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Mack Stevens

Ain't That Right - An Unconventional Tribute To Sun Records (vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

Mack Stevens is a modern artist who produces music that feels like it belongs in an earlier era. His sound is completely rooted in traditional rockabilly, not a modern interpretation of it. Here he gives us his versions of a host of Sun Records single releases.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Side 1
                               
Ain't That Right

The first track on the album was originally done by Eddie Snow. A tasty little riff brings this into being. The cut works out with vocals over the top of that. This is an old school rock and roller with a rudimentary basis. Just the one guitar riff holds it until the instrumental break. Even then, this still stays on the "less is more" side in terms of changes.

So Doggone Lonesome
A more country music based tune, this really has a down-home vibe. The song has more going on than the opener did. It has some tasty guitar work and a lot of charm. This was originally done by Johnny Cash.
Before Long Waltz
An acoustic guitar based tune, this is even more down-home in its country sounds than the previous one was. The original artist for this track was Jimmy and Walter.
Boogie Blues
Originally a "hillbillie yodel tune" from Earl Peterson, there is so much down-home country in the vocal delivery of this. The number rocks and rolls in a lot of ways, though, making this the very definition of rockabilly. It's a lot of fun. The rocking guitar solo is just plain classic.
I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry
Carl Perkins originally did this song. A bouncy rocker, this has some killer guitar work. The vocals are drenched with country twang. The guitar solo section is purely on fire. This definitely feels like something the Stray Cats might have done, but the vocals would have been different if they did a version of this.
Call Me Anything, But Call Me
Very much in the down-home vein, this still has some cool rock and roll in the mix. The original of this was apparently a very rare single from Big Memphis Ma Rainey.
So Long I'm Gone
Warren Smith was responsible for the original Sun Record of this one. The swinging groove on this is fun. The tune has a bit more of a rock and roll edge to it.
Weeping Blues
This has some crying in the mix, but I guess you expect that from the title, right? There are some fairly low-register vocals. This does have a rock and roll does the blues element to it. Rosco Gordon originally did this one.           
Side 2
                   
We All Gotta Go Sometime

Rockabilly and rock and roll merge on this, but there are also some hints of jazz in some of the guitar chords. This is another classy little rocker that was originally done by Joe Hill Lewis.

Lonesome Old Jail
D. A. Hunt originally did this song, which is another that's a rare record these days. Down-home acoustic blues is on the menu here. This track is actually one of my favorites on the album. It's so tasty.
Everybody's Searching
One of the rarest releases covered here, this was originally by Bobby Wood, with only some promos every pressed, but not distributed. Rockabilly meets a country vocal delivery on this bouncy little tune.
Right Or Wrong
Somehow there is a bit of an old-time pop music element here. It's mixed with plenty of old-time country music, rockabilly and more. That pop element is one of the reasons this song is often ridiculed by Sun Records artists because it was a big part of the original record from Buddy Cunningham.
Every Night
An old time gospel sound is the order of business on this tune. It's a solid number, but not really my kind of thing. This was originally done by The Jones Brothers.
They Call Our Love A Sin
Jimmy Haggett was responsible for the original release of this. I dig the groove on this version of the tune a lot. It still has some of that gospel sound to it in some ways, but also plenty of country and rockabilly.
The Time Is Right
While Lance Roberts originally did this, it's an Elvis Presley styled tune. It is also solid stuff, but doesn't work that well for me.
Tiger Man (King Of The Jungle)
A little silly, this is nonetheless an effective old-school rock and roller. It's fun. It's one of my favorites here. It was originally done by Rufus Thomas, Jr.
 
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