Russell Smith (drums), Ray Kern Kennedy (piano) Jack Nance (trumpet)

At six feet, Joe Lewis cut an imposing figure as the joint front-man of Sonny Burgess' Pacers. He picked a solid rhythm guitar and carried the reputation of being a popular figure within the band. In other words it made good sense for Sam Phillips to investigate his capabilities when he brought Sonny in to tape his maiden sides, and the finesse rolled over into this wild high-stepper. Sadly the title proved to be portentous, as the gangly musicians lost his life in a car wreck during the 1970s.

While it is immediately clear that Joe Lewis was not going to take away anybody's job as vocalist, the sound of the track just bristies with energy. The lyric is surprisingly rural ( a reference to round and square dancing that immediately calls to mind Carl Perkins "Gone, Gone, Gone"). Yet it also quotes "Womp Bomp Alooma..." from Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti". Rock and roll was truly becoming a cultural melting pot. But if Lewis' lyric is semi-rural, the instrumental work surely isn't. Following a tame, almost Orienttal 4-bar intro, Burgess's hard edged electric guitar virtually tears through the speakers during his first solo.

The second break is even more dramatic. The solo starts with four empty bars that leave you wondering if someone forgot to turn on his amplifier. Then suddenly, Wham! Sonny is again putting your tweeters at risk. This is precisely the approach that Carl Perkins used on "Gone, Gone, Gone" - a record that seems to have influenced this track in more ways than just its lyrics.

On SUN 224, Perkins actually scats his way through the first four bars of his final solo, seemingly going nowhere on guitar, before tearing into a startling 4-7 chord and bringing the track back to life. Joe Lewis and Sonny seem to have borrowed the tric perfectly here. Through it all, Russ Smith's drumming is all over the place. His playing crosses the line between assertive and aggressive, yet the sound of his snare is curiously dead - the same sound we hear on the early session that produced "We Wanna Boogie".

Joe Lewis joined (and named) Burgess' band The Pacers and was on hand for their second audition at Sun and their earliest recording sessions. He and fellow band member (trumpet' drums) Jack Nance later toured with Conway Twitty. Nance made more of the affiliation, co-writing a number of Twitty releases including the mega-hit "It's Only Make Believe". Before leaving Sun, Joe Lewis recorded seven vocal duet titles with Jack Nance.

Sonny Burgess

14 - Ain't Got A Thing (2:06) 1957 (Sonny Burgess) > Sun 263-A <
(Jack H. Clement-Sonny A. Burgess) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1956/57 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Sonny Burgess (vocal and guitar), Joe Lewis (guitar), Johnny Ray Hubbard (bass),
Russell Smith (drums), Ray Kern Kennedy (piano), Jack Nance (trumpet)
Band Chorus

Sonny Burgess still rocked on "Ain't Got A Thing", although not at the frenetic pace of his previous outing. In addition, the track featured a clever, not to mention intelligible lyric. The key modulation during the instrumental break lets Burgess soar during the final verse.

Sonny Burgess believed that his second record, "Ain't Got A Thing", would break through. The lyrics had the anarchic throwaway humor of Chuck Berry and Louis Jordan: "I got a check, but it won't cash. I hot a woman, ain't got no class". It was catchy and melodic, featuring a nicely worked up modulation during the break, but all to no avail. Sonny Burgess later thought it might have flopped because it was a little too fast for dancing. (HD) (MH)

*15 - Feelin' Good (2:17) 1976 (Sonny Burgess) > Not Originally Issued <
(Herman Parker) (Delta Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1957/58 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Sonny Burgess (vocal and guitar), J.C. Caughron (guitar), Johnny Ray Hubbard (bass),
Bobby Crafford (drums, Ray Kern Kennedy (piano)

*16 - Truckin' Down The Avenue (1:51) 1976 (Sonny Burgess) > Not Originally Issued <
(Sonny Burgess) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date 1957/58 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Sonny Burgess (vocal and guitar), J.C. Caughron (guitar), Johnny Ray Hubbard (bass),
Bobby Crafford (drums, Ray Kern Kennedy (piano)

17 - Restless (3:39) 1957 (Sonny Burgess) > Sun 263-B <
(Mitt C. Addington) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1956/57 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Sonny Burgess (vocal and guitar), Joe Lewis (guitar), Johnny Ray Hubbard (bass),
Russell Smith (drums), Ray Kern Kennedy (piano), Jack Nance (trumpet)
Band Chorus

"Restless" was Sonny Burgess his first stab at a balled. The lyrics were written by Mitt Addington, a consulting psychologist in Memphis who had demo'd a number of songs at Sun over the years - and even had two cut by Big Memphis Marainey, and another by RCA artist Wade Ray. Jack Clement handed Sonny a little sheet of paper with Addington's lyrics, and Sonny Burgess set them to music, for which he thought he would receive a fifty percent share of the song, a share that never materialised. The record died on the vines, and Burgess was disappointed - but there was worse in store.

Perhaps there was even greater sales potential on the lilting flipside "Restless". Sonny Burgess' whistling, the subdued and effective male chorus, and a rolling tempo might have made for big crossover sales, but nothing materialized. Burgess would take two more shots at fame and fortune on the Sun label, but this defeat was dispiriting for everyone involved. (MH) (HD) (CE)

*18 - Find My Baby For Me (3:33) 1986 (Sonny Burgess) > Not Originally Issued <
(Sonny Burgess) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1957/58 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Sonny Burgess (vocal and guitar), J.C. Caughron (guitar), Johnny Ray Hubbard (bass),
Bobby Crafford (drums, Ray Kern Kennedy (piano) Roy Orbison (vocal chorus)

*19 - Sadie Brown (''Fannie Brown'') (2:24) 1986 (Sonny Burgess) > Not Originally Issued <
(Roy Brown) (Len Friedman Music)
Recorded Unknown Date 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Sonny Burgess (vocal and guitar), Joe Lewis (guitar), Johnny Ray Hubbard (bass),
Russell Smith (drums), Ray Kern Kennedy (piano), Jack Nance (trumpet)

*20 - Thunderbird (2:18) 1958 (Sonny Burgess) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jack Clement-Billy Riley-Albert "Sonny" Burgess) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Recorded July 22, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Sonny Burgess (vocal and guitar), J.C. Caughron (guitar), Jack Clement(bass),
Jimmy Van Eaton (drums), Billy Riley (harmonica), Charlie Rich (piano)

Note: This instrumental has been issued in the past both as ''Thunderbird'' and ''Itchy''. Jack Clement said the original issued version on Sun 304 had been reversed at pressing stage. Sonny Burgess says not and that ''Thunderbird'' is the faster of the two tunes.

Warren Smith

*21 - Rock 'N' Roll Ruby (2:55) 1986 (Warren Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(John R. Cash) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Warren Smith (vocal and guitar), Buddy Holobaugh (guitar),
Jan Ledbetter (bass), Johnny Bernero (drums),
Smokey Joe Baugh (piano)

The provenance of "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby" is in some doubt. It is credited to Cash but Smith asserted that George Jones had written the song and sold it to Cash for $40.00. Johnny Cash cut a primitive demo in the breathless baritone he reserved for uptempo numbers at some point in late 1955 or early 1956. The acetate ended up in the hands of Clyde Leoppard, probably in order that he could rehearse the band. By the time Smith and the Snearly Ranch Boys (with Johnny Bernero replacing the barely proficient Leoppard on drums) wrapped up "Rock 'N' Roll Ruby", it was obvious that Sam Phillips had, as Billboard put it, "another contender in the Rock-a-Billy sweepstakes".

*22 - Stop The World (1:58) 1986 (Warren Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(C. Belew-W. Stevenson) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date February 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Warren Smith (vocal and guitar), Al Hopson (guitar), Marcus Van Story or Will Hopson (bass),
Jimmie Lott (drums), Unknown (piano)

The writer(s) on ''Stop The World'' is/are unknown, but it was a polished performance ready for release. The song is of uncertain provenance but the idea at least seems to owe a debt to the Carl Belew-W.S. Stevenson composition ''Stop The World (And Let Me Off)'' which dates from early 1957. This song and the arrangement needed a little more work but it is hard to see they gave up on it. It was an ideal vehicle for Smith's vocal talents and the backing bristles with energy. There is a piano buried deep in the mix although it is hard to see how Phillips could mix any instrument so far back when he was working in such cramped surroundings. Lost for upwards of thirty years in an outtake box, this track surely deserved a better fade.

*23 - Uranium Rock (3:22) 1986 (Warren Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Lloyd George) (Universal Music Publishing
Recorded: - February 23, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Warren Smith (vocal and guitar), Al Hopson (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
Jimmy Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

''Uranium Rock'' now this is a mystery that will probably remain unsolved. Warren Smith recorded ''Uranium Rock'' in 1958, but it wasn't released until 1973, when it appeared on the first ''Sun Rockabilly's'' LP. How then can we account for the appearance of a very similar song, ''Sing Real Loud'', by Lloyd George, recorded on March 18, 1962 for Imperial Records and released later that year? The songs are so close that the similarity cannot be accidental. Lloyd George (his real name) aka Ken Marvin aka Lonzo of Lonzo & Oscar recorded between 1947 and 1962, scoring just one hit (''I'm My Own Grandpa'' in 1948). He was based in Nashville when Smith recorded ''Uranium Rock'' and was still there when he recorded for west coast-based Imperial Records. After Imperial dropped him, he eased performing and booked Bill Monroe. Most of Marvin/George's songs were novelties (''Cornbread And Lasses'', ''Tickle The Tom Cat's Tail'', ''There's A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea'', etc.), and ''Uranium Rock'' is consistent with those. There's even a tape in the Sun vaults of him singing ''You Spurned A Love'' and ''Little Red Wagon'', so it's just possible that Marvin/George submitted ''Uranium Rock'' to Sun and that Warren Smith recorded it. Anyone who might remember anything about what happened is now dead, so the mystery will probably remain such. ''Uranium Rock'' is a nuclear age gold rush song. Buy a Geiger counter and head for the hills. Return to town with a truckload of radioactive uranium ore, cash out, and go visit the Cadillac dealer. Clearly Ken Marvin/Lloyd George or whoever wrote this song thought 'uranium rock' was a pretty good pun. Guitarist Al Hopson keeps the show together with a Bo Diddley lick that almost functions as the song's hook. In fact, the session could have used another guitarist to take a solo over the riff.

*24 - Dear John (1:53) 1986 (Warren Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Tex Ritter-Aubry Gass) (Micheal H. Goldsen Incorporated
Recorded October 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Warren Smith (vocal and guitar), Probably: John "Ace" Cannon (tenor saxophone),
Al Hopson (guitar), Marcus Van Story or Sid Manker (bass),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton or Jimmie Lott (drums)

This minor hillbilly classic was first penned by Aubrey Gass in 1949. Hank Williams revived it two years later and probably discovered it on the flip side of ''Cold Cold Heart. The song's roots are well and truly obscured by Smith's treatment which replaced the jaunty hillbilly beat with a liberal dose of the blues, especially from the lead guitar. At first the bluesy intensity of the guitar carries the song but there is a hole after the first 12-bar solo. The song meanders for another 12 bars which suggests that a sax overdub was contemplated. Smith's vocal performance is first rate and a fair amount of tape was expended on this cut, suggesting it was a candidate for release at some point. Perhaps it was consigned to storage when Phillips realised that he was not recording a Hi-Lo copyright but, rather, stood to give 3 cents a side to another publisher.

Billy Riley

25 - Trouble Bound (2:43) 1956 (Billy Riley) (Sun 245) > Sun 245-A <
(Billy Riley-Roland Wallace-Jack Clement) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded: - Early 1956 Fernwood Studio, 158 Fernwood Drive, Memphis, Tennessee
Billy Riley (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Roland "Slim" Wallace (bass),
Johnny Bernero (drums)

Some of the most sought after honky-tonk and rockabilly recordings of the 1950s were cut in garages around Memphis. Truck driver Slim Wallace started Fernwood Records in this garage before moving to Main Street. Slim Wallace put up most of the 450 dollars they needed to buy an old Magnecord tape deck from disc jockey Sleepy Eyed John, and Jack Clement built himself a studio in the garage.

Billy Riley is known as a multi-talented session musician and vocalist. He is a virtual chameleon in the studio, recording in a variety of voices and styles. In many ways (and against formidable competition), this first record is his best. "Trouble Bound", recorded at Fernwood, so impressed Sam Phillips that he imported it, turning Riley loose in the Sun studio to produce a worthy flipside. That he did.

"Trouble Bound" is a brooding, acoustic guitar-led blues, with the trademark Johnny Bernero shuffle beat. In fact, it is Bernero's understated drumming, shifting in and out of the shuffle following the guitar break, that elevates this record to brilliance.

Jack Clement was engineering and, as told Martin Hawkins, "Riley was doing country but he was one of these rockabilly types - he had a beat, Fernwood had a tape recorder but no real studio then so we rented time at WMPS studio and cut the masters there. We were going to make it (the Riley record) the first record on Fernwood but I took it to Sam Phillips on the off chance and he called me one day, said he liked it and we worked out a lease deal".

26 - Rock With Me Baby (2:11) 1956 (Billy Riley) > Sun 245-B <
(Billy Riley-Roland Wallace-Jack Clement) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded April 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Billy Riley (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), J.W. Bruner (bass),
Jimmy Van Eaton (drums),

The top side of Riley's first Sun record, and a gem. This one comes pretty close to defining what rockabilly is all about It's tense, edgy, sexy and driving. This is not mindless, teen dance music. It can send shivers down your spine. There's not a wasted note here. The vocal is perfect. The band work is stellar, not overly complex, but perfectly orchestrated. When the guitar solos take off, you just have to stand back. Those beautiful single stroke drum rolls by Johnny Bernero let you know when to take cover as the two guitars played by Ruble Shaw and Roland Janes, just soar. One slides into the chord while the second hits just the right notes to maintain that bluesy countryish feel. Some critics tell you that real rockabilly needs a stand-up bass, the kind Bill Black used to slap behind Elvis back in 1954. If that's true, then this record contains a double dose of rockabilly drive. One slap bass was played by Slim Wallace, the second by Jan Ledbetter.

''Rock With Me Baby'' was recorded at the studios of WMPS. Sadly, having explored every inch of Billy Riley recording tape known to exist at Sun, it seems thru second tide from this session - the countryish ''Think Before You Go'' - is irretrievably lost.

"Rock With Me Baby" is likewise a standout track, with its guitar interplay between Billy Riley and Roland Janes, and soaring drum-work during the solos. SUN 245 clearly promised that Billy Riley was capable of producing memorable work within the tense and impassioned style Sun Records was beginning to forge.

*27 - Flying Saucer Rock And Roll (2:49) 1974 (Billy Riley) > Not Originally Issued <
(Ray Scott) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 11, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Billy Riley (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jimmy Van Eaton (drums),

Guitarist Roland Janes confirms that he brought Indiana-born songwriter Ray Scott over to Riley's house so they could go through Ray's material and come up with a follow-up to ''Trouble Bound''. "We went through everything Ray had and is only one we took was ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll''. But it was a good one."

Scott was no stranger to the Sun studio but fancied himself as more of songwriter than a recording artist. Nevertheless, his several vintage recordings at sought today by collectors. Two of his demos for Sun appeared on Bear Family That'll Flat Git It (Sun) - Volume 17 (BCD 16405 AH). If you listen closely to these ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll'' sits, you'll hear an obvious separation between two different sessions. Alternates Take 1 to Take 6 were recorded before session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis joined on, and so the sound changes appreciably starting with Alternate Take 7. But along with that there's also a surprising key change. Prior to the addition of a piano, the boys rake the song in C, a most unlikely key for a rockabilly band. Once Lewis joins them, they take it up a half a tone to the key of D. D is an accessible key for a piano, guitar and bass. It's C that needs some explanation, and the best one is simply that without a piano or sax in the band, the stringed instruments only had to tune to each other - not to the outside world. In all likelihood, they thought they were playing in D at the first session. But Jerry Lee's instrument was less flexible, so at the second session the piano defined what D was. Riley's wife Joyce confirms that during the later years of his life, Billy performed the song in the key of C - a comfortably lower key for a more mature voice.

Riley fans may listen to Alternate Take 10 of ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll'' and wonder why we have included the original single among this collection of alternates. The answer is simple. It isn't the master. It's very close, but the difference tells quite a tale. This is the bed track upon which the master was based. It was overdubbed for release. So what was added to this nearly perfect piece of 1956 rock and roll? The answer is Screaming! This is the very opposite of 'sweetening', which later became the industry standard for overdubbing. Leave it to Sam Phillips and Sun Records.

No strings or choral voices were added. This was an attempt to unsweeten a track, if ever there was one. It's true that the original recording (Alternate Take 10) did have some screaming on it.

But not enough for Sam Phillips. And so more of Marvin Pepper's raucous screams were added before release. You don't believe it? Listen for yourself. Do a side buy side comparison between this track and Sun 260. Lord knows, we've done plenty of them The results are unmistakable.

Half a century later, we reluctant him learn that not all that wild abandon we heard on the single was as spontaneous as we had hoped or assumed. Some of it had to be added after the fact.

In case you're wondering why anybody would go to all this trouble to layer in more screaming, think about the era. ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll'' was recorded in December, 1956. In January of that same year, Little Richard , the iconic screamer of rock and roll - hit the charts with ''Tutti Frutti''. Three months later, he was back with ''Long Tall Sally''. The era of screaming rock and roll had begun. Billy's vocal here already sounded like Richard Penniman. Why not add some screams and complete the picture? Another rockabilly record of the period that included screaming was Gene Vincent's ''B-I-Bickey-Bi, Bo-Bo-Go'' (Capitol 3678).

Billy Riley's attraction to Little Richard's musical style will be an in these notes. It was apparent in more than just the recording studio. Roland Janes recalls a road tour with Hayden Thompson. ''Every night Hayden would do a special set where he'd do nothing but Elvis songs and imitate his style. Billy would do the same thing with Little Richard songs. At the end of the show the two of them would come out on stage and do a grand finale so they'd have Elvis and Little Richard on stage together. It was something to see."

*28 - I Want You Baby (1:58) 1986 (Billy Riley) > Not Originally Issued >
(Billy Riley) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 11, 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Billy Riley (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
Jimmy Van Eaton (drums)

If you were a song, even one as sweet as ''I Want You Baby'', how'd you like to get stuck on the flipside of ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll''? Talk about being invisible! It is very easy to underestimate to this record. The lyrics won't make anybody forget about Cole Porter. The sound has that "live in the studio, cooked up spontaneously" quality. The results are endearing but just as easy to discount. Sun couldn't have picked a more perfect B-side for ''Flying Saucer Rock And Roll''. It would have been a rare disc jockey who listened to this and decided to divert his attention from the A-side.

*29 - Red Hot (3:35) 1976 (Billy Riley) > Not Originally Issued<
(William Robert Emerson) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 30, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Billy Riley (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Marvin Pepper (Bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano), John "Ace" Cannon (saxophone)

Red Hot is as close to a national hit as Billy Riley ever came. Fans and historians will tell you that it should have come a lot closer. The sad fact is that younger rockabilly fans are more likely to have heard Robert Gordon's versions of the song, the first of which was released about 20 years after Riley's. At least we can say without fear of contradiction that Robert Gordon, like any good student of vintage rockabilly, was listening to Billy Riley. And we can add that Link Wray and Danny Garton, Gordon's sidemen, did their share of listening to Roland Janes, Sun's unsung guitar hero.

Gordon wasn't the only rock n roll hero who cut his musical teeth on Red Hot. In 1992 when Billy Riley was enjoying something of a comeback (a European tour, a new record), there was a memorable moment at Carter Memorial Auditorium in Little Rock, Arkansas. On September 8, Bob Dylan's tour took him to that city. Dylan stopped his performance mid-concert and called Billy Riley up onto the stage. Dylan took Riley's hand and told the audience, ''this man is my hero''. The two singers then performed ''Red Hot'' together.
Most Billy Riley fans know that he did not write ''Red Hot''. That honor belongs to Billy ''The Kid'' Emerson, one of Sun's early rhythm and blues artists. Undoubtedly, Sam Phillips - who owned the copyright - introduced Emerson's version ''Red Hot'' (released on Sun 219) to Riley during one of their meetings. It's like the idea took root in Riley's mind and morphed into the rave-up that even surfaced in September, 1957. Even that development, as we shall see in a moment, was anything but straight-forward or instantaneous. Riley's version of ''Red Hot'' is decidedly different from Emerson's original, which itself was based on a schoolyard cheer ("Our team is Red Hot / Your team ain't doodly squat'). At the leas energy level Riley brings to the proceedings leaves Emerson in the dust. This is not to cast Billy Emerson in a bad light. His early sides for Sun have a place on any self-respecting "Roots Of Soul" compilation.

The differences between Riley's and Emerson's versions of ''Red Hot'' are almost startling. To begin with, Billy Emerson's record has the rough, unfinished feel of some of the Riley alternate takes. There were only two years between Emerson and Riley, although you'd be tempted to guess that as much as much as a decade had passed. What makes Emerson's version sound so rough? First, Emerson blows some of the lyrics, confusing whether its lovin' or money she's got a lot of there's the matter of the response "Your gal ain't doodley squat."Both Riley and Emerson use it, but only Riley's version was overdubbed to give a full on-mike choral effect. On Emerson's, the response sounds like what it was: one off-mike voice shouting from across the room.

But the biggest difference between Emerson and Riley is in the lyrics. You might notice, for example, that Emerson's gal is five feet tall ("she's a little bitty mama'), whereas Riley's is 6'4". The lady has grown more than a foot between the two records. But there's an even bigger difference. When his band responds "Your gal ain't doodley squat," Billy Emerson immediately replies, "Yes she is!" He's telling them and us, "My gal is Red Hot. You guys are wrong!" That's a pretty important piece of the picture. The singer brags on his girlfriend. The band tells him he's wrong, and the singer comes right back to say, ''No I'm not!" But Riley lets the put down stand. He doesn't get the last word. The final verdict is that his girl is not Red Hot. Or at least there's a group of folks out there who disagree with him.

*30 - No Name Girl (1:52) 1986 (Billy Riley) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jack Clement-Billy Riley) (Jack Clement Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 7, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Billy Riley (vocal and guitar), Pat O'Neill (bass), Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums),
Charlie Rich or Jimmy Wilson (piano), Martin Willis (saxophone)

"No Name Girl" was a somewhat hokey sing-song composition credited to Jack Clement and Billy Riley, although Riley claims that Clement's contribution was to appropriate half of the writing credit. According to Riley, he wrote the song while taking a shower in Jimmy Wilson's apartment next door to the studio above Taylor's Cafe.

The single reflected the changing times but was less than impressive by the standards Riley had set for himself. Edwin Howard reported that it sold 10,633 copies during its first six months on the market. Even though "No Name Girl" portrays a spirited and carefree atmosphere, the record required considerable thought and energy to get right. True, it was a simple formula, alternating eight bar verses with sax breaks, while modulating keys up and down. However, the released version came from the third session devoted to getting it right. Things finally clicked on January 19, 1959.

A session held twelve days earlier on the same two titles had produced nothing releasable. Neither had a December 16 date the previous year, "No Name Girl" was attempted for the first time. The final work, a "driving countryish effort with blues and hoedown overtones", to quote Billboard, was the brainchild of Riley and Jack Clement.

31 - One More Time (2:36) 1959 (Billy Riley) > Sun 322-A <
(Paul Howard) (Jay-Gee Music)
Recorded June 4, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Billy Riley (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Jimmy Ray Luke Paulman (guitar),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Martin Willis (saxophone)

This title is a jewel in the crown of Riley's Sun titles - a judgement shared by fans, Sun studio musicians, and the singer, himself. The song's origins are a bit obscure. Its composer / singer was Carolina Slim a.k.a Country Paul a.k.a Edward P Harris. The version that found its way to Riley was recorded in New York either on July 24, 1950 or December is, 1951 (or both). One version appeared on Acorn 319 - a label not at the fingertips of many collectors. The 1951 version was released on King 4532. A side-by-side comparison of the two versions is not available to us. In any case, Riley described the recording as rough and out of meter. A sort of 'John Lee Hooker thing' in Riley s words. How it got to Riley or was transformed into this beautiful piece of decidedly in-meter performance is anybody's guess.

