© 2011 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17240 (1-5) mono digital
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN ERA OUTTAKES
5-CD Mini-Box Set (CD-format) with 132-page booklet, 152 tracks. Playing time approx. 360 minutes, 152 tracks and 45 separate songs. Outtakes from all of Carl's Sun era recordings. Everything
from Carl's earliest hillbilly titles through his final recording for the film ''Jamboree''! Contains previous unissued titles and outtakes of almost all known songs. Lavishly illustrated booklet contains previously unpublished vintage photos. Complete up-to-date
discography, detailed track-by-track music commentary with liner notes of Hank Davis and Scott Parker. The book includes rare photos, and previously unpublished interviews with Carl's son Stan Perkins, and drummer WS Holland.
Carl Perkins was the best guitar player who ever set foot in the Sun studio. He was no slouch as a singer and song writer also. Until Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis became mega-stars, nobody, and that includes
Elvis - sold more records at Sun than Carl Perkins. Carl was so much more than ''Blue Suede Shoes''. In addition to eight singles and an album's worth of material, Carl left behind a treasure trove of recorded material consisting of unissued titles and studio
outtakes. Many of these tracks have appeared over the years but, incredibly, there were still vintage recordings awaiting discovery. Here for the first time, along with every known Carl Perkins outtake from the Sun era. Finally, it's all here in one place,
along with some delicious moments of studio chatter, false starts and song fragments. You've never heard Carl like this before. Also offer some memorable home recordings from the Sun era, some of them previously unissued. They show Carl playing and singing
in the privacy of his own living room.
Carl Perkins had eight singles and one LP released on the original Sun label. The LP contained five previously unissued tracks
so that's a total of 21 songs - his entire released Sun legacy.
When Carl left the label in 1958 he left numerous additional titles, many of which would eventually find
their way into commercial release as Sun archaeologists dug more deeply into the tape archives. Not all of those originally unissued titles were gems, but many were strong compositions and performances that had been worthy of release the first time around.
Carl also left outtakes of most of his issued titles. They, too, deserved attention.
Here, for the first time, we gather almost all that previously unissued material
in one place together with some never-issued home recordings from the era and release it about as systematically and completely as it is likely to appear. This project is a labor of love, and because it is far from a Greatest Hits compilation, its market will
be as small as it is dedicated. In any case, a collection of 'Hits' was hardly viable. Carl Perkins did not have enough Hits 'Greatest' or otherwise — to sustain a project of this description. Once you get past Blue Suede Shoes, the recognition factor
declines pretty rapidly.
What doesn't decline is the quality of the music. Carl made a lot of good recordings. We were repeatedly reminded in compiling this boxed set
of just how fine a guitarist, singer and songwriter Perkins was. It is our hope that listening to these sides will remind you of the same. There is a prodigious amount of raw energy on these tapes, some of it admittedly fueled by alcohol. Much of this music
will rivet your attention. Carl Perkins was truly a major talent, whether allowing the Hank Williams side of his Hillbilly roots to come up for air; working the bluesy edge of rockabilly that drew collectors to him; or attempting to be a teen poet, much as
Chuck Berry had done during the same decade. Carl Perkins was about as deeply involved in teenage life as Chuck Berry was — which is to say 'not.' But that didn't stop either man from speaking to that audience in credible images.
In barely over 3 years, Carl Perkins made the transition from pure hillbilly singer to aspiring teen idol. Of course, he never succeeded in the latter. Despite the best promotional efforts
behind him, Perkins was never really teen idol material. Sam Phillips had it right the first time he met Perkins in mid-1954. "l thought he was one of the world's greatest plowhands''. Phillips wasn't being in any way demeaning. He simply saw how intractably
country the young man standing before him was. It was going to be a full time job separating Carl from a life of sharecropping and singing in the rough-hewn honky tonks of Jackson, Tennessee. It's a long way from that life to the stage of the Brooklyn Paramount
or the Dick Clark TV show. The question was whether Carl could make that journey and retain the feeling and originality that Phillips detected even before the first recordings had been set down on tape.
Format and Content
You won 't find a detailed Carl Perkins biography in this book. That work has already been done and, fortunately, most
of it is still in print. David McGee, with a lot of input from Carl, wrote his biography (Go Cat Go) and Carl 's own (with Ron Rendleman) book, Disciple in Blue Suede Shoes covers much of the same ground. Bear Family's Carl Perkins box (BCD 15494) contains
a wealth of biographical material by Colin Escott and Bill Millar, and Bear Family CD Carl Rocks (BCD 16752, compiled by Hank Davis) does as well. In short, there's no shortage of information about Carl's life.
Rather than needlessly recreating a biography, we have devoted almost all of our attention to the music. As you'll see, we have examined it in considerable detail. As we mentioned before, this is far from a 'Greatest Hits' package,
and that tells us something about you and your interest in Perkins and Sun Records. It's also likely you are no stranger to Bear Family's Outtake Box series, which ranges from Johnny Cash (BCD 16325 ) and Billy Riley (BCD 17122 ) to the Everly Brothers (BCD
15931 ). There may not be hundreds of thousands of us fans and collectors out there any more, but it is fair to say that with this boxed set, you have come to the right place.
As we all knows Sun Records has a special place in music history. The combination of country musical feeling with blues musical structure changed popular music. Much of that happened in
the Sun studio, accomplished by a long list of musicians, most of whose names you know. And Carl Perkins has a special place in that list. Many of those musicians, and others of the era, earned and received admiration, respect, and success. But Carl, in addition
to those, inspired something more in lots of the people who came to know his music: affection for the man himself. Many of those people took his music and incorporated various aspects of it into their own contributions to popular music. Most prominent of those,
of course, were the Beatles. But there were many others. Elvis had imitators. Carl had descendants.
As we said earlier, you will learn or be reminded that Carl had command
of all aspects of his music. He wrote a lot of terrific songs — beautiful ballads, dance-able rock 'n' roll numbers, slices of the rural southern life he knew. His guitar stylings ranged from the hard-edged to the frankly pretty and the slightly jazzy,
and he played what the music needed (with a level of versatility and virtuosity that will surprise some people when they get to Disc 5.) He sang straight-ahead or stylized as befitted the song but it was always recognizably him. And the combination of all
these approaches, as you will hear, remind us that he was far more sophisticated than he's generally thought to be, and far more sophisticated than casual listening would reveal. You're in for a treat.
Sam Phillips, Bill Cantrell, and Quinton Claunch
Hank Davis and Scott Parker
Hank Davis and James Stewart
Jurgen Christian Zwarg
Liner Notes/ Music Commentary
Hank Davis and Scott Parker
Colin Escott, Martin Hawkins, Scott Parker,
Hank Davis, and Richard Weize
Photos and Illustrations
R.A. Andreas, Hank Davis, Colin Escott, Ron Haney,
W.S. Holland, Joseph Rullo,
The Showtime Music Archive (Toronto)
W.S. Holland, and Stan Perkins
Disc 1 Contains
An In-Depth Look at Carl's Music
Honky Tonk Babe / Gal
In late October or early November 1954, the Perkins Brothers Band made its second trip to the Sun studio. The first trip had been to audition for Sam Phillips; this trip was for a recording session. The second song they recorded
at this session was ''Honky Tonk Babe/Ga1'' (the title is taken from the tag line but, like so many other lyrics in Carl's early performances, it didn't always come out the same). The band had been performing the song for a while in the bars around Jackson,
Tennessee. At the session, they did the song five times but Sam, though he said he liked it, didn't think they'd got it perfect. And so these recordings remained unheard for decades.
what's wonderful about these takes is the enormous infectious energy that drives all of them from start to finish. The seeds of rockabilly were sown early. Listening to them more than half century later, we can see that both of Sam's opinions were correct
- they never nailed ''Honky Tonk Babe'' and this band was destined to make a lot of stunningly wonderful recordings.
Even though the Perkins Band had been playing this
song in the bars for years, we can hear the arrangement evolve over these five takes. One notable change is that in the first of the live, Carl's vocal opens the song but he adds a guitar introduction in the following four. The one guitar solo in the first
take proves to be his favorite after he tries a different approach in the second take.
The later takes have two solos and eventually they're all alike - repeats of the
one from the first take. That chosen solo has an exciting aggressive opening, similar in feel to what Scotty Moore plays on the second solo of Elvis's ''Baby Let's Play House''. Carl and Elvis were playing shows together and we shouldn't be surprised that
two first-class guitar pickers who were inventing a new style of music would draw inspiration from each other.
The song's structure seems to be made up on the spot. Sometimes
there are two verses after a solo, sometimes three. The lyrics change as well. Of course, there's the shift from ''Honky Tonk Babe'' to ''Honky Tonk Gal''. Verses come and go. One notable verse in the first take ("they took the sand from the dance floor ")
never reappears. But it raises a possibility that could resolve an old mystery: Is the "sand from the dance floor " the source of "you got that sand all over your feet " in ''Honey Don't''?
One constant in all the takes is the verse where Carl scat sings two lines, ending "la dah dee doh" (which rhymes with "floor".) We guess he picked that idea up from Elvis's record of ''That's All Right''. It works fine here too.
What's remarkable about these five recordings is the way they give hints of what was to come - the blending
of country music with other forms of pop music. Surely, this is a country song. The theme of the lyric is a country staple - woman seduced by the bright lights and honky tonks "downtown". Carl's singing starts out very country - he cracks his voice in a near-yodel
as was common for country singers of the day. But over the course of the five takes, the vocals become more energetic and more confident and the cracked voice trick disappears. Also, notice the tune. In the second line the melody is anchored on a ''bluesy'
note'' - the flatted third surrounded by a IV chord. In these ways, ''Honky Tonk Babe/Gal'' is not nearly so pure a country record as the other song they recorded that day, ''Movie Magg''.
1 - Honky Tonk Gal / Babe (Take 1) (1:52) (Carl Perkins)
2 - Honky Tonk Gal / Babe (Take 2) (2:16) (Carl Perkins)
3 - Honky
Tonk Gal / Babe (Take 3) (2:11) (Carl Perkins)
4 - Honky Tonk Gal / Babe (Take 4) (2:22) (Carl Perkins)
5 - Honky Tonk Gal / Babe (Take 5)
(1:57) (Carl Perkins)
When Sam Phillips mixed ''Honky Tonk Babe/Gal''
for release, he told Carl that he wanted a good country ballad to go on the flip side of ''Movie Magg''. The result was ''Turn Around''. Sam gave it that title; Carl had been calling it ''I'll Be Following You''. Sam brought in Quentin Claunch on guitar, Bill
Cantrell on fiddle, and Stan Kesler steel to join the Perkins band on the session. He wanted a real country record.
The song is absolutely gorgeous - simple, heartfelt,
and honest with a sing-along melody. Jerry Lee Lewis noticed that and included the song on his 1957 Sun EPA 107. If it had been a bigger hit, it would have been a natural for Ray Charles to resurrect
in the early 1960s when he was recording country songs like ''I Can Stop Loving You'' with a full orchestra and chorus. And Carl wrote it because Sam asked for a good country ballad. Sam should have sent in a request every week.
On the one complete outtake, Carl 's vocal is every bit as pure and earnest as it is on the released version. The instruments - mainly the fiddle - are not all tuned up together, providing some
truly uncomfortable moments which we guess were recognizable only when the tape was played back. This one belonged in the outtake box.
We also have a few fragments and
some studio chatter among the musicians. At one point in the chatter there it's a discussion of Elvis and someone, probably Cantrell, says he doesn't like that sort of music. The old guard passeth.
6 - Turn Around (Fragment 1) (2:31) (Carl Perkins)
7 - Turn Around (Take 1) (3:17) (Carl Perkins)
8 - Turn Around (Fragment
2) (0:51) (Carl Perkins)
Carl Perkins was a virtual unknown when his
first record appeared in early 1955 and his name wasn't even on a Sun label. In some ways, neither side of Flip 501 pointed to what was to make Carl famous or endear him to generations of rockabilly fans. But in other ways this song gave us lots of clues about
what made Carl so special.
According to Carl's bio ''Go Cat Go'', the earliest version of ''Movie Magg'' was written when Carl was just 14. Although the lyrics were tweaked
over the years, the song remained fundamentally unchanged until the day Carl recorded it in 1954. In ''Movie Magg'', Carl has presented us with what might be a movie script. The story couldn't be any more rural, and it takes us back to an earlier time. Here's
a good old, hard-working farm boy who ''slicks himself for Saturday night'' and ''polishes up his old horse Beck'' and takes his girl Maggie into town to see a ''western picture show''. Even in 1954,
these were memories of an earlier, gentler America.
In this very early recording, we can hear traces of Carl 's undeniable lyrical gift. The song title
is a telling play on words, although it's not clear at this point who created it. By his own admission, Carl was not good with titles. Perhaps it was Sam's shorthand way of referring to the song. W.S. Holland recalls, "I don think that song even had a title
before we auditioned it and recorded it at Sun. It could very well have been Sam who named it''. In any case, back in the 1950s, movie magazines were all the rage. They were referred to as ''movie mags''. Here, Mag becomes Magg, short for Maggie. That alone
was worth the price of admission. And the story line, including a reference to Maggie's suspicious father who waits behind the door with a shotgun, added humor and depth to the story line. The irony is that from where we sit, it's hard to imagine what Maggie's
dad could object to about Carl (who inserts his own name into the lyric). Maybe he didn't like the fact that Carl didn't motor up to his gate in a 1952 Ford. He was making Maggie "climb upon old Beckie's back" in order to get into town. Maybe dad wanted more
for his daughter, but at least he didn't have to worry about any backseat shenanigans with Carl at the reins. Beckie didn't have a backseat. For that matter, she didn't have a front seat, either.
This early outtake - the only one that has survived - has a more country feel than the issued version. Carl stumbles over some of the lyrics and phrases them a bit awkwardly. The take also includes some alternative lyrics that wisely never
made it to the release ("Look out dad, just back up boy, cause you are in the way"). The last four bars of the guitar break strongly suggest the presence of Stan Kesler's steel guitar, an instrument that was unknown and uncredited on the issued version of
the song. At the least, Kesler is playing a muted duet with Carl.
A small coda to the story: W.S. Holland observes today that it's hard to imagine how a bunch of unknowns,
including a boy who had never played the drums before, could walk into a recording studio with a song about a boy taking his girl to the movies on a mule, and walk out with a recording contract. Of course, barely a year later they were all making more money
than they ever thought possible.
9 - Movie Magg (Take 1) (2:06) (Carl Perkins)
Can't Make Love To Somebody
This song should make every Carl Perkins fan sit up and take notice. By digging deep into the vault, we have found five versions of the title
(plus a false start) stemming from at least two different sessions. None of these appeared as a single or an LP track on the original Sun label. Maybe the subject matter was considered a tad too risqué for the time. Whatever the reason, both Carl and
Sam took this song quite seriously, before abandoning it and moving on. You'll hear a range of styles here, from a more traditional hillbilly approach to a drum centered version as rock 'n' roll began
to dominate the charts barely a year later.
More than anything, these recordings show us that Carl was really inventing or refining a new kind of music
that was accurately referred to as ''hillbilly bop''. Make no mistake about it: this was hillbilly music, but Carl was literally bopping all over the stage or studio when he performed it. His phrasing was free and spontaneous - something for which hillbilly
singers have rarely been noted. You can hear the spirit of Hank Williams looming over some of these takes, but when Carl breaks into wordless scat singing, you know he had left Hank Williams behind.
