Carl Perkins, Sun Recordings

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

This grab-bag corrals, on one track or another, nearly every style Perkins plied at Sun. If not as consistently gripping as the singles, its pearls are plenty impressive. "Everybody's Tryin 'to Be My Baby," a good-natured commentary on his post-"Blue Suede Shoes" stardom that was later revived by the Beatles, is probably the best-known song here. But "Honky Tonk Gal," his first recording at Sun, is a bluesy slice of country that shows what Carl was all about from the beginning. His deeply-felt version of Wynn Stewart's "Keeper of the Key," complete with recitation, is the most fully-realized of the several country standards he tackled. "Pink Pedal Pushers" and especially the breakneck "Put Your Cat Clothes On" were credible attempts to recapture the "Blue Suede Shoes" magic; the latter, along with "You Can Do No Wrong" comes from a hard-rocking session that featured Jerry Lee Lewis on piano. The guitarist tears off one of his most uninhibited solos ever on his version of Louis Jordan's jump-blues favorite "Caldonia," and one of his most effectively restrained (with a vocal to match) on the Platters '"Only You." There's quite a bit here that fits the description Carl offered on "Perkins 'Wiggle" of "a red hot rhythm that we don't understand."