Sons of Sun
The whole crazy idea of Elvis Presley goofin' around at Sun Records singing tunes with label pals Carl Perkins , Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash sounds more like the fantasy of a made-for-TV movie scriptwriter than something that might've actually occurred, but on December 4, 1956, that's exactly what went down. Fortunately, Sam Phillips was there cutting a Perkins session (with Lewis on piano) and had the smarts to hit the record button when Cash and then Presley coincidentally dropped in and started harmonizing.
Various versions of this set have appeared over the years (which Sun expert Colin Escott neglects to mention in his notes), but perhaps to thwart sales of Charly's bold two-CD 50th Anniversary Edition, Sony BMG has issued The Complete Million Dollar Quartet disc, which tacks some instrumentals and brief song fragments onto the selection of tunes already in circulation, with better fidelity and in proper sequence.
The best bits are the vocal impersonations, particularly Presley's rendition of Jackie Wilson doing him singing Don't Be Cruel, but hearing these guys with their guard down singing for the pure joy of it makes this all pretty darn special.
It's unlikely that you'll ever hear Dwight Trible between the latest Justin Timberlake and Fergie joints on FLOW 93.5, yet despite his getting precious little love from commercial urban radio, there's no denying that the Los Angeles-based spiritual jazz singer has one of the most profoundly soulful voices on the planet.
Ninja Tune came to the party late, but it has made up for the oversight with the re-release of Trible's magnificent Living Water album from 2004, with his lyrically personalized versions of John Coltrane's Wise One, Wayne Shorter's Footprints and Bill Lee's John Coltrane in addition to an awesome Andy Bey-channelling take on Celestial Blues.
Meanwhile, Kindred Spirits has issued the Coltrane tribute For JC as a limited 10-inch with Trible soaring through Acknowledgement (retitled A Love Supreme) backed by Billy Higgins and the great Charles Owens . Awesome.
Much like the strange but wonderful Nick Drake revival that was touched off by a car commercial, the growing interest in contemporary freak folk is leading people back to the early recordings of Britfolk great John Martyn , who happened to be one of Drake's mates.
Those intrigued by the sleeve image on Wooden Wand's Second Attention should check out Island's remastered version of John & Beverley Martyn 's Stormbringer! classic recorded in Woodstock, where they temporarily lived next door to Jimi Hendrix, who'd helicopter in for the weekends.
Listen closely to Stormbringer! and you'll hear the inspiration for Will Oldham's duets with Dawn McCarthy on The Letting Go (Drag City). And it's hard not to think of Beck whenever the Echoplex kicks in on Martyn's Inside Out, from 73, similarly reissued with four bonus tracks. Best of all, you can now pick up any of Island's nine sweetly remastered Martyn titles for just $15 apiece. That's a deal.