CONTAINS
For music (standard singles) and playlists on YouTube click on the available > buttons <
> Back 1954 Sun Schedule <

1954 SESSIONS (11)
November 1, 1954 to November 30, 1954

Demo Session for Johnny Cash, 1954 / Sun Records
Studio Session for Johnny Cash, Late 1954 / Sun Records
Studio Session for The Prisonaires, End 1954/Early 1955 / Sun Records
Live Recordings for Carl Mann, 1954
Studio Session for Charlie Booker, Probably Late 1954 / Sun Records

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

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

NOVEMBER 2, 1954 TUESDAY

Jerry Lee Lewis becomes a father, as wife Jane Mitcham delivers Jerry Lee Lewis Jr.

NOVEMBER 4, 1954 THURSDAY

Ferlin Husky recorded ''I Feel Better All Over (More Than Anywhere's Else)'' and ''Little Tom'' at the Castle Studio in Nashville.

NOVEMBER 6, 1954 SATURDAY

Elvis Presley signs a one-year contract to play The Louisiana Hayride every Saturday for $18-a-week.

Future country hitmaker George Burns and his wife, Cracie Allen, appear on the cover of TV Guide.

NOVEMBER 7, 1954 SUNDAY

Johnny Horton leaves ''The Louisiana Hayride''.

NOVEMBER 8, 1954 MONDAY

Columbia released Lefty Friszell's ''I Love You Mostly''.

NOVEMBER 9, 1954 TUESDAY

Carl and Valda Perkins have their second child, Debra Joye.

NOVEMBER 10, 1954 WEDNESDAY

The Iwo Jima Memorial, the world's largest bronze statue, is dedicated in Washington, D.C. Attending is Ira Hayes, one of the flagbearers depicted in the monument. Hayes will die two months later, inspiring the Johnny Cash hit ''The Ballad Of Ira Hayes''.

Rex Allen makes the first of several appearances as a narrator on ABC's ''Disneyland'', voicing a storyline about migrating seals.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Session Published for Historical Reasons

DEMO SESSION FOR JOHNNY CASH
UNKNOWN STUDIO AND RECORDING LOCATIONS 1954
PRODUCER - JOHNNY CASH

From 1954 to 1957, Johnny Cash, alone with his acoustic guitar, recorded a substantial number of undated demos, tamer, shorter versions of songs in development. There are hints that some tunes may have been intended for others to record (Cash sings the opening verse of the ''I Walk The Line'' demo in a higher register to perhaps match the key of another vocalist) and it can be assumed that these tracks preceded the final, produced versions of such tunes as ''Get Rhythm'', ''Train Of Love'' and ''Country Boy''.

01 – ''I WALK THE LINE'' – B.M.I. – 3:03
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-12 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

02 – ''GET RHYTHM'' – B.M.I. – 2:02
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-13 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

03 – ''TRAIN OF LOVE'' – B.M.I. – 1:53
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-14 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

04 – ''COUNTRY BOY'' – B.M.I. – 1:48
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-15 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

05 – ''MY TREASURE'' – B.M.I. – 1:18
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-16 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

06 – ''BELSHAZZAR'' – B.M.I. – 2:20
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-17 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

07 – ''HE'LL BE A FRIEND'' – B.M.I. – 1:47
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-18 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

08 – ''WHEN I THINK OF YOU'' – B.M.I. – 1:42
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-19 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

9 – ''I JUST DON'T CARE ENOUGH (TO CARRY ON)'' – B.M.I. – 2:06
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-20 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

10 – ''I'LL CRY FOR YOU'' – B.M.I. – 2:28
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-21 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

11 – ''YOU'RE MY BABY'' – B.M.I. – 1:37
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None – Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1955
Released: - 2011 Columbia Sony Legacy (CD) 500/200rpm 88697 60051 2-1-22 mono
JOHNNY CASH - BOOTLEG VOLUME 2 - FROM MEMPHIS TO HOLLYWOOD

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Cash – Vocal & Guitar
More Details Unknown

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

NOVEMBER 10, 1954 WEDNESDAY

Sun Records released (Sun 211) Malcolm Yelvington's much-delayed debut with a hillbilly version of Stick McGhee's rollicking novelty blues smash from 1949, ' 'Drinkin' Wine Spodee-O-Dee'' backed with ''Just Rollin' Along'', and a new single by sometime one-man-band Doctor Ross, whose ''The Boogie Disease'' backed with ''Jukebox Boogie'' (Sun 212) captured all the qualities of uninhibited good time, emphasized even more by the slapback effect, as applied to an already overamplified guitar, that chareacterized so much of the early catalogue. Neither record did a thing.

