Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Carl Perkins - The Essential Sun Collection

Carl is, of course, the man who got all riled up when his date wouldn't stop steppin' on his prized aqua loafers (based on a true story at one of his shows) but he was responsible for a lot more great music, although bad luck (especially a bad car accident on the way to an important TV appearance) kept him from becoming the household name that some of his Sun contemporaries became. The title is self-explanatory - this compiles his recorded output for Sun Records, which means that it is some of his best work.

Carl was, naturally, heavily country influenced - as were most, if not all, of the Sun artists, and that side of him shows up immediately on the opener, "Movie Magg" - a perfect example of how Sun rock'n'roll was an update on C&W music. "Turn Around" and "Let That Jukebox Keep on Playing" are fairly straight (and well-done) country ballads but then "Gone, Gone, Gone" is a boppin' bit of cool rockabilly, "Blue Suede Shoes" is rightfully a classic, as is "Honey Don't" (which some might remember from a British band called the Beatles covering it) and "Sure To Fall" is a sweet piece of harmony-driven country. "Tennessee" is an unabashed ode to the stars of country (with a swingin' solo by Carl), "Boppin' the Blues" is as good as rockabilly gets, "All Mama's Children" is a rockin' fairy tale update, "Dixie Fried" is another boppin' boogie, "I'm Sorry, I'm Not Sorry" swings, "Your True Love" is pretty rockin', though the backing vocals distract a bit. Perkins' version of the old number, "Matchbox", made it a rock'n'roll standard, "That's Right" is a restrained but still hot number, "Forever Yours" is a nice enough ballad, but "Glad All Over", while not the Dave Clark number, of course, is an upbeat rocker and CD 1 ends with a goof, "Lend Me Your Comb", which could be construed as a bit risque, I suppose, and it has some hot guitar work.

CD 2 starts right off with "Honky Tonk Gal", another perfect mix of country and rock'n'roll, "Perkins Wiggle" has a sexy swing, "You Can't Make Love to Somebody" and "That Don't Move Me" are both frantic rockabilly, "Lonely Street" is pretty reminiscent of "Lonesome Town" (dunno whose was first), back with the rockin' "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby" (another tune the Beatles recorded) and "Somebody Tell Me", "Sweethearts Or Strangers" has some hard-edged guitar but otherwise is a bit lightweight, and he gives another ballad in "Keeper of the Keys". Carl shows off his guitar work on the rockin' "Be Honest With Me" and "Caldonia", both sounding like they might have been recorded with Jerry Lee and his band (Carl did some songs with them - the liner notes are not very specific), the Cramps covered the overtly sexual "Her Love Rubbed Off", "You Can Do No Wrong" has a similar feel to "Blue Suede Shoes" as does the quintessential "Put Your Cat Clothes On". He does an obligatory Chuck Berry in "Roll Over Beethoven", updates doo-wop in the Platters' "Only You", compliments a high schooler's derriere in "Pink Pedal Pushers" and closes out with "Right String Baby But the Wrong Yo-Yo".

Sam Phillip's did his best to mix country'n'blues in his Sun Records' output and while Carl has rightfully become a legend, he coulda/shoulda been a Star with a capital "S". Check this comp out for a great overview of some of his best work.