Just listen to these five outtakes and feel the energy Carl brings to the performances. Carl (and his band) are truly giving birth to this music as they perform it. You're never entirely sure which lyrics Carl will sing or how
he'll accent a vocal line or play his guitar. Throwaway couplets like '"Listen boy, ain't no joy, being lonely" reveal the ease and brilliance with which he composed songs. In truth, ''composed'' is probably too heady a term for what Carl did. His guitar offers
counterpoint to the vocal. He's not simply strumming or playing in rhythm. When Carl played like this, he and his brother Clayton (slap bass) were an entire band unto themselves. Both drums or acoustic rhythm guitar were unnecessary. Remind yourself that those
stellar guitar breaks you hear are coming from Carl. Elvis had Scotty. Carl had Carl.
There's a strong similarity between Carl's vocalizing and guitar playing on this
title and ''Gone Gone Gone'', which might have been a reason this title was set aside. Once Sam decided to release ''Gone'' on Carl's second record (and on his LP), this song might have seemed redundant. Both reveal that free, even jazzy approach Carl brought
to his performances. The composition, itself, may have been fairly straight, but once Carl got his teeth into it, it was anybody's guess where it was headed.
is, that kind of jivey freedom is not a quality of rockabilly any more than it is of hillbilly music. Carl eventually became associated with rockabilly (''Blue Suede Shoes'' was the turning point), but this song, that predates ''Shoes'' by perhaps six months,
is written and performed in a different style altogether. It resembles, in melody and feel, Elvis's 1955 Sun recording of ''Just Because'', a song that dated back to nearly the turn of the century.
10 - You Can't Make Love To Somebody (Take 1) (2:35) (Carl Perkins)
11 - You Can't Make Love To Somebody (False Start 1, Take 2) (2:41) (Carl Perkins)
12 - You Can't Make Love To Somebody (Take 3) (2:35) (Carl Perkins)
13 - You Can't Make Love To Somebody (Take 4) (2:17) (Carl Perkins)
- You Can't Make Love To Somebody (Take 5) (2:24) (Carl Perkins)
Gone Gone Gone
music at its beginning was basically country musicians taking a high-energy country-music approach to songs with blues structure. And ''Gone Gone Gone'' is the first Sun release with a country singer performing a 12-bar blues that he wrote. (Earl Petersen's
record of ''Boogie Blues'', Sun 197, has blues structure verses but the refrain is straight country music). Considering what happened at Sun in the years after, that alone would make this a landmark record.
We have three outtakes of the song, and they reveal a nice progression toward the released version - from country music to something more closely resembling rock and roll. Most of that is due to Carl's guitar playing during
his vocals. Going from the first to the third of these outtakes, he restricts himself to doing almost nothing but playing a percussive backbeat, foregoing the occasional melodic or harmonic fills. Meanwhile, Clayton Perkins' slap bass drives the song along.
W.S. Holland's drums have little to do with that drive. By his own reckoning, W.S. could barely play the drums at this point, and in W.S.'s clear memory, Sam was none too thrilled about having drums cluttering up the mix. In one of his few concessions to the
status quo, Sam stood shoulder to shoulder with the folks at the Opry. Drums had no place in country music. Whatever you hear of W.S.'s drums on these early records is bleed through from the bass mike. There was no separate microphone on the drums. Obviously,
all that would change very soon at 706 Union Avenue.
Carl's vocals are about as unrestrained as you can get. He whoops it up, scat sings, shouts encouragement to himself
in the solos and gives an exciting stage show right there in the studio. And, as he did so often, he rewrites the lyrics on the spot. So we go from "It must be jelly 'cause jam don shake like that" to "That must be my gal yours don 't look like that". Sometimes
"I'm gone gone gone" and sometimes "She gone gone gone''. It hardly matters.
Occasionally, particularly in the second of our three tracks, you can hear Bill Cantrell's
fiddle squeaking high above the rest. Clearly, Sam tried to keep it hidden. He didn't intend this to be a pure country record.
Overall, these takes are a snapshot of
the peculiar progress from country music played with abandon to rock and roll. Carl and the boys are pretty close to the finish line.
15 - Gone Gone Gone (Take 1) (2:55)
16 - Gone Gone Gone (Take 2) (2:20) (Carl Perkins)
17 - Gone Gone Gone (Take 3) (2:33) (Carl Perkins)
Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing
Fans of Carl's back in the 1950s who decided to check out some of his
releases before ''Blue Suede Shoes'', hoping to find some unknown early rockers, were in for a shock when they found this. Same label, about six months earlier than ''Shoes'', the word ''Jukebox'' in the title, all the omens were there. How could this happen?
We know today that Carl worshipped at the throne of Hank Williams before he caught the boppin' fever. This record was what ''Billboard'' used to call a "dolorous chant''. It's grim; humorless;
sad and mournful, and it's great. For many fans who got in at rockabilly's ground floor, this record was a learning experience. You got the whole deal here: sawing fiddle, soaring pedal steel. This is as fine an example of mid-1950s Memphis country music as
you're likely to find. And let's make one thing absolutely clear: Carl was very good at this stuff - both writing it and performing it. There were thousands of Hank Williams wannabees, well after his
death in 1953. Carl was one of them and he was on his game here.
The one surviving outtake of ''Jukebox'' reveals one obvious lyrical difference from
the issued version, and it's not clear whether it was an intentional difference or a lyrical fluff. Carl sings "Let the jukebox keep on playing / Let my record go around''. Is that "my" as in the one I've selected for my nickel, or "my" as in the one I've
recorded, maybe even this one?
Other than that it's not clear why this take was held back in favor of the issued one. This performance has a considerably more stylized
vocal than the original single. Whether that entered into Sam's decision is anybody's guess at this point.
18 - Let the Jukebox Keep On Playing (Take 1) (2:52) (Carl Perkins)
What You Doin' When You're Cryin'
This is another one of those enigmatic early Carl Perkins recordings
that never saw light of day on Sun. Its style owes an obvious debt to Hank Williams and, truth be told, it's a damn fine song. The title is tied to an eight-note melody that becomes a powerful hook with repeated listening. In fact, that enticing and familiar
melody line (C - D - F - E – D - C - E -E in key of C) has inspired several of us (*) to search through our memories of pop/country songs released in the 1950s just before and after Carl's song was recorded.
We know of no precursor to this melody (i.e., Carl did not 'steal'' it from anywhere we can tell). The reason it sounds maddeningly familiar to us is that it (or at least the first six notes, anyway) shows up
on several slightly later records of the era. The earliest we know of is Jimmy Williams' MGM record of Leslie Lyle's song, ''Go Ahead And Make Me Cry'' (MGM K12150), released in November 1955. (This is a different Jimmy Williams than the one who recorded for
Sun in 1957, by the way). A better known version of this catchy melody appears on Patsy Cline's ''Poor Man's Roses'' (written by non-hillbilly tunesmiths Milton DeLugg and Bob Hilliard) that charted in February, 1957, as did Patti Page's cover version. Most
successful with the melody was Jimmy Clanton's Top 10 1958 hit recording of his own composition, ''Just A Dream''. But none of these pre-dates Carl's recording. If there is a predecessor to his use of the tune, we haven't been able to find it.
However, the pedal steel intro on Carl 's record does have traceable ancestry. It goes back to Little Roy Wiggins' steel intro to Eddy Arnold's 1954 mega-hit ''How's The World Treating You''.
Stan Kesler's 4-bar intro (and outro) to Carl's recording is virtually identical to what Wiggins played.
Two versions of the song by Carl survive, with virtually identical
instrumental work and arrangements, but decidedly different words. Once again, Carl has shown his facility for improvising lyrics on the spot. The next time you hear somebody praise Jerry Lee for being the King of Lyrical Improvisation, think about what you've
heard by Carl on this collection.
The first outtake offers the more confident and effective vocal, although either of them would have been a credible single had Carl
not enjoyed sudden, unexpected success in another domain altogether. ''Blue Suede Shoes'' spelled the end of Carl 's hillbilly career at Sun and caused worthy recordings like this to be shelved. Over half a century later, we can give them the attention and
respect they deserve.
(*) - Thanks to Larry Davis and Phil Wells for help with musical sources.
19 - What You Doing When You're Crying (Take 1) (2:51) (Carl Perkins)
20 - What You Doing When You're Crying (Take 2) (2:51) (Carl Perkins)
This song is an anomaly. It's one that Carl had played in the clubs for some years, calling it the ''Perkins
Boogie''. But it's not a boogie, it's a pop song. Craig Morrison pointed out in ''Go Cat Go'' that it's obviously adapted from ''Tuxedo Junction'', Erskine Hawkins' 1940 hit memorializing a Birmingham dance hall which became an even bigger hit for Glenn Miller
and was featured in the 1953 movie, ''The Glenn Miller Story''.
The song is about "a red hot rhythm they don understand", "a brand new boogie they don't
understand'', ''everybody's doin' it with a rock rock rock", and "doin' the boogie-woogie with the Dixie bop". Dixie bop might have been a nice name for what we came to call rockabilly,
but this ain't it. Despite the high-energy promise of the lyric, the record is altogether subdued. The nearest thing to boogie happens on the last of our three outtakes in Carl's
guitar work behind the last verse. This is a nice easygoing song in the spirit of an earlier era, and a good record, even if atypical for Carl. What plans Sam Phillips might have had for it we'll never know, but he expended some tape and studio time in getting
three versions recorded.
With the benefit of hindsight, this song's most interesting aspects are the ways that Carl relied on it in his later records.
One that it fed was ''All Mama's Children''. First, and most obvious, both have a vocal line sung over a stop by the band. Here, it's "doin'' the Perkins Wiggle with the Dixie Bop"; later it would be "alla mama's children are a-doin'' the hop. A second connection
is the guitar solo. Carl's second solo in the first of our outtakes here is a direct forerunner of his first solo in ''All Mama A' Children''.
21 - Dixie Bop/Perkins Wiggle
(Take 1) (1:56) (Carl Perkins)
22 - Dixie Bop/Perkins Wiggle (Take 2) (1:57) (Carl Perkins)
23 - Dixie Bop/Perkins Wiggle (Take 3) (1:58)
Another casualty of ''Blue Suede Shoes''. ''Tennessee''
was to have been one side of the mysteriously ''lost'' Sun 235. As is now known, a record consisting of it and ''Sure To Fall'' credited to the Perkins Brothers Band was scheduled for release but pulled at the last second when Shoes started to chart at a level
nobody had anticipated. In order to put all of Sun's meager resources behind the likely winner, the Perkins Brothers were withdrawn in favor of Carl, himself. The world had to wait until Carl's first and only Sun LP (1225) to hear this and ''Sure To Fall''
The closest we come to an outtake is the final 32 seconds of one. We exhausted the vault, looking for a complete outtake and this is all that remains. ''Tennessee'' is a clever song, once
again showing Carl 's lyrical flair. He proudly gives his home state credit for such diverse treasures as Eddy Arnold and atomic bombs.
24 - Tennessee (Fragment 1) (0:33)
Sure To Fall
This song is the only one to give the lead vocal
duties over to Carl's brother Jay. It was an idea that never got repeated. Sam had already told Carl that he, Carl, should be the singer - the world already had one Ernest Tubb. Carl sings harmony in the verses and the lead in the release. Carl is by far the
better singer, although the song is pitched so that the highest notes he has to reach in the release are not comfortably within his range.
The song itself is a conventional
country ballad, written by Carl with a whole lot of input from Claunch and Cantrell, and it's a good one. Despite its obscurity, it inspired remakes by the next generation of musicians. It's one of the many Perkins songs that the Beatles performed in the early
1960s, and Ringo Starr recorded it solo in 1981 . NRBQ recorded it in 1969, months before doing their album with Carl, and played it at their shows at least into the 1980s.
have three outtakes here. They are quite similar to each other and to the released version. Carl's approach to the guitar solo is interesting — fast- strummed chords that convey much of the melody. His control over the volume of the instrument in doing
that is a nice dramatic touch. It's the sort of thing that bluegrass mandolinists often do, but not so common for guitar players. He takes a new tack in the last part of the solo in the third of our outtakes, going to single-note melody. The second outtake
is noticeably slower than the first and the drums are more prominent. Those seem like wise decisions. In that second outtake, Carl's guitar adds a flatted 7th to the IV chord to make it a little bluesier in the first occurrence of the release but he does not
These three only slightly different takes on this song led directly to the version that ultimately appeared on Sun. Obviously, the boys thought they had it
about right when they started taping, but a few new ideas got tried out along the way.
25 - Sure To Fall (Take 1) (2:30) (Carl Perkins-William E. Cantrell-Quinton Claunch)
26 - Sure To Fall (Take 2) (2:35) (Carl Perkins-William E. Cantrell-Quinton Claunch)
27 - Sure To Fall (Take 3) (2:36) (Carl Perkins-William E. Cantrell-Quinton
Blue Suede Shoes
Try to imagine what Carl's career would have been like
without this song. It was only his third record and nobody expected anything this big. How could they? Sam had sold some records on Elvis and on ''Bear Cat'' (Sun 181) but never anything like this.
W.S. Holland reports, "I've read lots of versions of how this song got written but I still haven seen the whole story. Here's what happened. Our band, Elvis band, Cash's band, all of us were touring together back in 1955. It
was through that agency Sam and Bob Neal had created called Stars Incorporated. We had had two releases by then and we and the Cash band had become real close friends. We were driving around, must have been around fall of 1955, and Luther (Cash's guitar player)
got into my car and I got into Cash car with John and Marshall Grant, who's driving. Cash is sitting in the back seat behind me and Perkins is next to him. John stretches his legs out and puts them on the back of the front seat where I'm sitting. John had
gotten out the Air Force about a year ago and for some reason he's thinking about shoes, shiny new shoes. So he looks at his own feet and says, 'Carl, we ought to write a song about some shoes. A few minutes later he repeats it, only this time he says 'some
Blue Suede Shoes''.
"That all there was to it. Now the trip over and we 're back home and playing in a little club out here called Tommy's Drive-ln. There's no sound
system or nothing like that. No stage, we 're just in the corner. And this boy and girl dance by and the boy says to her, 'Don step on my new shoes''. He doesn't say nothin' about 'blue suede'''. Just 'new. ''I guess he had him some new shoes on when he said
that. And Carl went home that night and the rest of the story is probably true, about Carl writing the words on an empty potato sack''.
Surprisingly, there are only three
takes of ''Blue Suede Shoes''. Most of us know one of them by heart. Here are the other two. As you listen, bear in mind that, once again, Sam picked the correct one for release.
the first outtake, which was also the first take of the song, Carl begins with "Go boy, go'', which Phillips quickly suggested Carl change to ''Go cat, go''. Surprisingly, Carl's guitar solos are pretty much as on the issued version. The lyrics, too, are pretty
similar. Both of these things are unusual for Carl Perkins outtakes where change was often the byword. The general mix and recorded sound are also similar to the released version. The biggest difference
appears at the closing - what we don't have here is the extended ending with Carl singing "Blue, blue, blue suede shoes...'' under his guitar boogie. Without this feature, the ending is abrupt, or at least it seems that way after we've spent half a century
with the released version. And note that the song ends on a 1-7 chord, instead of the 1-6 of the original release. That's not just technical talk for musicians; those chords feel very different.