NOVEMBER 13, 1954 SATURDAY

Jeannie Kendall is born in St. Louis, Missouri. With her father, Royce, she takes part in the duo The Kendalls, whose gospel-based harmonies and cheatin' themes are exemplified by their million-selling signature song, 1977s ''Heaven's Just A Sin Away''.

NOVEMBER 16, 1954 TUESDAY

Faron Young's stint with the Army comes to an end.

Jimmy Martin recorded ''20/20 Vision'' with The Osborne Brothers in Nashville. The bluegrass classic is ranked among the 500 greatest country singles in history in the Country Music Foundation's 2003 book ''Heartaches By The Number''.

NOVEMBER 17, 1954 WEDNESDAY

Chet Atkins recorded ''Mister Sandman'' at the Methodist Television, Radio and Film Commission in Nashville, Tennessee.

The city of Atlanta observes Faron Young Day.

NOVEMBER 18, 1954 THURSDAY

Red Foley recorded ''Hearts Of Stone''.

Teresa Brewer recorded the pop version of Jenny Lou Carson's ''Let Me Go, Lover''.

NOVEMBER 19, 1954 FRIDAY

Slim Whitman recorded ''Cattle Call'' at the KWKH studios in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Faron Young makes his first Grand Ole Opry appearance since ending a two-year stint in the Army.

Charlie Walker recorded his first charted hit, ''Only You, Only You''.

NOVEMBER 20, 1954 SATURDAY

Gene Autry make his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

June Carter signs a one-year solo recording contract with Columbia Records.

NOVEMBER 22, 1954 MONDAY

Decca released Justin Tubb's duet with Goldie Hill, ''Sure Fire Kisses''.

June Carter holds her first solo recording session, cutting ''Let Me Go, Lover''.

NOVEMBER 26, 1954 FRIDAY

Les Paul and Mary Ford suffer a tragedy when she has a miscarriage.

Movie writer/director/producer Joel Coen is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He and brother Ethan Coen create the 2000 film ''O Brother, Where Art Thou?'', which yields a multi-platinum soundtrack full of American roots music, including bluegrass.

The McGuire Sisters recorded the pop hit ''Sincerely'', which becomes a country hit for The Forester Sisters in 1988.

THE SINGER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE SONG - When the barriers that separated pop and country music began to crumble in the wake of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash was one of the first young country artists to take his place in the pop charts. Ironically, as hillbilly music slicked itself up in search of the wider market, Johnny Cash broke through with a sound so spare and underproduced that it must have seemed anachronistic even to the more conservative elements of Nashville establisment. Cash arrived at Sun Records with a sound that altered remarkably little throughout a long and often troubled career.

It was essentially a sound born of necessity: the minimal backing and the limited range of Cash's vocals defined the full extent of the group's ability. However, where other producers might have tried to disguise the shortcomings, Sam Phillips made a virtue of necessity and in so doing he helped to create one of the most distinctive sounds in country music.

