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Various Artists

Great Drums at Sun

Review by Gary Hill
This is an odd compilation in some ways. The focus here is on the session drummers from Sun Records. Those guys are shown off via their work on a number of classic old songs. Each drummers is listed in the parenthetical after the artist. I'm not a big drum guy, so for the most part I don't really talk about that aspect of this release. Let's just say that it's a great collection of early music from a legendary label that's a huge part of rock and roll history. It could be argued that Sun Records is every bit as important to the development of Rock and Roll as the artists were. The same argument could be made for the drummers featured here. Whatever you think about those arguments, though, this is an entertaining set.
Track by Track Review
Jerry Lee Lewis (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Lovin' Up a Storm

I've always maintained that Jerry Lee Lewis (along with Little Richard and Chuck Berry) is one of the real fathers of rock and roll. This cut has a bit of a bluesy groove to it. It's a lot of fun. I think it actually holds up pretty well all those years later.

Elvis Presley (feat. Johnny Bernero) - I Forgot to Remember to Forget
I've never been a fan of Elvis Presley. This cut is not bad, but it's not what I'd call "rock and roll." It's just too low energy and lackluster for my tastes.
Vernon Taylor (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Today Is a Blue Day

I like this number quite a bit. It's a fun little rock and roller.

Rufus Thomas (feat. Houston Stokes) - Tiger Man

 Now, this isn't really rock and roll. It's older than that. It has a real old school blues kind of vibe. I love the little bits of guitar soloing, and this is just a fun tune.

Roy Orbison (feat. Billy Pat Ellis) - You're My Baby

I like the energized old school rock and roll sound built into this tune. It's a lot of fun.

Billy Riley (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Red Hot
This is one of my favorites of this set. It has a lot of energy and a bit of a swing jazz vibe to it. It's appropriately on fire. I love the backing vocals. In fact, everything on this song works so well.
Charlie Rich (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Everything I Do Is Wrong
If you look up 50s rock and roll, you'll probably find something like this. It's a good tune, but not one of the standouts. It works well, just not exceedingly so. I do like the honking horn solo on the tune.
Jerry Lee Lewis (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Crazy Arms
This is mellower and more country based than the earlier tune from Lewis was. It is a good song, but I don't like it nearly as much as I do that other one.
Warren Smith (feat. Johnny Bernero) - Ubangi Stomp
I really dig the old school rock and roll vibe on this song. It's a lot of fun. In fact, it's another of the standouts here. Sure, it sounds dated. It's a slice of history in that regard. It doesn't matter because it will get you moving.
Gene Simmons (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Drinkin' Wine
We're closer to the country end of the spectrum here. That said, this has the driving, talking old school rock and roll sound. It's another of the standouts.
Carl Mann (feat. WS Holland) - Foolish One
Much more of a country tune, this one doesn't work all that well for me. That said, this compilation is about the drumming, and the drums on this tune are really exceptional. They are the one thing that works incredibly well here.
Harold Jenkins - (feat. Billy Weir) - Give Me Some Love

With a stripped down rock and roll sound, I think this is cut from very much the same kind of cloth as Elvis Presley's music.

Sonny Burgess (feat. Bobby Crafford) - What You Gonna Do?
Jazz and rock and roll seem to merge on this energized number. The guitar solo is classic, as is the honky tonk piano. This is a fun one.
Ray Harris -(feat. Joe Riesenberg) - Green Back Dollar, Watch and Chain
With some whooping and hollering, this is party time rock and roll. It's fun, but not a standout. I dig the piano solo.
Carl Perkins (feat. WS Holland) - You Can't Make Love to Somebody (alt)
There is definitely a lot of country music built into this. In fact, I don't think I'd call it rock and roll. It's an energized cut that's a piece of history.
Jerry Lee Lewis (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - It'll Be Me
This old school rock and roller is another highlight of the set. It's so much fun. It just has such a great groove to it.
Charlie Rich (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Lonely Weekends (undubbed alt)
This is another that makes me think of Elvis Presley quite a bit. It's an uptempo littler number that's old school rock and roll with some country and other elements in the mix. It's not bad, but not one of my favorites.
Carl Perkins (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Boppin' the Blues (alt)
The guitar on this thing is classic. The whole tune has a fun rock and roll groove. This is one of my favorites here. It just works so well. This shows why old school rock and roll was as popular as it was.
Jimmy Williams (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Fire Engine Red (unissued alt)
The horns add a lot to this fast paced cut. It has a lot of jazz in the mix, but is at its heart 1950s rock and roll.
Jerry Lee Lewis (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On
One of Jerry Lee Lewis' trademark tunes, it's easy to see why that's true. This has a great beat, a great energy and some catchy hooks. Yes, the drums really shine here, but you sure can't ignore Lewis' trademark piano, either. This is a good time for sure.
Ray Smith (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Right Behind You Baby
Piano leads this off, and it launches into an energized rock and roller that really works so well. I love the rhythm section. It does feel quite a bit like Jerry Lee Lewis, really. That's not a bad thing, though.
Carl Mann (feat. WS Holland) - I'm Coming Home

Don't get me wrong. This is still very classic old school sound. That said, there is a bit of a modern element here. It has some jazz and rock and roll in the mix. It's a cool tune and a nice bit of variety.

Vernon Taylor (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Your Lovin' Man (unissued alt)
This makes me think of something like Buddy Holly a bit. That said, I really like Buddy Holly's stuff, but this doesn't work all that well for me.
Billy Riley (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Flying Saucer Rock & Roll
This rocker feels a bit like a cross between "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" and "That'll Be the Day." It's obviously a novelty tune. It's also a lot fun.
Carl Perkins (feat. WS Holland) - That Don't Move Me
This has a lot of country in the mix. It's a solid tune with some good energy. It's just not a standout to me.
Warren Smith (feat. Johnny Bernero) - So Long I'm Gone
Much more of a down home country blues tune. This has a lot of charm. It might not be real rock and roll, but it's a strong piece of music.
Charlie Rich (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Big Man
There's an old school gospel feeling to this. It has some definite Elvis Presley type sounds. This isn't really my kind of thing, but it's reasonably effective anyway.
Bobby Sheridan - (feat. J.M. Van Eaton) - Red Man
This instrumental definitely brings some variety to the table. It's probably best described as jazz, but there is some old school rock and roll built into it, too.
 
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