The second outtake (which was actually the third take in the studio - Sam released the middle one) features "Go cat, go" on both the start and ending. This time Carl sings the more rural phrase "Drink my corn" rather than
'Drink my liquor'', which is what we've grown accustomed to hearing.
Compared to the single, the vocal performance here seems more exaggerated or stagey. These are the
kind of vocal inflections you might expect to hear as Carl winds up for the final verse, yet they appear at the start here. On this version Carl again uses the extended ending that we know from the single. But this time he's singing too much. There are too
many lyrics here instead of simple repetition of the title phrase, as happens on the single. The effect seems contrived. Like the issued version, the song ends on a 1-6 chord here.
- Blue Suede Shoes (Take 1) (2:01) (Carl Perkins)
29 - Blue Suede Shoes (Take 2) (2:16) (Carl Perkins)
Though it came to be the flip side of ''Blue Suede Shoes'', ''Honey Don't'' was the side getting the major airplay in Jackson and Memphis when Sun 234 was released.
That didn't last, of course, because when ''Blue Suede Shoes'' quickly became a smash in Cleveland the future was clear. But it does remind us that it's a terrific record in its own right and the people closest to this style of' music recognized that immediately.
One of its distinctive qualities is the chord sequence in the verses - shuttling back and forth between E and C before going into the boogie-style refrain. As Carl recalls in his biography,
he made the song up on the spot in a club in Jackson and he got into a dispute with Jay who didn't understand what the chords were at first and then didn't approve of them. Carl said "Just do it''. It worked out all right.
The two outtakes we present here differ considerably from the released version. The lyrics are different from Sun 234 - for example the repeated "please, please, please". The verses in the second outtake are
almost incoherent (''How come you will you say when you don't/ Tell me baby don you know you won't''). And the long-mysterious-for-many-of-us line in the release about "you got that sand all over your feet" (a mystery solved by listening to ''Honky Tonk Babe/Gal''
and discovering that the sand came from a dance floor) doesn't appear in either of these outtakes.
The arrangement evolves toward the final released version too. In the
first outtake, W.S. Holland plays his drums through what was supposed to be band-silence behind Carl 's vocal. At the time, it was a mistake though for the released version they decided it had been a good idea. W.S. Holland remembers the episode quite clearly.
"I played through the stops because I didn't know any better. When we listened to the playback I said to Sam, 'Well that doesn't sound too bad and what does it hurt? 'And Sam said 'It doesn't hurt anything and that's what makes it different'. So we just decided
to leave it in. Things like that happened at Sun all the time. It wasn't anything anybody planned, but it worked out just fine''. The beginning of the guitar solo in the first outtake is very different from the one on the released version; by the second outtake,
the solo we all know is taking shape.
But all of that matters little. Both of these outtakes are wonderful in just the way that the released version is. One key to it
all is the energetic and remarkably fluent boogie guitar figures that Carl plays during the verses and in the second halves of the solos. The other is Carl's enthusiastic vocals they're so good that the words fade into unimportance.
We can wonder how different popular culture would have been if Cleveland had shared Tennessee's preference for this side of Sun 234.
30 - Honey Don't (Take 1) (2:10) (Carl Perkins)
31 - Honey Don't (Take 2) (2:25) (Carl Perkins)
Disc 2 Contains
Boppin' The Blues
Sadly, all we've got for
this important title, Carl's fourth Sun record, is two incomplete takes and one full outtake. If that's the bad news, the good news is that they're all wonderful.
first thing you'll notice about outtake 1 is that it has a very different feel from the issued single. This one is far more countrified than the distinctively rock-oriented version we know. The mix is also different. Perhaps more than ever before, we can hear every instrument in Carl's small band. The biggest surprise is W.S. Holland. No longer buried in the mix or forced to use brushes, W.S. provides a strong backbeat. It's not obvious why this take was aborted after barely 13 seconds, but it would have been a dandy if it had kept on like this.
the next take, also aborted way too soon, the instrumental separation is again wonderful. You can even hear brother Jay's acoustic guitar against the drums, bass and Carl's lead guitar. This gets shut down after the second time Carl pops a ''P''. Again, the
take was on its way to being a gem, perhaps even better than the issued version.
The first and only full outtake we could find has much to recommend it. For one thing,
W.S. really swings here. We have never heard him play like this before, not just keeping time but providing lots of fills. Carl delivers a splendid vocal. If this single outtake were the only thing Carl had left in the Sun vault before vanishing, it's a safe
bet he'd still have attained legendary status among fans and collectors. Thankfully we have much more to know and admire about Carl Perkins.
1 - Boppin' the Blues (False
Start 1) (0:18) (Carl Perkins)
2 - Boppin' the Blues (Fragment 1) (0:29) (Carl Perkins)
3 - Boppin' the Blues (Take 1) (2:33) (Carl Perkins)
All Mama's Children
This song got released as one side of the follow-up to ''Blue Suede Shoes''.
Coming up with another lyric that involved shoes seems like a daunting task, but Carl and Johnny Cash were up to it.
We have outtakes from two recording
sessions. Outtakes 1 and 2 are from the earlier session; the remaining five are from the later one. The first outtake begins with some attempts to talk through the arrangement and
after a sloppy beginning is a respectable run-through of the song including that last verse that includes ''...reelin' and a rockin' and a knockin' their souls'' that never appears
again. The second tries out a whole different approach to the song, beginning every verse with stops. They didn't do that again either. On both these tracks, W.S. Holland plays a shuffle rhythm on the snare drum, another thing that won 't reappear.
The last five outtakes get closer to the version we know from Sun 243. Holland's drumming is now concentrated on the backbeat with tom-tom accents (and is really lively
on the next-to-last outtake) and the slap-bass is better integrated into the overall sound.
One constant throughout all the recordings of this song is the peculiar sound
of Carl's guitar. It's unlike anything he recorded on other songs and sounds it he were playing an electrified ukulele. We don't know just how' he did it, why he did it on this song, and why he didn't do it again. But his solos on all tracks stay pretty close
to each other and to the released version, so we suppose decided that these solos sounded good with that guitar sound.
Carl often ad libbed lyrics but keeping track of
the lyrical changes on this song is a challenge. Sometimes it's an "old woman" who lives in the shoe and sometimes it's an "old lady''. Sometimes the kids are "pickin' 'em and puttim' down" and sometimes "pickin' 'em up and layin' 'em down". Sometimes the
kids are "children" and sometimes "young 'uns'''. (The final compromise occurs on the released version where he says "alla mama's chunguns are doin ' the bop''). Sometimes they're 'gonna roll, gonna rock, gonna bop til they pop'', sometimes they're "gonna
rock, gonna roll, gonna bop (or jump), gonna go''. All of these shuttle back and forth in combinations. The lyrical version we know from Sun 243 is probably not the result of a plan but just the accident that happened on Sam's favorite performance.
4 - All Mama's Children (Take 1) (2:19) (Carl Perkins-John R. Cash)
5 - All Mama's Children (Take 2) (2:10) (Carl Perkins-John R.
6 - All Mama's Children (Take 3) (2:22) (Carl Perkins-John R. Cash)
7 - All Mama's Children (False Start 1) (0:17) (Carl Perkins-John
8 - All Mama's Children (Take 4) (2:29) (Carl Perkins-John R. Cash)
9 - All Mama's Children (Take 5) (2:51) (Carl Perkins-John R.
10 - All Mama's Children (Take 6) (2:17) (Carl Perkins-John R. Cash)
We don't have an outtake for you, but we do have a pretty good story. The Platters' record of ''Only You'' hit the charts on October l, 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 audiences expected Perkins to perform. W.S. 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 boy''. After the show, Carl told W.S. and the band that they ought to think about recording it the next time they went in 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 Sessions 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.
Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
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 some honky tonk or another.
In fact, we know of four recordings of this song that pre-date Carl's
- the first (we think) by Rex Griffin in the late 1930s, one by Roy Newman, one by Jimmy Short (better known as Ernest Tubb's guitar player), and one by Gene Thompson in the early 1950s. The styles evolve from western swing to hillbilly as the years go by,
but the song stays the same. It's a twelve-bar blues with a two-line verse followed by four lines of the title. The two-line verses vary from record to record. All four of the early ones include "They took some honey from a bee/ Dressed it up and called it
me", which Carl modifies to "honey from a tree". All include waking up at half-past four with some number of women knockin' at my door; three of the records have fifteen women but Roy Newman has a
mere dozen. Carl did not make this up at a club.
We have several full outtakes, a few fragments and false starts, and some discussions in which lyrics
get composed. Obviously they were not satisfied with the arrangement and took a variety of approaches to it. The natural first question was how to open the song. Should they go right into it or have a few opening lines with stops? If there are stops should
they be single-beat stops as in ''Boppin' The Blues'' or two-beat stops as in ''Blue Suede Shoes''? They try out all those possibilities. Should the guitar solos be rhythmic chords or single or double-note tunes or pedal steel-like chord sequences? They try
out all those too. Carl's vocals range from energetic to subdued. They also try changing the key they play it in (the 7th' and 8th outtakes are in a different key from the others). And even what little melody as there is in this song gets a revision in the
As we've seen in this collection, Carl often made up lyrics on the spot so it's no surprise that the verses change from take to take. But it is interesting to keep
track of how many women were knocking at his door when he woke up at half-past four. Most of the predecessor recordings of this song have fifteen. Carl has nineteen until the middle of the seventh outtake. In that take he sings the verse twice - there are
nineteen women the first time but that shrinks to only the historically correct fifteen later in the take. And he sticks with fifteen there after. So what happened to the number nineteen, we wonder? Easy. In the version that was released on LP 1225 he adds
a verse, "Went out last night didn't mean to stay late/ Before home I had nineteen dates". Nineteen is too good a number to abandon completely.
The band seemed never
fully satisfied with any single approach to the song, Sam wasn't satisfied either, apparently, and sat on it until he finally put it on the album.
11 - Everybody's Trying
To Be My Baby (False Start 1) (0:06) (Carl Perkins)
12 - Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby (Fragment 1) (1:00) (Carl Perkins)
13 - Everybody's
Trying To Be My Baby (Take 1) (2:15) (Carl Perkins)
14 - Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby (False Start 2) (0:17) (Carl Perkins)
15 - Everybody's
Trying To Be My Baby (False Start 3) (0:10) (Carl Perkins)
16 - Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby (Take 2) (2:12) (Carl Perkins)
17 - Everybody's
Trying To Be My Baby (Take 3) (2:19) (Carl Perkins)
18 - Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby (Take 4) (2:19) (Carl Perkins)
19 - Everybody's
Trying To Be My Baby (Take 5) (1:57) (Carl Perkins)
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 think 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.
the first outtake we join a performance already in progress. This early session shows a considerably more country approach to the song. Note how prominently miked Clayton's slap bass is.
The next one shows that early on, Sam, Carl and the band envisioned the song as a stop-rhythm track. That shouldn't surprise anyone since ''Blue Suede Shoes'' and ''Boppin ' The Blues'' had both used that approach and made plenty of money.
Maybe that's what the record-buying public expected of Carl? The problem is, it just didn't work here and it took a few minutes of studio time to get it out of their system.
the slap bass is very prominently miked, which saved Sam from having to record a full set of drums in his tiny studio. With the evolution of rockabilly and the growing importance of rock and roll, Sam would have to change his thinking. But in the middle of
1956 he was still hanging on to his approach.
You'll hear some alternate lyrics on this take, which is hardly unusual for a Carl Perkins song. Most everything Carl recorded
was a work in progress. The guitar work in both the intro and solo here is progressing towards what Carl plays on the issued version of ''Dixie Fried''. This recording of the song still sounds a lot like ''Blue Suede Shoes'', although the addition of a piano
in the next session would change all of that.
Our third outtake is much closer to the issued version, although it's clear at this point the boys aren't quite there. Carl
certainly goes to some interesting places during his second guitar solo.
The fourth outtake is fascinating: You can hear Carl mess up after about half a minute and apologize
to everyone in sight. About ten seconds later, he gets it wrong again. When it happens a third time about a minute into the take, Carl vows he's "gonna bust his GIT-an''. He makes a comment about how much his newly purchased, barely affordable Gibson Les Paul
model cost him. And here he was, blowing a guitar riff over and over! It's a priceless moment for Sun fans and historians. When the boys finally through the take, there are still some sections with odd timing. Carl utters the curious phrase, "I've got Dixie
Fried''. Still, you can hear close this is to the issued version of the song.
Next we have another false start followed by a full take. Carl recites the lyric like he's
reading a poem or acting out a play, which is no doubt how he saw this song all along. In its own way, this is not so far from what Leiber and Stoller were writing for the Coasters: a story set to
There's a lot of energy in Carl's performance, and he continues to take some major liberties with both phrasing and accenting the vocal. The guitar solo is pretty
well worked out by now and W.S. Holland has started tossing in those single stroke rolls that extend a beat or two into next verse. It unusual, to say the least, and it produces a powerful effect that
will become most noticeable on Carl 's next record, ''Matchbox''.
Our final outtake is another nearly perfect version, although one problem turns up
here that also shows up on a number of Carl's recordings. You'll frequently hear his final vocal note waver in pitch when he has to sustain it at the end of the recording. Usually that happens as he attempts to hold the note while playing the closing guitar
figure. In fairness, that's a lot to keep your attention on at once, and is a major reason that bands or self-accompanied singers like to lay down an instrumental bed track before they perform the vocal. That allows them to direct full attention to one tiling
at a time -a luxury Carl never had at Sun.
20 - Dixie Fried (Fragment 1) (0:57) (Carl Perkins-Howard Griffin)
- Dixie Fried (Take 1) (2:42) (Carl Perkins-Howard Griffin)
22 - Dixie Fried (Take 2) (2:19) (Carl Perkins-Howard Griffin)
23 - Dixie Fried
(Take 3) (3:29) (Carl Perkins-Howard Griffin)
24 - Dixie Fried (Take 4) (2:30) (Carl Perkins-Howard Griffin)
25 - Dixie Fried (Take 5) (2:27)
(Carl Perkins-Howard Griffin)
I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry
To begin with, Sam had
no idea what to do with Carl Perkins at this point. Perkins had come to him as a hillbilly singer in the Hank Williams mold. There was no denying Carl's talent as both a singer and songwriter, but Williams had been dead for over three years and his grip on
country music was fading. Carl had shown a flair for songwriting, and his comic ode to a pair of shoes had made them both a lot of money. But the follow-up to ''Blue Suede Shoes'' had failed to sustain
the momentum. Sam had better do something fast, or Perkins might become just another one-hit wonder.
