March 1982 Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sun Box 101-1-A/B mono
CARL PERKINS - THE SUN YEARS - HILLBILLY JUK BOX - ONE FOR THE MONEY
Record 1 Side 1 ''Hillbilly Juke Box''
1 - Honky Tonk Gal (Not
2 - Movie Magg (Previously Unissued Alternate Take)
3 - Turn Around (Previously Unissued Alternate Take)
4 - Movie Magg (Original Flip 501)
5 - Turn Around (Original Flip 501)
6 - You Can't Make Love To
Somebody (Previously Unissued Alternate Take)
7 - Gone Gone Gone (Original Sun 224)
8 - Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing (Original Sun 224)
9 - What You Doin' When You're Crying (Not Originally Issued)
10 - Drink Up And Go Home (Previously Unissued)
Honky Tonk Gal (Not Originally Issued) 1:57
(Carl Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
Sometime in the fall of 1954, the Perkins Brothers Band, Carl, Jay and Clayton, and their new drummer, W.S. Holland, date the trip to Memphis to try to get onto Sun Records. No-one can recall
exactly when this was, except that it was after the boys heard Presley's first record on the radio, probably in August, and after they saw his show at Betthel Springs. W.S. Holland told us that this first trip to Memphis to audition was only about the third
time he had ever played with the band. It seems most likely this was in October
The earliest tape of the Perkins band, recently discovered among hundreds of boxes of
an auditions and out-takes, is dated October 1954. This may have been made on that very first trip to see Sam Phillips, or maybe this was the result of a second visit. Either way, it contained five versions of ''Honky Tonk Gal'' and one of ''Movie Magg'' in
that order, recorded over the top of a black vocal group session.
It seems, then, that ''Honky Tonk Gal'' was the first Perkins recording made in the Sun studio. As far
as we can determine, this is an original song written by Carl. Hank Thompson wrote and recorded a song of the same title, but the verses are entirely different. In any case, Carl sings in the first two takes of his ''Honky Tonk Babe'' and the title line is
altered for subsequent attempts. The take included here is the fifth and last.
The performance itself is straight out of the Jackson bars and the Perkins style seems
to be fairly well developed. The feeling is jaunty not jumping, exuberant not ecstatic, but the bluesy guitar is there and it was only a short step from here to rockabilly music.
Magg (Previously Unissued Alternate Take) 2:02
(Carl Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
According to Carl, this was the first
song he ever wrote. It was begun in 1945 for a talent show in Bemis, and refined over the years during the early gigs of the Perkins Brothers Band. It mixes the heroics of the western movie with personal experience and a honky-tonk rhythm.
This appears to be the first demo version, recorded at the same time as ''Honky Tonk Gal''. The sound is perhaps a little more country than the final take but otherwise is not notably different.
It only remained to sort out some minor lyric problems and clean up the opening notes of the guitar solo, and Carl would have the basis of his first record.
to the simple, pure energy of this early take the boundless talent of this artist must have been blindingly clear to Sam Phillips. It is obvious that nobody had to twist Carl Perkins' arm into putting some bounce into his brand of hillbilly music.
Just to be sure of his discovery, Sam sent Memphis disc jockey's Dick Stuart and Bob Neal to check out Carl's stage act at the 'El Ranch' in Jackson. Bob Neal recalls being impressed. He
also says that Elvis Presley was with them. This attention must have surprised Carl because only a few months earlier he had travelled to see Presley and a recording contract for himself had seemed as remote as ever.
Turn Around (Previously Unissued Alternate Take) 2:10
(Carl Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
When Carl and his band had first auditioned for Sam Phillips, he had marked ''Movie Magg'' as a possible single release but he asked Carl to come up with some other original songs as well. ''Turn Around'' was the answer.
Sam was planning to move into country recordings in a big way at this time and he had arranged a demo session for October 25 with an old disc jockey friend and country
fiddle player, Bill Cantrell. Cantrell and his songwriting colleague, guitarist Quinton Claunch were lined up to work with Maggie Due Wimberly on a song called ''How Long Will It Be'', later issued on Sun as ''How Long''. When Carl phoned to say he had another
song ready, Sam asked him and the boys to come on down on that say and see what they sounded like with a fuller backing. Several demo takes ended up on tape, and this one complete version.
