Album Review: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll/Sam Phillips (Yep Rock) Memphis Blues (released on October 30, 2015)

By Cathy Rockwell

This is indeed where it all began, once upon a time at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, where rock ‘n’ roll was born – wild, untamed, filled with emotion and raw talent.

Sometimes it takes one music genius to discover incredibly unique and talented artists that will eventually lead them to iconic status. It takes a special ear for sound, and a creative business mind. The music world knew such an individual who paved the way for many musicians by giving them a chance. He knew what he was looking for and he knew who could be successful in a very difficult business. This man was Samuel Cornelius Phillips or “Sam” Phillips.

Born on January 5, 1923, Phillips grew up in Alabama. As a child, he had been a fan of sharecropper work songs and black gospel music. He worked as a DJ in the 1940s for WLAY (AM), a local radio station in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The radio station was host to music from black and white musicians. This music inspired Phillips and eventually, in early 1950, he opened the “Memphis Recording Service” in Memphis, Tennessee. The studios became the roots for Phillips’ own record label, the famous “Sun Records.”

This was the perfect opportunity for black artists to have a professional place to record.  Some of the musicians that recorded in his studio were Ike Turner and Chester Arthur Burnett aka Howlin’ Wolf, as well as the blues great B.B. King. But Phillips did not stop there – he discovered other talented artists such as Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll himself, Elvis Presley.

Phillips sold Sun Records in 1969. After selling the rights to Elvis Presley to RCA for $35,000, he accumulated a fortune, expanding that money many times over as an early investor in the Holiday Inn chain of hotels as well as other investments.

He advocated racial equality and helped break down racial barriers in the music industry. In addition, he launched radio station WHER in late October 1955.  This radio station was an “All Girl Radio” format and most of the positions at the station were held by women.

The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll is a double disc album. It is an immaculate collection of the greatest songs, by the greatest rock, blues and country musicians of that incredible music era. The album is a must have for any fan wanting a history lesson of the many influences of artists today.

DISC 1:  Jerry Lee Lewis “Hello Hello Baby,”  Howlin’ Wolf  “Moanin’ at Midnight,” The Prisonaires  “Just Walkin’ in the Rain,”  Howlin’ Wolf  “How Many More Years,” Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats (Ike Turner) “Rocket 88,” Joe Hill Louis  “Gotta Let You Go,”  The Jones Brothers  “Every Night,” Howard Seratt “Troublesome Waters,” Jimmy and Walter “Easy,”  and  “Before Long,”  Willie Nix “Lonesome Bedroom,”  Johnny Cash “Big River,”  Carl Perkins  “Boppin’ the Blues,” Doctor Ross  “The Boogie Disease,” Elvis Presley  “Baby Let’s Play House,” Roy Orbison  “Ooby Dooby,” Little Junior’s  “Blue Flames Love My Baby,”  Carl Perkins “Matchbox,” Jerry Lee Lewis  “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,”  Billy Riley  “Flyin’ Saucers Rock & Roll,”  B.B. King “She’s Dynamite,”  Howlin’ Wolf  “Mr. Highway Man (Cadillac Daddy),”  Rufus Thomas  “Tiger Man,”  Sonny Burgess  “Red-Headed Woman,”  Jerry Lee Lewis  “End of the Road,”  Charlie Rich  “Who Will the Next Fool Be?,”  Elvis Presley  “Mystery Train,”  and John Prine  “How Lucky.”

 

DISC 2: Little Junior’s “Blue Flames Feelin’ Good,” Jerry Lee Lewis “You’re the Only Star in My Blue Heaven,”

Carl Perkins “Turn Around,” Jimmy DeBerry “Time Has Made a Change,”  Warren Smith, “Miss Froggie,”

Willie Nix  “Seems Like a Million Years,”  Billy “the Kid” Emerson  “When It Rains It Pours,” Elvis Presley “That’s All Right,”  Jerry Lee Lewis  “You Win Again,”  Charlie Feathers  “I’ve Been Deceived,”  Sleepy John Estes  “Rats in My Kitchen,” D.A. Hunt  “Lonesome Ol’ Jail,” Ernie Chaffin  “Feelin’ Low,”  Charlie Rich “ Sittin’ and Thinkin’,”  Johnny Cash  “Hey Porter,” Carl Perkins  “Movie Magg,” Harmonica Frank  “Rockin’ Chair Daddy,” Roscoe Gordon “Booted,” James Cotton  “Cotton Crop Blues,” Joe Hill Louis  “Dorothy Mae,” Little Junior’s Blue Flames  “Mystery Train,” Carl Perkins  “Blue Suede Shoes,” Warren Smith  “Rock and Roll Ruby,” Roy Orbison  “Go Go Go,”  Jerry Lee Lewis  “Settin’ the Woods on Fire,” Million Dollar Quartet  “I Shall Not Be Moved,” and Elvis Presley  “Tryin’ to Get to You.”

 

There is also 90-minute documentary :Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll  (Director: Morgan Neville, Writer: Peter Guralnick) as well as a book: Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll  by Peter Guralnick.

 

For more information

Photo copyright: Yep Records

Sam Phillips: http://www.sunrecords.com/about

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