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Release Info: VA - Sun Records - The Rhythm & the Blues (2012)
Sun Records burst onto the post-World War II American scene suddenly, a force that few would forget. At the helm was Sam Phillips, an eccentric radio engineer willing to put black and white sharecroppers, truck-drivers, dishwashers, and factory workers in front of a microphone. Always insistent on keeping recording sessions simple and down-to-earth, the producer elicited performances that reflected a degree of sincerity missing from much of the Tin Pan Alley fare of the period. Phillips™s ability to parlay regional, racial, and class marginalization into a viable commercial product that spoke to teenage angst and alienation put Sun Records on the map. And in its improbable rise to prominence, the unseemly record company situated at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis provided a special moment that launched the careers of several performers who attained legendary status. Given the nature of a popular-music universe littered by falling stars instantaneously extinguished, this fact alone grants the company historical relevance.
Instantly recognizable by a bright yellow label with a crowing rooster perched in the foreground, Sun Records signified a wake-up call to the placid Eisenhower era. The music and vitality that resounded from the momentous meeting of phonograph needle and waxed groove in the thirty-by-eighteen-foot studio formerly used as a radiator shop introduced the world to rockabilly, an almost indescribable sound that applied the kinetic energy of southern working-class gospel to an unprecedented fusion of white hillbilly and black rhythm and blues. The company and the music it produced represented necessary links in the evolution of rock-n-roll. Its influence as a record company, however, lasted less than a decade. By the end of the 1950s, its sun already had begun to set.
Yet in these few years, Sun Records mattered a great deal. In many ways, its story resembled that of many independent recording companies that emerged in the wake of World War II. Responding to the postwar market demands of a rapidly growing urban African American population (and taking advantage of technological innovations that made recording cheaper), entrepreneurs formed small record companies that recorded modern-sounding black artists. Local radio, accorded greater autonomy as network programming declined due to an emphasis on television, devised formats that assisted in exposing rhythm and blues to the public. Independent record proprietors, who generally were white, capitalized on such developments. Hoping to achieve financial success by filling a void that the industryâ™s major recording companies (such as RCA Victor, Columbia, and Decca) had not yet acknowledged, independent upstarts like Atlantic, Chess, Specialty, King, and Modern-RPM literally created an R&B field.
1. Alvin Robinson - Let The Good Times Roll
2. Carl Mann - Walking The Dog
3. Wilbert Harrison - Let's Stick Together
4. Bettye Lavette - Piece Of My Heart (Take Another Little)
5. Johnny Adams - Reconsider Me
6. Frank Ballard - Boney Maroney
7. Little Junior Parker - Mystery Train
8. Sleepy Labeef - Polk Salad Annie
9. Jerry Lee Lewis - C. C. Rider
10. Rosco Gordon - Booted
11. Carl Mann - Ain't Got No Home
12. Georgie Boy - If I Can Dream
13. Rufus Thomas - Tiger Man
14. Big John Hamilton - Big Bad John (They Call Me)
15. Ray Smith - There's A Break In The Road
16. Betty Harris - There's A Break In The Road
17. Miller Sisters - Ten Cat's Down
18. Earl Hooker - The Hucklebuck
19. Gabie Reed - I'm Your Man
20. Boyd Gilmore - Believe I'll Settle Down
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