On one side of Sun 249, Sam placed the clever but
commercially untenable ''Dixie Fried''. On the other side he force-fed Carl a piece of late 1950s pop balladry, complete with piano triplets and hiccuppy vocal gimmicks. Was this the stylistic path Carl might follow? Luckily for us, it wasn't a hit, although
at this point, anything seemed possible. Certainly buyers who came to the party for this song would wonder what hit them when they flipped the record over. But the same can be said for buyers who came to hear ''Dixie Fried''
For the first time, Carl's record featured material admittedly composed by somebody else. The song had been written by Wanda Ballman, an aspiring singer/songwriter from Jonesboro, Arkansas. She submitted the
song via demo to Sam and went from being an unknown to a professional almost overnight when her copyright appeared on one side of a Carl Perkins record. Pretty impressive stuff. We do know that Wanda engaged in an extended correspondence with Sam throughout
this period. He stoked Wanda's fires even higher when he had her come to Memphis in 1957 and record five sides. None were released at the time although they continue to be resurrected on Sun reissues internationally. It is possible that Sam, being Sam, made
the most of Ms. Ballman's enthusiasm when he acted as her newfound benefactor and champion. In later years, Wanda persevered and had her material recorded by mainstream artists like Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride.
What we do know for sure is that this cleverly titled song went through half a dozen outtakes by Carl (all of which are included here). Its title managed to confuse one of us (HD) over the years (did it mean
"Sometimes I'm sorry; sometimes I'm not" or was it an apology Carl offers when he sings "I'm sorry THAT I'm not sorry''?) The song was part of the 'clever title' tradition of the day such as Elvis's ''I Forgot To Remember To Forget'' or ''I'm Left, You 're
Right, She Gone''. In any case, the record sank like a stone, although ''Dixie Fried'' has been recorded several times by other artists in the ensuing half a century.
general these outtakes are a mess. Maybe it's because he isn't playing his own material, but the feeling in Carl 's vocal seems contrived and his guitar work is uninspired and aimless - not qualities one usually associates with Carl's playing. Granted, the
issued version of the song doesn't make the ''Carl at Sun'' highlight reel, but these outtakes are really inferior fare. On some, e.g., the first, the shuffle rhythm is more pronounced than on the single. On others, the vocal hiccup quotient is measurably
lower. On the fourth, Carl's singing is far more emotional during the release. The melody (what there is of it) is during the early outtakes (e.g. the first). Also note that the slap bass is more prominently miked than on the original release. The one thing
that seems to have been steady and consistent is the brief instrumental kick-off. However, as late as our final outtake (which may have been recorded immediately before the released version) the ending
is still a mess. All in all, this one sounds like it was a chore to record.
26 - I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry (Take 1) (2:34) (Wanda Ballman)
27 - I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry (False Start 1) (0:26) (Wanda Ballman)
28 - I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry (False Start 2) (0:12) (Wanda
29 - I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry (Take 2) (2:35) (Wanda Ballman)
30 - I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry (False
Start 3, False Start 4, False Start 5, Take 3) (3:35) (Wanda Ballman)
31 - I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry (Take 4) (2:33) (Wanda Ballman)
This song was a smash hit for Louis Jordan in 1945 and was quickly covered by Erskine Hawkins (remember him? composer of ''Tuxedo
Junction'', a source for ''Perkins Wiggle''), Woody Herman, and Louis Prima. ''Caldonia'' has had staying power and in the years since 1945, it has appealed to a remarkable variety of musical performers.
There was something of a revival flurry beginning in the late 1950s. Carl 's recordings date from early 1957 most likely. Bill Ramsey, largely famous for German-language versions of English-language hits, sang it in English in 1958 (available on BCD 16151).
Bill Haley & the Comets put it on a single in 1959 and Dale Hawkins recorded it in 1959 also (though it was not released then). The Rondels' single came out in 1962 as did Gene Simmons, and James Brown's was issued in 1964. Very engagingly, pianist Big
Tiny Little did a boogie-woogie version on the Lawrence Welk TV show in 1958. In years since, ''Caldonia'' has been recorded by B. B. King, the Band, Van Morrison, and many others. And quite recently it was done as a duet by Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis.
The song's huge hook is the rhythm (quarter-note triplets) of the line "What makes your big head so hard''? That hook shows up in Sonny Burgess' Sun recording of ''Fannie
Brown'' (available on BCD 15525). The adaptation of it that is probably most familiar ("when-you-make-me-cry-hi") occurs in the final verse of the Crickets' ''That'll Be the Day''.
song is a natural for bands like Carl's to play in dance halls - it's energetic and it's got that hook which permits the dancers to occasionally join in on the singing and then get back to business. We don't know, though, whether it was a standard entry in
Carl's playlist at the honky-tonks. The first of the two versions we present here suggest that it wasn't. The boys spend over a minute working out how they're going to play it, and it's not dedicated to figuring out how to work Jerry Lee's piano into an arrangement
that the rest of the band already knows well.
Once they get the kinks worked out, the band
plays it as they play most 12-bar blues with Carl's percussive guitar work driving the song along. We've got two takes. In both, the guitar solos last for 24 bars (twice through the 12-bar blues chord changes); there are two solos on the first outtake and
only one on the second. In the second solo on the first outtake, the melody' consists of one note for the first 12 bars which is considerably more interesting to hear than to read about; the second twelve bars are more varied. There's only one 24-bar solo
in the second outtake and in the second 12 bars Carl reprises one of his terrific moves from the first solo in the released version of ''Boppin' The Blues'' (Sun 243). The other boys are working hard as well. Jerry Lee Lewis throws in long glissandos after
"What makes your big head so hard''? and fiddles around entertainingly at the end of the first outtake. Unlike most of his work behind Carl, on these takes Jerry Lee often plays chords rather than single notes with his left hand. W.S. Holland doesn't recapture
the magic of ''Matchbox'' when he puts an unexpected drum roll into the guitar solo in the second outtake; this one really is in the wrong place.
Of course, the most
striking thing about these takes is the vocals. This is Carl Perkins as we don 't usually hear him - alternately growling and restrained, gimmicking up his voice in numerous ways. Sun Records aficionados are familiar with Billy Riley's remarkable ability to
change his sound. Unfortunately, Carl just sounds peculiar doing it on these tracks. In this case, the familiar bottle of Early Times seems to have affected not only the vocals but Carl's guitar-playing as well.
32 - Caldonia (Take 1) (4:44) (Fleece Moore)
33 - Caldonia (Take 2) (2:05) (Fleece Moore)
This song has a muddled history, to put it mildly. It dates back to the 1930s and, depending on where you get your facts, it has been credited to Jimmie
Davis, Gene Autry, Leon Payne, Hylo Brown, Jimmy Wakely and even Faron Young (who must have owned a time machine). At the least, we know they all recorded the song, as did countless other artists. Among those others was Carl Perkins, during his tenure at Sun.
Although this was a spontaneous (some would say throwaway) track, it has been reissued many (some would say too many) times. The reason for that is no doubt the presence of session pianist
Jerry Lee Lewis. The haphazard nature of the recording is matched by the care with which the title has been reissued on various record labels - it's often been titled ''Sweetheart's A Stranger Close'', but no cigar.
There are three outtakes here. Actually, these are more aptly called ''alternates'' since there never was an ''in-take''. The song was never issued by Sun, nor was it ever a contender. On the first of these three
versions, Jerry Lee's presence looms large over everything. His left-hand piano fills are a major, truly dominant part of the arrangement. Carl's vocal is not among his best. He sounds distracted and his vocal is quite mannered. It is even sloppy in places.
The ideas in his guitar solo are unfinished; his playing is working towards something but it isn't there yet. Putting it bluntly, the whole thing sounds like a parody of Carl Perkins.
The second take (from the same session) has considerably more echo on it. This has ''warm-up take'' written all over it. It's the kind of thing the Million Dollar Quartet might have knocked off in one take and then moved on.
The final version of ''Sweethearts Or Strangers'' is plainly from a different session. The tempo is slowed down, the mix is different, and the song is performed in a different key (the first
two versions were in A; this one is in G).
The slower tempo and lower key seem like a more workable approach if the boys (and Sam) were serious about getting something
unable. Clearly, they never did.
34 - Sweethearts Or Strangers (Take 1) (2:00) (Jimmie Davis-Lou Wayne)
Sweethearts Or Strangers (Take 2) (2:43) (Jimmie Davis-Lou Wayne)
36 - Sweethearts Or Strangers (Take 3) (2:30) (Jimmie Davis-Lou Wayne)
Be Honest With Me
The thing about ''Be Honest With Me'', (a song written by Rose and recorded by Gene Autry in 1946), is that it is so similar to ''Sweethearts
Or Strangers'', you can start singing one and end up singing the without noticing the transition. That's probably what happened to Carl or Jerry Lee when they found themselves at the informal hillbilly jam that produced of these recordings. The melodies to
the first line of the verse identical (G - E – D - C -E (in key of C) and the second line is, as they say, close enough jazz. You can put all kinds of filigree around those notes, but at the core it 't matter whether you're singing Sweet - hearts - or
- stran - gers or honest - with - me - (dear). You're going to hit that same descending and end up back on the E.
The first outtake makes it hard to see any similarity
between the two songs. The first 8 bars begin in a quasi-Latin rhythm before into a tough guitar riff which is, once again, led by Jerry Lee's indomitable left hand. The 'go' solo is more stinging than any of the outtakes in ''Sweethearts Or Strangers''. The
key modulation 2/3 the way through offers a nice touch. All in all. this is a surprisingly strong track with a much more intense feel than any ol' the three ''Sweethearts'' versions. The second outtake has taken on some additional echo and is closer to completion,
although it seems unlikely this song was ewer a serious candidate for release. Perhaps it might have been an album track, at best. Sam wasn't giving away publishing revenue without a light.
W.S.'s drumming is quite free compared to the previously released samples of his craft we've heard through the years. W.S. got a rough deal. First he was buried in the mix at Sun. He managed to get a few licks through, for example on ''Matchbox'',
but most of his freest, much expressive playing remained on the outtake reels awaiting discovery decades later. And after recording with Carl, he spent the lion's share of his career playing brushes behind Johnny Cash, where tasty drum licks were strictly
Outtake 3 is a vastly different story. There's a n substantial key change and a difference in overall feel. It's stems from a different session. The style is
much more in the piano work, leaving open the possibility that we're Wilson this time around. Carl is a lot more focused in his half solo than the piano player, whether Wilson or Lewis. The final modulation seems to throw Carl's vocal off-kilter, from which
lie never quite recovers.
37 - Be Honest With Me (Take 1) (2:13) (Carl Perkins)
38 - Be Honest With Me (Take
2) (2:28) (Carl Perkins)
39 - Be Honest With Me (Take 3) (2:41) (Carl Perkins)
Disc 3 Contains
Put Your Cat Clothes On
Carl Perkins spent more studio time at Sun working on ''Cat Clothes'' than
he did any other song. The sheer number of takes of any other title in Carl's Sun legacy. More than the total number of outtakes ''Movie Magg'', ''Tennessee'', ''Blue Suede Shoe'', ''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
tape, but the results were never good enough to release.
The saga began on or around March 1956 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 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 think we know what made this one so hard to get right.
We have eighteen full takes and some
false starts. 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 does not become boring. When the mistakes happen, they're
variously frustrating, disappointing, annoying and often interesting. But the energy driving this song is limitless and unrelenting.
We'll get to discussing why they
could never get a perfect and satisfying take, but the lyrics of the song deserve some attention first. The song is about Carl telling his woman to get dressed up sharp because they're going out dancing. The peculiar thing about that is that ''cat clothes''
was the term used to denote fancy threads for men, purchased largely by African-American musicians, at Lansky's clothing shop on Beale Street in Memphis. Lansky's customers went beyond local aspiring artists and included Billy Eckstine and B. B. King. Moreover,
these hip threads were beginning to show up among a white clientèle as well. Lansky's had the store windows into which Elvis looked longingly during his earliest Sun days and where he bought lots of clothes once success came his way. By mid-1956, ''Cat
Clothes'' were worn by hip black and white men alike, but in this song Carl is putting them on a woman. Calling her ''Kitty'' doesn't overcome the strangeness of the sex change.
what a woman! She is such an energetic dancer that she not only "knocks the polish off her toes" but also, remarkably, knocks her toenails off as well. Luckily, that's not an emergency because they can be picked up the next day. Now that is peculiar-sounding.
What it might be about, though, is the artificial nail extensions that were introduced late in 1954 and were the subject of a fashion article in 'Life' magazine. The ''Life'' piece was all about fingernails, but we're guessing that Carl's woman used them on
her toes. In any case, Carl seems to have had a particular fascination with the feet of dancing women. Not only do their toenails come loose in this song, they pick up sand from the dance floor in ''Honey Don't''.
Our last observation about the lyric is that songwriters who did not grow up in rural Tennessee would not think to rhyme "fruit jar" with "tomorrow''.
Now to the central question: Why was this song so hard to get right in the studio? What repeatedly goes wrong with this song is the timing. Perhaps by design, or perhaps
by mistake, this song is often played as an 11 ½ -bar blues. In the first track we present, you can hear an example of the problem early. When Carl first sings "Put your cat clothes on 'cause tonight we're gonna really do it right/Kitty put your clothes
on...'', he should have waited a few beats longer between ''right'' and ''Kitty''. Timing mistakes at that spot in the song, and some elsewhere, plague these performances. You'll hear it happen often. Not surprisingly, getting perfect unfailing coordination among all the band members for this slight change from traditional 12-bar blues structure just didn't happen. The reason for it is that, essentially it's written as a 24-bar blues; the
chord changes are meant to happen slowly and the waiting time between them seems unnaturally long. As a result, some musician or another either rushed in prematurely or held back
too long. Although this might have come out fine if ''Cat Clothes'' were a solo performance, getting an entire band to play a slight variant on a familiar musical form with established
chord structures didn't work. It certainly could have if Carl or Jerry Lee or somebody had taken the time to talk it through before they played it. A little coordination is all it would have taken. If you want a great example of how this works when it's successful,
listen to Billy Riley's record of ''Red Hot'' (Sun 277; BCD 1 7122). Riley and company remove a few beats here and there from the 12-bar construction to hurry up those ''Your gal ain doodley squat" replies. That shrunken structure didn't come naturally to any of them, but once they talked it through, it worked like a charm. Apparently Carl and the boys never had such a conversation and so we have over a dozen needlessly messy outtakes.
But even that doesn't entirely solve the mystery to our ears. Why didn't Carl or one of the instrumentalists or the engineer (Sam? Jack Clement?) ...someone... notice that
the band had gotten out of sync and stop the take? Why did they just play all the way through, thereby providing just one more unusable but complete outtake?
other interesting variations in the performances we present. Almost all begin with an instrumental introduction but on the 10th and 11th outtakes they begin with Carl saying ''Well reminiscent of Boppin' The Blues''. Some are faster, some are slower. Some
have the drums or the slap bass miked very prominently, others have them further back. Some have guitar solos that are all chord work (including some odd Hawaiian-sounding stuff on outtake 14) and some are single-string tunes. Outtakes 13 and 14 have so many
mistakes that we should wonder if too much bourbon was flowing through the session. Some have glorious moments like the final guitar run on the 12th outtake. Some have frustrating moments like Jerry I.ee's change in piano style behind Carl's beautiful second
solo in the final outtake. And all have W.S. Holland and brother Clayton playing their hearts out. One false start in the next-to-last outtake is particularly interesting. It sounds as if Carl lost track of his own vocal and got distracted by something. what
could that have been? Wouldn't it be great if this false start marked the that Carl first saw Elvis's arrival on December 4, 1956, the occasion ol' Elvis's return to Sun and the Million Dollar Quartet session?