Billy Riley had first heard "One More Time" on an old blues record: "I listened to that thing and it was real raw", he recalled. "It was like John Lee Hooker, out of meter and everything. It just sounded so good to me I wanted to do it. It happened. Its a great song, man". Quite where or how Riley came to hear "One More Time" is something of a mystery. It was a wholly obscure single by Country Paul (a.k.a. Carolinea Slim and Eddie Harris) issued on King in 1952 and owing, as Riley said, a considerable debt to John Lee Hooker. Riley's performance truly is a masterful. He turns in a plaintive reading of the lyric complemented by responses on both the guitar and sax. The record is capped by a beautiful understated sax solo by Martin Willis. Riley's chameleon-like ability to alter his voice has been evident throughout his career, and has been as much of an impedance as it has been an advantage. "It was the mood of the song", counters Riley. "To me a song like "Red Hot" was screaming but then "One More Time" was a laid back saxophone song. I thought I was a saxophone on it. I don't think I really had control over it. It just happened. That's the only way I could sing "One More Day". I just did it natural. The way the song told me to do it. It goes back to what Sam and Judd both said about me: 'I'm not a voice, I'm a saxophone". (HD) (MH)

*32 - Got Your Water Boiling (2:10) 1986 (Billy Riley) > Not Originally Issued <
Recorded June 4, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Billy Riley (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Jimmy Ray Luke Paulman (guitar),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Martin Willis (saxophone)

"Got The Water Boiling" was a cover version of a record by the Regals on Atlantic and features Riley in his Little Richard mode. As was the case with most Riley sessions, the material was not rehearsed prior to entering the studio. Consequently, both "One More Time" and "Got The Water Boiling" were tried a number of different ways during the session.

This was Riley's final Sun single and it is also the first time he appears on a Sun label billed as "Bill". The man was a chameleon in both name and musical style. On this disc, he attacks two pieces of potent (and derivative) rhythm and blues material, one a rocker and one a deep blues. On "Got The Water Boiling", Riley offers his version of a highly obscure Atlantic single by the Regals. The issued version has Riley in his Little Richard incarnation, shouting above Martin Willis' tenor sax. Jimmy Van Eaton's drumming is the highlight here. The man can barely contain his energy.

© 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 <
 
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

CD 5 Contains
For music on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

WHOLE LOT OF SHAKIN; GOING ON

Years ago, it looked pretty simple: Gene Simmons cut a single at Sun that came cut around June 1958. Itsounded a little anachronistic for 1958, but so what? Turns out, it sounded anachronistic because it had been recorded around two years earlier. And far from recording just that one single, Simmons was in and out of Sun three or four years. ''Down On The Border'' on CD 4 probably dated to 1955 and there are entries in Phillips' session log as late as June and September 1958 without titles attached to the. Piecing together those sessions isn't easy. Master numbers suggest that Sam Phillips scheduled Simmons' single for release around the same time as Kenny Parchman's abandoned release in the fall of 1956. According to Billboard, it finally came out in May or June 1958, but there has never been a convincing explanation for the delay. These titles, taken in canjunction with the two on CD 4, show the broad sweep of Simmons' career at Sun. Dating from 1955, the earliest cuts on CD 5 show that he'd taken his cue from another Tupelo boy. Later recordings have a slightly fuller sound. And then there is ''Drinkin' Wine''/''I Done Told You'', a classic rockabilly single if ever there one writing to Simmons in September 1958, Phillips noted that during the first month or so on the street, the single had sold 1145 copies. After deducting eighteen dollars for registering the songs, Simmons was in the hole to Phillips for six bucks.

Hayden Thompson recorded for Sun at the down of a long career... in fact, an ongoing career as of this writing. The idea to record ''Love My Baby'' apparently came from Billy Riley, who, says Thompson, had already recorded it, although the tape hasn't survived. Certainly, Phillips was in favor of someone recording ''Love My Baby'' because he'd acqujred the publishing when he issued Junior Parkers original version in 1953, Rockabilly purists insist that the piano has no place on a rockabilly record. but Jerry Lee Lewis's subtle underscoring is entirely appropriate. There weren't many great singles on Phillips International, but ''Love My Baby'' was one of them, and nothing Thompson ever recorded over his career eclipsed it.

How could there not be a place for Jimmy Wages on Sun's release schedule? His recordings are a fierce expression of hillbilly torment . When he attempted a song with a melody, like ''Heartbreakin' Love'', he sounded almost mundane and his vocal weaknesses were magnified, but his riff-driven songs, ''Mad Man'', ''Take Me From This Garden Of Evil'', and ''Miss Pearl'', stand on a par with the work of Howlin' Wolf, Charley Patton or any other Mississippi primitive. Wages' songs even had quasi-blues architecture, repeating the first linea. Most rockabilly songs value or exalt women, but Wages' subtext is much darker. "Miss Pearl, Miss Pearl daylight have caused you to hang your head, go home" or "You treat me like a mad man, runnin' from me all the time''. Definitely not standard fare. If Sam Phillips had been behind the glass, he might have responded to Wages' tortured hillbilly-rockabilly-blues. Instead, it was Jack Clement manning the board, and this was truly music from another planet to Clement, and he placed it where he thought such music belonged: the shelf.

From a very different place in Mississippi, both geographically and spiritually, Hannah Fay came to Sun from the Gulf coast and recorded a few songs. Her mother refused to sign the proffered contracts, thereby ensuring that Hannah's chances, already slim, were reduced to zero.

At this point, there is simply very little to be said about Jerry Lee Lewis that has not been said, and his imminent autobiography might fill in what little we don't know. This much will always be certain: if he's the self-proclaimed Last Man Standing, it's hard to see beyond today's drained, empty countenance to the alarming, feral energy of Jerry Lee Lewis on Sun. This much is also certain: in the fifty year's since he quit Sun, he hasn't recorded anything that half-way eclipsed what he left behind there. These morsels were plucked almost at random from the remarkable prolifically of Jerry Lee Lewis at Sun. As was the case with Jimmy Wages, Jack Clement was behind the board when Lewis arrived. Clement responded to Lewis, seeing that his bravado enabled him to get away with things that others couldn't. "He was unique as a piano player'', said Clement. "He doesn't care if he hits a bad note. It doesn't bother him a bit. He thinks that everything he plays is great and because of that, it is''. In the years since his first record was released Jerry Lee Lewis has imprinted himself across the broad sweep of American music. His records never leave unanswered questions. From the first trill to the last imperious note, a Jerry Lee Lewis record can only be a Jerry Lee Lewis record. As a postscript, we have Lewis's sometime driver, Jesse Lee Turner, performing a song from Lewis's first album, ''Put Me Down'', written by Lewis's guitarist, Roland Janes.

If Jerry Lee Lewis was a born performer, Charlie Rich was a born recluse, forced to the stage by commercial need. In part, that necessity stemmed from Lewis's downfall. At the dawn of 1958, Rich was a staff writer for Knox and Hi-Lo Music, drawing a salary against future royalties and making just enough from songwriting and nightclub dates to avoid going back to the farm. But with Cash gone and Lewis apparently ruined, Rich finally recorded his own tunes. After a couple of false starts he found his groove. And what a wonderful groove it was. (CE)

Some liner-notes taken from ''The Complete Sun Singles Collection'' and notes from ''Sun Outtakes'' boxen.

Gene Simmons

*1 - Blues At Midnight (2:33) 1986 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Gene Simmons) (Copyright Control)
Recorded June 18, 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Talmadge Hester (guitar)

The sound on this session clearly echoes the recordings that Sam Phillips was making with Elvis Presley at the same time. Bass player Jessie Carter recalls those days and the price of insistence. ''Getting into the studio to record, that was the toughest nut to crack. You just don't know what it was like. We'd get up early in the morning, leave Tupelo, drive to Memphis, do a 3 or 4-hour session, pack up, drive back to Tupelo. It'd be 10 or 11 at night before we'd get back home. No expressways in those days. Country highways. Sometimes Sam would call at the last minute and have to cancel. Said, 'I've got something else come up. I'll give you a call next week'. Sometimes we wouldn't hear from him for 2 or 3 weeks. Maybe have to call him again, remind him...''.

The group carried another lead guitar player early on named Talmadge Hester. You can hear his work on "Blues At Midnight". There's nothing particularly distinctive about the song. It's a standard, if a bit more melodic than most, 12-bar blues. It is Hester's work that marks the group, indeed the recording, as ordinary. The timing is ragged and the lead guitar work, if one can call it that, sounds like a guy who was busy learning his instrument. (Jessie Carter recalls, ''We found out after just a few weeks that Carl was a much better guitar player than Hester was''.) Gene added that Hester's lead guitar role probably occurred at the very time that Carl was making the transition from mandolin to electric guitar.

Perhaps Hester would develop into a competent musician, but there's no evidence of it here. Sam Phillips was operating on blind faith at this point. As Carl adds, ''We were obsessed with going in there''. The group made many trips to Memphis: sometimes to record, sometimes simply to watch and listen and mingle.

*2 - Pop And Mama (1:38) 1986 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Gene Simmons) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded June 18, 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Talmadge Hester (guitar)

*3 - The Chains Of Love (2:36) 1977 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
Recorded June 18, 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Talmadge Hester (guitar)

"Chains Of Love" is somewhat unusual fare in the Simmons catalogue. There is a decidedly swinging feel to this side that steers it from rockabilly toward pop. It isn't just the chorus that works this effect. It is largely the tempo. Indeed, you can hear Simmons taking surprising liberties with both the lyrics and his phrasing. On the other hand, the extended guitar breaks contain their share of stinging high note work, which brings things back to familiar territory. Was this track intended for release or simply to serve as a demo for fellow Tupelo residents, The Miller Sisters? In any case, Millie and Jo did record this Simmons tune in July 1957. Their version also went unissued.

"Chains Of Love" was never issued on the original Sun label, although it has found its way into release during the past 35 years of Sun archeology. Gene, himself, recorded at least two versions of the title during his visits to the Sun studio as well. Carl Simmons recalls it being "an old country song that we just kind of worked up". We have found no information to date to confirm this possibility.

*4 - Juicy Fruit (2:48) 1978 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Gene Simmons) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded June 18, 1955 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Talmadge Hester (guitar), Band (vocal chorus)

A lot of tunes, some of them forgettable, some intriguing, most not fully realized, were committed to tape at Sun. Most of them just sat in tape boxes waiting for discovery decades later. Gene described them collectively in 2006 as ''novelties and fun songs''.

"Juicy Fruit", fifty years after the fact, some of these titles had become a little vague to Gene, Jessie and Carl. But one that stood right out a half a century later to all three men was Gene's good-natured opus to lust, "Juicy Fruit". Maybe everyone remembered it because they had sung together on the chorus (live during the take and no overdubbing). But more likely, it was the lustfully zany lyrics.

Back in 1956 you could make a little money naming a song after a popular confection, and "Juicy Fruit" was one of the bestselling chewing gums in teen land. But the lyrics here were just a little bit over the top for airplay. Sam Phillips must have known that, even as he was recording take after take of the catchy song. "Have a lollipop, baby, 'cause you're my Juicy Fruit". Yeah, that was bound to get heavy airplay in the Bible Belt.

*5 - Drinkin' Wine (2:37) 1976 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Eugene Morris Simmons) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 3, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums)

Not a lot of rockabilly records begin with a walking bass solo. The most famous is of course Elvis Presley's "My Baby Left Me", but that little bass run by Bill Black follows a couple of bars of solo drum work. On "Drinkin' Wine", Jessie Carter's bass run is the very first thing we hear. "That was my idea", Jessie recalls. "The first time I did that, Sam didn't seem to like it too much. The problem is, my old bass had those cat gut strings on it. Sam came walking out of the control room and said 'Them old strings ain't no good". He was right. But once I changed them and got some decent strings on the bass. Sam liked the idea just fine".

After changing Scotch to Wine, Phillips was still not happy with the result and brought in drummer Jimmy Van Eaton. The change in sound is telling, especially when Van Eaton decided or was told to play through the stops. As originally conceived by Gene, this was a stop-rhythm talking blues. It sure didn't end up that way. Surprisingly, at the end of "Drinkin' Wine", a piano can be suddenly heard in the mix. Has it been there along? Aural evidence suggests not, but when the dust clears during those final drumbeats, there is the unmistakable sound of a piano. Session logs are imprecise but Carl Simmons remembers recording several sessions with Charlie Rich present on piano. However, Rich had not yet joined the scene in January 1957, when this session is suggested to have occurred. In any case, "Drinkin' Wine" is a hell of a special record. A very southern 12-bar talking blues about a guy who's been done wrong by his woman and is getting drunker by the minute and thinking about killing her. On the other hand, it's a showcase for some fine, fine musicianship and unbridled energy in an era when such expression was quickly becoming verboten.

*6 - I Done Told You (2:17) 1986 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Eugene Morris Simmons) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 3, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums)

*7 - Crazy Woman (2:09) 1986 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Eugene Morris Simmons) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 3, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums)

Sometime around 1956 things changed quite dramatically. It may have been a combination of events, but the most obvious catalyst is Carl wrapping his mandolin around a telephone pole and buying himself an electric guitar. Carl made the transition from mandolin to guitar in record time, and he didn't just become competent. He became great. "I always did like playing chords. A lot of guys back then were soloing with single notes or two note runs. I really liked the sound of chords", recalled guitar player Carl Simmons. There is no record of what Sam might have said the first time he heard Carl cut loose with one of those inspired guitar breaks on tracks like "Crazy Woman" or "Drinkin' Wine", but it is hard to imagine that Phillips was not deeply impressed. He knew he had something by the tail if he could just tame it.

If the amount of tape he invested in titles like "Crazy Woman" is any indication, Phillips really believed he was dealing with the contender. "Did we record that at Sun?" Yeah', I tell Jessie Carter. "About twenty takes". "Wooo! Man, man, man. We sure did a lot of recording there" he replies. It's true. There really are close to 20 takes and false starts of "Crazy Woman" and when and for whatever reason they gave up on it, its godchild "I Done Told You" became the focus of their attention.

*8 - I Don't Love You Baby (1:55) 1978 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Eugene Morris Simmons) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 3, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums)

"I Don't Love You Baby" is one of the stronger and more polished unissued titles in the Gene Simmons Sun catalogue. The song is driven by a tense and insistent guitar figure that is not unlike the sound on the classic Sun blues "I Feel So Worried" by Sammy Lewis (SUN 218). Hayden Thompson worked the same grounds in his 1956 recording of "Love My Baby" (PI 3517).

*9 - Money Money Money (2:19) 1986 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Eugene Morris Simmons) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 3, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums)

"Money, Money, Money" stood a more realistic chance of success in the marketplace, circa the mid to late 1950s. Once again featuring a vocal chorus by Jessie and Carl, the song owes an obvious debt to Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business" (issued on Chess Records in Fall 1956).

*10 - If I'm Not Wanted (2:25) 1986 (Gene Simmons) > Not Originally Issued <
(Eugene Morris Simmons) (Copyright Control)
Recorded End or Early 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Gene Simmons (vocal), Jessie Carter (bass), Carl Simmons (guitar),
More Details Unknown

Hayden Thompson

11 - Love My Baby (1) (2:09) 1957 (Hayden Thompson) > PI 3517-A <
(Herman Parker-Sam Phillips) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 11,1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Hayden Thompson (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Jerry Lee Lewis (piano),
Marvin Pepper (bass), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

The second Phillips International release was all the reassurance Sun collectors needed that this new label would not specialize in tepid white pop music. This two-sided gen by Hayden Thompson put joy in the hearts of rockabilly lovers and Sun fans everywhere and told an apprehensive world that the wildman, unrepentant rockabilly antics at 706 Union had found a second home. There were now two Memphis labels to watch and collect.

On this session, Jack Clement brought in a young pianist who had just joined the Sun label and who had been helping out on sessions with Carl Perkins and others. Just a day before he had played with Billy Riley's band and Clement thought that Jerry Lee Lewis could usefully add a little rhythmic power to the already formidable pace of "Love My Baby". It was one of these December 11 takes that was chosen for release by Sun Records' boss Sam Phillips and marked as such on a tape box nine days later.

The sweet smell of Elvis Presley's success was sufficient to lure the teenager to 706 Union and his thundering "Love My Baby" was captured for posterity during one of Sun's busiest ever periods. For added measure, a precocious Jerry Lee Lewis railroads the studio Spinet.

12 - One Broken Heart (2:25) 1957 (Hayden Thompson) > PI 3517-B <
(Hayden Thompson) (Knox Music Incorporation)
Recorded December 11,1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Hayden Thompson (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Jerry Lee Lewis (piano),
Marvin Pepper (bass), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

The song marked for release, "One Broken Heart", was also worked to over more than one session, starting in October as a tentative country ballad and ending on December 20 as a much more produced item with an interesting rhythm and changes in tempo and mood. Hayden is his own vocally, and handles the ballad and its changes in tempo brilliantly.

On this side, Thompson provided Knox Music with some original material of his own. Starting with a deceptive Latin rhythm. Thompson soon breaks free into 4/4 rhythm, much as his hero Elvis had done in this same studio just two years earlier on "Milkcow Blues Boogie".

*13 - Fairlane Rock (2:40) 1976 (Hayden Thompson) > Not Originally Issued <
(Hayden Thompson) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded August/September 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Hayden Thompson (vocal and guitar), Jimmy Hill (guitar), Bill Hurt (bass), Bill Gunter (drums)

Martin Grissom from the Southern Melody Boys may still have been with the Jazzliners on "Fairlane Rock" it is clear that Hayden calls his name as an introduction to the Scotty Moore-styled guitar solos on the session. Although nothing came of Hayden's first Sun session, "Fairlane Rock" was the contender from among the four songs recorded. It's a driving rockabilly number, mixing nursery rhyme lyrics with references to iconic things like "Blue Suede Shoes" and twin exhausts. Vocally, the Presley style is not too evident and the influence of Gene Vincent, whose "Be-Bop-A-Lula" was riding the charts all that summer, is possibly more evident in the little asides and the slurred vocals that seem to slide in almost apologetically in places.

*14 - Blues Blues Blues (2:56) 1986 (Hayden Thompson) > Not Originally Issued <
(Hayden Thompson) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded August/September 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Hayden Thompson (vocal and guitar), Jimmy Hill (guitar), Bill Hurt (bass), Bill Gunter (drums)

"Blues, Blues, Blues" was an atmospheric rockaballad where he laments that his "baby don't treat me right". Apart from the occasional hiccupped "baby", Hayden seems to have very much his own style here, and there is a short but classic rockabilly take-off guitar solo. Hayden said: "I took some of my style from the blues. I was hearing a lot of blues around then. I got my blues from WLAC radio in Nashville. I used to listen to Gene Nobles and John Richbourg who would play late night rhythm and blues record shows".

*15 - Love My Baby (2) (2:20) 1986 (Hayden Thompson) > Not Originally Issued <
Herman Parker-Sam Phillips) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded December 11,1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Hayden Thompson (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Jerry Lee Lewis (piano),
Marvin Pepper (bass), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

Note: other versions of "Love My Baby" have been issued on Bear Family, Charly and other labels.

Jimmy Wages

Jimmy Lee Wages was one of the undiscovered jewels of the Sun outtake boxes. This was dark, perverse, impenetrable music from the bowels of Mississippi. The warped view of women, reflected on both "Mad Man" and "Miss Pearl", was especially disturbing. Jimmy Wages believes that "Mad Man" was cut at his first session in April 1956, and featured Jerry Lee Lewis and J.M. Van Eaton.

Like several of his Sun confrères, notably Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Wages's music has a tortured side. Bizarre, quasi-religious images are mixed with disturbing personal themes. Jimmy's vision of women (conveyed in ''Miss Pearl'' and ''Mad Man'') is unsettling, to say the least. The conflict between good and evil and ritualized moral judgement are embodied in ''Take Me'' (originally titled ''Garden Of Evil''). If anything, Wages' songs are even more revealing than Lewis' since, unlike Jerry Lee, Jimmy Wages wrote all of his own material.

Jimmy Wages was a true musical primitive. His voice, never a trained or precision instrument, was adequate to deliver his often bizarre lyrics. The musical accompaniment on his recordings is undisciplined and unorthodox, despite the presence of several stalwart session men (including J.M. Van Eaton) along with Gene Simmons' bass player, Jessie Carter. The sides project a wild, barely controlled charm and, in one case, a totally out of place steel guitar.

The lyrics to Wages' songs are often raw, unpolished folk poetry. At the risk of over-using the word ''tortured'', that's the best description of the thoughts and images in Wages' music. These are far from commercial pop songs, but are nevertheless quite effective because of the obvious urgency with which the lyrics are delivered. Jimmy's soul was very close to the surface when he wrote and performed this material. As producer Jack Clement surmised when he decided not to release any of it, few people would have had an easy time connecting with Jimmy Wages and his music. Even when rockabilly was as its peaks, this was not saleable product. Wages, of course, sang from his heart and had mo perspective whatsoever about such issues. He wanted to be a piano-sounding rocker. It didn't occur to him that the kids on Bandstand wouldn't be dancing to his tortured (there's that word again) messages about predatory women. Anyway you sliced it, this was not mainstream music. Certainly it was out of place in an era of ''Teenage Queens''. Jack Clement - arguably the worst imaginable producer for Jimmy Wages - knew it in a heartbeat, although he, too, must have been fascinated by the show in the studio as Wages ran through his repertoire.

Half a century later, we don't have to concern ourselves with what the kids will be buying or dancing to. You want a deep look at rockers in the Sun vaults? This is what you get. It is both compelling and revealing music. For all its chaos and pain and sheer drive, Jimmy Wages' small recorded legacy is what the best southern music is all about: blues, hillbilly, gospel morality plays, pain, conflict, nightmares and, most of all, unbridled honesty.

*16 - Mad Man (1) (2:09) 1986 (Jimmy Wages) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Wages) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Probably 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Wages (vocal and guitar), Unknown Group Including:
Ray Harris (guitar), James M. Van Eaton (drums),
Jessie Carter (bass)

The Commercial prospects for Jimmy Wages singing "Mad Man" weren't too bright at any point, but that doesn't mean that this isn't stark and compelling music. In its way, its as good as anything ever recorded at Sun Records.

*17 - Heartbreakin' Love (2:16) 1977 (Jimmy Wages) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Wages) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded Probably 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Wages (vocal and guitar), Unknown Group Including:
Ray Harris (guitar), James M. Van Eaton (drums),
Jessie Carter (bass)

*18 - Miss Pearl (2:45) 1977 (Jimmy Wages) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Wages) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded Probably 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Wages (vocal and guitar), Unknown Group Including:
Ray Harris (guitar), James M. Van Eaton (drums),
Jessie Carter (bass)

Jack Clement was the company representative who gave the somewhat off-the-wall chanter a shot at Sun, and the rabid ? Miss Pearl? became the undoubted highlight of his visit.

*19 - Take Me From This Garden Of Evil (2:35) 1986 (Jimmy Wages) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Wages) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded Probably 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Wages (vocal and guitar), Unknown Group Including:
Ray Harris (guitar), James M. Van Eaton (drums),
Jessie Carter (bass)

*20 - Mad Man (2) (1:58) 1986 (Jimmy Wages) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jimmy Wages) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Probably 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Wages (vocal and guitar), Unknown Group Including:
Ray Harris (guitar), James M. Van Eaton (drums),
Jessie Carter (bass)

In August 1983 in an interview with Colin Escott, after an question, how he did make his first contact with Sun Records?, Jimmy Wages says, ''I knew all the musicians in Tupelo like the Miller Sisters. We were doing club dates together all around. And they were going up there to record so one day we decided we'd go up there and try. The guy we saw wasn't Sam Phillips. It was Jack Clement. He kept us coming back. We did four or five sessions. I kept recording my songs. Everything I did was my material. It was 8 or 10 songs, I think. I can't recall them all. There was ''Garden Of Evil'', ''Mad Man'', Miss Pearl''. When I made the master for ''Mad Man'', we were in the studio for five hours. That was the way Jack Clement worked. You'd go for an hour, then he'd say 'I'm going to let you rest awhile. Go get a cup of coffee'. Then after 30 minutes you'd get back to work again. Some of the other songs we did were just demos. We were just trying out the material''.

