Other companies have Carl Perkins sets, but no one else has all the Sun recordings (complete - with some previously unissued) as well as his Columbia recordings from 1958-1962, and everything he cut for Decca between 1963 and 1965.
We start in 1954 with the early rockabilly sound of 'Honky Tonk Gal', then the early country singles, and then 'Blue Suede Shoes' and those classic Sun rockabilly tracks. We have Your True Love at its original tempo and speeded-up for single release, and we have newly discovered alternate takes.
Then we have all the early Columbia recordings like 'Where The Rio De Rosa Flows', 'Jive After Five', 'Pink Pedal Pushers', and 'Pointed Toe Shoes', and finally we have the Decca sides from Nashville and London, like 'Big Bad Blues', 'Lonely Heart', and 'Monkey Shine'. The first and last word on early Carl Perkins. Classic indeed!
Carl Perkins - The Classics
BCD 15494 EH - EAN: 4000127154941
5-CD Box-Set (LP-size) with 24-page book - Rock'n'Roll
The Classic Carl Perkins
There is an enduring myth about Carl Perkins, perpetuated occasionally by Perkins himself; that he might just have been as big as Elvis Presley if he had not suffered an automobile accident at a critical juncture in his career; or if he had only had a manager as wily as Col. Parker, or if only Sun had not deserted him to concentrate on Jerry Lee Lewis.
Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins both leaped into the public consciousness at approximately the same time with music that broke down well established barriers. Indeed, both were nourished by the same wellsprings, but the similarity ends there. This is not to imply that Perkins was an inferior musician to Presley because in many ways he was superior, or that Perkins deserved the obscurity that followed so swiftly upon the heels of immense acclaim. Rather, Presley had both the malleability and image to sustain a career in an orbit beyond the one that had spawned him. Carl Perkins did not. His music was born and bred in the bar-rooms of the Mid South. The rhythms that underpinned his music and the images in his songs were, at their best, pure honky tonk music. He got lucky with one song near the dawn of his long career – and he doubtless deserved that luck – but you could never take the country out of Carl Perkins.
Lake County Cotton Country
Although Perkins is closely associated with his adopted hometown, Jackson, Tennessee, he was born in the far northwest corner of the state, close to the banks of the Mississippi. His birth certificate gives his parents' address as Rt. 1, Ridgely. It gave his parents' names as Fonie ‘Buck' Perkings and Louise Brantley. Their second child, born on April 9, 1932, was christened Carl Lee Perkings. The mis-spelling of the family name suggests that the literacy of the government employees was barely a notch higher than those whose arrivals in, and exits from, the world they were cataloguing.
It was the height of the Depression and Buck Perkins was a sharecropper without a market. The family lived in a three room shack and then in a one room storehouse. "Mama hung a sheet for partition," recalled Perkins in his first autobiography, "and our stove was an old tin barrel dad set upon some bricks in the middle of the floor." The kids in the neighborhood brought cast-off clothes for the Perkins brothers and Carl Perkins often told the story of how one kid asked for his trousers back after Carl Perkins had tackled him in a football game.
Music entered Perkins' life from two directions; the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville and a black sharecropper across the field. The Opry was inevitable. "My Daddy only liked country music," recalled Perkins. "He was the one that turned the radio on and off because we didn't have electricity, just a battery that we'd buy once a year when the crops came in."
The black sharecropper was named John Westbrook (or Westbrooks) and Perkins called him ‘Uncle John.' "He used to sit out on the front porch at night," recalled Perkins to Lenny Kaye, "with a gallon bucket full of coal oil rags that he'd burn to keep the mosquitoes off him, and I'd ask my daddy if I could go to Uncle John's and hear him pick some."
In the same way that Perkins rarely sang a song the same way twice, he also never seemed to tell a story exactly the same way twice. In some versions, Uncle John gave Carl Perkins his guitar on a Saturday and died the following Wednesday. In another version, Buck Perkins bought the guitar for $3.00. However, his influence upon Perkins was incalculable: "It was his inspiration that made me know what it was I wanted to do for the rest of my life."
Shortly after the end of the Second World War, Buck Perkins moved his family to Bemis, Tennessee, where his brothers worked in the cotton mills. Buck was refused a job in the mills because of his deteriorating lungs and the Perkins family went back to sharecropping, although this time they had a house with electricity and a refrigerator. Perkins soon found a use for the electricity when he bought a cheap Harmony guitar and plugged it in.
Although he generally claimed to have no direct influences, Perkins' style was obviously formed by listening to the guitarists who worked on the Opry. In particular, he remembers ‘Butterball' Paige who played the single string leads with Ernest Tubb for a few years in the late ‘40s. Another influence was probably Arthur ‘Guitar Boogie' Smith whose 1946 hit, Guitar Boogie, influenced a generation of pickers and set a new standard for sheer technique.
And then there was the blues. It was unlikely that Perkins was allowed to listen to the R&B stations but Perkins never forgot the lessons that Uncle John had taught him. "I liked the slur he put on the blues things," he recalled to Lenny Kaye. "I could never get away from what was buried in my mind of the sound he made on that simple little guitar. I just sat and constantly worked on that."
The Perkins Brothers Band
There can be little doubt that Carl Perkins's older brother Jay and his younger brother Clayton would never have thought of a career in music had it not been for constant badgering from Carl Perkins. He wanted a back-up group and his two brothers were the prime candidates.