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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Have you heard the news? Good Rockin' Tonight is the encyclopedia for all fans of Sam C. Phillips' groundbreaking Memphis Recording Service and Sun/Phillips International labels. Colin Escott and Martin Hawkins, whose expert commentaries appear in the liner notes of many Sun CD reissue packages, deliver thorough accounts of the players and events in the Sun story. Full chapters are devoted to Sun's best-known players (Sam Phillips, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley) and the landmark events (the recording of Rocket 88, the arrival of Howlin' Wolf, and the birth of Rockabilly), but the real highlight is the attention to the lesser-known players like Joe Hill Louis, Scotty Moore, Sonny Burgess, Billy Riley, and Roland Janes. They didn't top the charts, but were as important to the creation of the "Sun Sound" as Perkins, Lewis, Cash and Presley were to its export outside the Memphis city limits, and in Good Rockin' Tonight they receive the recognition they deserve. Escott and Hawkins round out the Sun story with a complete discography of all the Sun and Phillips International singles, EPs and LPs released while both labels were active.
Sun was the first powerhouse independent record label of Rock & Roll music. It's catalogue, performed by rough-edged musicians who turned out consistently innovative material and a Top Ten hit here and there, has been exhaustively reissued over the past ten years, much to the delight of Sun connoisseurs. Sadly, the same can't be said of material written about Sun: most of the books (several also written by Escott and Hawkins) are now out of print. Good Rockin' Tonight stands alone as the most comprehensive work dedicated to Sam Phillips and the record label whose influence on popular culture deserves much more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2014
Growing up in the mid-1950s, I became an aficianado of the Sun sound.

The first Sun record I owned was "Mystery Train" by Little Junior's Blue Flames, purchased for 10 cents at Kresge's. It remains one of my favorite Sun records (though, alas, I no longer own the 45 I bought way back then).

I then bought everything I could find on Sun, even a few Elvis 45s (which also have disappeared into the snows of time), Warren Smith, Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins, Billy Riley, Johnny Cash, Sonny Burgess, and etc.

This book was the best account to its date of publication of Sun. Since then a lot more information has come out, particularly in the notes and booklets in the glorious collections of Sun sides released by Bear Family. All Sun fanatics eagerly await Peter Guralnick's upcoming bio of Sam Phillips, the genius who created the Sun sound.

Phillips is never given his due. He wasn't a musician, but he had an uncanny feeling for "sound", the word he used constantly. Elvis' Sun sides are his greatest recordings, but Elvis is only part of the phenomenon: Scotty Moore's guitar and Phillips' recording technique are equally important. When "That's All Right" was released, even professional promoters and DJs didn't realize that there were only three instruments on the recording, most famously Jim Denny of the Grand Ole Opry who complained that he'd contracted for the whole band when Elvis, Scotty, and Bill turned up for their Opry appearance.

Phillips convinced Junior Parker to forget his saxophone driven urban style and go with his John Lee Hooker-inspired boogie, thereby creating the first big seller on Sun that was also a quality recording ("Feeling Good"). The follow-up "Mystery Train" was even better, though it didn't sell as well.

Doctor Ross was another artist who needed Phillips to create his best sides. "Chicago Breakdown" is a masterpiece, but even for its time, it was anachronistic.

Sun records was "pop trash" when I was a boy. Now it's one of the most important streams of American popular music in history. This book will go a long way in explaining why.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2000
Coming from an age group that barely remembers the days of Sun Studio's most talented performers and songwriters, this book drives home the importance and impact of the many talents that emerged from this Memphis-based shrine.
This is a must read for anone who loves rock-n-roll, blues, jazz, or just wants to learn more about the hardships, the triumphs and the many lessons learned in the music industry.
Many top idols are present, but what makes the book such a worthwhile reading are the writings on those less known. My hats off to a true tribute for the sounds and artists of the south!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
A detailed and informative account of Sam Philips and the Rise & Fall of Sun Records. The focus is limited to their time at Sun Records, with some discussion of their Sun Records career, and so those seeking a full history of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and others will have to look elsewhere. Many of the artists discussed are unfamiliar to me, but there's enough about them to warrant further exploration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
Engaging, telling the story of how Sam Phillips' vision and hard work slowly earned him success, each step of the way. Lot's of great stories and not bogged down in statistics or superfluous background information.
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on March 23, 2014
I really enjoyed it. I have been to Sun studios and Graceland. I liked the stories about Sam Philips and the rest of the stars.
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on March 10, 2013
I grow up listening and playing this music. What's not to like? Still listen to this music today and still love it.
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on January 13, 2015
It has an impressive collection of facts and dates with excellent citations, however it reads like an encyclopedia. There is zero flow to this book, so it is almost impossible to get into.
As source material or a fact checking resource regarding Sam Phillips and the Sun label this book is an invaluable tool.
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on August 9, 2014
Nicely done, well documented, a real nice record of the story of Sun. Little interesting stories are scattered throughout, and when you read this you will be amazed at the sheer volume and diversity of the music Sam Phillips put out to create a niche in popular music. I recommend.
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on November 17, 2013
THIS IS A GREAT BOOK. LOYS OF INFORMATION ON THAT KIND OF MUSIC AND THE RECORD LABEL THAT HELPED PROMOTE IT. I WILL RECOMEND THID BOOK TO ANY MUSIC LOVER AND/OR FAN OF ROCK AND ROLL, ROCKABILLY, AND BLUES.
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