1 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 1) (2:47) (Carl Perkins)
2 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 2) (2:52) (Carl Perkins)
- Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 3) (2:43) (Carl Perkins)
4 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 4) (2:48) (Carl Perkins)
5 - Put Your Cat Clothes
On (Take 5) (2:50) (Carl Perkins)
6 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 6) (2:49) (Carl Perkins)
7 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 7) (2:44) (Carl
8 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 8) (2:41) (Carl Perkins)
9 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 9) (2:43) (Carl Perkins)
10 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 10) (2:47) (Carl Perkins)
11 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 11) (2:34) (Carl Perkins)
12 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (False Start 1, Take 12) (2:57) (Carl Perkins)
13 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 13) (3:07) (Carl Perkins)
- Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 14) (2:50) (Carl Perkins)
15 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (Take 15) (2:47) (Carl Perkins)
16 - Put Your Cat Clothes
On (Take 16) (2:48) (Carl Perkins)
17 - Put Your Cat Clothes On (False Start 2, Take 17) (3:15) (Carl Perkins)
18 - Put Your Cat Clothes On
(Take 18) (2:51) (Carl Perkins)
According to Carl's biography, it was
his father Buck who suggested (at the recording studio just after ''Your True Love'' had been completed) that the band do this 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson song of which Buck remembered only the chorus (about wondering "would a matchbox hold my clothes''). So
Carl cobbled together a few other stock blues verses and thus was one of Carl 's greatest records born. What Carl recorded contains two additional verses with lyrics that appear on most Top Ten lists of blues cliches (e.g., "Let me be your little dog..") Indeed,
wondering whether a matchbox will hold your clothes goes back at least to Ma Rainey's 1924 record of ''Lost Wandering Blues''. Songs resembling Lemon Jefferson's and using something like his record's title (''Match Box Blues'') got recorded many times in the
and 1940s, both by black blues and white country singers. Carl was part of a long tradition when he recorded ''Matchbox''. It's a tradition that has continued since Carl's record, including versions by the Beatles, Sleepy LaBeef and Warren Phillips & The
In a way, it's disappointing that Perkins did not learn the song directly from the old 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson record. It's fun to picture Carl sitting alone
in the wee hours, playing an old Paramount 78, transcribing lyrics on a potato sack. But it just didn't happen that way.
This song's recording date, listed as December
4, 1956, was Carl's first experience with the young session pianist Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee impressed Carl as cocky and arrogant, a point of view come out by Jerry Lee's performance on the one alternate take we present here. His piano-styling intends more
to be attention-grabbing and showy than to fit into a Carl Perkins record. And so there are numerous glissandos, gratuitous high-key doodling, and other ''Wey, listen to me''! moments. Sadly, one of those occurs when he gets lost in the harmonic complexities
or a 3-chord 12-bar blues in the chorus between the two guitar solos. Somehow, Carl and company tamed Jerry between takes - to our everlasting benefit.
Carl's vocal and
guitar solos are much like what he performed on Sun 261 and this outtake sounds like a warm-up for the real thing. More interesting is the pair (the released version has only one) of single-stroke drum rolls leading into the guitar solos, both extending two
beats ''too long''. W.S. Holland was certainly blazing a new trail here when he played a drum roll that extended two beats into the next bar. The fact that it occurs on an outtake here as well makes it seem likely that this moment of memorable and inspired
drumming were carefully planned. Not so, according to W.S. "I didn't really know what I was doing I didn't know there were four beats to a bar I didn't I know what a bar was. (laughs) I was doing what felt good The truth is, back then I didn't know if I was
right or wrong. I didn't know where to start or end anything. If I had known anything else to do, I might have done it differently. But I didn't know''.
Most of the outtakes
we present in this boxed set reniained unheard until someone thought to dig them up and issue them. But not this one. When Carl made an appearance on the ''Town Hall Party TV'' show and performed a lip-synched version of ''Matchbox'', it was to this outtake
and not to the actual release! Joe Maphis was on-stage standing behind Carl, off to his left; a sax and trumpet player pretended to contribute to a rockabilly classic that has no horns whatsoever.
So why was this outtake chosen for lip-synching? Was it a simple mistake where someone provided the wrong tape? Was there actually a (pre-release) time when Sam or Carl believed this outtake was the version they'd soon be putting out on Sun? Did someone think that if Carl lip-synched a version that the audience hadn't already heard, then it might be more convincing as a '' 'live'' performance? We'll never know.
It's not a bad choice, though. Much of what is wonderful about the released version is wonderful in this outtake as well. The rhythlnic energy driven by all five players, the solid bottom provided by Jerry Lee's
left hand, the crisp drumming, Carl's exuberant vocalizing. All of that is here. Unlike on the released version, Carl sings an ''extra'' third verse on this outtake before launching into his familiar
guitar solo. It's a bit surprising to hear, but like most of the track, you can learn to love it. This outtake is a mighty good, if spotty, recording. And it led to Sun 261 which is simply sublime. And by the way, W.S. Holland says that ''Marchbox'' is still
one of his favorite things to play after 55-plus years, and notes that his band still performs it every night.
19 - Matchbox (Take 1) (2:28) (Carl Perkins)
Her Love Rubbed Off
This is surely one of the strangest songs Carl wrote or recorded at Sun. Carl's
biography refers to it as rockabilly's most surreal moment. Carl's observation to biographer David McGee was, "It sounds like a bunch of drug addicts so high they don know where they're at Well, we were pretty high. I remember That session. I slept on the
studio floor that night''.
We've got five outtakes and it's unlikely any of them could pass a sobriety test. That isn't in itself necessarily bad. Carl's biography makes
it clear that many, perhaps most sessions at Sun were fueled by some free-flowing Early Times whiskey. The problem in this ease is that you can hear the inebriation. Stan Perkins recalls, "'My dad was never so ashamed of anything he did at Sun as he was this
song. It even bothered him when people brought up the title because he knew what had gone on in the studio and the kind of shape he was in''. Carl was a good lyricist and too much of what he's written
and sung are lost. Much of the singing sounds garbled, muffled and/or off-mike. In short, the boys may have squandered a good song here.
It's hard to
fault Sam for keeping this title away from commercial release, either as a single or on Carl's lone LP. Yet, given the number of outtakes, though, it's clear that a serious amount of time and effort were invested in making this work.
The structure of ''Her Love Rubbed Off'' is a bit of a novelty, both for Carl and for Sun records. It's got that Indian war drum effect - or is that supposed to be Latin rhythm? Carl whoops
and hollers and howls until everything is resolved into a fairly conventional major key song structure, abetted by Jerry Lee's piano licks. Minor keys weren't altogether unknown at Sun (think of Ed Bruce's ''Rock Boppin' Baby'' or Dick Penner's ''Cindy Lou'',
both of which teeter on the edge of a major/minor and Rufus Thomas' ''Walking'ln The Rain''.) This song forces you to listen to a sustained minor chord for a full 16 bars before turning you loose and resolving things into its relative major key (E minor to
G). What a relief!
The lyric deals with an irresistible, compulsive love. It's what some listeners today might call an addiction. On the first take, the piano (which
would become quite important in the arrangement) is still buried in the mix. Carl sounds like he's singing through a pillow. Good luck figuring out his mumbled lyric. Around 1 :40, the song is faded prematurely, a trick that probably happened years after the
original recording was made. Even on this first take, Carl is really working the whammy bar on his Les Paul Gibson guitar.
The end of outtake 2 is again filled with Carl's
whoops and howls. Carl must have had immense fun whupping that whammy bar and playing through the stops. Clayton is a lot more audible slapping his bass at the start of outtake 3. Jerry Lee is also becoming hotter in this mix. It's the best so far, but it
ain't there yet. At around 2:25 of that take Carl's blood alcohol level was probably into the need for a designated driver.
Listening to the fade of outtake 4 makes you
wonder: If Sam had ever released this, would he have faded it in the studio using declining record levels like everyone else did, or would he have asked the boys to play more and more softly like he did with Little Junior Parker on ''Mystery Train''? The final
outtake is the winner, but it still isn't really there. Carl changes the melody here, almost singing a harmony vocal to what he's been singing on the previous four. For the first time his vocal is clear! Whose idea was it to remove the pillow he's been singing
through? The chords, as usual, are a mess. Some of the boys are in the I-minor, others are hitting the V. Still, this was the version to use. Listening to these tapes years later, it frustrated Carl to think they hadn't invested a minutes more to nail it.
As he sadly concluded, they were just too drunk.
20 - Her Love Rubbed Off (Take 1) (1:41) (Carl Perkins)
- Her Love Rubbed Off (Take 2) (2:36) (Carl Perkins)
22 - Her Love Rubbed Off (Take 3) (2:44) (Carl Perkins)
23 - Her Love Rubbed Off (Take
4) (2:53) (Carl Perkins)
24 - Her Love Rubbed Off (Take 5) (2:21) (Carl Perkins)
Disc 4 Contains
Your True Love
These five complete takes all sound different from what was released on Sun 261 because,
as is well known, Sam Phillips had the final master tape speeded up before committing it to vinyl. That trick was routine for Fats Domino records; they were mastered on a tape machine with a special capstan that sped them up and raised the pitch so that Fats
sounded younger and the band sounded peppier. And lots of Fats' speeded-up records were very big hits.
So Sam must have thought that speeding up records was a good thing
to do. In Shakespeare's ''As You Like It'', Rosalind asks, ''...can one desire too much o/a good thing''? The answer here is a resounding YES. Fats' records were speeded up enough to change the pitch by just one half-tone (e.g., from C to C-sharp or from E
to F). But Sam speeded up Carl's tape enough to raise the pitch by a full tone (from E to F-sharp). And as a result the vocals on ''Your True Love'' on Sun 261 don't just sound youthful and energetic, they sound perilously close to Alvin & the Chipmunks.
Sam never tried this trick again despite the fact that ''Your True Love'' did make it onto the lower reaches of the ''Billboard'' charts.
We have an early fragment of
a warm-up done at Carl's home (we'll discuss the home-recording conditions later, in the notes on ''The Way That You're Living''), as well as five later complete takes (plus a false start), all presented at the original speed. They make clear that Carl and
his band knew from the beginning how they wanted to do the song, including backing vocals by Clayton and Jay, and that Jerry Lee Lewis fit right into a pre-existing arrangement.
constant in all these versions is the wonderfully aggressive and growling guitar introduction (with only a slight rhythmic variation in the third full outtake we present). It's a brilliant and attention-grabbing intro, but it's also disorienting as hell. Those
first few chords don't tell us what to anticipate of the song's tonality or how the melody will relate to it. For the first four bars we're kind of left floating in free musical space, not knowing what to expect. It's only when the solo guitar Intro ends and
the band joins in, we finally know exactly where we are even though we're not entirely sure about where we started. (Musicians will discover that the Intro begins on a III chord.)
first outtake is an early fragment with Carl and the boys working out the arrangement without Jerry Lee. The remainder of the tracks here include Jerry Lee. You may notice a slight change of key between the home tape and the later ones. The reason for the
change is probably that at home the instruments merely needed to be in tune with each other and didn't have to anchor their tuning to the piano. It turns out they were playing in E-flat, a ha1f-tone below where they would later pitch the studio sessions.
Once they get to the studio and Jerry Lee joins in things evolve only a little bit more. In the first studio outtake, Carl's vocal seems a bit timid at first but becomes more confident and
energetic as the song progresses. W.S. Holland plays a shuffle rhythm behind the band; he shifts to emphasizing the backbeat in the remaining takes. Carl's guitar solos don't change much; they're mostly patterns of rhythmic chords rather than runs of single
notes. He fiddles around with the second half of the solo a few times, but rhythmic chords are the choice. And the last line of the solo leading back into the vocal is solid and unchanging, dominated by
Jerry Lee's left hand (playing pretty much what he does behind the line at the end of the release, "and my baby she'Il always be...''.
Our sixth outtake
should sound the most familiar. It is the master recording without the speed change. This is Sun 261 as it was really played. And it's wonderful.
Not yet satisfied, the
band went on to try it one more time. But the seventh outtake is decidedly less good than the one sped up for the released version.
There are surprising vocal errors,
such as Carl beginning the second verse by saying "Your" a bit early. It's also played a bit faster than the one sped up for release, perhaps in an attempt to do modestly what speeding up the tape would soon do excessively.
1 - Your True Love (Fragment 1) (0:26) (Carl Perkins)
2 - Your True Love (Take 1) (2:56) (Carl Perkins)
- Your True Love (Take 2) (2:58) (Carl Perkins)
4 - Your True Love (False Start 1) (0:19) (Carl Perkins)
5 - Your True Love (Take 3) (3:02)
6 - Your True Love (Take 4) (3:03) (Carl Perkins)
7 - Your True Love (Take 5) (3:02) (Carl Perkins)
That Don't Move Me
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 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 simple 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.
We've got six takes here, including a false start. The truth is, none of them works from start to finish. At its
best, this sounds like a live recording - wild, energetic, sloppy and full of spontaneous feeling. Clayton slaps the hell out of his bass and drives the performance. W.S provides a rock solid underpinning and keeps the verses separate with his tasty drum rolls
after each 12 bars. Sometimes he accents on the tom-tom during the guitar solo. As live recordings go, this is a fine one. But it wasn't meant to be a live recording; it was cut in the studio and, as such, it falls far short. The vocal is often off-mike. The
echo cycles distractingly in and out. The lyrics are constantly being reshuffled, even in the chorus which only contains eight words!
The fifth take is the wildest, most
spirited performance. But it's also quite sloppy. We may love this glimpse of Golden Age Carl Perkins a half a century later, but whether this was ever releasable material is another question. It sure
is a perfect addition to an Outtake Box though.
8 - That Don't Move Me (Take 1) (1:57) (Carl Perkins)
9 - That Don't Move Me (Take 2) (1:58) (Carl Perkins)
10 - That Don't Move Me (Take 3) (1:57) (Carl Perkins)
11 - That Don't Move Me (False Start 1) (0:14) (Carl Perkins)
12 - That Don't Move Me (Take 4) (1:56) (Carl Perkins)
13 - That Don't Move Me (Take 5) (2:12) (Carl Perkins)
You Can Do No Wrong
From the ''Matchbox'' era comes this peculiar and engaging little song. Lyrically, it's a return to ''Blue Suede Shoes'' - a list of bad things you can do that will nonetheless be forgiven. A year earlier, the bad things were
trivial compared to stepping on the shoes; this time, they're trivial because you're you. The fun, of course, is in making up a list of entertaining infractions that rhyme like, "smash my hat, 'ease my cat". In fact, whoever this song is sung to can '"even
slep on my blue suede shoes". Now, that's love.
That catchy lyrical idea appeared again in ''Going For A Song'' on Matthew Fisher's (best-known as the organist with Procol
Harum) first solo album from 1973. That, coincidentally was the year Charly first issued ''You Can Do No Wrong'' in the UK. Fisher's lyric lists things you can do that will be acceptable (like, "put piranhas in my swimming pool") but "please don't make me
sing that song again''. One of them is "scralch your name all over my Lamborghini"; Carl had a mere Cadillac.
By the time of this session, Carl was two singles beyond
''Blue Suede Shoes'' but without another big hit to his credit. Perhaps that was the appeal of writing a song that explicitly connected with his earlier success. The song is indeed clever but it never got a chance to become Carl's vehicle back to the Top 10.
