The Upshot: Fourth in an essential series, collect ‘em all.
BY FRED MILLS
“There’s a lot to be said for a distorted power chord on a dirty guitar through a fried speaker, a piano pumped and pounded, then set on fire. Quivering, wet breaths through hands cupped around a mouth harp. The blues shouter, who pegs the volume and leaves the distortion there…”
Truer words were never writ—they come from the liner notes of a righteous and right 12-song anthology of Sun Records icons, which not so coincidentally bears the title Really Rock ‘em Right. From Warren Smith’s rockabilly template “Ubangi Stomp” and Carl Perkins’ timeless twanger “Put Your Cat Clothes On” to Howlin’ Wolf’s masterpiece-of-moan “How Many More Years” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ lascivious—is there any other type of JLL tune?—“Milkshake Mademoiselle,” the LP is a nonstop bangin’ ‘n’ burnin’ barnstomp of a vinyl mixtape.
Indeed, this fourth installment in the Record Store Day-Sun Records alliance is, unlike what one might eventually presume for a themed series, anything but a matter of diminishing returns. The legendary Sun label was more than simply astute in allying with Michael Kurtz and Carrie Colliton (of RSD; they were the project coordinators here), Candace Cox Mache (A&R, plus the aforementioned liner notes featuring choice quotes from Sam Phillips – you may have heard of him),Leticia Llesmin (the artwork for the LP), and Andrew Rossiter of ORG Music. Really Rock ‘em Right is nothing less than a labor of love for all concerned.
The reason I bring up these non-musical matters is because compilers, coordinators, and their ilk tend to be the unsung heroes of such compilations. If any contemporaneous actors are acknowledged, it’s typically the producers and (re)mastering engineers. But there’s a helluva lot more that goes into it. Hey, pal, YOU try doing a multi-artist collection. These are people who don’t necessarily have any personal musical stakes in the project. But their emotional and aesthetic stakes are profound. For without ‘em, those of us out here in Puntersville, USA, are left assembling our mixtapes until all those normal bias c90 tapes spool out, sequencing up our Spotify playlists until everyone who’s been following us online is fed up and long gone, and otherwise cleaning up all our dusty/battered Sun Records 45s and LPs in hopes that next weekend’s house party will keep a-boppin’ along when we gamely attempt to play DJ—clueless, and clinging.
Thank you, Record Store Day and ORG Music.
DOWNLOAD: Don’t even make me try to narrow down my favorites.