The fundamental problem with the sound that Cash and his group forged with Phillips lay in the tendency towards sameness. With that problem in mind - and the pop market within their grasp - Phillips gave over the producer's chair to Jack Clement, whose confection were a contradiction of the essential nature of Cash's music. However, Clement's productions pointed the way towards Cash's salvation in the newly emerging country-pop market. By the time Cash quit Sun in 1958, he had established an enviable track record. He had also become a "stylist" (the hihest accolade bestowed by his label-mate Jerry Lee Lewis); the singer was more important than the song.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

In late 1954 Johnny Cash went to the Sun Studios on his own to audition for Sam Phillips. Cash introduced himself to Phillips initially as a gospel singer, and Sam said he loved gospel music himself but he didn't have any way to sell it. He told Marion Keisker all he wanted was a change, and Marion said Sam didn't have the time for him. Finally he just sat down on the curb one day and waited until Sam showed up ''and I stood up and I said, 'I'm John Cash, and I've got my guitar and I want you to hear me play'', and this time he said, 'Well, come on in'. I sang for two or three hours, everything I knew. Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe, I remember singing ''I'm Going To Sleep With One Eye Open (From Now On)'' by Flatt and Scruggs, I even sang an old Irish song I'd been singing all my life, ''I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen'', just to give him an idea of what I liked. He said, 'You're really got a range of material you understand and have a feel for''. He said, 'You say you got a group? Come back and bring those guys and let's put something down''.

Three songs from this audition here, ''Wide Open Road'', ''You're My Baby'' and ''My Treasure'', all Cash originals, impressed Sam enough to invite him back with his band. There was another song recorded, ''Show Me The Green'', but regrettably this tape has never been located.

When the barriers that separated pop and country music began to crumble in the wake of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash was one of the first young country artists to take a place in the pop charts. Ironically, as hillbilly music slicked itself up in search of the wider market, Johnny Cash broke through with a sound that was so sparse and underproduced that it must have seemed anachronistic even to the more conservative elements of the Nashville establishment.

STUDIO SESSION FOR JOHNNY CASH
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1954

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: UNKNOWN DATE POSSIBLE LATE 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Johnny Cash arrived at Sun Records with a sound that, in the ensuing years of his long, often troubled career, would change remarkably little. It was a sound born of necessity; the minimal backings and the limited range of Cash's vocals defined the full extent of the group's ability. But where other producers might have tried to disguise the shortcomings, Sam Phillips made a virtue of necessity.

"One day, we decided that we were ready for a shot at the record business", recalls Johnny Cash. "I had met Elvis Presley's guitarist, Scotty Moore, and I called him and asked him about the possibility of getting an audition with Sun". Moore probably told Johnny Cash that the best approach was simply to go to the studio. It was an approach that had worked for Elvis Presley.

Three songs from this session are recorded, "Wide Open Road", "You're My Baby" and "My Treasure" all Cash originals, impressed Sam Phillips enough to invite him back with his band. There was another song recorded, "Show Me The Green", but regrettably this tape has never been located.

01 - "WIDE OPEN ROAD" - B.M.I. - 1:47
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Late 1954
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 103-1 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517 EH-1-1 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 - 1958

02 - "YOU'RE MY BABY (LITTLE WOOLLY BOOGER)" - B.M.I. - 1:45
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None
Overdubbed before first release on LP 1255 but deleted.
Recorded: - Late 1954 - False Start & Complete Take
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 103-1 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517 EH-1-2 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 - 1958

03(1) - "MY TREASURE" - B.M.I. - 2:28
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Unknown second voice
Recorded: - Late 1954 - False Start & Complete Take
Released: - 1984
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 103-1 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE SUN YEARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15517 EH-1-3 mono
JOHNNY CASH - THE MAN IN BLACK 1954 - 1958

When Johnny Cash recorded his simple demo of "My Treasure", perhaps for Ernest Tubb, he had no idea that Sun, in their growing quest for releasable product, would issue it in commercial form. One minute and 14 seconds does not a single make, and so promotional efforts were focused quite clearly on a flipside. Ironically, a longer version of Cash's song, complete with a second verse, existed in the vaults. It doesn't contain the quiet intensity of the version we have before us, however, and was wisely passed over. In a flourish of good taste, only a simple guitar overdub was added to the original demo before releasing it.

There was a note of humour tied to the original appearance of this song. All copies of the record were labelled "My Treasurer", making it sound as if Cash had written a love song to his accountant.

