Posts Tagged ‘Sun Records’

Big Lucky

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Listen: I’ve Been Hurt /Big Lucky

Levester Carter, a native of Choctaw County, Mississippi described his earliest influences as being both a wind-up phonograph and the stack of blues records purchased at Sears-Roebuck that were played on it. He took up guitar in the 50′s while in the Navy, and after playing in various bands around Memphis, sang lead on the two Ed Kirby aka Prince Gabe singles, ‘Blue Nights’ and ‘Mean Old Gin’, released by Sam Phillip’s Sun Records.

Come ’68, local Memphis disc jockey A.C.’Moonah’ Williams put Big Lucky Carter, his then stage moniker, in touch with Hi Records boss Willie Mitchell, who demo’d him at the Hi studios. Liking the result, he coupled ‘Miss Betty Green’ and ‘Stop Arguin’ Over Me’ as the first of two singles for the label’s subsidiary M.O.C. (MOC 670), released April 7, 1969, according to an old production schedule from Hi/M.O.C.’s parent label, London Records, that I have poured over for many hours through the years.

Coupled with ‘Goofer Dust’, ‘I’ve Been Hurt’ (MOC 673) followed as an A Side on Dec 8, 1969. My favorite of the bunch, it sat nicely next to label mate Big Amos Patton’s ‘Going To Viet Nam’ (MOC 665) from a year or so earlier. The two records just go hand in hand despite having nothing in common lyrically.

Like Big Amos, his association with Hi did little to expand Big Lucky’s profile, matching neither Big nor as is his case, Lucky, in real life. Nothing beyond local Memphis airplay resulted and two more greats proceeded into obscurity, making their records even more cherished collectibles.

Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Listen: Big River /Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two JohnnyCashBigRiver.mp3

Originally released during March ’58 by Sun Records in the US, it’s UK London American counterpart was issued two months later on May 12. Recorded with guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant, aka The Tennessee Two, ‘Big River’ was the earliest Johnny Cash record I recall hearing.

Others would disagree, but as the singles lost more and more of his rockabilly side, I became less and less of a fan.

My cousins were in the jukebox business. I’d go to their warehouse on a Saturday with my Dad, and just wander around in the maze of these fantastically designed machines, dozens waiting to be rented, tuned up or repaired. I had free reign to play any of them, their coin boxes conveniently disabled, hence no charge. What a treat. Seems they all had either The McGuire Sisters’ ‘Sugartime’ and/or this Johnny Cash single in them. I played both over and over and over.

Without doubt, a roomful of Seeburg and Rock-Ola jukeboxes as a constant Saturday morning replacement to cartoons will mold a little kid’s tastes and priorities. Walking proof, that’s me, thankfully.

The models which played the 45′s upright were my favorites. I glued myself to them and watched record after record spin. The turntable carousel moving left and right along it’s rails, pulling out singles at every stop and playing them vertically. How was this possible?

In an effort to repeat the process at home, I used masking tape to lock records onto my turntable, then balance it upright with one hand, as the other held down the tonearm. Mind you, this failed over and over. I only wish I had half the hours back invested in attempting to make it all happen.

SEEBURG 222a_small.JPG, Seeburg 22, Seeburg, Jukebox

Many years later, in ’86, I finally found the mint Seeburg 222 above, with it’s pink upright turnable carousel, for sale outside of Athens, Georgia. Murray Attaway knew of this antique dealer who specialized in renovating jukeboxes. His retail set up was in the family’s barn, beautifully converted to accommodate not only jukeboxes but thousands of trinkets, dishes, furniture pieces, appliances, clothes, records, books. A museum of sorts.

Got it professionally carted and shipped home to New York, where it’s one of my prized possessions and all these year later, again, eats up hours while I sit watching my 45′s play vertically. Which is precisely how I spent this cold November Sunday afternoon, said Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two’s 7″ thrown on, creating the perfect time travel moment.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

jerryleelewissmashep, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Sirius

Listen: High School Confidential / Jerry Lee Lewis JerryLeeLewisHigh.mp3

“Sounding as good as the day it was recorded”. Bob Dylan thinks so. Me too.

Have you ever listened to Bob Dylan’s THEME TIME RADIO program on Sirius? It is the best radio I have ever heard. Honestly, right up there with a lot of the BBC’s output through the years. Mind you, he has an army of researchers helping out, and credit is due there as well. For true, THEME TIME RADIO is simply worth the price of a Sirius subscription.

So yeah, he played this one the other day – well I heard it the other day – it could’ve been a repeat. I always hoped The Cramps would cover ‘High School Confidential’. They would have shredded it.

This is from a precious, four song, promo only 7′, sent round to radio and press when Smash signed him, and licensed some of his original Sun sides for a GOLDEN HITS package. It’s a beauty, right?

But can you imagine seeing Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime? I saw him play New York about fifteen years ago, he’d signed to Sire at the time. I always say either you’re the real deal or you’re not, therefore age doesn’t really matter. Think, Little Richard vs Candlebox. And Jerry Lee Lewis is clearly the real deal. Obviously the stage show was not as physically chaotic as in the aforementioned heyday, but still he radiated a kind of ‘higher form of life’ glare.

Next day he turned up in the office to see Seymour Stein, who was just down the hall. The glare is even more intense up close, strange odor (not bad, but strange) and his skin was a grey-ish, lavender color. It was all just fantastic.