Hannah Fay

Even if we hadn't found Hannah Fay, rather dramatically at the 11th hour, the search for her would have been a story worth telling. It began routinely when a previously unopened tape box containing two titles turned up during our search of the Sun vaults. Hannah Fay was not a name familiar to any of us.

The music on that tape was cause for celebration. Two good songs, with solid performances by both the vocalist and her sidemen, all of which were well preserved and professionally recorded at 706 Union Avenue. These tapes were immediately destined. Now we were faced with identifying and finding the singer.

Surprisingly, her sides had escaped the Sun reissue boom and her name appears in no Sun discography. Who was Hannah Fay? The best clue we had was an obvious connection to Biloxi, Mississippi. One of her songs, ''The Miracle Of You'' was known to us.

It was composed by Biloxi songwriter and producer Pee Wee Maddux. Ernie Chaffin, also from the Biloxi Gulf port area had recorded a version of "Miracle Of You" for Sun in June, 1958, which was released on Sun 320 the following year.

A search of the data bases revealed that two records by Hannah Fay (or Hana Faye, as she had been billed) appeared on the Fine label in 1956 (Fine 1008, "It Pays To Be True"/"Easy To Remember'' and Fine 1012, "Oh Why"/"Searching For Someone Like You"). Fine Records was owned by three Biloxi residents: Yankee Barhonovich, Marion "Prof" Carpenter, and Pee Wee Maddux. Unfortunately, all three principals are deceased.

Winona Carpenter, prof's widow who still administers Singing River Music, remembered Hannah Fay as a "very attractive slim brunette". How did Hannah Fay come to record for Sun Records? By late 1956, at which point Hannah had already had two releases on Fine Record, producer Pee Wee Maddux had developed a good business relationship with Sam Phillips. Pee Wee had already brought Ernie Chaffin to Sun along with some first rate original material and local Biloxi musicians. Sam was mightily impressed with the package.

It is reasonable to assume that when Pee Wee called in the spring of 1957 and told Sam he had discovered a dynamite girl singer, a good looking 16-year old with a great voice, Sam would have told him to bring her on up to Memphis. The trip was made some time in April or May, 1957. From Maddox’s point of view, Sun Records was a bonanza. Elvis had gone, but Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash were there, and Jerry Lee Lewis was just starting to make noise.

*21 - Miracle Of You (2:42) 2002 (Hannah Fay) > Not Originally Issued <
(Pee Wee Maddux) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded April or May 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Hannah Fay Harger (vocal), Probably Roland Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano),
Martin Willis (saxophone)

Sun Records were getting played on the radio. Having two of his compositions on a Hannah Fay Sun single would have been a darn sight more lucrative than watching his material die a slow death on the Fire label. It is fair to say that Hannah Fay's version of "Miracle Of You" eclipses Chaffin's original. On the basis of these sides, it is clear that Hannah could effortlessly embrace both country and blues material into a crossover pop style. "Miracle", featuring a guitar background reminiscent of "Sentimental Journey" is a highly effective outing that was taken twice. Both are usable masters.

*22 - It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day) (2:06) 2002 (Hannah Fay) > Not Originally Issued <
(Ted Jarrett) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded April or May 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Hannah Fay Harger (vocal), Probably Roland Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano),
Martin Willis (saxophone)

"24 Hours Every Day", is part of the time-honored blues tradition in which non-top love and lust are guaranteed around the clock. Hannah Fay sounds surprisingly confident and in total control of this adult material. She certainly projects herself more like a worldly, and sexy, young woman than the virginal 16-year old high school girl she was.

We can only wonder why the two sides recorded by Hannah Fay did not appear on Sun Records in 1957. She was an attractive young woman - a saleable commodity, if you will - with a highly ambitious parent working for her in the wings. Both songs were strong and the recordings effective. Sam Phillips and Pee Wee Maddux had an ongoing business relationship. Nevertheless, something went wrong. We may never know what it was, or how things might have evolved if these two sides had appeared on a yellow Sun label in the summer of 1957.

Jerry Lee Lewis

*23 - Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On (2”52) 1986 (Jerry Lee Lewis) > Not Originally Issued <
(Dave Curley Williams-Sunny David (aka Ray Hall) (Robert Mellin Music)
Recorded January/February 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jerry Lee Lewis (vocal and piano), Roland Janes (guitar), Jay W. Brown (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums)

The other and maybe the true story about ''Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On'' by Peter Guralnick.

Billy Riley and his band played a little club in Blytheville, Arkansas, called the Twin Gables, on the way-down. It was just Jerry, his cousin Jay Brown, who had accompanied him to the studio when they cut ''Crazy Arms'' on November 14, 1956, and had by now acquired an electric bass, Roland Janes, Jimmy Van Eaton,and the club was barely big enough to accommodate a group of even that size. In fact there was just room for Jerry and Jimmy. van Eaton on the bandstand, Jay and Roland Janes had to stand on the floor, and every time Jimmy Van Eaton socked the drums, dust sifted down from the heavy draperies tacked up on the ceiling to deaden the sound, coating the new jackets they had bought to play the Jamboree.

It was a four-hour job, so you really had to throw just about every song you might be able to play together as a band into each set, and then some. Not long into the evening Jerry Lee Lewis played a boogie-woogiefigure to introduce a song he said he used to sing when he was down in Ferriday, and the band fell in behind him. Before he had even gotten halfway through, Roland Janes said, the people just started going crazy,''bopping all over the floor, you know how they do in Arkansas''. And as soon as they finished, the audience wanted to hear it again. ''Play that ''Shakin'' song'', they kept calling out. ''They just loved it, man, they insisted on hearing it over and over''. And the same thing happened when they played the Big D Jamboree the next night and then an upstairs club nearby after the show. The song was ''Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On''.

It had first been recorded in 1955 without any real chart success, or anything like the boogie-woogie approach that Jerry Lee brought to it, by rhythm and blues belter Big Maybelle. Jerry had first heard it performed by a Natchez disc jockey named Johnny Littlejohn at the little club across the river from Ferriday where he ordinarily performed. According to Jerry, ''and he was playing drums and singing, and I stood there and listened, and I said, 'Man, that is fantastic'. I said, 'That's a hit'. And I started doing it pretty close to exactly they way he done it. Word for word. The way he would say, 'Easy, Let's get down real low. Stand it in one spot, and wiggle it around a little bit'. I picket it up from, I didn't steal it. I just kind of took it''. When they played it for Sam Phillips, he didn't hesitate for a minute. Memories differ, but if they didn't cut it on the spot, they went back into the studio the next day, and after four or five takes they had it. There has never seen a more breathtaking iconic moment. Jerry Lee kicked the rhythm off, just the way healways did, it was at heart a boogie-woogie number after all, with Jimmy M. Van Eaton on drums and Roland Janes' muted guitar coming in close behind. But where in the early takes the vocal is mannered,almost as if the singer is not fully committed to a consistency of approach, with tempo flirting with the frenetic, and the piano wavering in its attack, the final take exudes a sense of pure command and rumbling authority that, as brilliant as all of his previous studio extemporizations may have been, had never been altogether realized before.

This sence of authority is unmistakably aided by the liberal application of slapback not just to the vocal but to the piano as well, and by the almost total eradication of Jay W. Brown's electric bass, which had been disconcertingly present in earlier takes. Most of all, there is a sence of sheer uninhibited fun, underscored by a selective use of glissando and the controlled variations of tone archieved in both the recordings and performing process. When Jerry Lee swings into his first solo with an ''Aww, let's go'', the record takes off,though nothing physically changes, and then when he calls out, ''Ro, boy'', to invite Roland Janes' string bending solo, there is simply no turning back.

The record concludes with the Johnny Littlejohn spoken passage that may well take its original inspiration from Clarence ''Pine Top'' Smith's 1929 classic, ''Pine Top's Boogie Woogie'', in which the singer is directing similar double entendres at an unseen audience, who are bidden to dance to the music at his direction. ''Now when I say, 'Hold yourself''', says Pine Top. ''I want you get ready to stop / And when I say, 'Git it', I want you to shake that thing''. In this case Jerry Lee, after directing the band to ''get real low one time now'', turns his attention to one particular, imagined girl, whom he exhorts to ''kind of stand in one spot, wiggle around just a little bit'', before concluding, ''That's when you got something''. At which point he turns his attention back to the band, delivering a single irrefutable command (''Now let's go one time'') before capping the exuberantly throbbing finale with yet another glissando.

Neither Jimmy Marcus Van Eaton, nor Roland Janes had any point of comparison in their musical experience. They were, unquestionably, participants in the process, they were undeniably contributors, but there was no doubt in either of their minds that, without in any way underestimating their own contributions,they had never encountered such genius before, and they doubted that they ever would again. To Sam Phillips, what it all came down to was that Jerry Lee had found his voice, that, for all of the insecurity that Sam suspected lay just beneath the swagger, ''he had that basic sureness about what he was doing. And he believed that what he was doing was good''. For Jack Clement, whose recollection of the moment was as poetically true as it was factually fogged, ''We'd been working and working on a song I wrote called ''It'll Be Me'', and it was getting a little stale, and the bass player spoke up and said, 'Hey, Jerry, let's do that song we've been doing on the road that everybody likes so much. So I said, 'Okay, ell, let me go turn on the machine'. So I walk in the control room and sit down, just as, they're playing the chord, and we did it. No dry-run, no nothing, just slap, there's ''Whole Lot Of Shakin''. One take. Now that was fun''.

Maybe that's the best description of how it actually happened, even if there were in fact at least three or four alternate takes, because that's what it sounds like. For all the discipline that was required, for all the careful attention to feel and sound, it came out as pure and unselfconscious as if it were a first take, as if it could never have been anything but what it was. It was the perfect definition of everything that Sam Phillips strove for in his ''little laboratory of sound''; a thoroughly professional recording that sounded as if it had been put together with a minimum of polish and maximum of spontaneity.

*24 - You Win Again (2:02) 1986 (Jerry Lee Lewis) > Not Originally Issued <
(Hank Williams) (Chappell Music Incorporated)
Recorded Probably May 30, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jerry Lee Lewis (vocal and piano), Roland Janes (guitar), Jay W. Brown (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums)

"You Win Again" is a 1952 song written by Hank Williams. In style, the song is a blues ballad and deals with the singer's despair with his partner. The song has been widely covered, including versions of, Roy Orbison, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones. Jerry Lee Lewis recorded several versions of the song at Sun Records.

Hank Williams recorded "You Win Again" on July 11, 1952, one day after his divorce from Audrey Williams was finalized. Like "Cold, Cold Heart," the song was no doubt inspired by his tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife, as biographer Colin Escott observes: "It might have been no more than coincidence, but, in the absence of hard evidence to the contrary, the songs cut that day after Hank's divorce seem like pages torn from his diary... Its theme of betrayal had grown old years before Hank tackled it, but, drawing from his bottomless well of resentment, he gave it a freshness bordering on topicality''.

In Williams' original draft, the song had been titled "I Lose Again" but was reversed at producer Fred Rose's insistence. The song's memorable opening line, "The news is out all over town'', begins the story of an utterly defeated narrator who cannot bring himself to leave his love despite her infidelities. It was recorded at Castle Studio in Nashville with Jerry Rivers (fiddle), Don Helms (steel guitar), and Harold Bradley (rhythm guitar), while it is speculated that Chet Atkins played lead guitar and Ernie Newton played bass. Hank Williams' "You Win Again" was released as the B-side to "Settin' the Woods On Fire'', primarily because uptempo, dance-able numbers were preferable as A-sides for radio play and for the valuable jukebox trade. Nonetheless, "You Win Again" peaked at number ten on the Most Played in Country &Western Juke Boxes chart, where it remained for a single week.

Jerry actually recorded ''You Win Again'' at two 1957 Sun sessions; initially he taped three inappropriate fast takes, and then a few weeks later cut the more well-known slower version. The fast takes stayed in the can for over a quarter of a century, with the first of these being issued on ''The Sun Years'' box-set in 1983, while the slower cut (with a tasteful male vocal group overdub) was issued as the B-side to ''Great Balls Of Fire'' (in the United Kingdom it was even issued as an A-side in it’s own right but sadly sold poorly). The 1963 re cut reinstates the final verse that Jerry didn’t sing on the Sun single, and the fuller backing (including girly singers & strings) perfectly suits the material.

*25 - High School Confidential (2:30) 1986 (Jerry Lee Lewis) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jerry Lee Lewis-Ron Hargrave) (Hill and Range Music Incorporated)
Recorded Probably February 14, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jerry Lee Lewis (vocal and piano), Roland Janes (guitar), Unknown (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums)

There's no little uncertainty about the time line for the recording of ''High School Confidential''. Although most, if not all, performances are believed to date from mid-February 1958 to the end of March 1958, quite how many sessions during this period were required to amass two dozen takes remains difficult to assess. The dates of April 20 and 21, formerly attached to the recording of the more polished takes of the song, including those which led to the production of the master, conflict with published accounts of an intense touring schedule that saw Lewis fulfill thirty-nine engagements in as many days commencing on March 28, 1958. What is apparent is that the earliest recordings of the song, released here for the first time fifty-seven years after the event, predate much of the work involved in preparing for the first album and originate from sessions devoted primarily to securing a recording of ''High School Confidential'' suitable for the soundtrack of the movie of the same name. All that is known for sure is that Jerry Lee Lewis went to Hollywood to film his contribution to the MGM drama at the end of February and it would appear that he had already expended a fair amount of effort on the song in the Sun studio.

*26 - Crazy Heart (2:44) 1986 (Jerry Lee Lewis) > Not Originally Issued <
(Fred Rose-Maurice Murray) (Fred Rose Music Incorporated)
Recorded Before July 9, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jerry Lee Lewis (vocal and piano), Roland Janes (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums)

Jerry Lee Lewis' "Crazy Heart" is a song first recorded by Hank Williams. It was written by Fred Rose and Maurice Murray and hit number 4 for Williams in 1951. It was recorded at Castle Studio in Nashville on July 25, 1951 with Fred Rose producing and backing from Don Helms (steel guitar), Jerry Rivers (fiddle), Sammy Pruett (lead guitar), Howard Watts (bass) and probably Jack Shook (rhythm guitar). It was one of Williams least commercially successful singles of the period, only spending two weeks on the chart, although Guy Lombardo dented the Top 20 with it, underscoring that the song was better suited to a palm court orchestra than Hank Williams. Other significant recordings are from Ernest Tubb released the song on Decca Records; Hank Williams, Jr. recorded this voice alongside Hank Sr's vocal on the song as an overdubbed duet in Nashville in the first session for the Grammy-nominated album ''Father and Son'' on MGM in 1965; Don Gibson covered the song in 1971 on Hickory Records, and Stonewall Jackson recorded the song in 1971.

*27 - Break Up (2:18) 1986 (Jerry Lee Lewis) > Not Originally Issued <
(Charlie Rich) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded July 9, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jerry Lee Lewis - Vocal and Piano

The effect of the scandal on Lewis' record sales was devastating. The virtual airplay backout ensured that records already out in the marketplace would come back by the truckload, and that new ones would be hard to move. After "Break Up" fell stillborn from the presses, Jud Phillips tried to spark some action on the next single, a revival of Moon Mullican's "I'll Sail My Ship Alone", by offering the first 100,000 at the royalty free price of 16c, but there were few takers.

"Break Up" was a particularly potent item for the back-to-school crowd; without explicitly pandering to teenage problems, it managed to deal with the fate of many summer romances.

Billboard of September 1, 1958 liked both sides "Break Up" and "I'll Make It All Up To You", calling "Break Up" "a rocker that Lewis sells with great drive and spirit". The ballad side was described as "a strong contender and a likely tri-market click". That either side of this disc might have nestled on the Rhythm and Blues charts tells us how far music culture has changed since the fall of 1958.

Jesse Lee Turner

*28 - Put Me Down (1:59) 1995 (Jesse Lee Turner) > Not Originally Issued <
(Roland Janes) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jesse Lee Turner (vocal and guitar), Probably Roland Janes (guitar)
Other musicians unknown

Jesse Lee Turner's career is surprisingly undocumented for someone with a Top 20 hit. If he's still in Galveston, he hasn't strayed far from home. He was born 1938 in Addicks, Texas, and grew up in Boling, which is more a crossroad than a town. Jesse Lee Turner had a strong rock and roll voice, with an Elvis-like quiver. Unfortunately, this side of Turner can be heard on only a few of his discs. He had the misfortune that his only hit was a novelty number and that fact kept haunting him for the rest of his recording career.

A cousin of Nashville session musician and RCA artist Floyd Robinson, he somehow hired on as Jerry Lee Lewis' driver in 1957. He was certainly driving for Jerry Lee on the day of the Homecoming in Ferriday, Louisiana. Jerry Lee was late, so Jesse Lee and Jerry's sister, Frankie Jean, sang some duets.

He recorded "Put Me Down" as a demo for Sun Records (now available on at least six different CD compilations). It was written by Jerry Lee's guitarist Roland Janes, and Jerry Lee was sufficiently impressed to record the song himself, for his first album. Turner's career as a recording artist zoomed into orbit with his first real release. Roland says that he remembers playing the song for Jesse Lee in the touring sedan, but he's pretty sure Jerry Lee cut it first. Jesse Lee probably quit Jerry's retinue after the debacle in England.

Charlie Rich

29 - Whirlwind (2:05) 1958 (Charlie Rich) > PI 3532-A <
(David Kelly) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded August 17, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Charlie Rich (vocal and piano), Ronald Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (bass),
J.M. Van Eaton (drums), Overdubbed: Martin Willis (tenor saxophone),
Unknown (vocal chorus)

With this recordings begins the recording career of Charlie Rich, one of the towering figures of contemporary popular music. Certainly there was no one recorded by Sam Phillips who equalled the musicianship of Rich. Whether as a jazz pianist, rockabilly or soul singer, Charlie Rich had no equals at Sun. Ironically, it was his multi-ranging talents that made it difficult to record or merchandize him in a consistent manner.

Charlie Rich had been working as a session pianist and house composer for several months when he began to receive pressure to record his own material. In truth, Rich would have been happy to contribute material and musicianship to other people's records, and never venture forth into the spotlight. But by August 1958, Rich finally entered the magical confines of 706 Union to produce his own release. The man who grew up listening to Stan Kenton found himself composing and singing a piece of teen fluff, consciously geared to Philadelphia in order to secure a gig on American Bandstand.

Hardly anyone outside of Memphis knew what they were dealing with here. That that sexy virily voice belonged to a guy who could also turn heads and hearts with his blues and soul vocals. And fewer yet had a clue that the driving piano work, especially audible on "Whirlwind", was performed by Charlie Rich himself. Within two more releases, the world would come to know a lot more about Charlie Rich. (HD)

*30 - Charlie's Boogie (1:27) 1976 (Charlie Rich) > Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Perkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Charlie Rich (vocal and piano)

*31 - Blue Suede Shoes (1:03) 1978 (Charlie Rich) > Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Perkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Charlie Rich (vocal and piano)

On at least one occasion, Charlie Rich expressed passing annoyance that anyone would consider releasing unpolished material of his like this. Surely, he mused, anyone could see that this was just a rough late night moment in the studio. And that is precisely why it, along with his hip, irreverent reading of "Blue Suede Shoes" (complete with blown lyric) is a fine, unguarded moment to share with his deepest fans. This title originally appeared on Capitol in 1945, performed by Eddie Vinson with the Cootie Williams band. Rich recalled seeing it performed in a club by a vocalist whose name eluded him nearly twenty years later. What he did remember was seeking out the sheet music so he could learn the piece and make it part of his act, during a period that pre-dated his Sun years.

*32 - My Baby Done Left Me (3:00) 1986 (Charlie Rich) > Not Originally Issued <
(Charlie Rich) (Sun Entertainment Incorporated)
Recorded July 14, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Charlie Rich (vocal and piano), Probably Ronald Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (bass),
J.M. Van Eaton (drums)

*33 - Rebound (1:59) 1986 (Charlie Rich) > Not Originally Issued <
(Charlie Rich-Bill Justis) (Justis Music Incorporated)
Recorded May 13, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Charlie Rich (vocal and piano), Probably Ronald Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (bass),
J.M. Van Eaton (drums)

*34 - Lonely Weekends (2:08) 1986 (Charlie Rich) > Not Originally Issued <
(Charlie Rich) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded October 14, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Charlie Rich (vocal and piano), Probably Ronald Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (bass),
J.M. Van Eaton (drums), Martin Willis (tenor saxophone)

Martin Willis has an interesting take on his role at Sun. ''Sam hated me. Actually, he tolerated me. He didn't want saxes at Sun. Everything was guitars. A solo usually meant a guitar break''. Nevertheless, Willis did some memorable session work, even on a label that built its reputation on guitars (although Jerry Lee might tell you differently). Perhaps Willis's two most memorable solos were both out of the ordinary. The first occurred on Charlie Rich's ''Lonely Weekends''. Willis recalls, ''When Charlie got ready to record ''Lonely Weekends'' he asked for me. We had already worked together in the studio a bit and done some club dates. Charlie told me he wanted something different – he wanted a baritone sax solo, which was very rare, maybe it hadn't even been done on a rock and roll record. He asked if I could get a baritone sax – I didn't own one at the time. I borrowed the instrument and took it into the studio. Everyone gives me credit for the solo but the truth is before I played that solo Charlie sat down with me and hummed what he thought the solo should sound like. So I listened and said 'OK, I got it''. The session was unique for another reason. Willis recounts, ''Sam barely had enough mikes in there as it was. I had to sit next to J.M. Van Eaton's drums. He had a separate mike on his bass drum. When it came time to solo, I had to lean over and play my horn into the bass drum mike. Very few people know that to this day''.

Stalwart session man Van Eaton didn't let anyone down with his driving bass drum work which created such a powerful sound that Sam actually chose to use a separate microphone to make sure that bass drum stayed as hot in the mix as it sounded in the studio. In conversation with Hank Davis, baritone saxman Martin Willis recalled how he had to lean over awkwardly so he could play into ''his'' mike, which was now located at floor level to pick up the bass drum.

© 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 <
 
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

CD 6 Contains
For music on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

I WANTA ROCK

The primal yawp of rockabilly circa 1956 was a thing of the past by the time Sam Phillips began planning his new studio in 1958. Phillips appeared to be boldly embracing the future with a bigger studio equipped for multi-track, but he never truly came to love fuller productions, written arrangements, or pop sensibility. And then, in March 1959, he dismissed the two guys who understood all of those, Bill Justis and Jack Clement.

This CD shows that there was still much to love on yellow Sun records in 1958. Tommy Blake was always a wild card. He was the scam artist he sang about on ''Flat Foot Sam'', and an inventive country songwriter (in the biographical bloc we list some of the songs he wrote and some of those he sold), but he was not a great singer. He knew how to make his records personable, and he picked a fabulous lead guitarist in Carl Adams, but, like ''Flat Foot Sam'', he was always in a jam. In exchange for some of the money Blake always needed, Phillips acquired the songwriting and the publishing on ''Story Of A Broken Heart''. Johnny Cash's recording amply repaid that investment.

