Monday, April 25, 2022

The Sam Phillips Years: Sun Records Curated By Record Store Day: Vol. 9 (2022) Vinyl Review

This past weekend marked the fifteenth year of Record Store Day, and in those fifteen years, certain patterns and traditions have emerged. One such tradition began in 2014 when a special compilation of music from Sun Records was released. Since then, a new volume has come out each year. Last year’s release was titled Having A Party! and it contained tracks by Bettye Lavette, The Brightlights, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. The new volume, The Sam Phillips Years: Sun Records Curated By Record Store Day: Vol. 9, also contains songs by Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, along with favorites by Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. The record is presented in traditional black vinyl, and really, no other color would feel appropriate, not with the Man in Black Johnny Cash being present in its grooves.

Side A

And though the word “Party” is not in the title of this year’s offering, the moment the first track begins, it certainly feels like a party. That first track is “We Wanna Boogie” from Sonny Burgess. Just listen to that piano, those vocals, that rhythm. So much fun. Who doesn’t want to boogie now? And that guitar part toward the end rocks! That’s followed by one of Johnny Cash’s popular songs, “Big River.” I’ve always loved this one. I first heard it from the Grateful Dead. That was a thing about the Dead, they provided a channel to a lot of incredible artists from a rather wide range of musical genres. This original version is, of course, fantastic. I just love Johnny Cash’s delivery. There is so much character in every word he sings. The line that always tickled me is “I met her accidentally in St. Paul, Minnesota.” That in turn is followed by Carl Perkins’ “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby.” This is a song I first heard by The Beatles, on a compilation I got as a gift when I was eight years old.  It’s a fun, playful number, with a goofy amount of boasting (though with The Beatles, it was probably an understatement).

The album changes gears with a delightful country number by The Miller Sisters, “Someday You Will Pay,” which I believe was their first single. This one opens with fiddle, and there is another excellent moment in the middle led by that instrument. It’s a song about karma. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Someday you’re going to be lonely/Someday you’re going to cry/You’ll be so broken-hearted/You’ll wish that you could die/You may be happy for a while/You’ll think you’re having fun/Someday your heart will break in two/You’ll pay for what you’ve done.” Then Rosco Gordon certainly knows how to immediately grab our attention. Just listen to the way he begins “Booted.” This one isn’t about waiting for karma to work its dubious magic, but rather making it happen yourself. “I’m gonna load my pistol, gonna sharpen my knife/I’m gonna get that man that’s got my wife.” This song has some interesting and delicious vocal work, and also some wonderful stuff on saxophone. It is one of my favorite tracks of this compilation. The first side then concludes with Little Milton’s “Ooo Wee Baby,” another gem. Here he follows a different strategy from the previous song: “So don’t leave me now/Give me one more chance/I’ll prove to you/That I’m a real nice man.” This track features some good work on piano.

Side B

The album’s second side opens with “Claudette,” an early Roy Orbison song that was a hit for The Everly Brothers in 1958, used as the flip side to “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” Here we get Roy Orbison’s recording, which is more in the rock and roll vein than a lot of his most famous compositions and recordings. Then we get into the blues with James Cotton’s “Straighten Up Baby,” featuring a great, lively vocal performance. “Straighten up, baby/Why don’t you fly right sometime/That would ease my temperature and cool my worried mind.” And speaking of vocals, “Tiger Man” opens with a loud call, a sort of howl, demanding our attention. Fantastic. This is one of his Rufus Thomas Jr.’s earliest singles. “I’m the king of jungle/They call me the tiger man.” That does not feel like idle boasting. This song has a great, raw power, plus some excellent work on guitar and a strong rhythm.

We are then invited to boogie again with Pinetop Perkins’ “Pinetop Boogie Woogie,” another totally fun track. The lyrics are more like comments and instructions offered over that great groove. “And when I say stop, you know I mean stop.” It features some wonderful stuff on piano. From there, we go into the country realm with “So Ashamed” from Charlie Feathers. I love his vocals, how they threaten at any moment to go into yodeling and yet never do. This track also features some nice work on steel guitar. This collection concludes with Jerry Lee Lewis performing a lively, energetic rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In.” This guy is such a dynamic performer, and there must be a wink in his eye when he sings of redemption. I mean, if there is any sort of heaven, and Jerry Lee Lewis gets in, he will quickly transform the whole damn place to the most hopping club that side of the great inferno. Anyway, he delivers an excellent rendition.

Record Track List

Side A

  1. We Wanna Boogie – Sonny Burgess
  2. Big River – Johnny Cash
  3. Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby – Carl Perkins
  4. Someday You Will Pay – The Miller Sisters
  5. Booted – Rosco Gordon
  6. Ooo Wee Baby – Little Milton

Side B

  1. Claudette – Roy Orbison
  2. Straighten Up Baby – James Cotton
  3. Tiger Man – Rufus Thomas, Jr.
  4. Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie – Pinetop Perkins
  5. So Ashamed – Charlie Feathers
  6. When The Saints Go Marching In – Jerry Lee Lewis

The Sam Phillips Years: Sun Records Curated By Record Store Day: Vol. 9 was released on April 23, 2022 through Org Music. It is limited to 3,000 copies.

No comments:

Post a Comment