03(2) - "MY TREASURE" - B.M.I. - 1:14
Composer: - Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Hi-Lo Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - U 446 - Take 2
Recorded: - Late 1954 - Overdubbed and echo added before release.
Released: - 1961
First appearance: - Sun Records (S) 78/45rpm standard single > Sun 363-B < mono
MY TREASURE / SUGARTIME
Reissued - 1997 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15804-3-18 mono
THE SUN SINGLES COLLECTION - VOLUME 4

04 - "SHOW ME THE GREEN" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Probably Johnny Cash
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Shown as record on notes inside tape box but tape missing.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Cash - Vocal and Guitar
Luther Perkins - Guitar
Marshall Grant - Upright Bass
Unknown - Second Voice

"Sun Records was between my house and the radio-announcing school. I just started going by there and every day I'd ask: could I see Mr. Phillips. And they'd say, 'He's not in yet', or 'He's at a meeting'. So really it became a challenge to me just to get inside that studio. Finally, one day I was sitting on the stoop just as he came to work, and I stood up and said, 'I'm John Cash and I want you to hear my play'. He said, 'Well, come on in'. I sang two or three hours for him. Everything I knew - Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Flatt and Scruggs... I even sang "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen".

"I had to fight and call and keep at it and push, push, push to even get into Sun Records. I don't feel like anyone discovered me because I had to fight so hard to get heard".

"When they came in", recalled Sam Phillips, "Cash apologized to me for not having a professional band, but I said that he should let me hear what they could do and I would be able to tell whether they had a style I would be able to work with. I was immediately impressed with John's unusual voice. I was also interested in Luther's guitar playing. He wasn't a wizard on the guitar. He played one string at a time and he wasn't super good - but he was different, and that was important".

"Their material was all religious at that time. Songs which Cash had composed. I liked them, but I told him that I would not at that time be able to merchandise him as a religious artist and that it would be well if he could secure some other material or write some other songs. I told him that I was real pleased with the sound we were getting from just the three instruments", according Sam Phillips.

For Biography of Johnny Cash see: > The Sun Biographies <
Johnny Cash's Sun recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

JOHNNY CASH – THE OUTTAKES - Over the years Johnny Cash's Sun recordings have been released on countless compilations and there is no doubt that the releases on Bear Family have been the definite record of his short career with the label. With this new collection we can listen to those outtakes along with a wealth of previously unreleased alternate takes, undubbed masters, false starts and studio chat that give the listener an insight into the creative process behind those legendary recordings.

Unfortunately many of the original session tapes have been lost or recorded over and there are many songs for which we were unable to locate any outtakes, but a handful have survived the passage of time and it is from those tapes that this set has been put together. During the compilation of this set we have tried to offer the material in chronological order. However, Sam Phillips did not keep records of take numbers and dates so we have used the excellent research undertaken by Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins along with our own additional research.

As you sit and listen to these CDs you can imagine that you are there in the studio with Johnny Cash, Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant as they recorded these classic tracks over fifty years ago.

FALL 1954

Old Memphis' patron, E.H. "Boss"Crump lay dying and Elvis Presley is just beginning to enjoy some local success with his first Sun singles, W.C. handy, by then totally blind, was honored as a guest performer with the Dixieland band at Billy Rose's Diamond Horseshoe nightclub in Manhattan.

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR THE PRISONAIRES
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1954/1955

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: END 1954 OR EARLY 1955
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

01 – "SURLEEN" - B.M.I. - 2:40
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - End 1954 or early 1955
Released: - 1976
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30104 mono
SUN: THE ROOTS OF ROCK - VOLUME 4 - COTTON CITY COUNTRY
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523 AH-24 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN

02 - "ALL ALONE AND LONELY" - B.M.I. - 2:14
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - End 1954 or Early 1955
Released: - 1979
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30176 mono
FIVE BEATS BEHIND BARS
Reissued: - 1990 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523 AH-25 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN

03 - "ROCKIN' HORSE" - B.M.I. - 2:27
Composer: - Unknown
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - End 1954 or Early 1955
Released: - 1990
First appearance: - Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 15523 AH-26 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - JUST WALKIN' IN THE RAIN
Reissued: - 2011 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 16893-26 mono
THE PRISONAIRES - BABY PLEASE

As Sun entered the rock and roll era, the Prisonaires recorded several songs with 3 more prominent beat and we have included a version of ''Rockin' Horse'' from one of their last, undated Sun sessions, probably held in the penitentiary in the late summer of 1954. They were backed by trumpeter George Williams, pianist Henry Jones, drummer Hubbard Brown, and a guitarist, probably L.B. McCollough, all from the prison band.