If Phillips could have hung onto Dickey Lee or Edwin Bruce, he would have had a couple of acts that could have sustained him into the 1960s and beyond, and if he'd hung onto Mack Vickery, he would have had songs in his publishing catalog recorded by Faron Young, George Strait, Tanya Tucker, Jerry Lee Lewis, and countless others. Dickey Lee appeared on Sun at the behest of dee-jay Dewey Phillips, and acknowledges that he was out-of-place on the label. His records could as easily have come from Philadelphia or New York. Soon after leaving Sun and reuniting with Jack Clement, he became a teen star and the co-writer of one of country music's all time greatest songs, ''She Thinks I Still Care''. Ed aka Edwin Bruce knew how to survive as well. Even as a teenager at Sun, he was surefooted as both a singer and songwriter. ''Rock Boppin' Baby'' should have been a hit. ''King Of Fools'' was almost certainly meant to be recorded by Johnny Cash, and Cash could have done much worse. In 1992, a California thrash band, Social Distortion, made good on Cash's oversight. Mack Vickery was no great shakes as a singer, but, like Ed Bruce, became a great songwriter. Auditioning at Sun, he recorded one song that was not his own, Billy Hill's 1933 hit ''Have You Ever Been Lonely''. Buddy Holly had just recorded it in his garage, but we'd have to wait awhile to hear that. Holly and Vickery probably both remembered Ernest Tubb's late 1940s recording.

Narvel Felts had a future in the business, as did Rudy Grayzell; in fact, both are still performing with abandon. Incredibly, Grayzell has carved out a sixty-year career without one hit, Felts at least had a long run of country hits in the 1970s and 1980s. Cliff Thomas, heard here with his brother and sister, had a short string of hits as a songwriter during the soul era. Andy Anderson, scion of a prominent Mississippi family, saw a few records released, none of them on Sun. A later version of ''Tough, Tough, Tough'' eventually saw light-of-day in 1960 on a tiny Mississippi label, Century Ltd. Anderson himself is still among us as of this writing and has enjoyed some late-come acclaim on the revival circuit. Patsy Holcomb, on the other hand, remains completely unknown. She was paired with Sun's session guys, but when she returned from whence she came her tapes were stashed away. It sounds as if she might have participated in two sessions: ''Someone To Love'' has a different sound from ''Ooh That's Good'' and ''I Wanta Rock'', and sports a saxophone. The one session sheet with her name on it mentions just Janes, Kesler, Wilson, and Van Eaton.

Magel Priesman recorded in July 1957 with a group that included a couple of veterans of Sun's rhythm and blues days, vibraphonist Onzie Horne and bassist/vocalist Wilbur Steinberg. By mid-1958, Priesman's double-tracked vocal sounded unerringly like Connie Francis, who'd just leaped to the charts with ''Who's Sorry Now'', and her record suddenly found itself on the streets. A dee-jay in Charlotte, Michigan, she'd met Jerry Lee Lewis and Roland Janes when they'd toured there earlier in 1957, and she'd come to Sun at their behest. (CE)

Some liner-notes taken from ''The Complete Sun Singles Collection'' and notes from ''Sun Outtakes'' boxen.

Ernie Barton

By all account, Ernie Barton virtually lived in the Sun studio between 1957 and 1960. He recorded as vocalist and session guitarist and even took over management of the studio for a while. He was, to put it mildly, a fixture. There were actually plans for a Barton LP - a step that now seems fanciful given the fact that (1) Sam Phillips was uncomfortable with long playing records at the best of times (Cash, Perkins and Lewis being the best of times), and (2) Ernie Barton never had anything resembling a hit single on Sun Records. All of his studio activity resulted in the grand total of two releases on Phillips International. This atmospheric composition formed the topside of his first single and came from songwriter Allen Wingate, who was recording at the time as Allen Page for the local Moon label.

1 - Stairway To Nowhere (2:13) 1958 (Ernie Barton) > PI 3528-A <
(Alan Wingate-Jo Ann Wingate) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded Possible March 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ernie Barton (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Sid Manker (guitar),
Bob Hadaway (bass), James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano),
Vernon Drane, Allen Page, Billy Riley (vocal chorus)

And the truth is, it is quite a likeable record. It also went a long way to assuage the doubts of Sun fans who thought they'd rarely hear anything like a vintage Sun record on the PI label. At the least, there's enough echo here - on both Barton's vocal and Roland Janes' guitar work - to satisfy any Sun purist. "Stairway To Nowhere" (a great title) borrows heavily from the gospel tradition and manages to work in a guitar figure that would have been at home in "Sittin' In The Balcony". In truth, the most important part of this song (other than Roland's guitar work) is the "doodley wop" riffing by the male chorus. The lyrics were probably knocked off in less time than it took to write the choral figure and make just as much sense. Like many such spontaneous compositions, this one works just fine.

*2 - She's Gone Away (2:31) 1978 (Ernie Barton) > Not Originally Issued <
(Ernie Barton) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded April 6, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ernie Barton (vocal and guitar), Unknown Musicians

Guitarist, vocalist, writer and producer, Ernie Barton had to forsake the Sunshine State and up sticks to Memphis before anyone at 706 Union would take him seriously. His persistence finally paid off and he recorded his primary sides at Sun early 1957. This first cut of "She's Gone Away" (the song was redone two years later) smoulders with an innate quality but the track served only as a stopgap prior to Barton's two singles appearing in the Phillips International catalogue.

Narvel Felts

On the strength of an audition for Sun producer Jack Clement, Narvel Felts and his guitar-player, Leon Barnett, returned to their native Missouri and rounded up a full blown band. Six months later they were back in Memphis where a half dozen sides found their way onto a reel of stock studio tape, from which "Did You Tell Me" is derived. A further offensive in the spring of 1957 proved fruitless, so Narvel would have to wait until Mercury came a-calling before he'd make his debut on record.

There were strange parallels between Narvel Felts early career and Conway Twitty's earlier career. They both began recordings at Sun Records but never saw a release on the label. They then migrated to Mercury and MGM, were managed by Don Seat, worked long stints in Ontario, and eventually found success in the country music. There are also a million differences between Narvel and Twitty they're dollars, and Twitty made them.

*3 - (Did You Tell Me) You Don't Care (2:22) 1978 (Narvel Felts) > Not Originally Issued <
(Narvel Felts) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 23, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Narvel Felts (vocal and guitar), Leon Barnett (guitar), J.W. Grubbs (bass),
Bob Taylor (drums), Jerry Tuttle (steel guitar and saxophone)

Jack Clement, who engineered Narvel's sessions, promised to release something in a year or so, but Roy Orbison, who was also at the session, told Narvel to look elsewhere. A month after his second Sun session, he was on Mercury Records. The full story of his early career has been told in the notes of his second Sun session in 1957. The story of his post-MGM career is taken up on "Memphis Days" a compact disc of recordings for Roland Janes's labels, and on "Drift Away" - The Best Of Narvel Felts 1973-1979".

*4 - Cry Baby Cry (1:52) 1995 (Narvel Felts) > Not Originally Issued <
(Narvel Felts-L.V. Bryant) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 23, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Narvel Felts (vocal and guitar), Leon Barnett (guitar), J.W. Grubbs (bass),
Bob Taylor (drums), Jerry Tuttle (steel guitar and saxophone)

Patsy Holcomb

*5 - I Wanta Rock (2:39) 1977 (Patsy Holcomb) > Not Originally Issued <
(Patsy Holcomb) (Copyright Control)
Recorded June 17, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Patsy Holcomb (vocal), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

There was a time in 1956 or 1957 when every major record label felt it had to have its own "female Elvis". Decca had Brenda Lee, Capitol had Wanda Jackson, Columbia had Lorrie Collins, RCA Victor had Janis Martin. Perhaps Sun, which had instigated the whole rockabilly trend in the first place, didn't feel they had enough coverage with only Barbara Pittman, although her 1956 single "I Need A Man" was certainly a step in the right direction.

And so on June 17, 1957, Miss Patsy Holcomb (or Holcomb, as some sources have it) entered the studio at 706 Union Avenue along with the usual pickers and grinners (Roland Janes, J.M. Van Eaton, Stan Kesler) and produced - or at least worked extensively on - two sides for single release. For reasons now lost to history, "I Wanna Rock" and "Ooh, That's Good" were never issued, although various versions of them have certainly been resurrected by latter day Sun archaeologists. Holcomb also tried her hand at two other titles that have been far less reissue interest; in fact, it is not clear these titles have been general release anywhere. Aurally-speaking, with the sound board at 706 Union being set for balance on a semi-permanent basis, there was often little distinction between demos and master sessions. In this instance the somewhat embryonic material, fashioned by Patsy Holcomb's adolescent phrasing, points to the former. Even so there's a genuinely committed approach from the musicians, in particular Roland Janes, whose flowing stratospheric guitar break adds a crucial authority to the side.

*6 - Ooh That's Good (1:58) 2002 (Patsy Holcomb) > Not Originally Issued <
(Patsy Holcomb) (Copyright Control)
Recorded June 17, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Patsy Holcomb (vocal), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

''Someone To Love'' has a different sound from ''Ooh That's Good'' and ''I Wanna Rock'', and sports a saxophone. The one session sheet with her name on it mentions just, Janes, Kesler, Wilson, and Van Eaton.

*7 - Someone To Love (2:55) 2002 (Patsy Holcomb) > Not Originally Issued <
(Patsy Holcomb) (Copyright Control)
Recorded June 17, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Patsy Holcomb (vocal), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano),
Martin Willis - Saxophone

Magel Priesman

Magel Priesman recorded in July 1957 with a group that included a couple of veterans of Sun's rhythm and blues days, vibraphonist Onzie Horne and bassist/vocalist Wilbur Steinberg. By mid-1958, Priesman double-tracked vocal sounded unerringly like Connie Francis, who'd just leaped to the charts with ''Who's Sorry Now'', and her record suddenly found itself on the streets. A disc jockey in Charlotte, Michigan, she'd met Jerry Lee Lewis and Roland Janes when they'd toured there earlier in 1957, and she'd come to Sun of their behest.

*8 - Memories Of You (2:36) 1958 (Magel Priesman) > Sun 294-B <
(Magel Priesman) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date July 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Magel Priesman (vocal), Roland Janes (guitar), vibraphonist Onzie Horne (vibraphone),
Wilbur Steinberg (bass), More Details Unknown

"Memories Of You" was a lovely evocation of a lost love affair, but Sam Phillips delayed its release for almost a year, and by the time it hit the streets Connie Francis was high in the charts with "Who's Sorry Now". The passing similarity between Connie Francis' double-tracked vocal and Magel Priesman's double-tracket vocal might have convinced Sam that Magel's moment had come. Not so. (HD)

Rudy Grayzell

9 - Judy (2:04) 1958 (Rudy Grayzell) > Sun 290-A <
(Paiz-Dick Ketner-Rudy Grayzell) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded October 15, 16, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Rudy Grayzell (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Jimmy Smith (piano),
Dick Ketner (bass), Otis Jett (drums)

By the time he came to Sun Records in 1957, Rudy Jiminez Grayzell had already made his mark in country and rockabilly circles, recording for Talent, Abbott, Starday, and Capitol. Despite this gimmeckry, "Judy" rolls along in an engaging groove, largely assisted by fine work from Roland Janes and Jimmy Wilson, on guitar and piano. The last two bars of "Judy" are an instrumental highpoint. Sun was apparently over its early period of awkward studio fades, and now featured some of the tightest endings in rockabilly music. Along with "Flying Saucer Rock And Roll" and "So Long I'm Gone", Grayzell's record of "Judy" closes with instrumental power and precision that almost redeems it. (HD)

Mack Vickery

Nineteen years old and fresh out of Alabama (with a stop off in Michigan), Mack Willard Vickery landed in Memphis during November 1957 and promptly coerced Sun custodian, Stan Kesler, into arranging a demo session. The hormonal "Drive In" was one of his first attempts at songwriting - a craft that would hold him in good stead in time to come. During the interim he would have to humble down through a series of light touch singles made for Princeton, Gone, Jamie and far beyond.

*10 - Drive-In (2:12) 1977 (Mack Vickery) > Not Originally Issued <
(Mack Vickery) (Copyright Control)
Recorded November 20, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mack Vickery (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (guitar and bass)
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Smith (piano)

Note: ''Drive In'' issued as ''Drivin''' on LP 1030.

*11 - Have You Ever Been Lonely (2:24) 1978 (Mack Vickery) > Not Originally Issued <
(Mack Vickery) (Copyright Control)
Recorded November 20, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mack Vickery (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (guitar and bass)
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Smith (piano)

*12 - Fool Proof (2:34) 1978 (Mack Vickery) > Not Originally Issued <
(Mack Vickery) (Copyright Control)
Recorded November 20, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mack Vickery (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (guitar and bass)
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Smith (piano)

Andy Anderson

*13 - Tough Tough Tough (2:34) 1985 (Andy Anderson) > Not Originally Issued <
(Andy Anderson) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date 1956 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Andy Anderson (vocal and guitar),
The Rolling Stones: Joe Tubb (guitar), Harold Aldridge (guitar), Billy "Cuz" Covington (bass),
Roy Estes (piano), Bobby Lyon (drums)

By 1956 Jimmie Ammons had almost ceased issuing records on Delta Records in favour of setting up management and leasing deals so it was decided that Jimmy would contact Sam Phillips at Sun Records and Andy traveled to Memphis to make some demos at Sun. ''We called and said we wanted to some up'', Andy said, ''and they knew who we were ; cause we had one of the hottest groups in the South. At Sun Andy and his group worked with Jack Clement who had just joined the label.

He recorded The Rolling Stones on nine versions of ''Johnny Valentine'', who loves all the girls and seems to attract them, and four takes of another Anderson original, ''Tough Tough Tough''. No-one at Sun ever got around to picking and scheduling the tapes for release. Despite some encouraging noises from Clement, Andy remembered, ''they kept saying they were going to put it (a record) out but they never did''.

It was a real surprise to find Andy Anderson among the 1300 out-take boxes and rejected masters at Sun Records. Given the run of group cut a raft of originals the strongest of which was "Johnny Valentine", a cool chunk of swagger that highlighted Anderson's smoky lead vocal. The song eventually saw light of days as a recut on Felsted Records.

Cliff Thomas

14 - Sorry I Lied (2:14) 1958 (Cliff Thomas) > PI 3531-A < 
(Ed Thomas Jr.) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded September 12 or 21, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ed Thomas Jr. (piano), Cliff Thomas (vocal and guitar), Barbara Thomas (vocal),
Billy Riley (bass), Jack Clement (guitar), Jimmy Van Eaton (drums)

"Sorry I Lied" shows yet again that the Thomas family could record, with remarkably little outside help, some totally engaging pop music in 1958. Ed's debt to a host of rhythm and blues masters, notably Ray Charles, is evident in every note of this record. It is no surprise that Sam Phillips continued to record the Thomasses. Quite apart from their potential for local promotion, they were genuinely talented people whose musical style had a directness and emotionally that must have brought a smile to Sam Phillips' face each and every time.

Bobbie & The Boys

Cliff, Ed and Barbara Thomas were frequent visitors to the Sun studio during 1958. Their efforts resulted in three singles issued under the trio's name, and this, their final effort, issued by sister Barbara. It almost every case, the group laid down very competent and surprisingly commercial white pop music, with considerably more bite than most owing to Ed's bluesy piano and J.M. Van Eaton's drumming.

15 - To Tell The Truth (2:11) 1959 (Bobbie & The Boys) > PI 3543-B <
(Ed Thomas Jr.) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 1, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Barbara Thomas (vocal), Ed Thomas Jr. (vocal harmony and piano),
Cliff Thomas (vocal harmony and guitar),
Probably Jimmy Van Eaton (drums), Unknown Musicians

"To Tell The Truth" is make-out music. It borrows liberally from the anthem of such efforts, "Earth Angel" by the Penguins. The kind of vocal unison singing at the top was still being taken to the bank as recently as 1958 by Little Anthony and the Imperials with "Tears On My Pillow". With the exception of a not so strong release (the middle part of the song), this one had what it look to be a major hit in 1959. The verses are powerful and there are vocal hooks galore. its any body's guess why this didn't make it big. Perhaps Sun/Phillips International were simply not in a position to capitalize on music like this. Certainly, few would have mistaken it for Memphis product. It could have come just as easily as from New York or California.

Tommy Blake

It is hard to think of another artist from Sun's golden era who labored under such obscurity. Considering the fact that Tommy Blake had two, not one singles released on Sun Records, and that neither was particularly wimpy, it is curious that he remains such a nonentity. Both of Tommy Blake's singles (the other is SUN 300) were met with almost no financial or critical success and, other than their rarity, are not even prime collectables. What went wrong here?

Blake worked out of Shreveport on the fringe of the country music business, and joined the Louisiana Hayride in September 1957 - around the time this single was recorded. A few months earlier he had been in town to brush shoulders with Elvis Presley on the latter's return. The details of Blake's rather tragic life and death are recounted in a recent Goldmine article by Colin Escott. Its true that the lives of few hillbilly singers end in happy retirement, but Blake's ended worse than most when his wife murdered him.

16 - Flat Foot Sam (2:02) 1957 (Tommy Blake) > Sun 278-A <
(Oscar Clara Wills) (Hiphill Music)
Recorded August 18, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tommy Blake (vocal and guitar), Carl Bailey Adams (guitar), Edward Dettenheim (bass),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), The Singing Sons: Elijan Franklin, John Franklin,
Andre Mitchell, Johnny Pryor (vocal chorus)

Tommy Blake's first Sun single "Flat Foot Sam", wasn't one of his songs. A Shreveport-area TV repairman named Oscar Wills (dubbed T.V. Slim by local music honcho Stan Lewis) wrote and first recorded it for the local Cliff Records, a label associated with Ram Records. The song was published by Ram's Hip Hill Music, and sold well enough for Chess Records to take an interest. Chess purchased the Cliff master and issued it on Checker Records before deciding that it was too ragged. They told Slim to re-record it in New Orleans and the new version was issued on their Argo label. It was a measure of Sun president Sam Phillips' faith in it that he issued Blake's version despite the fact that he didn't own the music publishing. In the studio, he paired Blake with session drummer Jimmy M, Van Eaton and a vocal group. For his part, Blake easily related to a song about a scam artist who can't win for losing: "Flat Foot Sam stole a ten dollar bill. Told the judge he did it for a thrill...". ''Flat Foot Sam" sold well enough for Sun to keep the faith. (HD) (MH)

17 - Lordy Hoody (2:27) 1957 (Tommy Blake) > Sun 278-B <
(Johnny Blake-Eddie Hall-Carl Bailey Adams) (Tree Music Incorporated)
Recorded August 18, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tommy Blake (vocal and guitar), Carl Bailey Adams (guitar), Edward Dettenheim (bass),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), The Singing Sons: Elijan Franklin, John Franklin,
Andre Mitchell, Johnny Pryor (vocal chorus)

"Lordy Hoody" is not a particularly good record. Recorded originally for RCA Victor (under the title "All Night Long") and relegated to the unreleased pile, Blake re-recorded the tune in slightly modified version for Sam Phillips. Ironically, the ballad side RCA Victor did release, an acoustic gem titled "Freedom", remains Blake's best recorded work. For some reason, Phillips or his studio disciples envisioned Blake as a rocker. It may have been a mistake. If you can discern the lyrics to "Lordy Hoody", you find a tale of a square old man who is at best mildly bemused by the young uns' wild music and carrying on.

Not much to get excited about here, except for Carl Adams' stinging Fender guitar work, which pushed the limits of 45rom reproduction and is pretty intense even for rockabilly fans. (HD) (MH)

*18 - I Dig You Baby (1) (1:42) 1986 (Tommy Blake) > Not Originally Issued <
(Tommy Blake-Jerry Ross) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date March 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tommy Blake (vocal and guitar)

*19 - You Better Believe It (1) (1:45) 1986 (Tommy Blake) > Not Originally Issued <
(Tommy Blake-Jerry Ross) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date March 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tommy Blake (vocal and guitar)

As Thomas Van Givens, Tommy Blake sounded like a portrait painter prior to his having aspirations to make it in music. Unissued, "You Better Believe It" stems from his second go round at 706 Union some six months later.

20 - Sweetie Pie (2:05) 1958 (Tommy Blake) > Sun 300-B <
(Tommy Blake-Jerry Ross) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 15, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tommy Blake (vocal and guitar), Carl Bailey Adams (guitar), Edward Dettenheim (bass),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums)

On "Sweetie Pie", drummer Van Eaton lays down a really fine track, emphasizing the cowbell. The band trades two bar phrases with Blake, working a slowed down Bo Diddley rhythm.

Shane Hughes asserts that Dale Hawkins and Carl Adams (who worked for Hawkins by this point) wrote the song, but it became a moot point because Blake's version wasn't a hit and Hawkins' version wasn't released for decades. Jerry Ross incidentally, left a demo at Sun as Gene Ross and later recorded "Everybody's Tryin" (the song he'd demo'd at Sun) for Murco Records in Shreveport. Blake was credited as the co-writer under the name Thomas Givens, probably to sidestep the Sun publishing contract. (HD) (MH)

21 - I Dig You Baby (2) (2:12) 1958Tommy Blake) > Sun 300-A <
(Tommy Blake-Jerry Ross) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 16, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tommy Blake (vocal and guitar), Carl Bailey Adams (guitar), William Edwin Bruce (guitar),
Roland Janes (guitar), Sid Manker (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

This effort, which included the cream of Sun's studio musicians. Everyone is here, from Roland Janes to Stan Kesler to Jimmy Van Eaton. Yet the results still seem a bit forced. Its hard to blame the band for what goes wrong here. So why aren't the results more engaging? It comes down to Blake's performance. Unlike the best of Sun's rockabilly, Blake sounds like he's posturing here; almost like an old man trying to sing young folks' music.

"I Dig You Baby" featured on Tommy Blake's second and last single for Sun. Neither enjoyed much commercial success. In fact, a harsh verdict might be that both are deservedly rare. Blake's efforts have been minimized even by most collectors who lionize every minute of music that ever appeared on a yellow Sun label, or every note ever played in the tiny studio on the corner of Union and Marshall Avenues in Memphis.

The puzzle is even more pronounced on "I Dig You Baby". The band is superb. From the first four bars, this record sizzles instrumentally. How could anyone or anything dilute its effectiveness? A Tennessee hound dog howling against this backing track might have produced a classic Sun record, but Blake isn't up to the challenge. His lyrics are strained ("At the drug store we did meet"). And, once again, vocally he manages to drag the proceedings to the level of mediocrity. At best, this is an almost great record. You won't hear better, more powerful instrumental work anywhere in Sun's release schedule in the 300 series. But you're going to hear lots of vocals that'll make you wish Blake had stayed in Shreveport, Louisiana. (HD) (MH)

*22 - Shake Around (2:25) 1976 (Tommy Blake) > Not Originally Issued <
(Tommy Blake) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 15, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tommy Blake (vocal and guitar), Carl Bailey Adams (guitar), Edward Dettenheim (bass),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums)

*23 - You Better Believe It (2) (2:34) 1976 (Tommy Blake) > Not Originally Issued <
(Tommy Blake) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 16, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tommy Blake (vocal and guitar), Carl Bailey Adams (guitar), William Edwin Bruce (guitar),
Roland Janes (guitar), Sid Manker (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

Edwin Bruce

Edwin Bruce went to Messick High School in Memphis alongside Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, B.B. Cunningham, and Don Nix. Talking to ''Premium Guitar'', Cropper remembered that Bruce was two years ahead of him and would play shows unaccompanied singing Bo Diddley songs. ''I went up to him after one show'', said Cropper, ''and said to him, 'Man, how do you do that'? He said, 'Well, you gotta get a git-tar and learn how to play''. Elvis was inescapable: ''I remember seeing him on a package show at Overton Park Shell in Memphis'', Bruce said later. ''He didn't seem like he could play the guitar too well, but he had terrific showmanship. I met him at his house when he still lived out on Audubon Drive. I went out there with Sonny Neal. Elvis was very cordial. He didn't even have a gate on his house at that time. Even then a lot of people were starting to take advantage of him.''

In a gesture of faith that was rare for the time. William Edwin Bruce Jr. acquired funds to cut a demo thanks to a graduation gift from his parents. The youngster cherished the Sun recordings of Carl Perkins, so it was to 706 Union that he took his song ideas bolstered by some useful publicity from his then employers at The Memphis Press-Scimitar. A genuinely impressed Jack Clement took Bruce under his wing and the broody yet confident "Rock Boppin' Baby" surfaced in the summer of 1957.

