Carl Perkins: The Sun Era Outtakes

carlCarl Perkins
The Sun Era Outtakes
(Bear Records)

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In the late 50’s, Sun Records sported the first roster of rock n’ roll superstars – Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and good ole boy guitar god Carl Perkins, “The King of Rockabilly.”

Carl’s legacy was guaranteed when Elvis covered his best-known song and the Beatles recorded not one, but three of his tunes. But Carl was a powerhouse performer in his own right. He battled the bottle in the 60’s, redeeming himself as a spiritual songsmith (“Daddy Sang Bass”) and as a prolific picker in Cash’s band and on his hit TV show.

Recognizing Carl’s importance as one of rockabilly’s founding fathers, Bear Records has released the Sun Era Outtakes. The 5-disc package contains over 360 minutes of embryonic bits, works-in-progress and nearly-there versions of Carl’s hillbilly hits, including the knee-slapping hilarity of “Boppin’ the Blues,” “All Mama’s Children,” “Honey Don’t” and, of course, “Blue Suede Shoes.” The only drawback may be the excessive amount of similar sounding takes. (Do we really need 18 versions of “Put Your Cat Clothes on?”)

The fifth disc is a treasure trove of rarities that includes the unexpected instrumentals “That Old Spinning Wheel,” “The Poor People of Paris,” “Silver Bell” and “Listen to the Mockingbird” (the Three Stooges’ theme!) with Carl picking away solo or with just a stand-up bass for sparse accompaniment. The homemade recordings are so raw and unprocessed you can hear an oblivious child babbling blissfully in the background. The highlight is the 4:22 workout, “Somebody Tell Me,” with Carl’s caustic commentary: “The preacher asked me, ‘Carl you want her for your wife?’/Well, I didn’t know that joker meant the rest of my life!”

Carl may have sported the ugliest, most obvious toupee in the history of hair, but as the Sun Era Outtakes proves, man that cat could play.

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