Q&A: Sun Rising: The Songs That Made Memphis
Sun Rising: The Songs That Made Memphis pays absolute tribute to a unique era of rock'n'roll and presents a passionate and musically spectacular rendition of the Sun hit records we know and love – Elvis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, and plenty more. We chatted to David Cosma about his musical project.
Tell us about how you got into the unique Memphis era of rock'n'roll.
Well, I first fell in love with Elvis when I was a kid, became obsessed and naturally as I discovered his work, came across his Sun Record releases and in turn discovered the other great artists from Sun. The music is hard to ignore.
What is your favourite song that came from that era and why?
Well, the Elvis songs (of course) are close to my heart, in particular That's Alright Mama, probably the most important song of his career and dare I say one of the most important in regards to the last 60 years in music. It was his debut release (and his version of Bill Munroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky is a corker too. It was the flip side to That's Alright Mama. Bill Munroe rerecorded his version once he heard Elvis'. That says something).
For you, what was the definitive album that Sun Records put out?
The one mentioned above is hard to go past however, the first million seller for Sun was by another legend, Carl Perkins. Not only was it a massive hit, but it was covered by Elvis (when he defected to RCA) and the flip side Honey Don't which Perkins also wrote, was covered by the Beatles.... I'm guessing Perkins' royalty cheques weren't too shabby.
What made you start this project?
Well, 2012 marks the 60th anniversary of Sun coming into operation. So that's a good reason to celebrate but the main reason was to raise a glass to the man who started it all, Sam Phillips. Sam started Memphis Recording Service in 1949 and started the Sun Records label a few years later in 1952. To the band, the most incredible thing about the legacy is the fact that the artists he recorded and produced, "started" their careers at Sun. They weren't established artists passing through Memphis. They walked through Suns doors virtually unknown and would eventually become household names. Artists including Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Howlin Wolf, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins....
What can we expect on the night?
We've done our best musically to capture the originality of the songs, as they were recorded in the '50s. It's easy to overcomplicated such simple songs with overplaying and performance so we've done our best to maintain their original charm. Also, we have some stories and dialogue to go with the music so it's not just a show of songs.
SUN RISING: THE SONGS THAT MADE MEMPHIS play The Toff In Town this Thursday August 16 with Chris Russell's Chicken Walk.