We have five takes here, and they show some evolution. The most striking change is that the first take does not include the little instrumental hook that will dominate all the rest of them.
It's a three-note figure that bears a very strong similarity to the figure that served as the hook in LaVern Baker's 1955 smash ''Tweedlee Dee'' (or ''Tweedle Dee''; both spellings show up on the Atlantic record labels). Not only is it played to open the record,
it shows up later in the song and sometimes appears in Carl's guitar solos.
Even the chord structure of the song evolves. What chord will the first verse end on? Initially
it's the I (a C chord in the key of C), but in the later takes it's the V (G-chord in the key of C) and Carl's vocals change to match those shifts. Because the song's chord structure changes across takes, Jerry Lee sometimes finds himself playing at odds with
A lot about these takes is both interesting and good. Jerry Lee's left hand is the bass line (listen closely: is there even a bass player here?). Often Jerry seems
to be the entirety of the harmonic backing for Carl's vocals, with everyone else very subdued or laying out altogether. W.S. Holland's drumming is tasteful and energetic throughout all the takes. Carl gets some particularly good solos in, especially in the
third and fifth of our outtakes) and his vocal gets very free-sounding. And, perhaps most important, it sounds like the boys are having fun doing this one.
Sadly, though, not one of these takes is flaw-free. There are ragged moments in every one of them. Chords get messed up, the band speeds up during the take, stuff happens. It's ironic that in
a song with the title ''You Can Do No Wrong'', they couldn't get even a single take right.
But it's a good song with a good hook and it deserved a better performance.
For reasons unknown, Carl never returned to it. We can only wonder why.
14 - You Can Do No Wrong (Take 1) (2:03) (Carl Perkins)
15 - You Can Do No Wrong (Take 2) (2:32) (Carl Perkins)
16 - You Can Do No Wrongs (Take 3) (2:25) (Carl Perkins)
17 - You
Can Do No Wrong (Take 4) (2:23) (Carl Perkins)
18 - You Can Do No Wrong (Take 5) (2:21) (Carl Perkins)
Back in March 1957, George Hamilton IV's hit record ''A Rose And A Baby Ruth'' was still on the charts when Carl recorded this. If this was the era for candy-bar
inspired love songs, Carl wanted a piece of the action. ''Forever Yours'' bars may be all but forgotten now, but these ''vanilla Milky Way'' bars were once quite popular. They disappeared from the candy counters of America about 20 years later in 1979, but
this was Carl Perkins' attempt to continue the candy bar trend in American popular music. Commercial tie-in or not, this is a damn fine ballad and, needless to say, light years away from the ballad style we've heard previously on ''Turn Around'' or ''I'm Sorry,
I'm Not Sorry''. One aside about the original single record: When originally released on Sun 274, ''Forever Yours'' was coupled with that nasty little opus called ''That's Right''. It was an odd pairing to say the least.
We're going to go out on a limb here and say that ''Forever Yours'' is the most beautiful song Carl Perkins recorded for Sun. It's true that most of what fins value about Perkins' work isn't tied up in ballads,
but this one is a stunner. Arguably, the big selling point is that flatted VI chord (C in the key of E) in the release. It's beautiful and unexpected. According to his bio, Carl nearly had a mutiny on his hands when he taught the song to brother Jay. It's
also not the first time Carl worked that territory. The same chord change appeared in ''Honey Don't '', when Carl was in his more accustomed rockabilly mode. But here, in a ballad, he adds a 4-note to the chord making it a little softer and warmer than the
straight version of the chord that appeared in the uptempo ''Honey Don't ''.
Another feature that takes ''Forever Yours'' into a very special realm is the recording mix.
For this, we have Sam to thank. The slap bass is miked so prominently, it's almost shocking. Forget the drums; this one is driven by Clayton's bass. When is the last time you heard a ballad recorded like this? It was one thing on Blue Suede Shoes. But a percussive
bass on a ballad? You betcha, and it works like a charm.
Sadly, we were only able to find one outtake of ''Forever Yours'', and it's not all that different from the issued
version. The bass is every bit as percussive as on the single, sometimes startlingly so. The reverb on the vocal gives it an unearthly quality. If you want to understand the difference between Sun reverb and regular studio echo, just listen to this record.
W.S.'s drums are more clearly recorded here than on the issued version. Listen to them especially during the first release. Carl 's guitar solo is just lovely. In fact, this is a fine take
of the song, arguably superior in some ways to the single. What sabotages this outtake is the ending, which is weak enough for Sam to call for a second recording. That one turned into the master.
In order to give a little more dimension to Carl's issued performance, we have included a live version from a TV show taped just months after ''Forever Yours'' was released. Obviously
the sound quality is a step down from the master tape, but it's still quite revealing. Carl's vocal is really beautiful - both soulful and expressive. Just listen to him wail during the second release! The tempo is a bit brisker than the single and Carl concentrates
on playing triplets on his guitar. What the live version brings home is that Carl was the real deal. There he stands in front of the mike, facing the studio audience, performing the song. No lip-synching for our man Carl. Every guitar note and word are simultaneously
performed right on the spot. In fact, you can barely hear anything but Carl singing and playing and the drums. Ultimately, Carl depended on little more than himself to write and perform these songs.
19 - Forever Yours (Take 1) (2:37) (Carl Perkins)
20 - Forever Yours (Take 2) (2:28) (Carl Perkins)
If there was a lesson to be learned from ''Dixie Fried'', you'd think it would have been that little slices
of Southern low-life wouldn't burn up the national charts. But Sam didn't get it and Carl is back with another bit of borderline violence that was selected for mass market release. Some 30 years later, this storyline would have been at home on the Jerry Springer
Maybe Sam was more interested in the catchy rhythm than the lyrics. That bass drum-driven backing track is certainly arresting, but once Carl started telling
his mean-spirited tale of revenge, it's hard to keep dancing. This story of infidelity would go down easier with a dollop of humor, but there's none to be found. He's a hard working man who gets off
from his shift around 4pm and is home by 4:05 sharp. He's warning his wife Lucy that her daytime lover better be out the back door and gone by the time he gets home. He's ready for the night shift with her and she better be ready to party with him.
"It's gonna be rough when I catches that booger''. Aside from its threat of violence, that line had bigger problems, all of whieh seem pretty funny today. The word 'booger' (as in 'sugar
booger' - see ''Lend Me Your Comb'') is too close to ''bugger'' and is thus an evil term in commonwealth countries and beyond. The line or the record it self was banned outright in the UK and Canada! Can you imagine that? That ban turned up in Spain as well.
Each of these markets took pains to keep that hideous, horrible offending word away from its citizens, thus avoiding fornication in the streets. Sometimes they censored Carl's voice with a bleep, other
times with a razor blade, ridding the tape of the offending word or the entire line of lyrics. Prudery and art have never been close friends.
Carl plays a different guitar
intro to the first of four outtakes and the drums are a bit out of meter but everyone gets together by the 6th bar. Actually, it's surprising that Sam let this take continue past the instrumental intro. The case against it gets even stronger when Carl botches
up the opening lyrics. His vocal on the second verse is way out of syne with the instrumental backing. In short, this initial version of the song is a mess. It's not lacking in feeling, however: W.S.
is perky with his single stroke rolls and Carl shouts to himself ("Now let's play one''!) but doesn't seem to respond to his own encouragement. The take is mercifully brought to an end around 2:34. For you numerologists in the crowd, that also happens to be
the release number of ''Blue Suede Shoes''.
The second outtake starts out more cleanly. This time around Carl gets home by 4:35 sharp. Apparently the
commute takes him a half hour longer in this early version. W.S. is kicking that bass drum here. Jimmy M. Van Eaton may have had this approach in the back of his mind when he tackled ''Lonely Weekends'' two and a half years later. Carl's vocal phrasing is
pretty rough and his vocal barely keeps pace with the music in the second verse. There's a clever line here that alludes to the title ("There's one way to live and That Right''!). It would have been even more clever if the notion of ''living right'' were not
so at odds with the life style portrayed in the lyrics. In any case, that bit of lyric disappeared before the final take was hatched.
It sounds like Sam who tries to
spur the boys on to a usable master at the start of the third outtake when he says "We got it going our way now'' but the first four bars suggest otherwise. First the first four lines go awry. Things briefly settle down but get all out of sync during the 12-bar
instrumental break. With just 12 bars and three chords, it's surprising things can go so far astray.
The frustration is running high at the start of the final outtake.
The first thing we hear is "Damn''! and then "Let's get this son of a bitch''. Within 35 seconds, Carl has blown the lyrics beyond repair. At the 44-sec mark Carl hits an uncharacteristic guitar clam. You can smell the aroma of Early Times whiskey rising off
the tape on this one. It's strange to think that the boys went from this outtake to the master, although no intermediate versions of the song have surfaced.
21 - That's
Right (Take 1) (2:34) (Carl Perkins)
22 - That's Right (Take 2) (2:47) (Carl Perkins)
23 - That's Right (Take 3) (2:40) (Carl Perkins)
24 - That's Right (Take 4) (2:44) (Carl Perkins)
Why or how Carl got his teeth into this one is anybody's guess. Carl's falsetto-laced vocal bears a strong resemblance to the style of Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots. The similarity doesn't stop there. That memorable four bar instrumental figure
that opens things here is lifted straight from the Charlie Fuqua's guitar intro to numerous Ink Spots hits including ''My Prayer'' (revived by the Platters in 1956).
the Ink Spots never recorded Carl's song, it's probably no coincidence that the title of their first and most famous big hit was ''If I Didn't Care''. Subconsciously or otherwise, Perkins homage to the Ink Spots is almost complete here.
Just to show that inspiration comes from many quarters, there's also that little snatch of lyric (''Now you got me started/ Don't you leave me broken-hearted... ") which is taken directly
from Elvis' record ''Too Much'', that just happened to be a smash hit in early 1957 (spending 17 weeks on the charts). We've got two takes of ''I Care'' (along with a little pre-take chatter). Because neither one was released. It's not clear which is the ''outtake'',
although the second is clearly more polished. It's also not clear how seriously this song was
ever a contender for release. One thing for sure: If Sam thought Carl was in a rut, this song on a Sun
45 would have broken him free of it. The section of the song beginning with the 1-7 chord ( "It's the way I feel") just cries out for a vocal chorus to bring it to life. Perhaps that would have been the next step had the song been taken more seriously, but
Carl was providing Sam with more than enough releasable material as it was. ''I Care'' never made it out of its tape box until decades later.
25 - I Care (Take 1) (2:41)
26 - I Care (Take 2) (2:26) (Carl Perkins)
This song is a considerable departure from most of what Carl Perkins did at Sun. There's only one guitar and it's acoustic. The production is a generally laid back arrangement with occasional intense vocal moments from Carl.
It's got a chorus going "wah wah wah" and (in two of the three takes) a recitation by Carl in the middle. In all, it's a period piece, what sometimes got called a ''rock-a-ballad'' in those days. Although no versions of it were released, there is a notation
on a tape box that the song was slated to be the flip side of ''That's Right''. It seems that Carl may have sung this song, among others, in a Philippine movie called ''Hawaiian Boy'' (which also featured Roy Hamilton). Although posters publicizing the film
appear on the web, there's no indication the film was ever released in the U.S., Canada or Europe. It featured Eddy Mesa (''the Elvis of the Philippines'') and involves a plot that might have been drawn from a dozen Elvis movies of the era: a pineapple worker
gets fired and rises to fame as a singing boxer. Stan Perkins reports that no member of the Perkins family ever owned or saw a copy of the film.
Y.O.U. was written by
George Bain, the husband of Carl 's cousin Martha. The song and its performance are a wonderful amalgam of musical ingredients of the era. When Carl took this song into the studio, there had been two number 1 hits within the last six months that had a vocal
surrounded by harmonizing voices with acoustic guitar: Elvis' ''Love Me Tender'' and Sonny James' ''Young Love''. The backing "wah-wah-wah-wah ' is much like what the Jordanaires sang behind Elvis on ''Playing for Keeps'' which arrived on the charts only a
month or so before this recording date. Ending a record on a high note was a common maneuver for Tony Williams of the Platters in those days, and Carl had already followed Williams up into falsetto at the finale of his LP version of ''Only You''. Carl's recitation
between verses came only a week or two after Elvis' release of ''That's When Your Heartaches Begin'' which included a recitation between verses, as had the Ink Spots' original recording of the song. (It's interesting, by the way, that ''Y.O.U.'' was recorded
at the same session as ''I Care'', another song with strong connection to the Ink Spots. The Ink Spots were more of an inspiration to the Memphis rockabillies than we customarily acknowledge.)
Let us make clear that we're not saying that ''Y.O.U.'' is stolen from other successful sources. Rather we're saying that it is firmly rooted in the popular music styles of its time and has lots of ingredients that were commonplace and familiar
to both buyers and producers back then. We have three outtakes of ''Y.O.U.''. The first and the third are what happened in the Sun studio. But the second, the one without a recitation, is not. It is a product of playing with the first outtake. It's easiest
to hear that the two have identical performances in the last few seconds - listen to the bass notes after Carl goes up to the high note on the final "you''. One obvious change is that the recitation in the first outtake has been removed. There are other smaller
changes, harder to hear in real time. One involves the simple seven-note guitar run that plays behind "it's you (guitar run), ''Y.O.U." that occurs about 52 seconds into the first outtake and 46 seconds into the second one. Someone spliced an additional copy
of that run into the second outtake at about I minute and 30 seconds (and you can hear a click just before it, where the splicing was done). Perhaps Sam thought that recitations weren't marketable since ''All Shook Up'' was by far the hotter side of Elvis'
Both of the actual versions (and all three outtakes) are admirably and appropriately simple performances of a simple and heartfelt song. The melody and Carl's vocal intensity are what make it such a beautiful and emotionally honest piece of music. Carl
hits the final top note in a way that is at once strong and plaintive. The whole thing is a nice reminder of how little machinery is needed to make a good record - less can be more. And it's also a reminder that records don't have to be innovative to be good;
they just have to be good.
27 - Y-O-U (Take 1) (3:31) (George Bain)
Y-O-U (Take 2) (2:39) (George Bain)
29 - Y-O-U (Take 3) (3:19) (George Bain)
Lend Me Your
Carl Perkins needed a hit record. The days of ''Blue Suede Shoes'' were plainly over and Sam, not to mention Carl, was willing to try just about anything to rekindle
his success. ''Lend Me Your Comb'' qualifies as ''anything''. Think of it as The Everly Brothers meet Mickey and Sylvia. How could you miss with such a mixture? And this wasn't just any Everly Brothers
song; the lyric is straight out of ''Wake Up Little Susie''.