24 - Rock Boppin' Baby (2:17) 1956 (Edwin Bruce) > Sun 276-A <
(Edwin Bruce) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded May 8, 1957at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Edwin Bruce (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Smith (piano)

"Rock Boppin' Baby" is a highly effective record, although it owes precious little to the country traditions that feuled most of Sun's best rockabilly. Nevertheless, the arrangement builds considerable tension with its muted string verses, before letting it fly during the release, which transforms the song back into a major key.
In Sam Phillips' words, the young Mr. Bruce has "the sincere pleading quality which can switch to fire and volume to sock up the tempo for contrast". A bit wordy, but you get the idea. (HD)

*25 - Eight Wheel Driver (2:43) 1978 (Edwin Bruce) > Not Originally Issued <
(Edwin Bruce) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded May 8, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Edwin Bruce (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Smith (piano)

When Edwin graduated in June 1957 at Messick High, a little early, he went to Sun to make a demo of the first song he'd written, ''Eight Wheel Driver'', and Jack Clement heard some promise in the kid. ''We had run through one song and Jack said, 'Y'all just hold it a minute' and he stopped, went back and got Sam out of his office. He said, 'Do the song again'. We did it and Sam came down onto the studio floor and started talking to my folks about what he wanted to do with me''. That first appearance was during April or May 1957''.

26 - Sweet Woman (2:43) 1958 (Edwin Bruce) > Sun 292-A <
(Edwin Bruce) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 26, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Edwin Bruce (vocal and guitar), Billy Riley (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Smith (piano)

"Sweet Woman" was enough to rekindle the faith of Sun fans in early 1958. From the first 4 bars, it was clear we were in the presence of greatness. Everything works here. This is an edgy, tense record with not the slightest concession to pop sensibilities. Its hard to imagine two guitars, a bass and drums put to better use. Bruce's vocal is a standout. He was barely 18 when he recorded these sides, which more than fulfilled the promise of his first Sun outing (See Sun 276).

*27 - Baby That's Good (2:30) 1978 (Edwin Bruce) > Not Originally Issued <
(Edwin Bruce) (Copyright Control)
Recorded January 26, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Edwin Bruce (vocal and guitar), Billy Riley (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Smith (piano)

*28 - King Of Fools (2:05) 1978 (Edwin Bruce) > Not Originally Issued <
(Edwin Bruce) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Edwin Bruce (vocal and guitar)

Edwin Bruce demo'd his song ''King Of Fools'' in a Johnny Cash-like style and played his own Luther Perkins guitar part. That song and some others might have been intended for the ears of Johnny Cash. The log books suggest that Bruce played guitar or sang back-up on one of Cash's last sessions, although Bruce has no recollection of it. A lot of tape was expended on ''King Of Fools' suggesting that it was seen as a potential third Sun single.

Dickey Lee

Ever wonder what rockabilly sound like when it meets doo wop? Wonder no more. Singer Dickey Lipscomb in his pre-Patches Sun mode reveals all on these sides.

''It was very spontaneous. You didn't have to watch the clock. In fact, the studio clock never worked. It always had 4:30 on it. When we did our first AFM style session (four songs in three hours) it scared me. When you're creating you shouldn't be tied down to a time schedule. The big thing in Nashville has always been quantity. I'd prefer to use the whole three hours to get one quality single. ''Memories Never Grow Old'' was written by me and Stella Stevens, a movie actress from Memphis. We went to Memphis State at the same time and we double dated once. She had a kid from another marriage and she was going out with this football player. Anyway, the kid kept calling the football player 'Daddy' and he got scared off. Personally, my favorite of the Sun cuts was ''Dreamy Nights''. That was pure Philadelphia''.

29 - Memories Never Grow Old (2:19) 1957 (Dickey Lee) > Sun 280-A <
(Dickey Lee-Camp-Staley) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded August 10, 1957at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dickey Lee (vocal and guitar), Allen Reynolds (vocal and guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Bill Talmadge, Eddie Well, Daved Morris,
J.L. Jerden, David Glenn (vocal chorus)

Dickey Lee made one more record at Sun Records in 1963, but the results were destined for the Dot label, where they were no doubt more at home. By that time, Lee had moved on to Jack Clement's little musical frontier in Beaumont, where he wrote "She Thinks I Still Care". ("I think of Jack Clement as Moses in another life because he led us all over the place", Lee once said). As a pop, then country singer, Dickey Lee charted consistently from the early 1960s until the early 1980s. At last sighting, he was Professional Manager at Polygram Music in Nashville, and had just written a charted song for MCA's Tracy Byrd - the latest in a long line of custom-written hits. Hus buddy in the Collegiates, Allen Reynolds, also went to Nashville, and became the producer of Garth Brooks. (HD) (MH)

30 - Good Lovin' (2:53) 1957 (Dickey Lee) > Sun 280-B <
(Kirkland-Taylor-Jesmet) (Barnhill Music Corporation)
Recorded August 10, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dickey Lee (vocal and guitar), Allen Reynolds (vocal and guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), The Collegiates: Bill Talmadge, Eddie Well, Daved Morris,
J.L. Jerden, David Glenn (vocal chorus)

More power to Lee and company for even knowing the Clovers' original version of "Good Lovin'" which appeared on Atlantic in 1953. Not surprisingly, the original black version of the tune was much more explicithly sexual; this is, after all, a song about a guy who is just overwhelmed by the boundless sexual energy of his girlfriend. In Lee's version, things are a tad more discreet. Musically speaking, doo-wop and rockabilly are not oil and water, as Buddy Holly was busy proving. In fact, it is Holly's shadow more than the Clovers that hangs over these sides. Sam Phillips continued to schedule sessions with Dickey Lee and a date early in the following year produced one more Sun single. (HD) (MH)

31 - Fool Fool Fool (2:32) 1958 (Dickey Lee) > Sun297-A <
(Dickey Lee-Allen Reynolds) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded: - March 3-5, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dickey Lee (vocal and guitar), Allen Reynolds (vocal and guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), The Collegiates: Bill Talmadge, Eddie Well, Daved Morris,
J.L. Jerden, David Glenn (vocal chorus)

Another outing in the not-very-typical Sun record sweepstakes. As on his previous outing (SUN 280) and on the obscure Tampa record that preceded it, Lee demonstrates his penchant for harmony singing. Lee had been parachuted onto Sun by dee-jay Dewey Phillips who had virtually demanded that Sam Phillips sign him. Lee cheerfully admits that he didn't belong there.

Neither side of this record is very southern. The ballad side, "Fool Fool Fool", contains some rather adventurous tempo changes that all but doom the tune as dance music. The uptempo "Dreamy Nights"" rocks along just fine, but it owes more to Dion and The Belmonts that to anyone in the vicinity of Union Avenue. (HD)

32 - Dreamy Nights (2:29) 1958 (Dickey Lee) > Sun 297-B <
(Dickey Lipscomb) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded: - March 3-5, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dickey Lee (vocal and guitar), Allen Reynolds (vocal and guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), The Collegiates: Bill Talmadge, Eddie Well, Daved Morris,
J.L. Jerden, David Glenn (vocal chorus)

*33 - Hey Heart (2:26) 1986 (Dickey Lee) > Not Originally Issued <
(Unknown) (Copyright Control)
Recorded: - March 3-5, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Dickey Lee (vocal and guitar), Allen Reynolds (vocal and guitar), Marvin Pepper (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), The Collegiates: Bill Talmadge, Eddie Well, Daved Morris,
J.L. Jerden, David Glenn (vocal chorus)

© 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 <
 
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

CD 7 Contains
For music on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

WILLING AND READY

As Sun's golden era receded into the past, there were still some artists whose style and approach harked to earlier times. Chief among these was Ray Smith. Armed with as much talent and ambition as anyone who ever walked into the Sun studio, Smith saw scant success on Sun. Sometimes, as on ''Right Behind You Baby'', he rocked like a wonderful confluence of Elvis Presley and Billy Riley; other times he sang ballads with mannered but enthralling gusto. On leaving Sun the first time - he was one of the few to come back - he went to Jud Phillips' Judd label where ''Rockin' Little Angel'' gave him a taste of real chart success, peaking just below the national pop Top Twenty. But then he lost his way and seemed incapable of sustaining a relationship with any label that extended beyond a few singles.

If Ray Smith took Presley's music as a blueprint then at least two songs from Mack Allen Smith 's Sun session sound like the master was back in the fold for a day reprising his recent hits. Those who've reported sightings of Elvis everywhere since 1977 might feel that his superpowers started here. Most of us would just ask why Smith would record ''Mean Woman Blues'' and ''Young Dreams''? Well, it was a demo session, after all, and Mack Allen and his band probably felt entitled to show they were as good as the best, which they were, though not as innovative. On the one original song, ''Sandy Lee'', the quality of the singer and his band is just as evident. ''Kansas Cit''y was not then the rock standard it has since become and shows the bluesy edge Smith retained through the ensuing decades, singing in Mississippi night clubs and making good records for small labels. Smith had been offered a session at Sun three years earlier and would have been well-advised to have gone for it then.

The innovative guitar style of Eddie Bush underpins the music of Carl Mann who deserved to achieve more than one major hit, ''Mona Lisa''. His first disc for Phillips International quickly elevated Mann to Phillips' best-selling artist, although the competition was admittedly thinner at the time. The lighter and undeniably prettier sound that Mann adopted contrasted sharply with the darker tones that Phillips had nurtured in his earlier artists. However, Mann was indisputably the right horse for the course as the 1950s drew to a close and, in retrospect, it is surprising that he only managed one hit of epic proportions. The follow-ups did well but none could quite recapture the fleeting success of that first Phillips International single.

Tracy Pendarvis, on the other hand, saw nothing that even approached a hit. His sound was a sweet anachronism in the changing times. Coming from Florida, Pendarvis was one of the few early rock and rollor artists to call the Sunshine State his home, Pendarvis managed to make music that was both lyrical and hard-edged and the certainly made the right move in journeying to Memphis, but he was arguably two years late.

By1958-1959 the loose; primitive rockabilly music was giving way to a fuller sound that was undeniably less, countrified. Vernon Taylors version of ''Mystery Train'' epitomises those changes. The understated beat and acoustic feel of Presley's version had been replaced by a rock solid back beat, and a brittle electric feel. Vernon Taylor had the potential to become a serious contender but the magic failed to rub off on him. He was also unusual in that he had previously recorded for another label (in this case, Dot) before coming to Sun. CE/MH)

Some liner-notes taken from ''The Complete Sun Singles Collection'' and notes from ''Sun Outtakes'' boxen.

Ray Smith

Recording session for March 19 and 26 are logged but it is not clear precisely which titles were recorded when. However, these early session produced Ray's first single "So Young"/"Right Behind You Baby" as well as "Why Why Why" and Break Up" both of which were left in the can.

If anyone could cope with changing times in the record business, it was Ray Smith. The man was a veritable chameleon. As his personal appearances of the day confirmed, he could offer convincing efforts in styles ranging from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra. What was a little bluesy funk to a man like that?. The Ray Smith who recorded this session and more in early 1962, was quite different from the rockabilly pretender Sun fans had come to adore during his 1958 stint with the label.

1 - Right Behind You Baby (2:24) 1958 (Ray Smith) > Sun 298-B <
(Charlie Rich) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 19, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Dean Perkins (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
James Webb (bass), Gary Diamond (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

Three Ray Smith singles were released between May 1958 and March 1959. The first, ''So Young'' earned him a spot on the Dick Clark Show for August 9, 1958, but the record didn't chart. ''Charlie Rich was on piano when we recorded that'', said Smith. ''The intro and the ending was the same and I remember we faded out on that damn thing. After we'd faded, Charlie was still sitting there playing his licks. We're finished! Charlie was feeling good. He'd reach up, get a drink, never miss a lick''. Stanley Walker remembered that session, too. ''We were recording ''So Young'', he said, ''and Jack Clement took my fingers and placed them and showed me just exactly the right idea on that. I tried to came up with my own stuff, and I did on all the others, the intros and the turnarounds''.

2 - So Young (2:24) 1958 (Ray Smith) > Sun 298-A <
(Charlie Rich) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 19, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Dean Perkins (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
James Webb (bass), Gary Diamond (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

Charlie Rich had a major hand in writing and producing Ray Smith's first Sun record. The results reflect the kind of rockabilly that was likely to emerge from Sun in 1958. There was plenty of energy here, but the sound was a little more intentional. This music has been thought through in advance, both lyrically and instrumentally. It is calculated for the teenage marketplace. The guitar solos are still hot and the vocals still sexy, but something had plainly been learned from all the wild excesses of 1956 - namely that radio didn't play them.

"So Young" tells the tale of teenage angst. In that sense, the results seem a little dated. There's something incongruous about the possibility of a wildman like Ray Smith crying when whispers drift his way. "Right Behind You Baby", creates a solid groove and never lets up. The double length instrumental solo is a special treat for Sun fans. Charlie Rich's presence on the session is subtle but undeniable. His piano turns those stop rhythm chords into inversions that might be more at home at a Stan Kenton session than a Union Avenue gig

*3 - Why Why Why (2:18) 1977 (Ray Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Charlie Rich) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded September 13, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Dean Perkins (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
James Webb (bass), Gary Diamond (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

Ray Smith's second Sun record was enough to restore some of the faith of Sun fans who had been traumatized by the last two releases. Smith delivers on both sides (SUN 308). This alternate "Why, Why, Why" confirms that the word 'ballad' does not spell disaster. Nor does the addition of a chorus necessarily undercut a recording's power. Billboard had it right when they described this track as a "deeply felt ballad effort by Smith. A soulful delivery in a slow tempo. Worth spins".

Like Elvis Presley, whose ballad style has plainly influenced these proceedings, Ray Smith was also influenced by Dean Martin. It seems a curious observation, but after his move to Ontario, Canada, Smith got plenty of work in local clubs alternating his Presley repertoire with "Dean Martin impersonations", as the local media called them.

4 - You Made A Hit (2:21) 1958 (Ray Smith) > Sun 308-B <
(Walt Maynard) (Buna Music-Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded May 13, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Dean Perkins (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
James Webb (bass), Gary Diamond (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

The assertively-titled "You Made A Hit" was supplied by Walt Maynard, a jobbing song-smith from the Claunch/Cantrell writing camp - a team who regularly supplied material to Memphis-based recording artists. The session itself combined Smith's own guitarist, Stanley Walker and Dean Perkins with Sun's house rhythm section.

"You Made A Hit" is a fine, energetic rockabilly performance. The vocal bristles with energy and the instrumental work is especially memorable. Because Smith often used his touring group on sessions, it has become difficult to identify musicians on his record. Whether the lead guitar here is by Stanley Walker or Dean Perkins, the style gets rave reviews from the rockabilly cognoscenti.

5 - Sail Away (2:27) 1958 (Ray Smith) > Sun 319-A <
(Charlie Rich) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 21, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Brad Suggs (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
Stan Kesler or Cliff Acred (bass), Billy Riley (guitar),
Jimmy Van Eaton (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

At one session Charlie Rich was playing various compositions of his own for Ray to pick from. Ray wanted to do "Whirlwind", but Charlie Rich wouldn't let him have it stated that he wanted to do it himself. Instead Ray cut Charlie's "Sail Away". For a while it was thought that Charlie himself was harmonising with Ray Smith on this number, but in fact it is guitarist Stanley Walker. Ray clearly recalled having to hunt around for some books for Stanley to stand on so that he could reach the microphone! Walker stayed with Ray Smith for 13 years before going on to back Jean Shepherd.

"Sail Away" is a less gimmicky and highly effective outing for Smith. Here, the vocalist duets with his regular guitarist, Stanley Walker, in a Charlie Rich tune. Rich's influence can be heard in some powerful lyrical images ("I may find joy in some green valley / be a bum, live in an alley") as well as his omnipresent piano. No matter how you slice it, this is an anti love song. The feeling may be fairly universal, but the marketplace has rarely opened its arms to a lament saying "whatever it takes to get away from you, I'm all for it".

When visited an abandoned 706 Union Avenue in June, 1960, there were few signs of life at the old Sun studio. The floor was littered with returned 45s in piles nearly 3 feet deep. On the day everyone moved to the new quarters on Madison Avenue, nobody had bothered to erase the chalkboard in the studio. It still contained the latest sales figures for the last batch of Sun releases. The very last entry on the list was SUN 319. Only five thousands units had been shipped as of moving today. Presumably, sales of this release eventually broke into five figures, before Sam Phillips realized that all the gunshot overdubs had been in vain.

*6 - Rockin' Bandit (2:16) 1978 (Ray Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Ira Jay Lichterman) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 21, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Brad Suggs (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
Stan Kesler or Cliff Acred (bass), Billy Riley (guitar),
Jimmy Van Eaton (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

Next time out, on February 21, 1959, Ray Smith was produced not by Sam Phillips or Jack Clement, but by saxophonist and bandleader Bill Justis, himself a big- selling recording artist with ''Raunchy'' on Sun's subsidiary label, Phillips International. Justis was keen on Sun moving away from the raw sound of the first wave rockabillies towards a classier, more produced, sound. As it turned out, the session took a turn for the good, and for the not so good.

The not so good song was called ''Rockin' Bandit'', written by Ira Jay Lichterman, a local teenager working in a leather factory, who later recorded on Sun himself, and brought to Bill Justis who sold Ray on it against his better judgement.

Justis was probably right to think that the lowest common denominator was a factor in making hit pop records, and Bandit certainly fit that bill. It was a novelty song, but rather a confused one, with a grating rather than endearing vocal chorus. Justis had persuaded Ray to leave his band at home, apart from Stanley Walker, and he used his tried and tested studio musicians on the session.

The good part of the February session was Charlie Rich's excellent loping ballad, ''Sail Away'', which Ray Smith sang as a duet with Stanley Walker. Ray told Dave Booth, years later: ''We did ''Sail Away'' with Stanley Walker singing tenor. Stanley was a short guy, so we took five stacks of records - in fact it was Bill Justis 's record of ''Raunchy'' - and stood Stanley up there on those so he could get even with me to sing in the mike''. Somewhere in between the good and the less good was a heartfelt vocal reading of a promising ballad called Ill Try that was never quite worked up to release standard.

''Rockin' Bandit'' and ''Sail Away'' were issued as Sun 319 on March 23, 1959. With the classic country ballad buried on the B-side and the gimmicky A-side not pulling in the coin, it was time for everyone to take stock of Ray Smith's Sun career during the summer of 1959.

Charlie Terrell was concerned that his protege was going nowhere, Jud Phillips was wondering how to unlock the potential, and the singer himself was beyond frustrated. Smith said in later years: "Sun had the best damned sound! It had the sound for that day and time. I knew that I could have done something big on that label with a little more help''. Sam Phillips once told: "Ray Smith was probably the most intense person ever recorded. He was totally wrapped up in what he was doing. Nobody wanted recognition more than Ray".

It seems that, less than two years down the line from their first meeting, Sam Phillips still wanted to keep Ray on Sun, but he was now focusing his personal attention on other things. Jack Clement and Bill Justis had left Sun in the spring of 1959 not long after the ''Rockin' Bandit'' session, and the prospects for Ray Smith to hit the big time with Sun were diminishing rapidly. Jud Phillips and Charlie Terrell both had other ideas. Charlie Terrell told: "Eventually both Jud Phillips and I became fed up with Ray not being able to get ahead at Sun. Jud and I talked and we decided to move him to a new label, and Jud put up the money for that. There had came a point where Jud was disgusted about how Jerry Lee Lewis's career had taken a dip and at the same time Sam was disgusted with Jud's style - Jud would give tips to people all the time, to get Ray onto the Steve Allen Show say. Sam would fuss at Jud all the time about his expense accounts. Sam knew that Jud had the ability to get people onto shows that he could never do himself, but he didn't like the cost of it. Jud would say, 'Sam, you get onto me all the time about expenses. but I've got to impress people if we want to get ahead in the business and promote an artist. We have to look successful to be successful''.

*7 - Willing And Ready (2:07) 1978 (Ray Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Raymond Eugene Smith) (Copyright Control)
Recorded March 26/27 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Dean Perkins (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
James Webb (bass), Gary Diamond (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

*8 - Forever Yours (3:01) 1978 (Ray Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Perkins) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded January 10, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Dean Perkins (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
James Webb (bass), Gary Diamond (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

*9 - Shake Around (3:39) 1978 (Ray Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Raymond Eugene Smith) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 26/27, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Dean Perkins (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
James Webb (bass), Gary Diamond (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

At the last tally, there were at least three Ray Smith's cutting sub-rock and roll records in the late fifties. Two contenders came from Oklahoma but the Ray Smith of Sun fame, was Kentucky born and bred. A multi-faceted performer (piano, guitar and drums were all part of Ray's impressive musical resume), he could also draft a half-decent piece of material when pushed by his producer, Bill Justis. The ebullient "Shake Around" was cut during Ray's first sortie to Sun early in 1958.

*10 - Breakup (1:49) 1978 (Ray Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Charlie Rich) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 19, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Ray Smith (vocal and guitar), Dean Perkins (guitar), Stanley Walker (guitar),
James Webb (bass), Gary Diamond (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

Whilst Ray and the boys were away touring Jerry Lee Lewis cut "Break Up" which accounted for Ray's version being ignored. Ray was not amused by this bit of blatant poaching and tackled Lewis on the matter who denied knowing that it was Ray's song. Later the faux pas would be forgotten as Ray and Jerry Lee became firm friends, possibly recognising in each other kindred spirits.

Mac Allen Smith

''I remember clearly the day I met Mack Allen Smith in April 1975. He was a 36 year old honky tonk singer and I was a 25-year old part-time music writer on my annual month-long trip around the USA. looking for records to buy and singers to interview. I had flown into Jackson, Mississippi to meet London Record dealer Johnny Dickens and we had an appointment with Johnny Vincent, one of the legendary record men of the South. Vincent took us out to several record warehouses he had scattered around town and sold us a ton of his old records''.

''Then he said, "Why don't you come to the studio if you like that kinda stuff. We're recording a session with Mack Allen Smith. 'We looked at each other. We'd heard the name,vaguely knew that he'd made some collectable records on the Mississippi rock & roll scene for some time, but that was about all. Mack and his band, the Flames, were in the Jackson studio of Ace Records cutting a song called 'King Of Rock And Roll'. We listened to it back. It was a good rocking track. We knew it would sell a few copies in the European rock revival market. We knew it wasn't a pop record for 1975 but we didn't care. Did Mack know it too? It was hard to tell. But he did care about advancing his career, we could see that.

We talked to Mack about his older records - rockabilly, honky tonk country and bluesy rockers, Mack insisted on driving us to his house in Greenwood where he emptied a cupboard full of his 45s. They were impossibly rare discs unless you happened to be in that cupboard in that room. He gave us copies, Johnny bought some wholesale, and I made a plan to promote this enthusiastic and driven singer as best I could.

Back home in England, I issued LPs by Mack on Redneck, Checkmate, and Charly Records and then in 1979 I organized some show dates and radio spots for Mack in southern England. He was accompanied on the shows by Roger Humphries and his Cherry Pickers, a Kent group who sounded good with Mack. He sang rockers, ballads, old country. new country, the works. His voice sounded astoundingly good, everyone said so.

But converting that into record sales and more tours was beyond my abilities. Mack became frustrated, His friend and back-up vocalist Jessie Yates told me. 'He's fought this fame thing for so long. He just won't quit. He knows he's good and he just won't let it rest”. I felt bad that I couldn't really help him. We kinda fell out.

Over a quarter of a century later, Mack got back in touch. I helped him find the masters of his first ever recording session, made for Sun Records in Memphis in 1959. I agreed to write the notes for this CD and I'm happy to do it. We both know it's a damn fine record of a singing career that had the potential to go much further than it did.

It was almost inevitable that Mack Allen would take to the rockabilly sound of Elvis Presley and Sun Records. He remembers the impact of Presley's first record: "Man, when I heard that thing if splattered me all over the kitchen. I guess my main influence since 1954 would have to be Presley." Mack formed a rock and roll band and had already played local shows with Roy Orbison, Sonny Burgess, Charlie Feathers and Warren Smith when he went into the Marines and was posted to California for two years.