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Johnny Bragg - Lead Tenor
Possible John Drue - 2nd Tenor Vocal
William Steward - Baritone, Vocal and Guitar
Possible Marcell Sanders - Bass Vocal and Lead Vocal
Ed Thurman - Tenor Vocal

L.B. McCollough - Electric Guitar
Hubbard Brown - Drums
Henry "Dish Rag" Jones - Piano
George Williams - Trumpet

The Prisonaires Sun career has another postscript, though. At some point in late 1954, or possible early 1955, the group returned to Sun Records with a tougher rhythm and blues stance and their own backing group to record "Surleen" (written by Bragg about his first girlfriend), "All Alone And Lonely" and the sexually charged "Rockin' House".

Short of tape as unusual, Sam Phillips pulled a reel of Elvis Presley's out-takes of "Good Rockin' Tonight", and recorded over the top. Little taste of "We're gonna rock, rock, rock...", can be heard between the Prisonaires' cuts. Around this time, the group started breaking up. Drue and Sanders were released, followed by Steward and Thurman.

Seven years later, Johnny Bragg formed Elbejay Records in partnership with Raymond Ligon and Cyril Jackson, and recorded three singles for them. By his account, he forgave Red Wortham for cheating the Prisonaires out of publishing royalties on "Just Walkin' In The Rain", and brought him in as Artist and Repertoire manager at Elbejay.

Bragg's troubles didn't end upon his re-release, though. He was returned to prison for shoplifting, and released on parole (for the third time) following the death of his wife, leaving him a single parent. With his faith and his health still more-or-less intact, though, he has done better than the other members of the Prisonaires. They all died in varying degrees of poverty or distress. The saddest case was that of William Steward who died of alcohol poisoning in a cheap motel room in Florida. Only Robert Riley managed to eke a more-or-less successful career in the music business. Before his death he became a contracted writer at Tree Music and cranked out country-soul songs for Nashville-based labels such as Dial, Todd and Sound Stage Seven.

The Prisonaires gained their moment of fame as a novelty act, but, their work transcends more novelty appeal. Bragg had a stilling lead tenor that ranks alongside that of his idol, Bill Kenny of the Inkspots. The music they cut for Sun Records was quite unlike anything else on the label - sophisticated and urbane, largely lacking the raw edge that Sam Phillips cherished.

Certainly, there were some performances that missed the mark, but there's also "Just Walkin' In The Rain", a classic by any criterion. There is fierce pride in Johnny Bragg - evident in the way he spits out the word "Penitentiary". There is also darkness within him, which he laid aside to produce some hauntingly beautiful music.

For Biography of The Prisonaires see: > The Sun Biographies <
The Prisonaires' Sun recordings can be heard on their playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

Just southwest of Huntington, Tennessee there is a store with a sign that reads Groceries-Guns. A little further up Route 70 there is an unmarked dirt road. Although this is usually lush lodging country, there has been a drought for a month and diving down the road is like re-living a scene from ''The Grapes Of Wrath''. Abut half-a-mile down the dirt road there's a large log ranch house with a late model. Cadillac and a Toyota pick-up parked outside. The cars, the house, the land surrounding it and the sawmill down the road are the property of Carl Mann.

Carl grew up a little further down this dirt road, but he left his home in the summer of 1959, when he was barely seventeen years old. He traveled to cities he had only read about and saw his record juggle for space in the Top 20 with records by the likes of Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka and other forgotten hit makers from that far-off year. At the age of eighteen, his career was fading fast. By the time he was nineteen, the party had all but ended and Carl Mann had taken the little for a friend.

Through it all, Carl Mann has never lost the urge to perform. The feeling that comes from standing in front of an audience, basking in the applause still resonates within him. So does the thrill of standing in front of studio playback monitors and listening to what hugest been recorded.