There's still the mystery of how this song, right out of New York's Tin Pan Alley, made
its way to Carl. It seems the route may have been rather indirect. Carl's was not the first recording of the song to hit the market. There were at least two earlier versions. The original of ''Comb'' featured a double-tracked vocal by Carol Hughes and appeared
on Roulette 4041. Her record (with some gender-appropriate lyrical differences) received a Spotlight review in ''Billboard'' on December 30, 1957 as a "cute rockabilly dilly" with "good
ork support''. The industry bible concluded that this record "might make it''. Bernie Nee's cover released almost immediately on Columbia 41090 was also well received as "a fine vocal effort that could click with the kids''. At this point with a couple of
versions already on the market, an enterprising publisher's rep may have pitched the song to Sam Phillips as a sure ticket for renewed pop success his hungry artist. Mr. Nee is a story, himself. This singer, songwriter, entrepreneur may be familiar to some
collectors as the voices or the Five Blobs who appeared in the soundtrack of the classic 1958 horror film, '. The Blob'', featuring the screen debut of Steve McQueen.
so for the first time in a while, Carl and Jay brought their brotherly harmony to a recording session. We've got three outtakes here and the results are a long way from ''Sure To Fall''. The problem wasn't that Carl and Jay were too country, it was that both
were very free phrasers. Carl never approached music in a four-square manner. He rarely sang on the beat. He vocalized spontaneously, sometimes ahead of, sometimes behind the beat. In a word, he brought a jazz sensibility to country music. That hybrid approach
is part of what makes him very special.
Carl's guitar solos reveal the unmistakable influence
of Mickey Baker, whose guitar work on ''Love Is Strange'' was all over the airwaves in 1957. The original Carl Perkins discography by Escott and Hawkins lists a steel guitar player named Bernie. We believe this to be in error in two ways. First, there is no
steel guitarist here, at least in the sense that steel guitar usually refers to a pedal steel guitar. There does sound like a slide guitarist playing behind Carl 's work on the solo, although his identity is not known. We believe Bernie may have been scribbled
somewhere on the notes for this session, but it more likely refers to singer Bernie Nee who had the earlier version of ''Lend Me Your Comb'', that was clearly the basis for the arrangement Carl used in the studio.
30 - Lend Me Your Comb (False Start 1) (0:16) (Kay Twomey-Ben Wiseman-Fred Wise)
31 - Lend Me Your Comb (Take 1) (1:56) (Kay Twomey-Ben Wiseman-Fred Wise)
32 - Lend Me Your Comb (Take 2) (1:56) (Kay Twomey-Ben Wiseman-Fred Wise)
33 - Lend Me Your Comb (Take 3) (1:56) (Kay Twomey-Ben Wiseman-Fred Wise)
Disc 5 Contains
Glad All Over
We are disappointed to report that there are no known outtakes of ''Glad All Over''. If Carl and the band did not nail this title in one take, where have the outtakes gone? It is possible, of course, that this title, which appeared in the
1958 film ''Jamboree'', was not recorded at Sun, even though it was released on the Sun label. Sam had already reached well beyond his usual business approach when he made a deal to get Carl and Jerry Lee Lewis into the teen music pic ''Jamboree'' in return
for choosing two of the producers' copyrights. (Carl famously chose to sing ''Glad All Over'' rather than ''Great Balls Of Fire'', possibly denying himself a return to mass market attention.)
''Glad All Over'' appeared on Carl's final Sun single (Sun 287). Drummer W.S. Holland thinks it might have been recorded in New York, but is not certain. However, Carl 's bio suggests that the session was engineered by Jack Clement (at Sun).
In the likely event that the demo for the song came to Sun with the memorable drum hook already on it, W.S. would have learned it right off that record. "No doubt about it. I don 't know why else I would have played that little drum thing right there'', observes
W.S. He also agrees that learning the song and its arrangement straight off a demo might have reduced the session time it took for the band to record a final take, perhaps eliminating outtakes altogether. "I don't know that we ever played it more than once''..
In any case, Sun Records contributed two songs and film clips to the movie. The songs share one striking feature: they are uncommonly short. ''Glad All Over'' runs 1 :40 and the issued version
of ''Great Balls of Fire'' times out at 1:50. Given that the whole movie barely runs 70 minutes, these brief running times are not surprising.
Until further notice, ''Glad
All Over'' remains a missing episode in the Carl Perkins Sun outtake story.
Look At That Moon
are two Carl's involved in this story although we're not exactly sure of all the details. Further complicating things is the fact that both of these Carl's - Perkins and Mann - were based in (or near, in the ease of Mann) Jackson, Tennessee, recorded for Sun
and worked with drummer W.S. Holland. Carl Perkins was leaving Sun just about the time that Carl Mann was walking in the door, so it's hard to determine the degree or overlap. This song brings the confusion to the fore.
All indications are that Carl Perkins wrote and recorded ''Look At That Moon''. He left two fairly raw demos of it behind, and we present both of them. The song appeared almost immediately on a Carl Mann session
and Mann's version is considerably more polished and energetic than Perkins'. Mann's discography indicates it was cut at the ''Mona Lisa'' session but aural evidence suggests otherwise.
It seems odd that Carl Perkins would be pitching songs to a fledgling artist like Mann when he, himself, was always looking for commercial material at the end of his Sun career. W.S. Holland appeared on both of their sessions and later sort
of ''managed'' Mann's career, although Holland resists the formal meaning of that term. W.S. may have been the connection between the Carl's, and brought this new Perkins composition to Mann. The most recent version of the Carl Mann discography (BCD 16684)
takes the easy way out: the song is credited to both Mann and Perkins. "I don't think they ever met face to face'', recalls W.S., "although they were certainly aware of each other work. It's unlikely they wrote a song together.''.
So what has Carl Perkins left us here? Right from the start this sounds more like a Carl Mann track than a Carl Perkins record. It's got that rolling piano/bass sound that would eventually characterize ''Mona
Lisa''. The thing is, however, that sound hadn't yet been established by Mann so it seems unlikely Perkins was tailoring material to his new label mate. On the first take Perkins offers those "Oh ho ho's" as vocal filler in a way that Carl Mann never did.
Perkins' guitar break is perfectly serviceable, but the arrangement just cries out for 8 or 16 stinging bars by Eddie Bush, Carl Mann's distinctive guitar player. One big change here is in the bass. Clayton is no longer playing his upright slap bass. Some
time between the ''Forever Yours'' session and what we have here, Clayton made the change from acoustic to electric. Given the loss to the distinctive Carl Perkins sound, one can only hope it was a reluctant change.
The second take is a bit more together (there was some noticeable chord confusion on the first), although Carl launches into a needless additional verse after his guitar break instead of moving directly into
the release. Things kind of go downhill from there and we end up with a good demo rather than the possible master we were heading for. In truth, the best version of the song was the unissued Carl Mann recording you can find on BCD 15713 or BCD 16684.
1 - Look At That Moon (Take 1) (1:58) (Carl Perkins)
2 - Look At That Moon (Take 2) (2:21) (Carl Perkins)
Pink Pedal Pushers
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 belong with those other two. ''Blue Suede Shoes'' is about someone's devotion to his own shoes and ''Cat Clothes'' consists of Carl's getting his woman dressed up fancy
'cause 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 the 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 Vincent'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 pinkpedal 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 sense. It's yet one more reminder that the world has changed in the past half century.
It's hard not
to hear this 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's 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'' which was number 2 in 1960 and Ray Charles' ''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.
We've got one rare home demo and six more performances (the last one a fragment) that come from two distinct studio sessions. On the home demo, he seems
merely to be getting the song and vocal approach recorded but there's no sign of what the arrangement will be when there's a band to work with.
The next four tracks are
clearly from the same studio session. Clayton is playing an electric bass. W.S. Holland is, uncharacteristically, doing most of his work on the high-hat and bass drum and using the snare only for rolls and dramatic effects. Carl's guitar playing behind the
vocal is subdued. In fact, the whole thing is subdued; the drum is the most audible instrument and the vocal is what's featured. And although there is a little ambitious guitar work at the end of outtakes 4 and 5, there's not a good solo in the bunch.
Outtakes 6 and 7 are different. They're studio takes and include, as W.S. Holland recalls, Jimmy Smith on piano. (The key and tuning had to move a little bit from the previous four outtakes
to accommodate the piano.) The big change in these two tracks is, as we mentioned earlier, the chord structure of the first two lines of the verse - that fancy walk-down chord progression is gone and
''Pink Pedal Pushers'' is now a conventional 3-chord rock and roll song.
W.S. doesn't rely on the bass drum and high-hat the way he had on the preceding
four tracks; the snare is his emphasis now. In the first of these last two outtakes there are two guitar solos but neither is stellar. Jimmy Smith 's chords in the mid-range of the piano add little. In fact, this whole track sounds subdued. Maybe they were
just warming up for the next take.
Sadly, our final take of this song is incomplete - it begins during the first guitar solo. But the whole thing has come to life. Carl's
vocal is so unrelentingly enthusiastic that he even gives up his narrative style on the line "she kina'' of favors her mom. He provides a new lyrical touch - now the pants "'made her the talk of the town" rather than "the queen of them all''. His terrific
second guitar solo includes pieces ol' the solos on the released versions of ''Matchbox'' and ''Boppin' The Blues''. Jimmy Smith is now tinkling up at the high end of the piano where we can hear him and he doesn't compete with Carl's guitar. But it's the drumming
in particular that drives this track along wonderfully - including a reprise of the single-stroke roll from ''Matchbox''. The take has the kind of energy that makes us wish we had the entire thing with a few extra verses thrown in for good measure.
But all of this was moot as far as Sun was concerned. By late 1957, Carl had lost hope in response to what he perceived as Sam's loss of faith in him. He was also none too happy with the
financial arrangements at Sun anymore, but was really too in awe of Sam Phillips to confront him or demand a change. Carl wasn't the only Sun artist whose relationship with label-owner Phillips had become, to put it mildly, psychologically complex. Carl was
easy pickin's when Columbia Records in the person of Don Law came calling. By the Spring of 1958, Carl was a Columbia artist, with Johnny Cash part of the same exodus.
Carl was still working on ''Pink Pedal Pushers'' during the label change and it became his first release on Columbia in the Spring of 1958. On the Columbia version, Carl uses the more conventional
chord changes he used on the final Sun outtakes.
3 - Pink Pedal Pushers (Take 1) (2:16) (Carl Perkins)
4 - Pink
Pedal Pushers (Take 2) (2:37) (Carl Perkins)
5 - Pink Pedal Pushers (Take 3) (2:28) (Carl Perkins)
6 - Pink Pedal Pushers (Take 4) (2:26)
7 - Pink Pedal Pushers (Take 5) (2:28) (Carl Perkins)
8 - Pink Pedal Pushers (Take 6) (2:37) (Carl Perkins)
9 - Pink Pedal Pushers (Fragment 1) (1:35) (Carl Perkins)
Keeper Of The Key
You may have heard Carl sing this one before, but it probably wasn't this version. By far the better known source is the Million Dollar Quartet session, on which Carl appeared during that fateful afternoon in December, 1956.
The version we have here (which again features Jerry Lee Lewis) seems to have been a throw-away, one-off studio take assayed in much the spirit of the Million Dollar Quartet, which has become the world's most famous extended jam session - desewing of its own
Carl's vocal on this Wynn Stewart song is quite impassioned and utterly sincere. The song itself, which bears more than a passing similarity
to ''Seasons Of My Heart'', falls in that appealing overlap between a love song and a gospel song. "I can't sing about my love for you, darlin' without bringing the Lord into it''.
On the first go-around, Carl turns the ''key'' to his fate over to his woman. By the last verse, that all-important ''key'' has been passed along to the Lord.
Another notable feature here is the recitation. Once again, Carl has taken time away from his singing to spend 8 bars reciting the lyrics. We've discussed this practice elsewhere (see ''I
Care'') and can add that according to his biography, Carl recorded a number of religious/sentimental narrations late in his life which do not appear to have been released.
10 - Keeper Of The Key (Take 1) (3:23) (Harlan Howard-Kenny Devine-Lance Guynes-Beverly Stewart)
To The Mockingbird
For years this title was mis-identified as ''Redwing''. It isn't. Right genus, wrong species. This is an entirely different song called ''Listen To
The Mockingbird''. It has an extensive history (worthy of its own page on Wikipedia) and goes back to the mid-19th century. In fact, it was popular during the Civil War and was reportedly a favorite of Abe Lincoln.
It's hard to know exactly which version Carl heard, but it was hard not to cross paths with one of them. The melody appeared as background music to ''Looney Tunes'' cartoons and was adapted as the Three Stooges
theme song. Davy Crockett plays it on the fiddle in the landmark film ''The Alamo''. Recordings were made in the 1950s by pianist Del Wood (who Carl's biography mis-identifies as Dale Wood), Louis Armstrong, Arthur ''Guitar Boogie'' Smith and (with new lyrics)
Louis Prima and Keely Smith. And let us not forget the Sons Of The Pioneers who had their own version 20 years earlier (BCD 16194). In short, this traditional melody was hard to miss. The tune in the
chorus shows up in ''With A Little Bit Of Luck'' from My Fair Lady. Even Chet Atkins recorded a version with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1963.
- Listen To The Mockingbird (Take 1) (2:20) (Richard Milburn)
The Way That You're Living
This home tape recording by Carl is based on his recollection of a Jimmy Swan record from 1956 (MGM 12348). Carl re-arranges Swan's verses and adds some new lyrics of his own. The truth is, as good as Swan's original is (you can hear
it on BCD 15758), Carl's version is better. At least his stark, acoustic performance is better. The recording itself leaves a lot to be desired, which should surprise nobody. Stan Perkins, who was a toddler
when many of these home recordings were made, remembers his father sitting in front of the microphone of his tape recorder and picking and singing his heart out.
"My daddy bought that tape recorder about same time he got his first Cadillac in March or April 1956. It was about the best home tape recorder you could get at the time,
but that was probably none too good. He had it set up in the den, right near the piano, just off from the kitchen''.
"Our mother used to tell me and my brother to be
quiet 'cause daddy's singing in the other room. But we were kids. You can hear us playing in the kitchen behind him''.
W.S. Holland also recalls the home tape recorder
located in the den. "I can close my eyes and picture it as clearly as I can see anything in this room. He was living in a house over on Park Street in Jackson. In the den of the house, on a little table, I can see that recorder sitting there. It was a Webcor;
one of those old reel to reel machines.
If you had told young Stan Perkins that his youthful squeals would be digitally mastered and heard by a generation of his daddy's
fans half a century later, it might have triggered some confusion. Today, he understands it perfectly. "I'm proud of my daddy's music'', he says, "although I never thought those recordings would be part of what people still listen to''.
12 - The Way That You're Living (Take 1) (3:04) (Jimmy Swan)
The Old Spinning Wheel
This song was written in 1933 by Billy Hill. It was quickly recorded by, among many others, Paul Whiteman, Fred Waring, Bing Crosby, the Boswell Sisters, and Frances Langford. It was later
recorded by Slim Whitman in 1961 (BCD 16214), and as an instrumental duet by Chet Atkins and Hank Snow (BCD 15714 and 15476). Not surprisingly as things have gone in this boxed set, the Ink Spots also performed it on the radio in 1935. (Songwriter Billy Hill,
by the way, also wrote ''The Last Roundup'', ''In The Chapel In The Moonlight'', ''Glory Of Love'', and, under the name George Brown, ''That When Your Heartaches Begin'').
little minute-and-a-half home recording again shows Carl's admiration for Chet Atkins' guitar style. Carl almost certainly heard Atkins perform the song when RCA released a single (RCA 47-5995) in 1954 featuring the Atkins/Hank Snow duet. It's a pretty song
prettily played by both Atkins and Carl, and the fluent guitar picking serves to complement the simple tune rather than to obscure or complicate it. The song and Carl's approach to it were apparently something special to him - he performed it again in much
this style as a member of Johnny Cash's band at the 1968 Folsom Prison concert (finally released in 2008 on the Sony Legacy complete edition of that concert).
