Notes: One of the best-loved and most influential record
label of all-time, Sun Records was the birthplace of rock & roll. Owner
Sam Phillips had a rather desperate slogan: "We record anything.
Anywhere. Anytime!" but from early on was true to his boast. Even before
Elvis, Sun had released Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88"--now widely taken
as the very first rock & roll record.
Elvis Presley first came to Sun in 1953 to record an acetate as a gift
for his mother. It was at 706 Union Street, Memphis on the evening of 6
July 1954, while Elvis was goofing around between takes, that he first
fused black rhythm & blues with white country & western. The resulting
spontaneous combustion was immediately seized upon by Phillips, who
slammed it onto tape-thus inadvertently, but unforgettably, firing a
Although Elvis was off the label by the end of 1955, those five Sun
singles formed the foundations of rock & roll--and nowadays the
phenomenon of Elvis Presley invariably overshadows the story of Sun. But
before Sun Records' best-known artist came on the scene, Phillips had
already given studio time to Howlin' Wolf, B.B.King, Rufus Thomas and
Sleepy John Estes. And in the wake of Elvis, even more greats came to
record for the label--Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy
Orbison, Charlie Rich. And such is the studio's enduring lustre, that in
1987 U2 came to Sun to record tracks for their album Rattle & Hum.
Until recently the full history of Sun Records had been obscured by
years of contractual wranglings; but in 1994 the Presley estate agreed
to license his tracks and now, thanks to this comprehensive three CD
box-set, a clear picture of Phillips' achievements has finally emerged.
As well as all the rock & roll standards such as "Great Balls of Fire",
"Mystery Train", " Blue Suede Shoes" and "Get Rhythm", space is also
found for Sun's unforgettable one-offs--the Prisonaires' "Just Walkin'
In the Rain", Warren Smith's "Red Cadillac And A Black Moustache" and
Billy Riley's "Flying Saucer Rock & Roll". All in all, The Sun Records
Collection is a worthy testament to a little label. - Patrick Humphries