Carl was possibly uneasy about recording with the fuller sound behind him. He and his band had never met Bill or Quinton and there was evidently some discussion of the merits of hillbilly and honky-tonk boogie music. The
Perkins boys mentioned Presley. Cantrell conceded that its ''great stuff'' though ''I don't go for it''. Any differences the players may have had were quickly reconciled and they combined to cut a moving country ballad with Cantrell kicking off on fiddle,
Carl singing strongly in a voice as pure as spring water and Claunch and Jay Perkins developing a solid rhythm line.
There are only minor differences separating this
from the previously issued version. The decision to shelve this one was probably based upon several instrumental fluffs during Cantrell's fiddle solo and not upon Carl's vocal performance.
Movie Magg (Original Flip 501) 2:05
(Carl Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
By January 1955, Sam Phillips
concluding his plans to issue a series of country records. On January 22 he called Carl in to record two of the songs they had worked on during October, one honky-tonker in Carl's own style and one neo-Hank Williams hillbilly song with Cantrell's boys. The
''A'' side, according to the master numbers Sam gave the pressing Plant, was "Movie Magg". This was the first release on a new label, Flip Records, designed by Sam to test out new artists in the local market.
This version of "Movie Magg" is brighter than the October demo with W.S. Holland slightly more in evidence and Carl biting the air with his guitar solos. It is essentially the same though, once again an authentic example of
the music Carl had given the patrons of West Tennessee bar-rooms for some years.
Turn Around (Original Flip 501) 2:55
Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
Although originally the ''B'' side of the Flip record, ''Turn Around" has outlasted "Movie Magg''. It retains a proud spot in Carl's live act to
this day and is usually announced, not quite accurately, as ''the first song I ever had on Sun records".
It's a truly expressive, personalised hillbilly song true to
the spirit of Hank Williams with Carl's voice meeting Bill Cantrell's heartbroken fiddle notes perfectly and melting at the end of each verse into Stan Kesler's steel guitar. Carl plays a thumping bass rhythm on his electric gold-top Les Paul Gibson, more
normally employed on the cutting treble strings. This must have been a real juke-box favourite around Memphis. The record did not get reviewed in the national trade papers but the local reaction was apparently encouraging.
Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch each received a fifteen dollar session fee for this song according to Sun's files. There is no mention of Kesler but his steel guitar can plainly be heard even though it does
not feature strongly.
You Can't Make Love To Somebody (Previously Unissued Alternate Take) 2:35
Through the spring of 1955 the Perkins band consolidated their local standing. They still had a regular gig at the El Rancho in Jackson, they began to get
bookings in and around Memphis and, best of all. they signed up with Bob Neal's agency Stars Incorporated and travelled the mid-South with Elvis Presley. Soon Johnny Cash joined the show and in June the three artists played throughout the tri-state area tor
one dollar admission.
By early summer, Sam Phillips was asking for another record from Carl. This time it was to be on the Sun label and would get national distribution
if it showed potential. The choice of songs was crucial. Sam followed the standard pattern of coupling one rhythm number with a hillbilly weeper. Carl and the band started working in the studio and an undated tape, probably from July 1955, contains early versions
of the two candidates for the uptempo side, ''Gone Gone Gone" and "You Can't Make Love To Somebody''.
"You Can't Make Love To Somebody'' was never in tact issued by Sam
Phillips. A more subdued sounding, less spirited version was used much later when Shelby Singleton combed through the Sun vaults for filler on Sun International LP 112. This version is arguably better for several reasons. In fact, this record may offer one
of the purest examples of the synthesis between hillbilly and rock and roll. Just listening to it conjures up terms like ''hillbilly bop'' or ''hillbilly bounce''.
vocal is decidedly country, whereas W.S. and Clayton contribute some driving drum and slap-bass work. Only the under recording of Carl's guitar mars the generally memorable status of this recording. There are also some fine lyrics on this version Listen boy,
ain't no joy... which were not included on the released take.
