Various Artists – Sun Records, Sun Spots, vol. 2: Oddities and Obscurities

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Starting with the crude blues instrumental "Flypaper Boogie," this set explores some of the nooks, crannies and outer fringes of the storied Sun Records catalogue. Label boss Sam Phillips wasn't shy about going off-the-wall in search of fresh sounds. He recorded country bluesmen like Sleepy John Estes (whose rats are so vicious he needs a "mountain cat" to combat them). Did you know that Ike Turner was working with women who took his last name long before Tina entered the picture, or that fabled bluesmen Honeyboy Edwards, Little Milton and Lafayette (L.J.) Thomas visited Phillips 'studio before they were well known? The most bracing track is guitarist Pat Hare's brutal, 1954 "Gonna Murder My Baby" — would you believe that nine years later, Hare did just that, and spent the rest of his life in prison (where he formed a band called Blues Incarcerated)? Among country and rockabilly artists, the Miller Sisters and Barbara Pittman were the two most promising Sun women, while Onie Wheeler's delightful "Jump Right Out of This Jukebox" doubtless startled a few tavern patrons. But the stars are Sun everyman Smokey Joe Baugh, who cut "Signifying Monkey" under his own name and sang "Split Personality" for Clyde Leoppard's band, and Jerry Lee Lewis. The Killer was the protagonist of a "break-in" single that mocked his troubles after marrying his 13-year-old cousin, and also helped his sister Linda Gail on a single that went unreleased at the time. Appropriately, Lewis and Phillips have the last word with the famous passionate theological debate that took place during the sessions for "Great Balls of Fire." Have fun.