Destiny - had to be.
In 1949, Sam Phillips, a young Memphis disc jockey, decided to supplement his income with a small private recording studio called the Memphis Recording Service, located at 706 Union Ave. His slogan: "We record anything - anywhere - anytime."Sun Records, the label that developed from MRS and discovered a young hillbilly named Elvis Presley, a blues-loving guitarist named B.B. King and the spastic piano punching of Jerry Lee Lewis - and literally lit the fuse of popular music - gave Rhino Records the approving nod to compile and release this box set filled with these pioneers of rock 'n' roll in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Presley's first commercial recordings.
Though Presley's first song recorded at Sun, a cover of the Ink Spots' "My Happiness," is missing from this three-CD collection of gold dust, his first real single, a remake of an Arthur Crudup ditty, "That's All Right," is here.
While Presley would be known later as the "king" of rock 'n' roll, music historians say Jackie Brenston's "Rocket `88' " - recorded a full five years before Presley's "That's All Right" - was the first real rock 'n' roll record. (Brenston's rough and wild tune is featured on disc one, while Presley's version starts Disc 2).
Still, it doesn't matter who hit it first or who overshadowed who. This is a remastered compilation filled with more than two hours of music. From the heavy Delta blues of B.B. King's "B.B. Blues" to the rockabilly twang of Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" to "Who Will the Next Fool Be," Charlie Rich's lean to country-western tune, the release leads the listener through a chronological tour of the label's 16-year tenure as music's most influential independent label.
The ticks and pops of the hard porcelain 78s have been eliminated, but the raw recorded sounds stay true to the feel and atmosphere of each session.
Present among such bigwigs as Roy Orbison ("Ooby Dooby"), Johnny Cash ("I Walk the Line") and Howlin' Wolf ("How Many More Years") are one-shot wonders as Sonny Burgess ("Red Headed Woman") and Carl Mann ("Mona Lisa").
Jerry Lee "the Killer" Lewis is not to be forgotten, with his wildman energy apparent on "Whole Lot of Shaking Goin' On," "Breathless" and his trademark "Great Balls of Fire."
And those who love the music but aren't familiar with the history will find the enclosed 32-page booklet about Sun Records - complete with an interview with Sam Phillips - a pleasant map through the years.
This boxed set isn't the complete Sun Records collection but serves as an eclectic snapshot of the label's heyday. And at a retail price of $48, this here's a real bargain.