Carl accepts with resignation, though, that the heady times will never come again. He is nothing if not a realist. The lumber business isn't without its ups and downs, but it s still a safer at than the snapshot known as the music business.

His love affair with the bottle ended and his Christian faith renewed, Carl Mann has come to cherish the value of home and security, and if the doubts ever nag at him he can look at Eddie Bush, his guitarist and fellow circuit-rider from the old days. Bush is still drifting and dreaming, and he's been living that way for thirty years.

''I was born and raised on this road'', says Carl. ''My dad was in the timber business. We didn't have electricity until I was ten. We had a battery radio in the house that ran off a big old dry cell. That's where I listened to the Grand Ole Opry on a Saturday night. The whole family would listen sometimes, but they mostly went to church services on Saturday night, but me and my cousins would get together and listen to the Opry. Everyone's dream was to be on the Opry''.

There's no shortage of churches in and around Huntingdon, Tennessee, and future Sun recording artist Carl Mann's family belonged to the Pentecostal faith. They had Saturday night, Sunday mornings and Sunday night worship services and sometimes Wednesday night prayer meetings. That's were Carl Mann started singing in church sing some of Hank Williams' religious songs like ''I Saw The Light''. Surprisingly, though, Carl encountered very little opposition when he started singing wordly music. He started when he was ten or eleven years old on local amateur hours broadcast over Radio WDXI in Jackson, Tennessee. Carl Mann recalls, ''I did some old Webb Pierce songs like ''Slowly'' and ''Even Tho'', and I did a Skeets McDonald song called''Let Me Know''.

As an aside, ''Let Me Know'' was a song that needed a pretty formidable vocal range, and when McDonald couldn't reach the high notes his producer disguised the fact with echo, Carl's problem was the precise opposite – at ten years old, he couldn't handle the low part. He remembers one disc jockey telling him to keep the window open at night so he'd catch a cold and be able to hit the low notes.

LIVE RECORDING FOR CARL MANN

Session Published for Historical Reasons

PROBABLY RADIO BROADCAST AT WDXI RADIO, JACKSON, TENNESSEE 1954
LOCAL AMATEUR HOUR: UNKNOWN DATE 1954

01 - ''EVEN THO'' – B.M.I. 2:09
Composer: - Willie Jones-Curt Peebles-Webb Pierce
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number – None- Unissued
Recorded: - Unknown Date 1954
Released: - January 1, 1994
First appearance: - Stomper Time Records (CD) 500/200rpm STCD 5 mono
GONNA ROCK 'N' ROLL TONIGHT

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Carl Mann – Vocal & Guitar

For Biography of Carl Mann see: > The Sun Biographies <

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

© - 706 UNION AVENUE SESSIONS - ©

STUDIO SESSION FOR CHARLIE BOOKER
AT THE MEMPHIS RECORDING SERVICE FOR SUN RECORDS 1954

SUN RECORDING STUDIO
706 UNION AVENUE, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE
SUN SESSION: PROBABLY 1954
SESSION HOURS: UNKNOWN
PRODUCER AND RECORDING ENGINEER - SAM C. PHILLIPS

Charley Booker had previously recorded for Modern Records under the auspices of Ike Turner... not Sam Phillips, and it was Turner who arranged Booker's solitary Sun session. Dating that session isn't easy. It was assumed to have followed swiftly on the heels of Booker's Modern recordings as leader and sideman in January 1952, but it was recorded over an out-take of the Prisonaires ''Baby Please'' from June 1953. It seems likelier that this dates to late 1953 or more likely 1954. In Greenville, Mississippi, Jesse ''Cleanhead'' Love and ''Little Bill'' (Walace), had a band with Otis Green and Willie Dotson on tenor saxes, J.W. Walker on piano, T.J. Green on bass, and Junior Blackmon or Blackman on drums, and it seems as if those were the guys who accompanied Booker on his trip to Memphis.