By the time he came back in 1959, the first flush of Sun rock and roll was over but Mack Allen went along to Sun Records in Memphis anyway. He recorded four songs in the studio at 706 Union Avenue, produced by Ernie Barton, and pianist David Lee Cox sang on another one.

It is one of Mack's greatest regrets that his Sun session was never issued at the time. He thinks it's one of his best and certainly there is a vibrancy to his vocals and a powerful performance by his new band, The Flames. All five of those tracks are on CD.

- From an interview by Martin Hawkins

*11 - Sandy Lee (3:18) 2012 (Mack Allen Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Unknown) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mack Allen Smith (vocal and guitar), Keith Worrell (guitar), Billy Wayne Herbert (guitar),
Red McGregor (guitar), Durwood Herbert (drums)

*12 - Mean Woman Blues (1:57) 2012 (Mack Allen Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Claude DeMetruis) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mack Allen Smith (vocal and guitar), Keith Worrell (guitar), Billy Wayne Herbert (guitar),
Red McGregor (guitar), Durwood Herbert (drums)

*13 - Kansas City (2:54) 2012 (Mack Allen Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jerry Leiber-Mike Stoller) (Jerry Leiber Music-Mike Stoller Music)
Recorded Unknown Date 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mack Allen Smith (vocal and guitar), Keith Worrell (guitar), Billy Wayne Herbert (guitar),
Red McGregor (guitar), Durwood Herbert (drums)

*14 - Young Dreams (3:00) 2012 (Mack Allen Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Aaron Schroeder-Martin Kalmanoff) (Gladys Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mack Allen Smith (vocal and guitar), Keith Worrell (guitar), Billy Wayne Herbert (guitar),
Red McGregor (guitar), Durwood Herbert (drums)

Carl Mann

Carl Mann's scenario is at variance with Cecil Scaife's account. Scaife had been hired as promotion manager shortly after Sam Phillips brother, Jud, left Sun in mid-1958, and he told Billboard (August 10, 1959) that the audition had been arranged for Eddie Bush but that he became interest in Carl's arrangement of "Mona Lisa". Twenty-five years later, Scaife said that the audition was scheduled for Rayburn Anthony, but, Anthony failed to show so the group decided to play for their own amusement. ''Mona Lisa'' was written for the 1950 movie "Captain Carey, U.S.A.", in which it was heard in fragments and only in Italian. It won the Oscar for Best Song.

*15 - Mona Lisa (2:45) 1986 (Carl Mann) > Not Originally Issued <
(Jay Livingston-Ray Evans) (Famous Music Corporation)
Recorded Unknown Date October 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Mann (vocal and piano), Eddie Bush (guitar), Robert Oatsvall (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

This version here was the first take in one of the boxes - and may well have been Carl's first stab at it. The consistency in the approach is hardly surprising in view of the fact that Carl Mann and his group had been performing the song for years. Eddie Bush had heard the Nat Cole version while he was stationed in Hawaii and, after joining Mann's group, he would sing the song straight (ie. in Cole's ballad style), then Carl would rock it up, and the contrast would usually get a big hand.

"Carl did a beat arrangement of "Mona Lisa", says Scaife. "it was one of my favourite songs, and Carl was playing it on the piano with two fingers of his left hand and three on his right. He was faking a lot of it, but I turned the machine on and I remember thinking, 'This ole boy has a potential of cutting a hit if we can get it right". Scaife couldn't wait to play "Mona Lisa" for Sam Phillips, but Sam wasn't interest. Weeks and months went by, and then Conway Twitty breezed though town on his way to Nashville to cut a session.

He was short a song or two and called in at Sun to see if Scaife (whom he knew because they had grown up together in Helena, Arkansas) had anything sitting around in the publishing companies he could use. "I told Conway we didn't have anything we owned", remembered Scaife, "but we had an arrangement on "Mona Lisa" that sounded great. I played him Carl's arrangement and he got real excited. He said, 'I don't believe you're gonna give this to me'. I said, 'You can borrow the arrangement if you put it on an LP. I still have hopes of putting it out on Carl as a single".

*16 - Rockin' Love (2:41) 1986 (Carl Mann) > Not Originally Issued <
(Carl Mann) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded August 24, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Mann (vocal and piano), Eddie Bush (guitar), Robert Oatsvall (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

This alternate version contained mistakes of near mythic proportions by bassist Robert Oatsvall which prompted some to wonder if Oatsvall was playing a fret-less electric bass which might help explain his miscues. Carl Mann, though, recalled that the reasons for Oatsvall's hit-or-miss approach to his instrument was, as he says, "just lack of practice. Robert had a day job whereas Eddie and I had nothing in our lives but music. We were playing all the time". Oatsvall's lack of expertise bobbed up again when the boys tackled Gogi Grant's 1956 smash ''Wayward Wind''. The early takes disintegrate because Oatsvall is so off-taget.

*17 - Pretend (2:47) 1986 (Carl Mann) > PI 3546-B <
(Douglas-Parman-LaVere) (Brandon Music)
Recorded August 24, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Mann (vocal and piano), Eddie Bush (guitar), Robert Oatsvall (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

Nothing in Carl Mann's life had prepared him for what was happening. He spent his seventeenth birthday on the road. For a while, it looked as though his career would hold up. His version of "Mona Lisa" eclipsed Conway Twitty's version, and when he went back into the Sun studio he thought he had stumbled upon a formula that could be applied indefinitely, but "Pretend" pegged out a number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100. "The biggest problem I had after "Mona Lisa" was getting back into the studio", says Carl. "I offered to go back but Sam kept holding us off".

Sam Phillips reservations may have had more to do with what happening to his little empire. He held out great hopes for his new studio, build on Madison Avenue, a few blocks from the old studio. In the meantime, he had dismissed his resident producer, Jack Clement, and his musical arranger Bill Justis, and his regular session crew were following new directions. As is the case with most Sun artists, Carl Mann's recording history is a little difficult to piece together.

Tape boxes from the old studio in particular yield few secrets and sessions filed with the Musicians Union were usually a book-keeping exercise. It seems, though, that Carl and his group went back to the old studio in August 1959 just before it closed. "Pretend" and Carl's own "Rockin' Love" were cut then.

"We worked with Sam on "Pretend", remembered Carl Mann. "He was great to work with. He was always wanting to come up with something unique. He wanted us to do "Bali-Hi" or songs from "South Pacific". Charles Underwood took over at the new studio, but the studio on Madison just didn't have anywhere near as good a sound. It might have been a fuller sound, but it just didn't have the magic that the old studio had. The old studio had the greatest sound I'd ever heard. A lot of body. When I heard "Mona Lisa" coming back over the monitors I said, 'That ain't me. I ain't that good'. The sound on Madison was too hollow, too distorted".

*18 - Too Young (1:55) 1986 (Carl Mann) > Not Originally Issued <
(Sylvia Dee-Sid Lippman) (EMI Music Publishing)
Recorded August 24, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Carl Mann (vocal and piano), Eddie Bush (guitar), Robert Oatsvall (bass), W.S. Holland (drums)

After the success of "Mona Lisa", Carl Mann and Eddie Bush inevitable dipped again into the Nat King Cole songbook on this early Sun session. "Too Young" was a major hit for Cole in 1951, and "Pretend" sold two million copies for Cole and Ralph Marterie in 1952. Notes in the out-take boxes suggest that "Too Young" had originally been slated as the follow-up single, but was bounced at some point in favour of "Pretend".

Tracy Pendarvis

Had the misfortune to arrive at Sun just a little too late. If he had arrived in 1956 instead of 1958 or early in 1959 then his career night have taken a different direction. As it was, he made some of the best records to appear on the magic yellow label as the new decade approached. Certainly, he was the only artist whose style harked back to the golden days of Sun Records.

By this point, Tracy Pendarvis had married and had started a career as an electrician. However, he, his buddy Johnny Gibson and drummer Merrill ''Punk'' Williams decided that they should take a shot at Sun Records. They were met by fellow Floridian Ernie Barton who arranged an audition with Sam Phillips. Despite the fact that their sparse rockabilly sound had fallen from vogue, Phillips signed them on the spot.

Record company by loading up his car in Cross City, Florida, and heading north west to Memphis. Already under his belt were two singles he'd cut for the local Scott label on the strength of winning a radio station talent contest. Sam's house producer, Ernie Barton, was sufficiently impressed and this session ethereal - sounding "rockabilly" became Tracy's debut for Sun.

19 - A Thousand Guitars (2:39) 1960 (Tracy Pendarvis) > Sun 335-A <
(Tracy Pendarvis) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded Early 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tracy Pendarvis (vocal and guitar), Johnny Gibson (guitar), Sid Manker (guitar or bass),
Merrill "Punk" Williams (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

Had this record been recorded and released three or four years earlier, it might rank among Sun's best work. Certainly, it retains touches of what drives Sun Records collectors to the heights of ecstasy. To begin with, Tracy Pendarvis is a name that belongs on a Sun record. Then there's that guitar solo on "A Thousand Guitars". Yes, its true that the song is relatively romantic, even sappy, but it still has an edge. And that edge is nowhere clearer than during those brief four bar interludes when the backbeat sharpens and the guitar comes to the fore. (HD) (MH)

20 - Is It Too Late (2:10) 1960 (Tracy Pendarvis) > Sun 335-B <
(Tracy Pendarvis) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded Early 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tracy Pendarvis (vocal and guitar), Johnny Gibson (guitar), Sid Manker (guitar or bass),
Merrill "Punk" Williams (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

This bluesy side also has its moments. Its hard not to get drawn into that simple device of emphasizing the title phrase with a booming 1-2-3-4- on the drums. Once again, the biggest drawback to this record went beyond anything under Pendarvis' control. Not even his sidemen or engineer could help. The overdubbs at 839 Madison Avenue was simply out of control and what could have been a tight, tense and focussed record simply swam out of control in an emasculating sea of echo. (HD) (MH)

21 - Is It Me (2:01) 1960 (Tracy Pendarvis) > Sun 345-B <
(Tracy Pendarvis) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded - Early Summer 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tracy Pendarvis (vocal and guitar), Johnny Gibson (guitar), Sid Manker (guitar or bass),
Merrill "Punk" Williams (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

''Is It Me'' has a lot to recommend it. Yes, it's a teen pop outing with more than its share of 6-minor chords, but the record might have been released awash in choral overdubs. To its credit, Sun let things stand and there's nothing here but the simple rolling sound of Pendarvis's band. The title provides a marvellous vocal 'hook', compressed into a single beat at the end of each verse. Very catchy stuff that deserved a serious look in the pop marketplace. When Tracy voice breaks, probably unintentionally, in the first line, the record becomes all the more endearing. (HD) (MH)

22 - Southbound Line (2:28) 1960 (Tracy Pendarvis) > Sun 345-A <
(Tracy Pendarvis) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded - Early Summer 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tracy Pendarvis (vocal and guitar), Johnny Gibson (guitar), Sid Manker (guitar or bass),
Merrill "Punk" Williams (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

This release by Tracy Pendarvis is about as raw as anything that appeared on the Sun label in 1960. It was a rare when we heard a vocalist accompanied only by bass, drums and guitar, which is what ''South Bound Line'' is all about. It's also about a guy with a mighty shaky sense of time, as Pendarvis extends verses and vocal lines almost arbitrarily. The song is borrowed quite liberally from Jimmie Skinner's ''Doin' My Time'', which Johnny Cash recorded for Sun two years earlier for his first LP. Cash, too, struggled with the song's meter. (HD) (MH)

*23 - Beat It (2:36) 1986 (Tracy Pendarvis) > Not Originally Issued <
(Tracy Pendarvis) (Ridgetop Music)
Recorded Early 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Tracy Pendarvis (vocal and guitar), Johnny Gibson (guitar), Sid Manker (guitar or bass),
Merrill "Punk" Williams (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

Tracy Pendarvis managed to sustain no less than three 45s during his twelve months at Sun, all of which crested the realms usually associated with Carl Mann and Charlie Rich. Bearing in mind the pop climate of the time, it was understandable that he might focus on such an image, which makes the unissued "Beat It" all the more remarkable. In place of a light touch arrangement and some expected teen cliches, we get a demented piano player and a screwball lyric straight out of Deliverance: Hallelujah!

Vernon Taylor

*24 - Your Lovin' Man (1:55) 1976 (Vernon Taylor) > Not Originally Issued <
(Vernon Taylor) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded October 27-31, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Vernon Taylor (vocal and guitar), Cliff Acred (bass), Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums),
Jack Clement (guitar), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

''Your Lovin' Man'' is vintage Sun rockabilly that could have been recorded two years earlier than its October 1958 session date, might have made Taylor a star. The guitar solo has echoes of the ''Love My Baby'' sound. But what makes the track a lock is the stellar drumming of Jimmy Van Eaton. His thundering rim shots take the song's release (''Why should I worry....'') to a whole other level.

If this session had taken place in 1956, there seems little doubt that one of the multiple takes of ''Your Lovin' Man'' would have seen the light of day. But this was the end of 1958 and Jack Clement was running the show. Clement had his eyes on the price and with Frankie Avalon, the Kingston Trio and the Teddy Bears on the charts, it's unlikely that straight-ahead rockabilly with heavy drum work like this was going to make it on to Sun's release schedule.

25 - Today Is Blue Day (2:02) 1958 (Vernon Taylor) > Sun 310-B <
(Jack Clement) (Jack Clement Music Incorporated)
Recorded October 27, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Vernon Taylor (vocal and guitar), Cliff Acred (bass), Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums),
Jack Clement (guitar), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

Perhaps more than anything else, these recordings by Vernon Taylor help define the kind of music Sun was contributing to the pantheon of rock and roll in late 1958. Sam Phillips had seen Taylor, then based in Washington, D.C., on American Bandstand and brought him to Sun records, and that in itself was an indication of changing times at Sun. Gone is the frenetic energy pf previous years. In its place is a more controlled kind of enthusiasm. There is something about Taylor's voice to suggest he might have been a wildman under different circumstances, but there was nothing about this October, 1958 date organized by Jack Clement that would coax any wildness from Taylor.

On "Today Is A Blue Day", Jack Clement has written his own entry in the Don Gibson sweepstakes, emulating such hits as "Blue Blue Day". You can hear the quirky edge to Jimmy Van Eaton's drumming and wish it were more prominent, but its too deep in the mix to offset the effects of Clement's high string guitar (another bow to Don Gibson's record), and the choral overdub. This is just going to be a pop record, no matter how much you wish it would cut through and rock. (HD) (MH)

26 - Breeze (2:05) 1958 (Vernon Taylor) > Sun 310-A <
(MacDonald-Joe Goodwin-James Hanley) (Shapiro Bernstein and Company)
Recorded October 27, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Vernon Taylor (vocal and guitar), Cliff Acred (bass), Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums),
Jack Clement (guitar), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

But all is not lost. This side is unexpectedly good. Given that Clement's tune was the focus of most promotional effort, it is curious that Sam Phillips would allow a song he did not own, "Breeze", to be used in a supporting role. It was Taylor's choice, he had first heard "Breeze" on Cowboy Copas' 1948 hit recording, although it was a pop song principally authored by James (Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart) Hanley and Joe (When You're Smiling) Goodwin. Taylor made in the centerpiece of a wonderfully understated arrangement.

There is a marvellous bluesy tension to this side. the 1-4 chord shuttling between verses creates a fine groove and Taylor's vocal is just right, avoiding all the pitfalls for over-emoting. The guitar work during the chorus ("It's an ill wind...") is striking and moody.

Billboard got on the case in short order, giving this record a Pick Hit in November, 1958. They said that Taylor had a "refreshingly distinctive style" and predicted that "with exposure, the lad could have himself a two sided winner". Those are strong words, but the marketplace turned a deaf ear, and so have Sun fans. It may by time to reassess. True, this is no "Miss Froggie", and Taylor's isn't Warren Smith, but "Breeze" is a damn fine record in its own right. (HD) (MH)

*27 - Hey Little Girl (0:20) / Mystery Train (False Starts) (2:31) 1986 (Vernon Taylor) > Not Originally Issued <
(Vernon Taylor) (Herman Parker-Sam Phillips) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 8, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Vernon Taylor (vocal and guitar), Billy Riley (bass), Brad Suggs (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Charlie Rich (piano),
Martin Willis (tenor saxophone)

*28 - Mystery Train (1) (2:44) 1986 (Vernon Taylor) > Not Originally Issued <
(Herman Parker-Sam Phillips) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 8, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Vernon Taylor (vocal and guitar), Billy Riley (bass), Brad Suggs (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Charlie Rich (piano), Martin Willis (sax)

By 1958-1959 the loose, primitive rockabilly music was giving way to a fuller sound that was undeniably less countrified. Vernon Taylor version of ''Mystery Train'' epitomises those changes. The understand beat and acoustic feel of Presley's version had been replaced by a rock solid backbeat and a brittle electric feel. Vernon Taylor had the potential to become a serious contender but the magic failed to rub off on him. He was also unusual in that he had previously recorded for another label (in this case, DOT) before coming to Sun.

*29 - This Kinda Love (2:04) 1976 (Vernon Taylor) > Not Originally Issued <
(Sam Phillips) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 8, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Vernon Taylor (vocal and guitar), Billy Riley (bass), Brad Suggs (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

*30 - Sweet And Easy To Love (2:27) 1986 (Vernon Taylor) Previously Unissued
(Roy Orbison) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded March 8, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Vernon Taylor (vocal and guitar), Billy Riley (bass), Brad Suggs (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Charlie Rich (piano), Martin Willis (sax)

31 - Mystery Train (2) (2:30) 1958 (Vernon Taylor) > Sun 325-B <
(Herman Parker-Sam Phillips) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded August 15, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Vernon Taylor (vocal and guitar), Billy Riley (bass), Brad Suggs (guitar),
Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Charlie Rich (piano),
Martin Willis (tenor saxophone)

One of Sam Phillips favorite copyrights was trotted out yet again on Vernon Taylor's second Sun release. One more time, Taylor shows off a fine voice, ideally suited to the kind of rockabilly Sun is famous for. One can only wish he had been in town during the golden era. Unfortunately, Taylor also reveals that his sense of timing was a tad less than stellar. He tacitly recognized as much by given up the music business after this single.

Although there is nothing technically wrong with his playing, Martin Willis' saxophone was becoming in 1959 what the Gene Lowery Singers had been two years earlier. Ironically, we had temporarily dispensed with annoying choral overdubs only to find ourselves surrounded by omnipresent sax licks. At its best, as on "One More Time", Willis' playing made some restrained and meaningful contributions. But too often, the obligatory appearance of Willi's madly hopping sax suggests that whoever was twiddling the knobs at Sun had listened to too many Coasters' records. They assumed that King Curtis spelled a one way ticket to sales. They were wrong. If you can listen through all the manic sax intrusions, the instrumental bed track to "Mystery Train" is damn fine.

© 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 <
 
 
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

CD 8 Contains
For music on YouTube click on the available > buttons <

RAUNCHY

In the considerable wake of Jerry Lee Lewis, Sun's last major rising star, two things happened. First, even more singers than before turned up at 706 Union Avenue - in person or on mailed-in tapes. Second, because Lewis had shown that the Sun sound could work with piano as well as guitars the onus was now on Sun's producers and session men to find the next big stylistic advance. We close this CD and this box with a number of songs by the latter-day hopefuls followed by songs featuring the session men who gave Sun Records its distinctive sound.

By early 1957 the nucleus of the famous Sun house-band was in place. Sam Phillips and Jack Clement had put together a session band based on Billy Riley's Little Green Men: Roland Janes played guitar, Jimmy Wilson played piano, Stan Kesler had switched from steel guitar to electric bass and Jimmy Van Eaton played drums. Increasingly, Martin Willis came in on saxophone and by 1958 Charlie Rich had started to replace Wilson while Otis Jett was occasionally heard on drums. Jack Clement, rather than Sam Phillips, was increasingly influential in the way songs were produced and recorded and it was Clement who worked with the established country based artists and the doorstepping hopefuls. The musical director and arranger was Bill Justis. He can be heard on the session tapes coming down onto the studio floor between takes, chiding the musicians and getting them primed for yet another take.

If there had been no Jerry Lee, then the three demos his cousin Mickey Gilley offered might have grabbed Sam Phillips' attention. As it was, these demos, probably mailed-in, were filed away apparently without ceremony. Gilley was always destined to be Jerry Lee Lite. The rest of the post-Lewis hopefuls on this CD were recorded at 706 Union and they represent a rich variety of sound and influences.

Local boy Danny Stewart had something, and it wasn't just the Sun sound. His voice was just different enough and adaptable enough to have made it, but Stewart had an ephemeral involvement in the music scene and he became a newsman on local television and started his own real estate business.

In contrast, local country singer Eddie Bond had all the commitment in the world but Sam Phillips didn't like his voice, even when he coarsened it up on rockers like ''This Old Heart Of Mine''. Bond had first auditioned at Sun in 1955 and was turned down. He returned in 1958 after the end of his Mercury-Starday pact but, once again, failed to secure a release. He was more successful in 1962 when he recorded two albums' worth of material and actually saw one album released on Phillips International.

Cliff Gleaves had a perfectly acceptable voice but the star of his session was the song, ''Love Is My Business'', along with the guitar solo by Roland Janes. Gleaves, from Jackson, was one of Elvis Presley's buddies and was a local dee-jay, recording later for Jack Clement's Summer label and half a dozen others.

The unknown Charlotte Smith had an average though engaging voice but her song ''What Are You Gonna Do Now?'' was so impossibly catchy it could easily have been developed into a release.

Same goes for Roy Hall's two songs, but in Hall's case the things that counted against him included his age, his unpredictable vocal style, his drinking, and his business savvy. Hall 's career was extensive and normally based out of Nashville or Detroit but at one stage around 1958 he was associated with Jud Phillips so that might explain his appearance at Sun.

A better bet was ''Apron Strings'', a song that had been a hit in Europe and which could have been the one to elevate Curtis Hobock into a U.S. hitmaker if things had panned out differently.

Another cover version was ''Walkin''', a song first unearthed for the LP version of this set. The tape box also called it ''There's My Baby'' but it was heavily based on ''The Stroll'', a recent hit and dance craze. It was sung by a local baseball star with the Memphis Red Sox who harboured a desire to sing. If he had been chosen for a release on Sun, there's no telling how the career of Charley Pride might have developed. Certainly, he wouldn't have been announced to the world as the first black country singer though, oddly enough, he was covering a white record in a foretaste of his career as a black man working in a white idiom.

Johnny Powers came from points north and apparently made a few trips to Memphis bringing his abundance of Presley-generated style, unbounded enthusiasm, and, on ''With Your Love, With Your Kiss'', a groove that wouldn't quit. Ultimately, it just wasn't quite "different" enough and Powers only saw one single released on Sun.

In contrast, songwriter/guitarists Alton (Lott) and Jimmy (Harrell) nearly were different enough, with their supercharged Everly Brothers duet style and their weighty guitar riffs and solos. By the time they appeared at Sun in mid- summer 1959 they were perhaps that little bit too late. They had to take their commendably tough style of pop-rock on to several small Mississippi labels.

The identifiable guitar sound of session man Sid Manker led into Bill Justis's unusual sax solos on the hit song, ''Raunchy'', the disc that launched the Phillips International label in 1957 in some style. Justis had been hired to act as musical director for the label and to develop artists who fit his musical vision and he preferred to work with members of his local gigging orchestra, guitarist Sid Manker, bassist Sid Lapworth, and saxophonists Vernon Drane and Jamieson Bryant, to which he liked to add Charlie Rich on piano. Various combinations of the green men and the Justis orchestra worked on Justis's sessions, trying to produce another instrumental hit like ''Raunchy'', or to make vocal magic with some of the young hopefuls he encouraged.

