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Four cds squeezed onto two cds can’t be bad if you are a fan of old fashioned honest to goodness rock’n’roll; and let’s face it there is a little bit of it in all of us! Carl Perkins’ (Mr Blue Suede Shoes) worth and influence on the popular scene to follow isn’t always acknowledged, but Perkins could list the Beatles, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan as fans of his (and that is before you get down to his Sun Records buddies, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley etc….).
The music comes from 1958 (Whole Lotta Shakin’) and 1969 (King Of Rock and On Top), plus Carl Perkins’ Greatest Hits which showcases the unique talent of Perkins from his beginning on Sony. Its liner notes come in the form of a poem from the man who helped him, greatly, after the loss of his brother Jay Perkins (in a car wreck that involved Carl, Jay and their other brother Clayton who at the time were just breaking through as a band) on taking him on the road (1965-1975), Johnny Cash. Entitled Little Carl Cash speaks of them having almost too much in common not to be brothers, so I consider him a brother. The country boys started around the same time, 1955 (Sun Records) and who during their respectively childhood, picked cotton, and had an affinity to rural life and ways.
Perkin’s distinctive electric lead guitar was pretty much his signature sound, and with him a fine songwriter; the Beatles recorded his songs “Matchbox”, “Honey Don’t” and “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby”; as for hit classic made famous through Elvis (although Perkins did have a hit with the song his success was blunted through the above noted car wreck) “Blue Suede Shoes” the people who have recorded it is phenomenal, and with Johnny Cash (“Daddy Sang Bass”), and “Honey Don’t” that was recorded by among others, T-Rex, Wanda Jackson, Johnny Rivers, Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock and the clever “Matchbox” (inspired by an old blues song) was covered by Jerry Lee Lewis, Ronnie Hawkins (featuring Duane Allman on guitar) and, though not on any officially released recordings, Bob Dylan has done it a few times!
A true legend, and with him not only powering through a mass of his own fare the country boy also has noteworthy covers of the likes of Buddy Holly’s “I’m Gonna Set My Foot Down”, Chuck Berry’s “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man”, Jimmy Reed’s “Baby, What You Want Me To Do” and Eddie Polo’s brilliant southern drenched, “Riverboat Annie”. And just to show there was more than old-fashioned rock’n’roll to his armoury his soulful side if illustrated on “Power Of My Soul”
Others include “C.C. Rider” (You’re So Bad)”, and one of the better versions of Cash’s famed “Folsom Prison”. You just need to place your order and like me become enthralled by this all too often over-looked genius.
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