Gone Gone Gone (Original Sun 224) 2:35
On July I I , Carl was ready to record his second single. He had settled for "Gone Gone Gone" as the best uptempo song and he sailed into it enthusiastically,
spitting out the opening lines to this unusual variation on the boy-leaves-girl theme. The tongue-in-cheek insults in his song must have been refined in the Jackson bar-rooms where the verses were first tried out. The guitar boogie workout Carl employed behind
his vocals was a powerful force. 'Billboard' , the national trade paper, picked up on that sound: "The rhythm sound is unusual and contagious", they enthused, "bounce blues in a flavorsome combination of country' and rhythm and blues idioms''.
Billboard had yet to get hold of the word rockabilly, but "bounce blues" does pretty well as a description for "Gone Gone Gone". Somewhere in the background is Bill Cantrell's fiddle playing,
mixed down because Sam Phillips wanted to bring to the fore Carl's relentlessly fiery guitar. This is one of the earliest examples of Carl making a rocking masterpiece out of a hillbilly song. The solos, the shouts of encouragement to himself and the others
and the scat singing are all typical Perkins trademarks.
Let The Jukebox Keep On Playing (Original Sun 224) 2:50
Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
The reason Bill Cantrell was present, albeit only just, on "Gone Gone Gone" was that Sam had again asked him to fill out the sound on the hillbilly
side of Carl's record. Bill, Quinton Claunch and Stan Kesler were present throughout the session. They came into their own on "Jukebox'' with Stan and Bill taking back-to-back solos midway. This is pure, beautiful country music, based in the Hank Williams
style but full of Memphis idiosyncrasies. Although Carl s contribution to rockabilly is virtually immeasurable, it would have been interesting to see Carl develop as a pure country singer nevertheless.
The 'Billboard' reviewer found this record, "potent stuff''. It was, he said, "an effective back-county production of a dolorous chaff''.
You Doin' When You're Crying (Not Originally Issued) 2:49
(Carl Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
The fourth song cut on July I I was another hillbilly weeper
complete with fiddle and steel. Again the Perkins and Cantrell teams combined to produce a marvellously expressive country record. This was real cry-in-the-beer material from Carl
and Sam Phillips must have agonised for a while before he eventually chose to leave this one in the vaults and to release ''Jukebox''.
Probably he felt that ''Jukebox'' by its very title, had more commercial potential than yet another love song, no matter how finely played.
on this is very reminiscent of other Memphis recordings involving Cantrell, Claunch and Kesler. The team had recently made "Daydreamin" a hit with hillbilly singer Bud Deckelman on Meteor, and they went on to work with other local artists. They always achieved
an identifiable Memphis hillbilly sound, of which Cart's ''Turn Around'', ''Jukebox'' and this song are prime examples.
Drink Up And Go Home (Previously Unissued) 3:30
(Joe Maphis-Johnny Bond) Southern Music
This slightly distorted demo recording was probably made around the latter part Of 1955, although it was found in on un-marked tape box. It seems that Carl recorded several of his favourite country songs during his years at Sun, and this one is a throwback to the sort of music Jay Perkins
favoured in his part of the Perkins brothers' act.
The lead voice on this recording may be Jays, with Carl giving higher-pitched second-voice support,
but it is also possible that the sound obtained through a single microphone deepened Carl's voice. Carl plays on the deadened boss strings of his guitar mile the plodding drumbeat echoes the singers' desolate mood.
''Drink Up And Go Home'' had been written by country singer and cowboy actor Johnny Bond and country guitarist Joe Maphis. Its waltz tempos and bluegrass harmonies did not make for typical Perkins fare, and it
is an interesting contrast to 'Blue Suede Shoes' and the new directions that Carl was moving in.
