This boxed set of eight albums contains some of the best music made in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1960s. It represents the very finest issued and unissued music recorded by Sun Records and associated labels during that period. It covers the full range of Memphis music from Rock and Roll and Country to Rhythm and Blues, Soul and Gospel. It also contains recordings made for the Nashville-based Sun International Corporation after 1968.
Following on from SUN BOX 106, The Rockin' Years, this box traces the Sun story through its unfashionable years. Nevertheless — and perhaps to the surprise of many — the quality of the music remains high.
There are 131 recordings in this box. Of these, there are:
- 33 unissued recordings (never before issued in any form)
- 10 unissued takes (alternative performances to those previously issued)
- 5 unissued versions (performances from different sessions to previously issued versions)
- 5 undubbed or remixed versions (recordings previously issued now presented in a different form)
- 21 not originally issued (recordings released in the 1970s or '80s but not on the original Sun label)
- 57 original issues (recordings exactly as issued on the original Sun, P.I., Sun Int., Midnight Sun or Plantation labels)
Album One: Feel So Good by Jerry Lee Lewis
An album of unissued Jerry Lee Lewis is always a cause for celebration, particularly when it is drawn from the Sun Records catalogue. This collection comprises some previously undiscovered tapes in conjunction with some remixed versions of some old favourites.
The two versions of My Blue Heaven, dating from June 14, 1961, eluded the compilers of the Sun Years box because the song had also been recorded back in 1959. It therefore showed up as a duplicate entry on the file cards. The original 4 track tapes had never been mixed down from the 1961 session. It seemed as though no-one was having anything to do with Jerry's reinterpretation of My Blue Heaven. The 1959 version was never issued, the 1961 version was never even mixed and a later version, recorded for Mercury in 1969, also sat in the can until resurrected in 1987.
The re-mixes are a different kettle of fish. From 1960 until he quit Sun in 1963 Jerry recorded in multi-track studios. Some of the multi-track tapes have survived and they allow us the liberty of rewriting history — to an extent. The problem is that Jerry was recorded on 4 track tape which meant that the choruses or strings were often on the same track as, say, the bass and drums. Eliminate the chorus and you eliminate the bass and drums. Also, the baffling in the old Sun studios was not very good so there is an element of bleed-through, which means that it is almost impossible to completely eliminate any part of the mix. If the choruses and strings had not been present on the session then it would have been simplicity itself to eliminate them (witness the ease and totality with which the chorus was removed from most of the Charlie Rich titles on the Zu-Zazz album, Don't Put No Headstone On My Grave).
So, we have included a couple of tentative re-mixes which give a better understanding of the recording process and show Jerry's vocal and piano in a slightly brighter light but are, nevertheless, far from perfect.
Finally, we have a selection from some newly-discovered tape boxes mostly dating from late 1959 or early 1960. Another tape in the same batch dates from 1962. The 1959/60 tapes represented Jerry's first venture into the new Sun studio on Madison Avenue. Sam Phillips was at the controls and he mixed down all the instruments to one track of his new four track tape, rewound the tape and then mixed another set of songs onto another track. The third track was left for overdubs and the fourth track was left empty. This splendidly defeated the purpose of multi-track tape but those tapes, sequestered away for over 25 years, allow us to catch the last gasp of the famous Jerry Lee Lewis recording combo comprising Roland Janes on guitar, J.M. Van Eaton on drums and possibly J.W. Brown on bass. More from these sessions can be heard on the Zu-Zazz albums, Keep Your Hands Off It and Don't Drop It!.
This is a pot-pourri for sure, but we get a few tasty additions to the Sun Years boxed set and another welcome glimpse of the genius of Jerry Lee Lewis at, or near, its peak.
Annotation last modified on 2019-01-14 17:35 UTC.