One was Roger Fakes, who sang on ''Raunchy's'' flipside, ''The Midnite Man'', along with his group, the Spinners. Fakes would not have been out of place in the solo releases that Justis worked up in 1958 but he lost out in the bizarre lottery that decided who was released and who was not. In contrast, Justis used Billy Riley to provide the more raucous vocal on ''College Man'', something Riley decidedly was not.

And then there was Justis's strangest liaison of all, with a former member of the Drifters vocal group. Bill Pinkney had, briefly, been the lead singer with the Drifters after the departure of Clyde McPhatter and he came south following a chance meeting with Justis on a promotional tour. Together they manufactured two excellent rockers, ''After The Hop'' and ''Sally's Got A Sister'', which, had they been unsigned paintings, could have been cataloged as "'after the style of" Danny and the Juniors and Larry Williams, For some reason Pinkney and his vocal group became Bill Pinky and the Turks on the record label. ''Pinksville" as hip-talking Justis might have said. "Scroungeville" as he did say regularly during the session that produced his pensive instrumental ''Scroungie''. "Bopsville'' as he must have thought during the instrumental workouts ''Bop Train'' and ''Flip, Flop And Bop'' that showcase his little orchestra well. "Technically'', said Stan Kesler, "Bill was better than most of the musicians at Sun. He was more of an educated musician than a feel musician... but he wasn't that hung up on being technically correct''.

Towards the end of the life of 706 Union as a recording studio, several members of the house band saw sessions logged under their own name. Roland Janes recorded a guitar figure known as ''Rolando'', featuring his own prowess with the axe as well as significant piano and sax solos from Jimmy Wilson and Martin Willis. Janes brought in singer Eddie Cash on ''Little Bitty Pretty Girl'' and ''Hey Good Lookin''' but these vocal sides were also designed to show off the band to maximum effect.

After a long career in the music business around Memphis, Roland Janes later returned to the Phillips fold and still works at the Phillips Recording Studio today (2013). It is clear which month the Janes sides were made, February, but the year is uncertain. 1958 is possible, but 1959 is more likely, not least because saxophonist Marty Willis and drummer Jimmy Van Eaton both led sessions that same month in 1959. Here, Willis takes a sax lead on Hank Garland's guitar tune, ''Sugarfoot Rag'', while the sensational drumming man, Jimmy Van Eaton beats up a storm on another normally guitar-led tune, titled on the tape box ''Hey, Bo Diddley''. The beat is actually closer to Bo Diddley, and no doubt some kind of tribute to Bo was intended, though Martin Willis's sax lines are closer to ''Willie And The Hand Jive''. Drummer Van Eaton always had a loose and unorthodox approach which today, in the age of drum machines, sounds very out of place and very refreshing.

Beyond the Riley and Justis bands, there were other regular session players at Sun. One was saxophonist Johnny Cannon, later known as ''Ace'' who started at Sun with the Johnny Bernero Combo before the pair split. He later had a big hit on Hi Records with ''Tuff'', in 1961. What you hear on this CD is a version of that song made three years earlier with the Little Green Men. lt was a tune Bill Justis fooled with several times, calling it ''Cattywampus''. Cannon also featured at least two singers on his session. One was the slightly mysterious Jimmy Pritchett who contributed a storming version of ''That's The Way I Feel'', a song he recorded at Sun but which appeared on Stan Kesler's Crystal label.

There is another vocalist too, on ''That's Just Too Bad'', but we don't know for sure who it is. He sounds a little like several people but not a lot like anyone. If it's Cannon himself, he wasn't about to set the world on fire as a vocalist.

And finally we come to Brad Suggs, a guitarist who was there right at the beginning and right at the end of 706 Union as a recording studio. Suggs had recorded as part of the Slim Rhodes Band back in 1950 and again in 1954-1956. He also undertook session work in 1955-1956 and can be heard on Warren Smith's ''Ubangi Stomp'' among other cuts. His return to session work in 1959 coincided with the departure of Roland Janes. Suggs also saw five singles hit the market under his own name on Phillips International. In July 1959, just as Sam Phillips planned to close the studio, Suggs came up with his own tribute, the guitar riff that was issued on Phillips International as, simply, ''706 Union''. Like the music of all Sun's session men, Suggs' disc could serve as a metaphor for all that was best about Sun records. Tight, rocking and informal. The sound of surprise. (MH/CE)

Mickey Gilley

For most of his career, Gilley lived in the shadow of his cousin, Jerry Lee Lewis. They both learned to play the same old Starck upright piano in Ferriday, Louisiana, where Mickey grew up. But in 1952, at the age of 16, he left his family and his music in Ferriday, moved to Houston and became a construction worker. It wasn't until Lewis had a monster hit with "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" in 1957 that Mickey thought he could do that too, and decided that he wanted to pursue a musical career.

In August 1957 he went to Houston's Gold Star studio and cut "Tell Me Why"/"Ooh Wee Baby" for the aptly named Minor label. Undeterred by its poor sales, Gilley tried his luck at the Sun studio in Memphis, where he sang four songs at an audition (eventually released in the 1980s).

Sam Phillips didn't need a Jerry Lee Lewis imitator when he had the real thing under contract. Early in 1958, Mickey hooked up with Charles 'Red' Matthews, writer of the hit song "White Silver Sands". Matthews produced the single "Call Me Shorty"/"Come On Baby" (two exuberant rockers), which was placed with Dot and sold well regionally.

Over the next few years, Gilley recorded for a wide variety of independent labels: Khoury (1959), Rex (1959), Potomac (1960), Lynn, Paula, Sabra, Princess, Supreme, San, Astro (his own label) and many more. Most of these recordings were rock and roll in Jerry Lee's style, with an occasional country number thrown in for good measure, for instance "Is It Wrong" and "Lonely Wine", both of which sold well in the South in 1964-1965. Meanwhile Mickey played a never-ending series of bars and clubs. Throughout the 1960s Gilley had his dreams, but little else.

In February 1958 Mickey Gilley appeared on the larger label, Dot, with ''Call Me Shorty'', a session that may have been recorded at Sun. The publishing on the Dot recordings was through Memphis record man Chuck Matthews who ran OJ Records and may have facilitated the Sun and Dot sessions.

*1 - Thinkin' Of Me (1:39) 1986 (Mickey Gilley) > Not Originally Issued <
Mikey Gilley) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date February 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mickey Gilley (vocal and piano), More Details Unknown

The three songs heard here on this session are piano and vocal tours de force in the Lewis manner, with nothing but a few bass notes in support. Technically, the piano is stormingly good but it lacks the commanding left hand of Lewis and Gilley's vocals lack Lewis's ''presence'', his confidence, his charisma. The first two songs are good rockers and would have been contenders if Lewis hadn't got there first. The third, a version of Lewis's calling card, ''Whole Lotta Shakin''', just shows up the similarities, and the differences in their styles. Gilley comes off second best.

*2 - Have A Little Party (C'mon Baby) (2:14) 1986 (Mickey Gilley) > Not Originally Issued <
(Mikey Gilley) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date February 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mickey Gilley (vocal and piano), More Details Unknown

*3 - Whole Lot Of Shakin' Going On (2:28) 1986 (Mickey Gilley) > Not Originally Issued <
(Dave Williams-Sunny David) (Marlyn Music)
Recorded Unknown Date February 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Mickey Gilley (vocal and piano), More Details Unknown

Danny Stewart

Danny Stewart is a household name in Memphis – and not on the strength of his solitary Phillips International single which sank without a trace in the early months of 1959. He was the former president of Dan Stewart Realtors and his name can still be seen in front yards throughout Memphis, even though he sold the company in 1997 and retired to Atlanta. At one point, he had over 120 agents reporting to him. In 1958, Stewart, newly arrived in Memphis from his native Jackson, Tennessee, gigged around town with a band that included Richard Paige.

They worked as backup musicians for Dickey Lee and the Daydreamers and played their own gigs. Bill Justis invited them to audition at Sun but, by the time Sam Phillips decided that they had some potential, Justis had quit and it was Ernie Barton who engineered the session.
The swamp-poppy ''Somewhere Along The Line'' was seen as the A-side and ''I'll Change My Ways'' was a song that Stewart concocted in the studio. But it was the split-tempo ''I'll Change My Ways'' with that grabbed some airplay in Memphis and parts of Texas. Some, but not much.

Soon after his sole Phillips International single disappeared from view, Stewart married and phased out the band. He worked as a disc jockey and moved into television (Channel 4 in Dallas and Channel 13 in Memphis) before starting his real estate business in 1974. And from that modest beginning sprang a very different kind of success story.

4 - I'll Change My Ways (2:16) 1960 (Danny Stewart) > PI 3561-B <
(Danny Stewart) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Recorded: - Probably January 6, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Danny Stewart (vocal), Roland Janes (guitar), Scotty Moore (bass), Lee Cornello (drums),
James Terry (Piano), Bill Justis (tenor saxophone), Vernon Drane (tenor saxophone),
Nelson Grill (saxophone), Charlie Rich (piano)

"Somewhere Along The Line" sounds more like swamp pop than typical Memphis fare. On the flip-side "I'll Change My Ways", all that we're missing is the "Hold it fellas, that don't move me. Let's get real real gone for a change" line. The resemblance to vintage Elvis stops there, however, as this tune might have appeared in a film like "King Creole". (HD)

Eddie Bond

*5 - This Old Heart Of Mine (3:41) 1976 (Eddie Bond) > Not Originally Issued <
(Eddie Bond) (Copyright Control)
Recorded April 2, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Eddie Bond (vocal and guitar), Reggie Young (guitar), Jimmy Smith (piano),
Unknown Band

Cliff Gleaves

*6 - Love Is My Business (2:17) 1986 (Cliff Gleaves) > Not Originally Issued <
(Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell) (Fellow Music)
Recorded Unknown Date February 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Cliff Gleaves (vocal), Roland Janes (guitar), Sid Manker (bass), Charles "Pinky" Buehl (drums),
Charlie Rich (piano)

Despite a set of chancy lyrics (for the time) i.e. "sittin' and a thinkin' with my pencil in my hand", the macho "Love Is My Business" encompassed a strong hook and a surging backbeat. Local disc jockey Cliff Gleaves first cut a version at Sun, then resurrected the idea for Jack Clement's short-lived Summer label (Summer 501 1957) after the song had gained a late cover by Memphis piano player Bobby Wood. Gleaves ultimately made his mark as a key member of Elvis Presley's inner-circle. Well, love is my business, got a lovely plan just sittin' here thinkin' like a business man gotta find my.

Charlotte Smith

The number of Sun Studio mysteries gets smaller every year. But some mysteries continue to haunt us, like the person behind the name Charlotte Smith's scrawled on notes in two tape boxes. One box contains several takes of ''What Are You Gonna Do Now'', a song about a girl pondering what comes next after kisses on a Saturday date. Another tape houses various takes of another teenage drama that should come with its own tube of acne cream, ''I've Just Discovered Boys''. Bobbie Jean Barton, the wife of Sun artist and producer Ernie Barton, also recorded the same two songs among others. Ernie became Sun's in-house producer in early spring 1959 and he was not averse to spending studio resources recording both himself and his wife. Eventually, two of Bobbie Jean's pop ballads, recorded at Sun's new studio on Madison Avenue, were issued on Sun 342 in July 1960, but Bobbie Jeans's versions of ''What Are You Gonna Do Now'' and ''I've Just Discovered Boys'' clearly come from over a year earlier and from the 706 Union studio. Think Warren Smith's last session with a Martin Willis-style sax.

*7 - What Are You Gonna Do Now (2:23) 2002 (Charlotte Smith) > Not Originally Issued <
(Unknown) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Probably Early 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Charlotte Smith (vocals), Unknown Musicians

The thing is, though, the two songs on the Charlotte Smith tapes sound like they were made by almost the same band... almost the same day... by almost the same singer. Charlotte sounds a little more country, a little more natural, but the arrangements and sax solos are very close. Also included a Charlotte version of ''What Are You Gonna Do Now'' on The Sun Rock Box, but the producers of the Box set could just as easily have used a Bobbie Jean Version. We can understand why Ernie Barton might have turned Bobbie Jean loose on the Charlotte material - he must have seen the potential in the little teenage dramas contained within the lyrics of both songs - but who was Charlotte Smith and how and why did she record the titles too?

Roy Hall

By now, Jerry Lee Lewis had shown the world what could be make of the ding dong song. His version of Roy Hall's ''Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On'' for Sun hit the upper echelons of a multitude of sales charts in the summer of 1957. Lewis's promotion was handled by Jud Phillips, the brother of Sun's owner, Sam Phillips, and it was around this time that Jud made contact with Roy Hall, or vice-versa. The result was two-fold. Soon Jud launched his own record label, Judd Records, which featured a Louisiana band called Cookie and the Cupcakes.

Roy Hall was brought in to manage some aspects of the Judd artists' live bookings. But prior to that, the meeting of Hall and Jud let to two boxes of tapes being recorded by Hall and lodged in the vaults of Sun Records.

There seem to have been two different Sun sessions. The first tape box had a note in it saying ''My Girl And His Girl'', a song by Nashville promoter Red Wortham, was recorded on December 10, 1957, and then a note in Sam Phillips' recording log referred to a different session on December 12, indicating that Roy Hall had recorded with a musician identified only as ''Reggie'' (Reggie Young being the prime candidate), Stan Kesler on bass, Otis Jett on drums and Jimmy Smith on piano. This make sense because the other songs have a different sound. It seems that Hall does not playing piano here and that the sessions focused on his singing. Hall hadn't been the vocalist on most of his earlier country recordings, and on some of the Decca and Fortune sides his voice is a little thin and under-recorded. What the Sun sessions did successfully was to bring Hall's voice right upfront, and we hear him singing more powerfully here than might have seemed possible on earlier evidence.

*8 - I Lost My Baby (2:21) 1978 (Roy Hall) > Not Originally Issued <
(Roy Hall) (Copyright Control)
Recorded December 10, 12, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roy Hall (vocal and piano), Reggie Young (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass), Otis Jett (drums),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), Unknown (saxophone)

''I Lost My Baby'' is little more than a demo, a fast tune somewhere between blues and country with a tinkling guitar run throughout and an uncredited saxophone playing quietly along.

*9 - Christene (2:25) 1984 (Roy Hall) > Not Originally Issued <
(Roy Hall) (Copyright Control)
Recorded December 10, 12, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roy Hall (vocal and piano), Reggie Young (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass), Otis Jett (drums),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), Unknown (saxophone)

''Christine'' is faster and tighter than the Decca cut. ''Christine'' is still gone from home and Hall still wants her to come back home to get him out of jail. This time, it is the County Jail, not Davidson County, indicating that Hall was recording in Memphis rather than Nashville. Roy gives the pleading vocal all he's got, and the record gallops along with a mixture of purpose and chaos, rather like a Sonny Burgess record. Whether Sam Phillips was looking in the Burgess sound or something smoother is not known but the presumably didn't hear what he wanted and nothing from the Sun tapes was issued.

Curtis Hobock

*10 - Apron Strings (2:37) 1977 (Curtis Hobock) > Not Originally Issued <
(George David Weiss-Aaron Schroeder) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Curtis Hobock (vocal and guitar), The Stardusters: Tommy Jones (guitar), Coy Lomax (bass),
Joe Ritchie (drums), More Details Unknown

Around 1956-1957, Curtis Hobock began playing music with a local band the Stardusters, eventually taking them over as his backing group. They worked in local joints within driving distance of Jackson. Hobock mostly sang other people's songs, notably those of Jim Reeves, and drove to Memphis to appear on WHBQ's Talent Party with George Klein and Wink Martindale.

He first recorded for Lu Records in Jackson, a label owned by Lamar Davis and Lonny Blackwell and named for Lamar's wife, Marilu. Hobock's first single on Lu Records appeared in June 1959, coupling ''The Whole Town's Talking'' b/w ''Do You Think''. The following month, Lu issued ''Tom Dooley Rock And Roll'' b/w ''China Rock''.

One of the songs he recorded, ''Apron Strings'', has a surprisingly convoluted history. Co-writer Aaron Schroeder, also co-wrote ''It's Now Or Never'' and ''A Big Hunk O'Love'' for Elvis Presley, and was Gene Pitney's manager. The first version was probably by ''Billy The Kid'' on Kapp Records, and it appeared in January or February, 1959. Music publisher Freddie Bienstock took the song to Germany to play for Elvis, and Elvis recorded it at home around April 1959, but told Bienstock he wouldn't record it commercially.

Bienstock gave the song to Cliff Richard who put it on the flip side of ''Livin' Doll'', and it charted in July 1959. Jay B. Loyd recorded it for Hi Records, but it wasn't released at the time, and Sam Phillips chose not to release Hobock's version. Apparently, Hobock wanted to use his musicians while Phillips wanted to use session guys. With the exception of guitarist Tommy Jones, the identity of the guys who play on ''Apron Strings'' is unknown. Hobock and Phillips fell out at some point in 1960.

Charlie Pride

Strangely, it doesn't rate a mention in his autobiography or his official website but it is a fact that Charley Pride, one of RCA's biggest-selling artists of all time, who registered 36 number 1 country hits, made his first recording for Sun Records. It's strange because most singers are keen to be associated with Sun, whether their records were released or not (and Charley weren't). Stranger still because Sun was just the sort of quirky label where Pride might have thrived eight years before he did make it into the big time.

The official story prefers to highlight that Pride was ''born to poor sharecroppers, one of eleven children in Sledge, Mississippi; a timeless everyman, revered by his musical peers and adored by countless millions of fans around the globe. His golden baritone voice has transcended race and spanned the generation''. Maybe so, but being on Sun never hurt anybody's reputation.

Charley Frank Pride was twenty years old when he auditioned at Sun. But, when Charley Pride's breakthrough came in 1966 it was organized by Jack Clement, the same producer who had been at Sun. Whether Jack Clement was there on the actual day, sometime in 1958, when Pride came into 706 Union Avenue is unknown.

*11 - (There's My Baby) Walkin' (The Stroll) (2:38) 1986 (Charley Pride) > Not Originally Issued <
(C. Otis-N. Lee) (Copyright Control)
Recorded Unknown Date 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Charley Pride (vocal), Unknown (guitar & maracas)

Whoever was there captured Pride singing a song logged as ''There's My Baby'', and sometimes referred to since as ''Walkin' (The Stroll)''. It opens with someone making a sound like footsteps before a basic rhythm set up by guitars and maracas becomes the backdrop to a minimal lyric about walking in the door and walking in the wonderland. Pride sings in an understated way with just a hint of the ubiquitous post-Elvis hot potato style. The song must have been inspired by ''The Stroll'', a hit in the early part of 1958 for a white group, The Diamonds, who specialized in covering rhythm and blues songs.

Johnny Powers

12 - With Your Love, With Your Kiss (2:38) 1959 (Johnny Powers) > Sun 327-A <
(Johnny Pevlik) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded Unknown Date August 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Johnny Powers (vocal and guitar), Brad Suggs (guitar), James M. Van Eaton (drums),
Billy Riley (bass), Martin Willis (tenor saxophone)

Johnny Pavlik from Detroit City turned in a real two-sided barn burner on his sole Sun single. Powers is a highly energetic vocalist, to say the least. The highlights on the bluesy "With Your Love, With Your Kiss" include the rather unorthodox use of a 3-chord during the verse, and the kick-ass drumming of session stalwart Jimmy M. Van Eaton. Martin Willis, who seemed to be spending more time at 706 Union than at home, reprises his sax solo from "One More Time". It was beautiful the first time, so why not repeat it? No one has ever discovered what happened at the end of this recording. The original 45 was released with the final note awkwardly cut off. Subsequent reissues have sounded as if attempts were made to edit the ending to sound intentional, or fade it altogether. At this point, no tape with a clean ending exists. (HD)

Alton & Jimmy

13 - No More Crying The Blues (2:04) 1959 (Alton & Jimmy) > Sun 323 <
(Jimmy Harrell-Alton Lott) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated-Cajun Publisher)
Recorded April 5, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Harrell (vocal), Alton Lott (vocal and guitar), Roland Janes (guitar),
Billy Riley (bass), James M. Van Eaton (drums)

If someone told you that "No More Crying The Blues" was cut bu a garage band in 1991, you might not bat an eye. In some ways, Alton and Jimmy were ahead of their time. Certainly, this is not the kind of rockabilly Sun is famous for. Yet, by 1959, this was all that was left of the vintage Sun sound. Assisted by Billy Riley (bass) and Jimmy Van Eaton, this was as close to the old days as anybody was likely to get in a changing marketplace. Truly, what we have here is a countryside vocal duet over intense guitar-driven rock and roll. (HD)

Bill Justis Orchestra

Bill Justis was in effect the Artist & Repertoire man at Sun during his tenure, and many familiar names recur in his line-ups such as Roland Janes, James M. Van Eaton, Billy Riley, and Jimmy Wilson. Just to whet the appetite there here tracks recorded by Justis, a good rocking instrumentals with Sid Manker on guitar.

*14 - Raunchy (2:19) 1986 (Bill Justis Orchestra) > Not Originally Issued <
(William Everette Justis-Sid Manker) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded June 5, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bill Justis (alt saxophone), Jimmy Wilson (piano), Sidney Manker (guitar),
Sid Lapworth (bass), James M. Van Eaton (drums) Jimmy Wilson (piano)

RAUNCHY TOLD BY BILL JUSTIS - Sometime in 1957 Bill Justis started playing a song adapted from a traditional tune known as ''Backwoods'', re-named for the 'now' phrase ''Raunchy''. He told Charlie Gillett, ''I'd been playing around Memphis with a territories-style jazz band. We were pretty loose. We'd give the people sixteen bars of melody, and then everybody in the band took off. We had one piece we called ''Backwoods'', and every time we played it the crowd would really move around. So after we'd been doing it about two months, I fixed up a recording session with four jazzmen and four rock and roll players''.
''My alto sax man got ill just before the session, so I had to play the lead. I had to borrow his alto, because I only had a tenor. I paid for that (''Raunchy'') session myself, though; the musicians, the studio, everything. It was my idea. On the ''Raunchy'' session I was out of shape on the sax and got an off-tone and I think that was what helped to sell it''.

Part of the charm of Justis' version of "Raunchy" missing in all the cover versions was the off-tone of his saxophone. It was not wholly intentional: Justis had called in another sax player who had begged off, forcing Justis to play the lead part himself. He hadn't touched the sax for a while, and his rusty chops accounted for the strange tone. Just what was "Raunchy"? Was it an uneasy truce between big band music and rockabilly? You know in the first four bars that you're in the presence of something. Sax man Vernon Drane recalled to Colin Escott, "I

We modelled ourselves on Count Basie and Shortly Rogers. After Bill went to Sun, I came with him. I actually named 'Raunchy''. ''I said, 'That's the raunchiest damn thing you've ever done. If you don't record it, you'll miss a million seller'. He gave me a hundred dollar bonus for naming it. The guitarist Sid Manker was really the guy that worked up that riff though. He was a crazy man, high on everything. Hell of nice guy, though". Whatever its title, the overall concoction didn't have much precedent in 1950s popular music. Another hybrid is born at 706 Union.

15 - The Midnight Man (2:08) 1957 (Vocal by Roger Fakes & The Bill Justis Orchestra) > PI 3519-B < 
(Bill Justis-Sid Manker) (Knox Music Incorporated
Recorded June 5, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roger Fakes (vocal and guitar), The Spinners (vocal chorus), Bill Justis (alt saxophone),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), Sidney Manker (guitar), Sid Lapworth (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums) Jimmy Wilson (piano)

There's not much to be said about "Midnite Man". Roger Fakes and the Spinners offer a vocal that no one in the industry seemed to take very seriously. By the time Sam Phillips saw fit to issue a Bill Justis LP (the first on the PI label), this track was conspicuously omitted. What is frightening, though, is that early disc jockeys copies of the disc were mailed with "Midnite Man" marked as the hit side. What were they thinking?