1 Side 2 ''One For The Money''
1 - Blue Suede Shoes (Previously Unissued Alternate Take)
2 - Blue Suede Shoes (Previously Unissued Alternate
3 - Honey Don't (Previously Unissued Alternate Take)
4 - Blue Suede Shoes (Original Sun 234)
5 - Honey Don't (Original Sun 234)
6 - Sure To Fall (Original Sun 235) (Unissued)
7 - Tennessee (Original Sun 235) (Unissued)
8 - Perkins Wiggle (Not Originally Issued)
9 - Boppin' The Blues (Previously Unissued Alternate Take)
Blue Suede Shoes (Previously Unissued Alternate Take) 1:56
(Carl Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
Through the second half of 1955, Carl continued to tour local clubs, schoolhouses and fairs, playing sometimes as a single act, sometimes with Elvis or Johnny Cash. His recording of ''Gone
Gone Gone'' had round its way onto a few local charts and he was encouraged enough to keep writing songs, searching for the one that would break out nationally.
at a gig in his home town of Jackson that Carl and Johnny Cash stumbled across the answer. There in the crowd a hip youth with slicked back hair, a sharp suit and new suede shoes. Carl and Johnny noticed how he was extra careful not to get those shoes marked
or trodden on. They agreed there must be a song there somewhere, and they agreed the shoes should be blue. Armed with this idea and title, Carl went home. In the middle of the night he got up and wrote the song on a potato bag.
This version is the earliest remaining demo of ''Blue Suede Shoes''. It may have been recorded earlier than the hit session, but almost certainty it was made in December 1955.
Listening to an alternate take of something as familiar as "Blue Suede Shoes'' can be quite upsetting. For a quarter of a century there has only been one version of this song by Carl and it is naturally the standard
against which cover records and alternatives must be judged. Both this version, and the alternate take that follows, differ in some readily apparent ways to the released version. Also, both are arguably inferior to the released version.
On this earliest take, the familiar line "Go Cat Go" has not yet appeared. According to writer Robert Hilburn, Sam Phillips takes credit for the change. "I told Carl that 'Go Man Go' made
it sound too country. 'Go Cat Go' made it into something altogether different and new. There are a number of other lyrical changes, especially in the first verse, which had not yet come together in the first take.
Despite the preliminary nature of this version, the band plays with considerable energy. Clayton's slap bass is especially prominent and forceful. It is interesting that Carl's solo is virtually identical to
the one which appears on the final released version. This suggests that his solos were not totally spontaneous, anymore than recently discovered alternate tokes of Presley's work show Scotty Moore's to be.
Also missing is the familiar "Blue blue blue suede shoes" ending which added a considerable "hook" to the released version. Musically, Carl ends this version on an A7 chord, which creates somewhat more tension than the released
version, on which a rather pretty A6 chord is used at the close.
Blue Suede Shoes (Previously Unissued Alternate Take) 2:13
Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
December 19 was a turning-point in Carl Perkins' career. Sam Phillips had heard Carl's new song and he had arranged a session to capture it for release
on Sun. Having sold his recording contract on Elvis Presley, Sam had begun to encourage Carl to perform and record less country and more rock and roll. "Blue Suede Shoes" struck him as just the sort of song that could
tap the teenage market.
It was a long session, going on through the afternoon and far into the evening. Sam Phillips sent out for some booze and Judd Phillips, his brother
and Sun's promotion man, has described it as a ''relaxed session".
This take lies somewhere between the previous one and the final released version. Carl's guitar solos,
if not so biting, are interestingly different and the words are marginally changed. Carl has begun to use the line "Go Cat Go" but his country roots are still apparent: "drink my com from an old fruit jar''. In one more take, com would become liquor and mass
appeal would triumph over regional folkways.
Honey Don't (Previously Unissued Alternate Take) 2:20
Although Sam Phillips had been keen to record "Blue Suede Shoes' , the song originally picked for the ''A'' side of Carl's next record "Honey Don't''.
This version is one of several Carl recorded on December 19, each with significant word changes. Carl seems generally to have experimented widely with his songs and out-takes are precise
carbons of the issued versions. "Honey Don't'' went through more the most as Carl struggled to find right verses and the best guitar solo.
