SUN ROCKABILLY MELTDOWN (3CD BOX)
CHARLY (SNAJ743 )
Onie Wheeler, Carl Mann, Slim Rhodes, Smoky Joe Baugh, Jean Chapel, Ernie Barton, Luke McDaniel, Barbara Pittman, Billy Lee Riley, Malcolm Yelvington, Dick Penner, Tommy Blake, Ray Smith, Jesse Lee Turner, Hayden Thompson, Kenneth Parchman, Mississippi Slim, Dickey Lee, Sid Watson etc.
Now and then, there's nothing better than to treat yourself to an hour or two of rattling good rockabilly and it doesn't come any better than the stuff they made at Sun records. There's something about the sound that places Sun firmly on top whether it's the raw urgency of Charlie Feathers, the country boogie of Jack Earls, the pounding blues-based mess Howard Chandler hollers or the pulverising rock of Billy Lee Riley. They all deliver an indefinable thrill.
They say Elvis started it all of course, but while he was tinkering about melding blues and bluegrass to a rockin' beat, the hollows and hills of the South were filled with young hillbilly cats plugging in electric guitars and howling with the same idea. Eventually some of them got to make records at Sun and you'll find ‘em among the 107 rockers in this generous box set.
Apart from the twenty odd pieces of perfection from Elvis, Jerry, Carl and Roy Orbison, the album is just stuffed with inspired performances from Ray Smith (Breakup), Onie Wheeler (Walkin' Shoes), Billy Lee Riley (Pearly Lee) and Warren Smith (Dear John). Charlie Feathers is here with Corrine Corrina, Barbara Pittman sings Voice Of A Fool and Gene Simmons beats himself up on Shake Rattle And Roll but it's the sheer abundance of the obscurer stuff that attracts me.
Stuff like Tommy Blake and his coasting acoustic version of You'd Better Believe It, Dick Penner's yelping vocals and intense guitar work on Don't Need Your Lovin' Baby and Ray Smith's driving version of Charlie Rich's pop bopper Break Up. A particular stand-out is Alton & Jimmy's I Just Don't Know - a lightweight bopper that is irresistible thanks to a mesmerizing little guitar lick that the sax player picks up on. Then there's Sid Watson's Don't You Worry - a classic pumping piano number with great vocals, Ken Cook's Problem Child - a skittish piece that contains some of the best guitar playing on the CD and Ernie Barton's She's Gone Away - a brooding throb of a number that makes full use of the treble switch and the echo effect.
Stop me now - I could go on for hours. The three discs have been playing in this house for weeks and I'm still finding fabulous new moments. Don't read this, get on to Red Lick and treat yourself now!
Review Date: September 2009