Roger Fakes

*16 - Somehow We'll Find A Way (2:42) 1986 (Roger Fake) > Not Originally Issued <
(Bill Justis) (Copyright Control)
Recorded: - August 28, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roger Fakes (vocal and guitar), Sid Manker (guitar), Billy Riley (guitar),
Stan Kesler (bass), James M. Van Eaton (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

The years have been kind of Roger Fakes. He didn't belong among the tortured souls who made so many of the recordings at Sun. He didn't see music as his one chance for deliverance from a bleakly predictable future on the farm or in the factory. He wasn't prone to crippling bouts of alcoholism or depression. Life held more.
''Sam Phillips had the unique ability to put people at their ease and get the best out of them'', Roger said in 1986. ''I respect him a lot for that''.

Bill Justis Orchestra

*17 - Wild Rice (2:26) 1986 (Bill Justis Orchestra) > Not Originally Issued <
(Bill Justis) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded August 22, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bill Justis (tenor saxophone), Sidney Manker (guitar), Sid Lapworth (bass), Otis Jett (drums),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), Jamieson Bryant (saxophone)

On this recording, "Wild Rice", plows different ground. It comes much closer to the 1940s (even 1930s) big band era that was close to Justis' heart. This tune is inspired, if not lifted, very carefully mind you, from Ralph Flanagan's 1953 pop hit "Hot Toddy".

*18 - College Man (3:40) 1958 (Vocal by Billy Riley) (Bill Justis Orchestra) > Not Originally Issued <
(Bill Justis) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded August 22, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bill Justis (tenor saxophone), Sidney Manker (guitar), Sid Lapworth (bass), Otis Jett (drums),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), Jamieson Bryant (saxophone)
Bill Riley (vocals), Band (chorus)

*19 - Scroungie (2:06) 1986 (Bill Justis Orchestra) > Not Originally Issued <
(Bill Justis-Sid Manker) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded August 22, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bill Justis (tenor saxophone), Sidney Manker (guitar), Sid Lapworth (bass), Otis Jett (drums),
Jimmy Wilson (piano), Jamieson Bryant (saxophone)

For one thing, after "Raunchy" we expected a title like "Scroungie". And we expected a straight ahead rocker featuring some weird country-rockabilly-sounding guitar mixed with slightly flighty, barely in-tune sax breaks. In many ways, Bill Justis was the first guy to take his sax to a country hoedown.

Bill Pinky

20 - After The Hop (2:06) 1958 (Bill Pinky & The Turks) > PI 3524-A <
(Bill Justis-Bill Pinkney) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 7, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bill Pinkney (vocal), Bill Justis (saxophone), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano), Chorus The Turks consisting of
Willie Peppers, Gerald Hendrix, Tom Abston and James Curry (vocal chorus)

On second thought, maybe PI was going to specialize in artists whose last name started with "P". Pittman, Powers and now Pinky. Actually, that's Pinkney, although his handle was surgically shortened to Pinky. In any case, Pinky was the first black artist who had graced a Sun microphone in quite a while. In fact, other than Rosco Gordon (who would enjoy another Sun release later in 1958), the place was starting to look as lillywhite as a Klan meeting. But Pinky changed all that.

"After The Hop" is one of those Larry Williams teen records that manages to work in names like Short Fat Fanny while creating images of dancing away the night. In many ways this is mindless teen fluff from 40 years ago, yet its instrumental track has an undeniable energy starting with those strangled sax notes by Bill Justis. The longer the track goes on, the more Sun fans will recognize it as a reprise of Roy Orbison's "Chicken Hearted", recorded just months earlier. (HD) (CE)

21 - Sally's Got A Sister (2:41) 1958 (Bill Pinky & Turks) > PI 3524-B < 
(Bill Justis-Bill Pinkney) (Hi-Lo Music Incorporated)
Recorded February 7, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bill Pinkney (vocal), Bill Justis (saxophone), Roland Janes (guitar), Stan Kesler (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano), Chorus The Turks consisting of
Willie Peppers, Gerald Hendrix, Tom Abston and James Curry (vocal chorus)

"Sally's Got A Sister" is a slightly different matter. Although it doesn't quite know what it wants to be or, more aptly, how to get there, there is a very interesting record buried in here. The verses (more references to "Long Tall Sally" and company) are trite enough to make you sit back and pay attention when the release (containing the title) finally arrives. This songs works! Then there's the business of the instrumental break: not one, but two. After Bill Justis has his way say and we're expecting Pinkney and the Turks to come back in with the hook-aden release again, we're treated to 12 more bars of jamming, this time by Roland Janes. A strange record indeed.

Originally from South Carolina, Pinkney was singing alongside Brook Benton in the Jerusalem Stars when Clyde McPhatter drafted him into the Drifters in 1953. After McPhatter left, Pinkney sang lead on a few songs, including ''Steamboat'' before the Drifters' manager (and owner), George Treadwell, fired him in 1957. He did a tour with Bill Justis and Roland Janes, which probably accounts for this one-off single. In all likelihood, it was recorded shortly before Pinkney put together a group called the Flyers with Bobby Hendricks that made one record for Atco. Pinkney meanwhile was still recording occasionally with the Drifters until Treadwell fired the lot in 1958. he then formed a group called The Original Drifters that lasted well into the Seventies. (HD) (CE)

Bill Justis Orchestra

*22 - Bop Train (2:09) 1986 (Bill Justis Orchestra) > Not Originally Issued <
(Bill Justis) (Justis Music Incorporated)
Recorded November 10-11, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bill Justis (saxophone), Roland Janes (guitar), Cliff Acred (bass), Billy Riley (bass),
Richard Mateller (trumpet), Jackie Thomas (trombone), Vernon Drake (saxophone),
Sid Manker (guitar), Keith Vann (drums), Charlie Rich (piano)

*23 - Flip Flop And Bop (2:13) 1986 (Bill Justis Orchestra) > Not Originally Issued <
(Floyd Cramer) (Copyright Control)
Recorded May 8, 1957 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Bill Justis (tenor saxophone), Sid Manker (guitar), Billy Riley (bass),
James M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)
Vernon Drake (saxophone)

Roland Janes Band

Towards the end of the life of 706 Union as a recording studio, several members of the house band saw sessions logged under their own name. Roland Janes recorded a guitar figure known as ''Rolando'' featuring his own prowess with the axe as well as significant piano and sax solos from Jimmy Wilson and Martin Willis. Janes brought in singer Eddie Cash on ''Little Bitty Pretty Girl'' and ''Hey Good Lookin'', but these vocal sides were also designed to show off the band to maximum effect. After a long career in the music business around Memphis, Roland Janes later returned to the Phillips fold and still works at the Phillips Recording Studio to his death in 2013. but is clear which month the Janes sides were made, February, but the year is uncertain. 1958 is possible, but 1959 is more likely, not least because saxophonist Martin Willis and drummer Jimmy Van Eaton both led sessions that the same month in 1959.

*24 - Rolando (2:05) 1986 (Roland Janes Band) > Not Originally Issued <
(Roland Janes) (Copyright Control)
Recorded February 6-11, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roland Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (guitar), Probably Jimmy Wilson (piano),
Pat O'Neill (bass), Billy Weir or James M. Van Eaton (drums), Martin Willis (tenor saxophone)

In addition to playing lead guitar on the early Jerry Lee Lewis records, Roland Janes had a great deal more to offer in that he could write, engineer and produce as well. Born in 1933 in Brookings, Arkansas, Roland came to Sun early in 1956 where he got his chance to shine some three years later. None of the sides cut at this session were commissioned, yet "Rolando" certainly impresses - despite its conspicuous melodic parallel with Buddy Holly's "Modern Don Juan".

Eddie Cash

*25 - Little Bitty Pretty Girl (1:36) 1986 (Eddie Cash) > Not Originally Issued <
(Roland Janes) (Copyright Control)
Matrix number: - None - Alternate Take - Not Originally Issued
Recorded February 6-11, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Eddie Cash (vocal), Roland Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (guitar), Probably Jimmy Wilson (piano),
Pat O'Neill (bass), Billy Weir or James M. Van Eaton (drums), Martin Willis (tenor saxophone)

Eddie Cash was born in Memphis in 1941, which put him squarely in the right place at the right time. He did indeed cross paths, both in and out of the studio, with many famous musicians of the era, including Scotty Moore and Bill Black. Indeed, Cash claimed to have appeared with Scotty and Bill when Elvis was off making movies in Hollywood.

On this February 11, 1959 session (identified on the tape box with Roland Janes' name) features multiple takes of two songs by Eddie Cash. Confusion surrounds this tape. Was Cash performing with the Janes band, offering several vocals, or did his performances date from an earlier session and find their way on to the same 7-inch tape reel for storage? We may never know. It is clear, however, that Cash's versions of ''Hey Good Lookin'' offers the late 1950s Sun sound, which will be familiar to Sun fans. Cash turns in a vintage Elvis-sound-alike vocal, complete with hiccups and uh-huh-huh's just where you'd expect to find them. But it's the Sun house band that really shines here, driven by Jimmy M. Van Eaton's propulsive drumming and Martin Willis' staccato yet melodic sax work. cash did not have particularly positive memories of the results of the session and none of its product was originally released, although most tracks have since found their way onto Sun archaeology compilations, often mis-credited to Roland Janes.

*26 - Hey Good Lookin' (2:20) 1986 (Vocal by Eddie Cash) > Not Originally Issued <
(Hank Williams) (Acuff Rose Music)
Recorded February 6-11, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Eddie Cash (vocal), Roland Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (guitar), Probably Jimmy Wilson (piano),
Pat O'Neill (bass), Billy Weir or James M. Van Eaton (drums), Martin Willis (tenor saxophone)

Martin Willis

Martin Willis was of course one of Billy Riley's Little Green Men, as well as appearing on a variety of sessions. His rendition of Hank Garland's "Sugar Foot Rag" is backed by most of the other Little Green Men, although the precise personnel is not known, and nor is the date. Like Ace Cannon, Martin Willis also recorded on Hi Records in Memphis, and played with The Bill Black Combo, replacing Cannon when he scored with "Tuff".

*27 - Sugarfoot Rag (2:20) 1986 (Martin Willis) > Not Originally Issued <
(Hank Garland-Vaugh Horton) (Cromwell Music)
Recorded February 6-11, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Martin Willis (tenor saxophone) Roland Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (guitar),
Probably Jimmy Wilson (piano), Pat O'Neill (bass), Billy Weir or James M. Van Eaton (drums)

"Sugar-Foot Rag" (or Sugarfoot Rag) is a song written by Hank Garland and Vaughn Horton (given on Red Foley's record label as George Vaughn). It was originally recorded by Garland and released in 1949, selling over a million records. It was then recorded by American country music artist Red Foley in 1950. It was also recorded by American country music artist Jerry Reed and released in November 1979 as the lead single from his album, ''Texas Bound And Flyin''. The song reached a peak of number 12 on the United States Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and number 13 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart. Junior Brown covered ''Sugarfoot Rag'' on his 1993 album ''Guit With It''.

Jimmy M. Van Eaton

*28 - Hey Bo Diddley (2:53) 1986 (Jimmy M. Van Eaton) > Not Originally Issued <
(Ellis McDaniel) (Arc Music)
Recorded February 6-11, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Roland Janes (guitar), Billy Riley (guitar), Probably Jimmy Wilson (piano),
Pat O'Neill (bass), James M. Van Eaton (drums), Martin Willis (tenor saxophone)

The ubiquitous Sun drummer is given the credits on a driving version of "Bo Diddley" which was recorded towards the end of the 1950s. The sensational drumming man, beats up a storm normally guitar-led tune, titled on the tape box ''Hey, Bo Diddley''. The beat is actually closer to ''Bo Diddle'', and no doubt some kind of tribute to Bo was intended, though Martin Willis's sax lines are closer to ''Willie And The Hand Jive''. Drummer Van Eaton always had a loose and unorthodox approach which today, in the age of drum machines, sounds very out of place and very refreshing.

Jimmy Pritchett

*29 - That's The Way I Feel (2:28) 1978 (Jimmy Pritchett) Crystal 503 At <
(Smith-Hyde) (Crystal Music)
Recorded Unknown Date April 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Jimmy Pritchett (vocal and guitar), Billy Riley (guitar), Smokey Joe Baugh (piano),
Jan Ledbetter (bass), Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Hank Byers (guitar)

Recorded in the spring of 1958 with ''Nothing On My Mind'' on the flip, ''That's The Way I Feel'' is one of those feel good rockabilly boppers that became synonymous with Memphis. The band is believed to be the Clyde Leopard band, a staple of the local Memphis scene who among others gave a start to Warren Smith. Another legend of the Memphis crowd, Stan Kesler was hell bent on recording his new discovery Jimmy Pritchett but soon ran into problems with the equipment at the WHBQ studio. He called his old pal Sam Phillips who let them use his Sun Studios on Union. Kesler certainly knew his was around that soundboard and he produced a cracker.

Drummer Jimmy van Eaton is outstanding and dominates the backing like he does on so many Memphis recordings, whilst. Smokey Joe Baugh takes a flight into the stratosphere for his piano solo. When the song kicks off in Jerry Lee Lewis style you half expect the Killer to start singing. However, it's our man Jimmy, whose vocals have a great energy to them with the perfect combination of enthusiasm and control.

The song was released on Stan Kesler's short lived Crystal label in Memphis, while Pritchett's career was even shorter. Pityfully, this was his only release. He probably came on the rockabilly scene two years too late to have ruffled Sam's hair, a shame because he seemed to have the exuberant voice that was made for rockabilly. Johnny Burnette cut a calmed down version for Liberty Records.

Note: ''That's The Way I Feel'' was the recognition tune of the famous rock and roll program ''Let's Go Rock And Roll'', with Albert Vis behind the mic, which was broadcast every Tuesday on Radio Capelle (105.3 FM) in the Netherlands.

John Ace Cannon

*30 - Tuff (Cattywampus) (3:03) 1986 (Johnny Ace Cannon) > Not Originally Issued <
(Johnny Cannon) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded June 5, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Johnny ''Ace'' Cannon (saxophone), Bill Justis (saxophone), Roland Janes (guitar),
Billy Riley (bass), Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

The Bill Justis Orchestra (not band) were back for their third release in four months. Never in the history of Sun Records had so many releases by a single artist appeared on the market in such a short time. The reason here was quite obviously the need to capitalize on the success of "Raunchy". Neither of two previous follow-ups had managed the lofty sales figures or media attention of the original, and Sam Phillips didn't want to let this one get away from him.

''Tuff (Cattywampus)'' was recorded as ''Tuff'' with lead saxophone by Cannon but was issued (in another take) on Phillips International under the title ''Cattywampus'' by Bill Justis.

*31 - That's Just Too Bad (2:20) 1986 (Johnny Ace Cannon)
(Unknown) (Copyright Control)
Recorded June 5, 1958 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Unknown (vocal), Johnny ''Ace'' Cannon (saxophone), Roland Janes (guitar),
Billy Riley (bass), Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums), Jimmy Wilson (piano)

We cannot say too much about the unknown artist. Whoever sing ''That's Just Too Bad'' and a false start of ''706 Union'' (?) was part of a session led by Johnny Ace Cannon. There is some reference in the files to Carl McVoy being on the session and there's the possibility that it could be Jimmy Pritchett who also recorded a vocal with Cannon's band around the same time.

Brad Suggs

32 - 706 Union (2:47) 1986 (Brad Suggs) > Not Originally Issued <
(Brad Suggs) (Knox Music Incorporated)
Recorded July 21, 1959 at Sun Recording Studio, 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee
Brad Suggs (guitar), Martin Willis (saxophone), Charlie Rich (piano),
Billy Riley (bass), Jimmy M. Van Eaton (drums)

Brad Suggs you say. First there were those three country ballads issued with the Slim Rhodes band back in 1955. Then between 1959 and 1961 Suggs had five singles issued on Phillips International. Virtually all of them were instrumentals with some novelty aspect to them. This two sides, issued in September 1959, were his first shot at the marketplace.

This alternate and Suggs tribute to "706 Union" was not lost on The Fireballs who later requisitioned the melody for a chart single entitled "Vaquero".

"706 Union" raises an interesting question. If you were asked to compose a brief instrumental to commemorate the birthplace of Sun Records, would this be it? Consider everything that had happened at 706 prior to this date: Elvis Presley, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Cash, B.B. King, Carl Perkins, The Ripley Cotton Choppers. Would your music be in a minor key? Of the approximately 200 singles issued on Sun/Phillips International and Flip prior to this date.

Not to mention those sides issued on Chess, RPM, and other labels to which Sam Phillips licensed his recordings, no more than a handful of them were performed in a minor key. So why choose one for the tribute? Compounding the problem, Martin Willis' sax break sounds like it was lifted from a rock bar mitzvah, and Charlie Rich's piano solo sounds like something drifting out of a lounge in Havana in the early 1950s. Only Van Eaton's echoey drumming sounds remotely Sun-like. All this might have been a lot more acceptable if it weren't titled "706 Union".

© 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 <
 
 
 

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

THE SUN ROCKING YEARS - Rock and Roll is the generic term used to describe the dominant strain of American popular music from 1955 to 1965. In general, rock and roll was teenage-oriented dance music that synthesized elements of black and white folk and popular music styles, specifically and most conspicuously, rhythm and blues and country (or hillbilly) music, is superseded by Elvis Presley, born in Tupelo, Mississippi, and reared in Memphis, Tennessee. All of the other subsequent rock and roll innovators, with the arguable exception of Chuck Berry (born, San Jose, California, 1926), were native southerners:

Carl Perkins (born, Bermis, Tennessee, 1932), Jerry Lee Lewis (born, Ferriday, Louisiana, 1935), Buddy Holly (born, Lubbock, Texas, 1936), Fats Domino (born, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1928), Little Richard (born, Macon, Georgia, 1932). From 1955 to 1958 rock and roll remained largely a southern phenomenon. Two principal regional recording centers were Memphis and New Orleans, each of which produced a distinctive idiom of its own. Memphis, long a cultural crossroads where various southern musical traditions flourished, especially Mississippi Delta blues and hillbilly music, produced a dynamic hybrid known as rockabilly.

Rockabilly was firmly rooted in country music but drew heavily from black sources, most notably gospel and rhythm and blues. It was characterized by small ensembles (often a trio), stringed instrumentation, and a persistent yet light beat layered over frenzied vocalizing and an echo produced in the recording studio. The classic rockabilly sound, engineered by Sam Phillips and performed by Elvis Presley (vocal and acoustic rhythm guitar), Scotty Moore (electric lead guitar), and Bill Black (acoustic upright bass) was first recorded at Phillips' Sun Records studio in Memphis in July 5-6, 1954. Sun soon attracted dozens of aspiring young musicians from across the South who performed in a style similar to Presley's. Important Sun artists after Elvis Presley were Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Billy Riley, Sonny Burgess, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich and Conway Twitty. A definitive rockabilly group from Memphis, which recorded for the New Yorkbased Coral label, was the Rock And Roll Trio (Johnny Burnette, Dorsey Burnette, and Paul Burlison).

After 1955 the basic Memphis rockabilly sound underwent a gradual modification. Elvis Presley moved toward a mainstream rock and roll sound after signing with RCA Victor in November 1955. Jerry Lee Lewis introduced his own boogie-woogie-based piano style into rockabilly with his first Sun releases in 1955. Beginning in 1957 Buddy Holly created an original pop-influenced variant of rockabilly, exemplified by such recordings as "That'll Be The Day" (1957), "Peggy Sue" (1957), and "Rave On" (1958). In Louisiana, Dale Hawkins recorded in a strong blues-influenced style, which gained its greatest expression in the hit recording "Suzie Q" (1957). Numerous influential rockabilly artists lived and recorded in Los Angeles after 1955, including Gene Vincent (originally from Virginia), whose best-known song was "Be Bop A Lula" (1956), Wanda Jackson (originally from Oklahoma), the most talented female rockabilly performer; Eddie Cochran, next to Carl Perkins, the finest rockabilly songwriter, who recorded such definitive items as "Summertime Blues" (1958) and "Something Else" (1959), and Ricky Nelson (born in New Jersey), who sold more rockabilly recordings than anyone other than Elvis Presley. Nelson and the Nashville-based Everly Brothers followed Presley and Holly in moving rockabilly in the direction of pop music by removing much of the rawness and dynamism from the idiom. The Everly Brothers were especially significant for introducing the traditional hillbilly duet style into rock and roll. Their best recordings such as "Wake Up Little Susie" (1957), and "Bye, Bye Love" (1957), retained much of the potency of early rockabilly. A few mainstream country performers also recorded in a rockabilly mode, most notably Marty Robbins and Johnny Horton.

The New Orleans sound, which formed the second major component of southern rock and roll, was infused with the blues. It was characterized by small ensembles (usually five or six pieces) whose central instrument was the piano. Accompaniment usually consisted of saxophones, drums, electric bass, and horns. It was noted for a heavy, rolling beat and Carribean-derived polyrhythms. New Orleans vocalists, most of whom were black, sang with the thick inflections indigenous to the city. Most of the songs identified with New Orleans rock and roll were exuberant, joyous, and urgent, yet less frenzied than those from rockabilly music. Lyrics were seldom teen oriented.

Though no record label of comparable importance to Sun Records existed in New Orleans - most of the city's recordings were released by West Coast companies such as Imperial and Specialty - virtually every recording made in the city came from the studio of engineer and producer Cosimo Matassa. Matassa and Dave Bartholomew, a musician, writer, and producer, were key figures in the evolution of a distinctive New Orleans rock and roll style.

The quintessential New Orleans rock and roll performer was Fats Domino, a musical heir of the great rhythm and blues pianist Professor Longhair (Henry Roeland Byrd). Domino was a popular rhythm and blues recording artist in the early 1950s, and he made his entry onto the national pop charts in 1955 with "Ain't That A Shame". In the 1955-60 period, Domino produced a remarkable series of hit recordings, including "Blueberry Hill" (1956) and "I'm walking" (1957).

Other important contributors to the New Orleans sound included Lloyd Price, Smiley Lewis, Huey Smith, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Frankie Ford, Bobby Charles, and Jimmy Clanton. Clanton, a white performer, accomplished the closest approximation of the New Orleans style to a mainstream rock and roll sound with recordings like "Just A Dream" (1958). The only non-Louisiana artist to play a significant role in the popularization of the New Orleans style was Little Richard (Penniman) of Macon, Georgia. Little Richard became one of the most dynamic and controversial rock and roll performers of the 1950s with such hits as "Tutti Frutti" (1955) and "Rip It Up" (1956).

By the early 1960s rockabilly music had largely been subsumed by the rock and roll mainstream. The New Orleans sound remained a vital and distinctive regional rock and roll form, though it too declined in popularity and experienced a certain degree of accommodation with the mainstream approach. Both Memphis and New Orleans ceased to be important recording centers. Most southern musicians left to work in Los Angeles, New York, or Nashville where, if successful, they tended to produce recordings of minimal regional identity. Southern rock and roll, which, in the forms of rockabilly and New Orleans music, had exerted a formative influence on the creation of a national rock and roll style, now merely existed as one element within the broad form as evinced by such representative recordings of the period as Johnny Tillotson's "Poetry In Motion" (1960), Johnny Burnette's "You're Sixteen" (1960), and Elvis Presley's "Return To Sender" (1962).

After 1963 American rock and roll began to succumb to the so-called British Invasion, spearheaded by the Beatles, who were soon followed by such groups as the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and Gerry and the Pacemakers. Ironically, the British invaders were themselves extremely indebted to the southern-derived forms of early rock and roll and thus revived much of the southern character and identity of the music. The most successful American rock and roll recording artist of the mid- 1960s was Johnny Rivers, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana (born 1940), who had begun his musical career as a rockabilly stylist. Rivers's music combined many varied styles, from urban folk music to rockabilly, but retained its essential southern character.

By 1966 the Beatles and Bob Dylan (another musician devoted to southern musical forms) led the way toward "rock" as contrasted to rock and roll. Rock had a general, national (and even international) identity. It was a form oriented more toward concerts than dance and was linguistically and thematically sophisticated and complex. Only in the early 1970s, with the emergence of the Allman Brothers Band and the attendant success of Capricorn records of Maco, Georgia, did a specific, self conscious, and identifiable southern rock style evolve.

by Colin Escott, Hank Davis, and Martin Hawkins

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