Listen: Sugartime / Charlie Phillips
Recorded and produced by Norman Petty in his Clovis, New Mexico studio, ‘Sugartime’ became Charlie Phillips’ debut release as Coral 61908, on the original B side, to be precise. The record’s origins are fascinating, especially the bit about turning up to find Buddy Holly & The Crickets had been booked as the backing band. Themselves newly successful to the charts, the guys were still earning fees playing on Norman Petty’s many studio sessions in ’56, when this was recorded. Norman Petty’s list of credits, as well the studio’s, are stunning.
Soon after ‘Sugartime’ scaled the US Country charts, Petty suggested Coral get the song covered, then release it to the pop audience. The label’s Bob Thiele brought in The McGuire Sisters, whose version (Coral 61924) was issued in short order, immediately entering BILLBOARD’s Hot 100, within weeks hitting #1 during Spring ’57.
This original, with an authentic hillbilly delivery as it was called, has the eerie ability to embody my fantasy of how AM rockabilly radio sounded in rural Texas during the mid-50′s. If only we had the means to time travel back and dig through piles of disc jockey records jammed into the cupboards of any audition studio at just one of those long gone broadcast buildings.