Album Review

a red-hot celebration

Various - Red Hot: A Memphis Celebration of Sun Records


Red Hot: A Memphis Celebration of Sun Records

Americana Music Society


   Even before we start to go over the list of artists and the songs they have recorded take a look at the cover, it draws some attention to this disc’s interesting high points,  and it will give clues to the fact that it is goes above and beyond high quality.  These are not in any order but as they were noticed:  the artists participating are all very top shelf and each seems to have a connection to recording in Memphis; the co-producers have strong ties to the area and are notated for their exceptional in depth work on other projects; the house band is exceptionally strong in its ties to the historic Sun Studios and the Sam Phillips Recording Service where all of this was recorded; and last but not least all of the proceeds from this Americana Music Society release will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which benefits, treats, and defeats childhood Cancer and other life threatening diseases (and I lay odds that you, or your family, know someone who this hospital has benefited).  The early work at these studios was done with the musicians who started this; household names such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley.  


   For all manner of people no matter their age this was an awakening in America, the beginning of a sort of group consciousness, and the beginning of both the separation and coming together of people from disparate backgrounds in America and the for that matter the World.  These are artists that basically the whole world knows, it doesn’t matter if you like them or hate them there are few other artists that had such a profound effect on the world through their music.  Yes, you can mention the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Yanni, even classical musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, and Wynton Marsalis and Mozart but in a way these are the ones responsible for putting music into households and such events as Woodstock and concerts at The Royal Albert Hall.  Before these artists with few exceptions music was very regionalized; the music  heard on the radios in America, from Louisiana, Mississippi, etc was vastly different from that of Texas, New Mexico, and etc, and that differed vastly from the music of the North East such as NYC, New England, Philly, etc.  But now there were artists that were common to all areas and it was basically because of these four men, all of who have passed now except for Jerry Lee Lewis.  As they united they also split apart people.  


   Here we have a strong collection of diverse musicians; a few here are Valerie June, Shawn Camp,  Bobby Rush, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Jimbo Mathus, under the direction of 2 producers who have a strong sense of history of the music of this nation Tamara Saviano who has written extensively of some of the musicians (Guy Clark, etc.)  and the times they lived in and Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi  Allstars whose father was a producer of music and a musician in these Studios during that ground-breaking time.  


   Sam Phillips heard the music of America as it filtered through this crossroads town in America, and these artists represent both the integration and the separation of the black and white populations at this time.  He was someone who strongly believed in the individual and that persons ability to truly express themselves.  These artists lived in both worlds of music and are capable of expressing their vision of what they have heard.  The artists are a true synthesis of what was expressed in its modern-day form.  A tremendous look at and sampling of some seminal, iconic, and fantastic American Music from that time period and if you were lucky enough to have grown up with it you are blessed.  Due out on 16 June 2017


by bob gottlieb