The German record label Bear Family Records has combined two icons of music history for its latest release. Sun Shines On Hank Williams is a 26 track compilation celebrating the songs of the Country music legend through recordings made by artists at Sun Records. From Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis to lesser-known artists from the label’s history, these vintage recordings from the 1950s and 1960s marry iconic songs with the unmistakable sound of Sun.
With its simple premise, the album soon draws the listener into the world of Sun Records, but things are not that straightforward. The eclectic nature of the compilation is a surprise, a pleasant one. Each artist brings his or her own interpretation of the song, making it an interesting listening experience. There may be several versions of the same compositions included, but none sound identical to one another. Much to the surprise of this reviewer, genres vary from Country to Rock n Roll, Jazz, Blues and Soul; showing the unexpected, varied nature of Sun Studios’ output. For those that have only heard the music of Sun’s ‘million dollar quartet’ (Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash), this is a step towards discovering what else Sam Philips and Jack Clement produced during this period. While Lewis (6) and Cash (5)
This set attempts to give fans something different, and it has succeeded. The care and attention to detail is apparent. There are eight previously unreleased masters, including tracks by Sonny Burgess, Cliff Gleaves, Jeb Stuart, Annette McGee, Hank Davis, David Wilkins, Carl McVoy and
The liner notes are an interesting delve into the included artists, many of which may be unfamiliar to a wider audience. Sun historian Hank Davis, who has an unreleased track on the album, has done an excellent job on compiling the information together. There are some fascinating stories contained within the booklet, including the mystery of the whereabouts of singer Annette McGee. It also includes several rare images from the time.
Bear Family Records have compiled an intriguing selection of tracks, celebrating a legendary figure in the world of Country music, through the work of an iconic recording studio. The sound quality on this album is outstanding, especially on the unreleased material, and a testament to their work. I highly recommend this set.
OBVIOUS PICKS: Anything by Jerry Lee Lewis or Johnny Cash.
LESS OBVIOUS PICKS: Sonny Burgess – My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It. Annette McGee – Your Cheating Heart. Eddie Bond
- Hey Good Looking – Ernie Barton
- Cold Cold Heart – Jerry Lee Lewis
- My Buckets Got A Hole In It – Sonny Burgess
- I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You – Johnny Cash
- Your Cheating Heart – Cliff Gleaves
- Long Gone Lonesome Blues – Jerry Lee Lewis
- Cold Cold Heart – Barbara Pittman
- I Can’t Help It –
- You Win Again – Johnny Cash
- Dear John – Warren Smith
- Your Cheating Heart – Annette McGee
- Jambalaya – Jerry Lee Lewis
- Half As Much – Hank Davis
- Hey Good Looking – Eddie Cash
- You Win Again – David Wilkins
- You Can’t Help It – Jerry Lee Lewis
- I Heard That Lonesome Whistle Blow – Johnny Cash
- My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It – Sonny Burgess
- Your Cheatin’ Heart – Jeanie Greene
- You Win Again – Jerry Lee Lewis
- There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight – Carl McVoy
- I Can’t Help It – Johnny Cash
- Take These Chains From My Heart – Carl Mann
- Setting The Woods On Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
- I Saw The Light – Eddie Bond
- Hey Good Lookin’ – Johnny Cash
Tape Research: Hank Davis, Phyllis Hill, Richard Weize.
Tape Comparison: Hank Davis
Mastering: Christian Zwarg
Liner Notes: Hank Davis
Sun Shines On Hank Williams is available from Bear Family Records.