This version is still an "idea
demo". There is less emphasis on finished lyrics or solos, and more stress on the overall ''feel'' of the song. Such sessions often produced very powerful recordings, which were unfortunately not fit for commercial release. This version of "Honey Don't'' is
one such take. There is an urgency and vibrato to Carl's vocal on the opening verse which is quite affecting. Unfortunately the lyrics during this segment are confused. It is worth noting that the classic line 'You got sand all over your Shoes" hod not yet
come into existence on this although "Hang on it children, Iet's rock'' is already in evidence.
Even though the lyrics are far from polished, the unusual chord change
from E to C is present in this early take. This unexpected change in an otherwise conventional 12 bar boogie contributes to the song's impact.
The guitar Carl used for
the first time on this session was a Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster and he worts up an impressive boogie rhythm on his new implement. The days when Carl couldn't afford even new strings for his old guitar were gone, but his style remained same. He explained, 'I'd
slide along to where I'd had to tie a knot and push up on the string 'cause I couldn't jump over the knot. Maybe if I'd been able to afford new strings at the start I wouldn't have developed the pushing up on the strings and I'd have sounded like everybody
Blue Suede Shoes (Original Sun 234) 2:12
(Carl Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
This became Carl Perkins third record. his second on Sun, issued in a rush in the first of January 1956. record a double ''A'' side and Sam Phillips was hopeful of getting a hit. He needed one. He had gone on
record in the pres as saying his sale of Presley's contract a stepping stone out of the red and onto greater things. He had put his reputation on the line.
''Shoes'' received an enthusiastic reaction from jukebox operators. Billboard agreed in their country review page on February 13: 'Perkins contributes a lively reading on a gay rhythm ditty with strong rhythm and blues styled packing. Fine for the jukes".
Sam Phillips had hoped for even more though. He sensed the appeal of the shoes theme as a symbol of the teenage lifestyle and he could hear sales potential leaping out of the grooves with the heavy beat and Carl's sharp spluttering solos which cut throught
the jumping rhythm.
Sam and Judd put renewed effort into marketing the disc, and Billboard soon reported again, now under the heading ''This Weeks Best Buys''. "Difficult
as the country field is for a newcomer to crack these days, Perkins has come up with some wax here that has hit the national retail chart in almost record time. New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville. Richmond, Durham and other areas report it as a leading seller.
Interestingly enough, the disc has a large measure of appeal for pop and rhythm and blues costumers''.
Before long, the record was in the top five of all three charts;
Country, Rhythm and Blues, and Pop. It was the first total crossover rock and roll, rockabilly hit.
Don't (Original Sun 234) 2:45
(Carl Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
This side of the third Perkins single
was quickly ignored as the media voted tor 'Sues''. Certainly the lyrics about girls but hint that they might did not have the same jukebox appeal but the music is still a classic example of country-boogie blending into rod and roll. Carl carries a resounding,
boogie figure on guitar while the heavely amplified slap-bass and drums give this side as much if not more punch than its illustrious topside.
Again, Billboard used words
like ''rhythm ditty'' to describe this archetypal rockabilly record. The word rockabilly itself did not come into regular use in the trade papers until the fall of 1956. Presley and Perkins had created something bug, but no-one yet knew what to call it.
Sure To Fall (Original Sun 235) (Sun Unissued) 2:30
(Carl Perkins-Quinton Claunch-Bill Cantrell) Hi-Lo Music
With the looming success of Sun 234, Phillips quickly had Perkins back into the studio. He wanted to get some songs "in the can'', and as it turned out he was to do so. However, choice of
material was strange.
It seems that Sam scheduled two country songs for release very quickly following on ''Blue Suede Shoes''. Some test pressings were made but the
record was not issued. This version of ''Sue To Fall'', made in January 1956, features Jay Perkins on lead vocals with Carl singing harmony. It is therefore possible that the record was to have been issued under Jay's name.