01(1) - "WALKED ALL NIGHT" - B.M.I. - 2:42
Composer: - Charlie Booker
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1954
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-4-22 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) BCD 17310 JK-7-19 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

Booker isn't worth a mention in the story of Sun Records, "Good Rockin' Tonight", a small injustice but an injustice nonetheless. His grounding in traditional Mississippi blues is evident from his adaptation of a Tommy Johnson guitar lick in amongst his steam-piston chord playing. Charlie referred to this song as "Walkin' In The Valley" though this doesn't appear in the lyrics. His trenchant guitar style is reinforced by the restrained but forceful bass and drums, while John "Big Moose" Walker's piano struggles to be heard.

The harsh vibrato in Charlie's voice and his penchant for singing minor notes against the major tonality of the piece adds to the tension instilled by the deliberate tempo. In many ways, this track epitomises all that is excellent Sun blues. Taut and urgent, this song's spiritual home was in the Delta. Booker said it was his shot at updating Charley Patton, and it was indeed rooted in Patton's 1929 recording of ''Screamin' And Hollerin' The Blues'', issued under the pseudonym of the Masked Marvel. Most of the lyrics and the guitar vamp come from that Patton record.

Clearly, the Masked Marvel's identity was no secret to Charley Booker. It's really too bad that Booker's Sun recordings weren't issued. They prove once again how capricious the music business can be. As good as he clearly was, Booker didn't record for nearly twenty years.

01(2) - "WALKED ALL NIGHT" - B.M.I. - 2:44
Composer: - Charlie Booker
Publisher: - Delta Music Incorporated
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1954
Released: - August 1977
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm CR 30127-B-7 mono
THE ROOTS OF ROCK – VOLUME 12 - UNION AVENUE BREAKDOWN
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) 500/200rpm BCD 17310 JK-9-22 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

It's a shame this song (Take 2) never found its way into a satisfactory take. It flirted with being one of Sun's strongest blues outings, but ultimately fell short. Booker's timing is ragged and his lyrics don't quite pass the ''logic'' test, but the overall effect of this track is compelling. It sounds as if he's vowing eternal love and devotion to this woman in verse 1, but by verse 2 he's claiming that his old grayhaired folks warned him that she'd mistreat him something awful. It's a tough place to be.

02(1) - "BABY I'M COMING HOME" - 1- B.M.I. - 2:37
Composer: - Charlie Booker
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 1 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1954
Released: - 1996
First appearance: - Charly Records (CD) 500/200rpm CDSUNBOX 7-4-23 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1958
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) BCD 17310 JK-7-18 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

This bears the hallmarks of having been based on B.B. King's recent single, "Woke Up This Morning", which juxtaposed mambo and fast 4/4 rhythms. It was, of course Booker who played the grainy electric guitar. Oliver Sain and Willie Dodson's saxes riff away happily and its probably Sain taking the brief tenor solo. Charlie sounds completely at home in this modern setting. This first take is marred, but only slightly, by drummer Junior Blackman neglecting to return to a mambo rhythm over the final verses.

02(2) - "BABY I'M COMING HOME" - B.M.I. - 2:40
Composer: - Charlie Booker
Publisher: - Copyright Control
Matrix number: - None - Take 2 - Not Originally Issued
Recorded: - Probably 1954
Released: - 1986
First appearance: - Charly Records (LP) 33rpm Sunbox 105 mono
SUN RECORDS - THE BLUES YEARS 1950 - 1956
Reissued: - March 8, 2013 Bear Family Records (CD) BCD 17310 JK-9-23 mono
THE SUN BLUES BOX 1950 - 1958

03 - "RECONSIDER BABY" - B.M.I.
Composer: - Lowell Fulsom
Publisher: - Arc Music Corporation
Matrix number: - None - Sun Unissued
Recorded: - Probably 1954

Name (Or. No. Of Instruments)
Chris ''Charlie'' Booker - Vocal and Guitar
Oliver Sain - Saxophone
Otis Green - Saxophone - 1
John W. ''Big Moose'' Walker - Piano
Willie Dodson - Bass Guitar
Junior Blackmon - Drums

For Biography of Charlie Booker see: > The Sun Biographies <
Charlie Booker's Sun recordings can be heard on his playlist from 706 Union Avenue Sessions on > YouTube <

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