13 - The
Old Spinning Wheel (Take 1) (1:28) (Billy Hill)
Try My Heart Out
The origin of
this over-emoted ballad is something of a mystery. Despite the presence of several instruments, it's far from certain it was cut at Sun. For one thing, the quality of these recordings is well below the standard for 706 Union Avenue. For another, these outtakes, including the incomplete version that runs about 1:40, were found on a home tape in Carl's possession that contained another title not previously released (see ''Poor People Of Paris''.) And so the
question of where these recordings originate remains a mystery: it's too sloppy for a Sun recording and too elaborate for a home recording (at the least, there's quite a bit of echo on the vocal, a feature that lay beyond the capacity of mid-50s home recorders).
One thing to note: If these are home recordings, that piano player is more likely to be Valda Perkins than Jerry Lee Lewis.
The song itself is a whole other matter. What
makes the lyrics most interesting is likely to be lost on modern listeners. The composer (probably Carl) has adapted what was a common advertising gimmick - most frequently appearing on radio commercials
- and put it to use in a love song. In its original form, the phrase might be "Bear Family yeast provides every vitamin and mineral known to man. It'll give you more vim and vigor than you 've ever felt. Try our yeast out. Put it to your test. If after one
week you don't feel better than you ever have, return the unused portion and we 'Il refund your full purchase price''.
It was an appealing offer. Buy
our product. Put it to your test. What could be fairer? If this ain't the best cereal/orange juice/cake mix/pain reliever you've ever used, just send it back. There's no risk to you. Make up your own test for it. You be the judge. Carl has turned this common
gimmick around and applied it to love, with himself as the product. 'Take me home. Let me love you. See how you feel with me in your life''.
It's a pretty funny idea
when you think about it because it's an unchaste offer in a generally conservative era. But that, too, contributes to why it's a fanciful and clever song.
its most effective moments come during the release ("a newborn feeling") when the melody shuttles between the IV and V-chords. Performance wise, Carl seems to be trying a little too hard to deliver a hiccup-laced
marketable ballad. He should have laid back a bit and let the clever lyrics do the work.
14 - Try My Heart Out (Take 1) (1:41) (Carl Perkins)
15 - Try My Heart Out (Take 2) (2:51) (Carl Perkins)
The Poor People Of Paris
This recording owes its origin to the home tape recorder in the Perkins family den and remained squirreled away on a 5-inch reel until very recently. Undoubtedly, Carl would have been surprised to find it issued
- for the first time - over half a century later for fans, collectors and historians.
It is another of Carl 's informal sitting-at-home recreations of a Chet Atkins performance.
Chet's record (RCA 47-6366; it appears on BCD 16539) came out in December 1955. It is clearly the model for Carl's work here - not only does Carl pick like Chet, he changes keys a few times mid-song like Chet. Recording at home left the taping process vulnerable
to some technological problems that you can hear easily in this track. Carl plays the song passably well, though there are some rough spots that more rehearsal could have ironed out if this had been intended for public distribution. Carl surely liked working
out these Atkins-like arrangements.
The song soon became hugely popular. In March 1956, Les Baxter's orchestral instrumental version of ''Poor People Of Paris'' reached
number 1 on 'Billboard' and stayed there for six weeks. Several more recordings of the song made it into the ''Billboard'' Top 100 during that stretch and Chet's now old record even made it to number 52. Also that same year, Winifred Atwell's ragtime piano
version went to the top of the charts in the U.K. This song was very big, and Chet proves to have been a little ahead of the curve with his late-1955 release.
title on Chet's record is ''Poor People Of Paris (Jean's Song)'' and there's a story in that. The tune was written by Marguerite Monnot, a noted composer of both classical and popular music in France. She wrote several songs collaboratively with Edith Piaf,
and wrote others (with a variety of lyricists) that Piaf made popular. One of those was ''La Goualante de Pauvre Jean'' (roughly "the ballad of poor John"), a big hit for Piaf in 1954. But when it came time to make an English version, the U.S. publisher phoned
Jack Larence (the lyricist, about whom we'll say more shortly) and said it was called ''Pauvre Jean de Paris''. Lawrence misheard "pauvre Jean'' as "pauvre gens" (poor people). He started writing the lyric, and we wind up with an old song with a new title.
Chet's record lists both titles - something related to the original French and the new English one.
Notice that Jack Lawrence's recounting of this episode at means that
there may well have been earlier recordings, contemporary with or even before Chet, let alone Les Baxter.
Taking us even further from Carl Perkins, for a moment, Jack
Lawrence, who wrote the English-language lyrics for the song, also wrote ''Yes My Darling Daughter'' (Dinah Shore's first record), ''All Or Nothing And All'' (Frank Sinatra's first hit record as a solo performer rather than a big-band singer), and (the reason
we go on about Lawrence here), ''If I Didn't Care'' - the first hit for the Ink Spots who show up often in these liner notes as a major influence in Carl's musical life.
- Poor People Of Paris (Take 1) (1:47) (Marguerite Monnot)
Roll Over Beethoven
Berry's first Top 10 hit was his first record (''Maybellene'') in 1955. His second Top 10 hit (''School Day'') came about a year-and-a-half later. ''Roll Over Beethoven'' was his only other entry in the top 40 during the interim, barely making it into the
Top 30 in the summer of 1956. Yet it has a sort of classic status that some of his bigger records never achieved. Part of that is undoubtedly due to the wonderful guitar intro that Chuck re-used on ''Johnny B. Goode'' and that the Beach Boys grabbed for ''Fun,
Fun, Fun''. But another reason may be the fact that this was one of the first hit records with lyrics about rock and roll itself. It had the ready-made status of an anthem.
''Roll Over Beethoven'' exists among Carl's Sun recordings, it is unlikely that it was ever intended to be more than a warm up track. The fact that only one take exists strengthens that conclusion. As such, it certainly served the purpose. There are some good
reasons why Carl and the boys decided to record it. For one thing, they all (including Jerry Lee) knew the song. For another, they surely liked Chuck's music at the end of 1956. In fact, four tracks on the Million Dollar Quartet sessions are performances of
Chuck Berry songs, though not of this one. Carl and Chuck had recently become friends on tour and Carl liked both his guitar-playing and his songwriting. And it makes sense that two of the greatest contributors to the hybridizing of country music and blues
- coming from the opposite directions - should find themselves to be kindred spirits.
Carl's guitar style here is obviously intended to be Berry-like. What's more, Jerry
Lee tinkles the upper end of the piano sounding more like Johnnie Johnson (who played behind Chuck) than usual. The lyric is an amalgam of lines and verses from Chuck's record sung in no particular order. But you can't take the country out of the boy and it's
clear that we're listening to a band with country roots, more comfortable with shuffle rhythm than with the very steady one that drove the original. ''Roll Over Beethoven'' by Carl is entertaining and it's good, but it's not hit material. It's an homage.
17 - Roll Over Beethoven (Take 1) (2:52) (Chuck Berry)
Take Back My Love
Just when you think you know Carl Perkins' music, along comes something like this. If the track hadn't been sitting squarely in the middle of a Perkins reel, we might have had some trouble identifying the singer.
''Take Back My Love'' is three and a half minutes of acoustic guitar-based drama. Sure, it's got that edge of sloppiness that most home demos have, but it's also a hell of a performance.
The vocal is adventurous; the chords are tense and jazz-influenced, and that bolero rhythm anticipates Roy Orbison's ''Running Scared'' by a good five years.
question is what might have prompted this excursion into a style far removed from Carl's usual niché. We can think of two possibilities. The first is Clyde McPhatter's ''Treasure Of Love'', which hit the charts in May, 1956 and was hard to miss in the
summer of that year. In case you've forgotten, McPhatter's record features an acoustic guitar and an incessant bolero rhythm. If that wasn't enough in the way of musical influence, consider Elvis's first album which hit the stores in April, 1956 and sold a
cool copies during its initial chart run. We know Carl had a copy because the LP featured his composition ''Blue Suede Shoes''. But the song in question wasn't Carl's, it was Don Robertson lovely ballad ''I'm Counting On You''. Like ''Treasure Of Love'', the
release to ''I'm Counting On You'' had a strong bolero rhythm performed by the backup vocal trio, adding a distinctive touch to the arrangement surrounding Elvis.
Elvis and Clyde, Carl had plenty of inspiration when it came to composing ''Take Back My Love''. In truth, Carl's entry into the bolero sweepstakes was not among his best work. The problem lies with its lyrics, which are rather self-piteous. If Carl ever played
this one for Sam, it would probably have been nixed fast.
18 - Take Back My Love (Take 1) (3:37) (Carl Perkins)
This track has eluded identification for decades but we think we now know what it is. This is Carl, sitting around at home
with his brother Clayton in front of the tape recorder, having just recorded ''Old Spinning Wheel'' in the style of the 1955 Chet Atkins/Hank Snow duet release. And now they're just improvising with whatever half-remembered melodies come to mind.
It's likely at some point that one of those musical ideas might come from the flip side of that Atkins/Snow record Carl admired so much. It was called ''Silver Bell''. It's quite possible
that Carl didn't know ''Silver Bell'' nearly as well as he knew ''Old Spinning Wheel'' and so he reconstructed what he could and improvised the rest. The result is a song that has a lot in common with ''Silver Bell'', but is not identical to it. Certainly
that would help it elude identification over the years since this is not a complete version of any known song. Yet, all you have to do is flip ''Spinning Wheel'' over and the similarities to this piece are quite clear.
''Silver Bell'', the actual song that Chet and Hank recorded, has a nice pedigree. The music was written by Percy Wenrich (with words by Edward Madden) in 1911 - that's one century ago as we write this. Wenrich
was one of the early 20th century's more successful tunesmiths. He was also responsible for the music of such big and still-familiar hits as ''Moonlight Bay'', and ''When You Wore Tulip'' and ''I Wore A Big Red Rose''. Hank Snow was apparently a big Percy
Wenrich fan; he recorded another Wenrich mega- hit, ''Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet'' (BCD 15488).
19 - Silver Bell (Take 1) (1:33) (Carl Perkins)
Somebody Tell Me
When Adam Komorowski included this track on 1997's ''The Unissued Carl Perkins'', he
rightly observed that the quality of this track was ''pretty dire'' and acknowledged it was ''for completists only''. Suffice it to say that it's taken some engineering know-how to get it even this good, which begins to suggest how bad the original was. It
is plainly not a Sun recording. In fact it is a matter of some speculation as to where or under what conditions this track was cut. Although it has been suggested that Carl occasionally brought his home tape recorder to club dates, W.S. Holland maintains that
was not the case. He does recall the band, drums included, setting up in the living room and performing into the little single mike home recorder. Predictably, the results were none too professional. In any case, they do give us a glimpse of the Perkins Brothers
band sometime around 1956. The band's earlier country sound is all but gone here.
The truth is, this isn't a had song, whether written by Carl or borrowed from another
source. The discography accompanying BCD 15494 credits it to Carl, but that may have simply been a matter or default. It's got some clever lyrics and a good stop rhythm. You've got to wonder - if this
truly was Carl's composition, why not bring it to a session at some point?
20 - Somebody Tell Me (Take 1) (4:20) (Carl Perkins)
The first thing we can tell you about this song is that you can disregard all previous
liner notes that talk about Carl Belew and Andy Williams. This song by Perkins shares a title with that 1959 hit by Williams and nothing more. If-you actually listen to the songs before writing about them, it's clear that the compositions have nothing in common
musically. The truth is, the Belew/Williams song with this title is the hands down winner.
It's not clear what this recording is all about. Carl's vocal isn't that bad,
although it is a bit emotionally overwrought. It's the band work that dooms these takes to their status among the worst things Carl recorded at Sun (or at least during the Sun years). The overall effect is about as draggy as Carl ever sounded on tape. Worse
yet, all versions feature the electric bass from hell.
It's hard to believe that a track sounding this bad ever emerged from 706 Union Avenue. You could have gotten a
better mix by throwing darts at the mixing board. In the unlikely event this is Clayton playing bass, we can charitably say this isn't among his finest work. It isn't just the overbearing sound of the bass in the mix, it's the bass playing as well. Listen
for some memorable clams at the end of the third take. The addition of a piano on the fourth take does little to relieve the tedium.
At least we can be pretty confident
of the time period during which this song was written and recorded. The lyric is directly inspired by ''Heartbreak Hotel'', which pretty well locates this sometime in 1956. In fact, ''Heartbreak Hotel'' spawned more than this unknown composition by Carl Perkins.
It seems to have given rise to a sub-genre of "that's where you go when you 're lonely'' compositions including Johnny Cash's ''Home Of The Blues'' (Sun 279 - Sept, 1957); The Gosdin Brothers' ''Lonely Lonesome Street'' (Cullman 6415 - May, 1959; and Ricky
Nelson's ''Lonesome Town'' (Imperial 5545 - October, 1958).
To our misfortune, we don't get just one version of this song. Four times the boys went back to the well,
and four times they came back with something that sounded this bad. Usually, amateurish home recordings are singular events. Do it, and move on to the next. The presence of four takes here does raise the legitimate question about the source of these recordings.
If Carl had made more records at Sun that sounded like this, it's unlikely you'd be holding a 5-CD boxed set in your hands right now.
21 - Lonely Street (Take 1) (2:41)
22 - Lonely Street (Take 2) (2:41) (Carl Perkins)
23 - Lonely Street (Take 3) (2:43) (Carl Perkins)
24 - Lonely Street (Take 4) (2:50) (Carl Perkins)
Drink Up And Go Home
Here's another one of those home recordings of marginal quality. We can tell you where the song came from: Freddie Hart wrote and recorded it in 1956. In some ways, this version is actually better than his - the three part harmony on the
chorus is an improvement. But there's an odd lyric change here that doesn't help things. Hart sings (and wrote) "I'm fresh out of prison/six years in the pen''. That works well and rhymes with ''friend'' in the next line. For some reason Carl's recording changes
the word to can. Although ''can'' is occasionally used as slang for ''prison'' , it doesn't scan as well in this song.
But by far the bigger problem, however, is the
identity of the lead singer. It's hard to imagine the vocal is by Carl. Our money is on brother Jay.
It's best to view this track as an inferior quality documentary of
what the Brothers sounded like at heir neighborhood honky tonk some time in 1956. As for the sound quality, it's probably no worse that what you would have heard from the rest room if you excused yourself
in the middle of a set.
25 - Drink Up And Go Home (Take 1) (3:37)
Davis & Scott Parker, November, 2011
© Original Sun Recordings, licensed from Sun Entertainment, Inc.
Hank Davis. Interviews with W.S. Holland, September - October, 2011
Hank Davis. Interviews with Stan
Perkins, July - September, 2011
Craig Morrison, ''Go Cat Go! Rockabilly Music and Its Makers, University of Illinois Press, 1996.
and David McGee. ''Go, Cat, Go!'', Hyperion Books, 1996.
Carl Perkins with Ron Rendleman. ''Disciple In Blue Suede Shoes'', Zondervan Publishing House, 1978.
For Biography of Carl Perkins see: > The Sun Biographies <
Carl Perkins' Sun/Flip recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions
on > YouTube <
© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©