''Sure To Fall", was primarily Bill Cantrell's song and it been tried out during the ''Shoes'' session of December, when Cantrell had agreed with Phillips that ''Shoes'' and "Honey Don't'' were better bets. ''That
little mistake'', said Cantrell, ''not putting my song out ''Blue Suede Shoes'', that eventually cost me about S140.000 in lost royalties."
"Sure To Fall" eventually
release on Carl's first and only Sun E.P. It is a plaintive country ballad, pleasant but not astounding, primarily memorable for having Jays voice on it and for containing an unusual, almost guitar from Carl midway.
In May 1981, Cart told interviewers Davis and Escott with some pleasure that Paul McCartney just phoned him to say they recorded this song as a single for Ringo Starr.
Tennessee (Original Sun 235) (Sun Unissued) 2:58
(Carl Perkins) Knox Music
song was another Perkins original, destined to be the ''B'' of the ill-fated Sun 235. Like ''Sure To Fall'', it features Jay's singing, this time not only harmonizing but swapping verses with Carl. It is an entertaining country number, rather in the ''Movie
Magg'' mold, and may well have seen several years service with the band in this or other forms. The verses are not related save in the way they extol the virtues of the Volunteer State, and such a chauvinistic anthem would have had them on the tables on a
Tennessee Saturday night.
The composition and the sentiments are both reminiscent of Carl's schoolbook autobiography and this would have been a strange release indeed
in the wake of ''Blue Sue4de Shoes''.
Perkins Wiggle (Not Originally Issued) 2:37
(Carl Perkins) Hi-Lo Music
As far as we know, Cart's next visit to the studio after the abortive Sun 235 session came in March 1956. The actual date is in question. It was filed as being March 22, but must actually
have been place earlier since Carl was scheduled to be in New York on March 24.
The first song made at the March session was the "Perkins' Boogie" that Cart had been
playing at the El Rancho and other Jackson clubs for years. Here, it is revamped and retitled, ''Perkins Wiggle". Carl told us he groaned when this was eventually issued but it certainly does his reputation no harm at all.
When Carl sings about his boogie being "a red hot rhythm we understand'' he hits on an interesting point. No-one, really really. in March 1956 knew what his music, or Elvis' was. Everyone called it something
different. Carl himself, in his songs uses the words ''bop'', ''boogie'', ''rock'' and others. Billboard, in its trade reviews, called this sort of per-rockabilly music ''country rock and roll'' or ''boogie'' or even ''rhythm and blues''. It was not until
September 1956 that they first used the word ''rockabilly'' in reviewing a Sun record. That was Malcolm Ellington's ''Rocking With My Baby'', were he is called ''one of Sun's string of talented rockabillies''.
Boppin' The Blues (Previously Unissued Alternate Take) 2:10
(Carl Perkins-Curley Griffin) Hi-Lo Music
Carl's March 1956 session contains this interesting warm-up version of "Boppin' The Blues". It is slower than the previously-known version and clearly lacks focus and direction though the bluesy guitar solos
and W.S. Hollands bombshells partly compensate. The drummer appeared to be the only band member who played with verve throughout this take, but idea fragments do appear here and there such as Carl's high chord fill around his vocal - an idea that was dropped
later. This version is a reminder that it is not simply the song that makes a hit record; it takes a first-rate performance too.
The song was co-authored by Curley Griffin,
Carl's neighbour in Jackson. Griffin was a part-time disc jockey and songwriter who was in touch with other local country outfits like Ramsey Kearney and Jimmie Martin s Combo. In the wake of Elvis' and Carl's success these bands were all "boppin' the blues"
, according to Griffin, and song stemmed from that observation. Griffin himself recorded locally for Jimmy Marlin's Atomic label. His "Got Rockin' On My Mind" is interestingly similar to Carl's Sun sound and it just might be that Carl and his band played on
that session, particularly since master copies were recently found in the Sun vaults.
The detailed song-by-song notes and liner notes by Colin Escott, Hank Davis, and
For Biography of Carl
Perkins See: > The Sun Biographies <
Carl Perkins' Sun recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions
on > YouTube <
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