There must be some kind of magic at Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The studio was home for musicians like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash. There's a distinct sound that comes from that studio and it is unlike anything else. In 2011, Chris Isaak recaptured that magic in his album, "Beyond the Sun."
The deluxe version of the album consists of 25 tracks honoring some of the most iconic music that came from Sun Studio. There are also two original songs written by Isaak. Those two sound so much like that of Presley, Orbison, and Lee Lewis that I hadn't noticed they were written by Isaak until I read the liner notes.
To appreciate his sentiment, you might need some background on recording music. Today, just about anyone can plug in a guitar and microphone to a computer and record something. There are endless software programs that can tweak, improve, or flat out replace mistakes. Before this technology, however, bands had to rehearse a song until it was perfect. From there they would all gather in a small studio and record the song from beginning to end without error. Take after take, the band would play until they got the best -- most flawless -- version.
As easy as it would have been to use today's technology, Isaak and his band chose the latter. They booked time at Sun Studio, and recorded all 25 tracks just like Elvis or Johnny Cash would have. The result is a record that sounds so authentic to the Sun Studio era that if you didn't know any better, you'd think that Isaak and company hopped inside a time machine. Prior to "Beyond the Sun" any Isaak fan would have told you that he has one of the tightest bands around. They gel so well you wonder if they're just a bunch of clones. And for me, this album is the finest display of their talent.
|L-R: Scott Plunkett, Hershel Yatovitz, Rafael Padilla, Rowland Salley, Chris Isaak, and Kenney Dale Johnson|
Through the liner notes, I learned about Sam Phillips -- someone who seems to be under-appreciated by the general public. Phillips can be credited for creating the Rock and Roll sound, and also for finding some of the greatest artists, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Elvis. Isaak tells a wonderful story about an article he read about Phillips, but instead of repeating the end of his story, I'll entice you by saying that it's worth it to seek out the liner notes to read it for yourself.
|706 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103|
|Album cover and back sleeve for "Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records"|
- "That Lucky Old Sun"
- "My Happiness"
- "Miss Pearl"
- "Live It Up"
- "How's the World Treating You"
- "Trying to Get to You"
For more information, visit Isaak's official website: www.chrisisaak.com
TRIVIA: While in college, Chris Isaak was an amateur light heavyweight boxer.