Reviews

Red Hot: A Memphis Celebration of Sun Records


By Jake Tully

Co-produced by Luther Dickinson (the North Mississippi Allstars) and Grammy Award winning, Nashville-based, producer, Tamara Saviano (This One’s For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster), Red Hot: A Memphis Celebration of Sun Records, is a timely tribute to the city’s roots, reflective of the burgeoning Americana scene that is currently happening in Memphis, Tenn. Recorded at Sam Phillips’ original, Memphis Recording Service, Saviano and Dickinson enlist artists who are either based in the Bluff City or have ties to it. All proceeds from the album, go to a longtime staple of the Memphis community, St. Jude’s Hospital, which provides care for children with life threatening diseases, and conducts research to help find cures.

Covering any substantial portion of the Sun Records catalog, is neither an easy task nor an accomplishment that comes without employing a heap of kitsch. Red Hot: A Memphis Celebration of Sun Records, conjures up a captivating salute to the Tennessean cats of yesteryear, with a fresh take on arrangement and production, while maintaining the spirit of Sam Phillips.

Recording “Red Hot” at Sun Studios

Ripping through 11 tracks that were initially intended for mass vinyl proliferation isn’t necessarily a lenghty debacle, but certainly a process that becomes more simplistic with the likes of Valerie June, acting as the perfect substitute for Carl Perkins on “Sure To Fall.” Shawn Camp, who co-produced This One’s For Him A Tribute to Guy Clark with Saviano, performs the Charlie Rich classic, “Lonely Weekends,” incorporating the southern soul of another Memphis institution, Stax records, while maintaining the original western swing feel of the song.  On the absolutely wild, boogie-woogie of “High School Confidential” Jimbo Mathis who excels as he channels The Killer.

One of the rare occasions where the talent doesn’t find themselves sloppy or playing too far into the concept of a Johnny Cash weekday night tribute band, Red Hot has fun with the songs rather than treating them as if they are impenetrable relics of Americana. While “Tough Titty” is a bonafide classic, Bobby Rush keeps in mind its original intent. With all due respect to Sun Records, the songs were meant to put on at a party, not necessarily to interpret in a collegiate manner. Simplicity, a winning strategy for the artists featured on this record.

Crafted for fans of the classics and to showcase the skills of the individual artists themselves, Red Hot is the most entertaining Sun Records retrospective in some time.

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Jake Tully

Jake Tully

Based out of the San Fernando Valley, Jake is a LA transplant who is fascinated with the history and continuation of the Americana scene in Southern California. After moving down to the area to pursue a degree in Journalism from CSUN, Jake has found seemingly countless opportunities to find new music in the Greater Los Angeles area and the friendly disposition of the folks interested in the music. Jake enjoys going out in the field and chronicling the culture surrounding festivals and shows dedicated to keeping country music alive, but finds just as much solace in taking an evening to sit back and letting his vinyl collection wash over him. He believes there is a still a great deal of explanation to be done in order to help explain the divide between pop country and the bonafide music, and has made it one of his goals to entertain this notion through his writing.
Jake Tully

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