Monday, 17 August 2009

Charlie Rich – Charlie Rocks

Charlie Rich – Charlie Rocks
Bear Family BCD 16513 AR

Track listing: Whirlwind (undubbed version), Everything I Do Is Wrong, Philadelphia Baby, Big Man, Rebound, That's Rich, Lonely Weekends (master), Break Up, Midnite Blues, Little Woman Friend Of Mine, Goodbye Mary Ann (alt 3), You Made A Hit, Red Man, Donna Lee, Popcorn Polly, Gentle As A Lamb, Charlie's Boogie, Stop Thief, Right Behind You Baby, Lonely Weekends (undubbed alt), Yes Ma'am, Big Man (undubbed alt), Big Boss Man, The Ways Of A Woman In Love, Mohair Sam, I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water, Just A Little Bit Of Time, It Ain't Gonna Be That Way, That's My Way, Just A Little Bit Of You, So Long)

The latest edition to bear Family’s excellent Rocks series pays tribute to the astonishingly gifted Charlie Rich. I love the Silver Fox catalogue from the Sun rock ‘n’ roll to the string laden country on Epic. This release looks at the up-tempo numbers from the early to mid period on Sun, Smash & RCA.

Charlie Rich could never be classified as a rockabilly in the Billy Lee Riley sense, he there was always a jazzy, late-night feel to his sound. That’s not to say he couldn’t rock out, it’s just he always seemed more comfortable with something funkier. Sam Phillips had him cutting a rug early on with some great rockers in the form of Lonely Weekends, Philadelphia Baby, Rebound and the undubbed version of Whirlwind. From this period, the bluesy, Everything I Do Is Wrong probably tells us more about the Silver Fox than any of the rockers. Of the lessor known items, Gentle As A Lamb is a long way from Sonny Burgess but as an insight into the hip side of Memphis’ early 60’s soul, it’s more than fine with me. Donna Lee is pretty average but for some reason I quite like the oddball rocker Popcorn Polly.

From the post Sun era there’s a handful of crackers, of which the exquisite Mohair Sam and the funky I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water need no introduction. I’ve always loved his reading of Johnny Cash’s The Ways Of A Woman In Love and Just A Little Bit Of Time gives a glimpse into another side of Memphis. I'm a bit surprised that She's A Yum-Yum and You Can Have Her have been omitted, but it's hard to be picky with such a great compliation.

My top three picks for constant plays are Mohair Sam, Big Man and best of all, the brilliant, atmospheric soul of Midnite Blues. To me this song is Charlie Rich in a nutshell. A classy CD that sits nicely on the shelf alongside the box set, the best of compilations of Groove and Smash, the Epic releases and the Feel Like Goin’ Home: Essential CR double on Columbia/Legacy.


rascuachero54 said...

Thanks for this piece on Charlie. You are so right, his Sun material was great, always loved "Mohair Sam" and gotta remember he wrote the fantastic "Right Behind You Baby" of Johnny Horton fame, if I'm not mistaken.

Rockabillyville said...

Thanks for writing mate, I'm glad you like a bit of Charlie. Right Behind you baby was for Ray Smith, but I would have liked to have heard Johnny Horton do it.

Pete said...

Great piece on the great Mr Rich.

May I recommend his last cd prior to his sad passing called "Pictures & Paintings".

It was produced by Peter Guralnick (author of the 2 Elvis Bios.)

A real classic.


Pete in Oz