Sam Phillips' Sun Label has become legendary as the first musical home for such rock ‘n’ roll giants as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins. It was also the home of dozens of other artists who may not have been as well known, but who produced equally proficient and, at times, spectacular rock ‘n’ roll.
The Legendary Sun Records Story is a three-CD, 60-track box set that presents a nice introduction and overview of the music recorded for the label. In addition to the aforementioned legends, artists such as Sonny Burgess, Carl Mann, Eddie Bond, Vernon Taylor, Billy Riley, Warren Smith, and a host of others are represented by some of their best material. The only artist missing is Elvis, which was for contractual reasons. He is really not missed, though, as his material has been constantly re-issued down through the years; plus it’s nice to hear some of the label's lesser known songs.
Women were few and far between on the Sun Label, but those who were there could rock just as hard as their male counterparts. The RCA label signed Janis Martin as the female Elvis Presley. Sam Phillips responded by signing dance band vocalist Barbara Pittman and re-inventing her as a rock ‘n’ roller. Her included tracks, “Everlasting Love” and “It’s Getting Better All The Time,” represent some of the better female rock ‘n’ roll of the 1950’s. Linda Gail Lewis is the younger sister of Jerry Lee Lewis. Her rendition of “Nothin’ Shakin’” is a fiery song that should have made her brother proud. She continues to record today with her two daughters as The Lewis 3. Jean Chapel was as close to a female sex symbol as the Sun label would come. She recorded a gospel-tinged rendition of “Welcome To The Club.”