Sun Records recordings on CDs re-released by Bear Family

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At Town Hall Party, 1958 & 1959  DVD (0) Johnny Cash: At Town Hall Party, 1958 & 1959 DVD (0) Art-Nr.: BVD20001

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Jerry Lee Lewis At Sun Records The Collected Works (18-CD & 2 Books) Jerry Lee Lewis: Jerry Lee Lewis At Sun Records The Collected... Art-Nr.: BCD17254

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Who Was That Masked Man?  (4-CD) ORION: Who Was That Masked Man? (4-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD16330

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Vol.17 - Rockabilly From The Vaults Of Sun Records (CD) Various - That'll Flat Git It!: Vol.17 - Rockabilly From The Vaults Of Sun... Art-Nr.: BCD16405

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Orbison 1955-1965 (7-CD Deluxe Box Set) Roy Orbison: Orbison 1955-1965 (7-CD Deluxe Box Set) Art-Nr.: BCD16423

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The Memphis Days Vol.1 Howlin' Wolf: The Memphis Days Vol.1 Art-Nr.: BCD15460

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Memphis Days Vol.2 Howlin' Wolf: Memphis Days Vol.2 Art-Nr.: BCD15500

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Man In Black 1954-58 Vol.1 (5-CD) Johnny Cash: Man In Black 1954-58 Vol.1 (5-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD15517

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Jerry Lee Lewis - Jerry Rocks Jerry Lee Lewis: Jerry Lee Lewis - Jerry Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD16396

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Charlie Rich - Charlie Rocks Charlie Rich: Charlie Rich - Charlie Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD16513

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Great Drums At Sun - Featuring J. M. Van Eaton, WS Holland, Billy Weir, Houston Stokes & Johnny Bernero (CD) Various - SUN Records: Great Drums At Sun - Featuring J. M. Van Eaton,... Art-Nr.: BCD16273

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1-CD Digipak (6-sided) with 60-page booklet, 28 tracks. Total playing time approx. 64:48  ,Compilation presenting the most exciting drumming on SUN •  ,  ,Putting the musicians at the center of attention. , • , ,...
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Great Guitars At Sun - Featuring Scotty Moore, Roland Janes, Eddie Bush, Pat Hare, Roy Orbison Various - SUN Records: Great Guitars At Sun - Featuring Scotty Moore,... Art-Nr.: BCD16148

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Great Guitars At SUN Records Featuring Scotty Moore, Roland Janes, Eddie Bush, Pat Hare, Roy Orbison 1-CD Digipak (6-sided) with 60-page booklet, 28 tracks. Total playing time approx. 70:19  , • , ,  ,Compilation...
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Jerry Lee Lewis At Sun Records The Collected Works (18-CD & 2 Books) Jerry Lee Lewis: Jerry Lee Lewis At Sun Records The Collected... Art-Nr.: BCD17254

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18-CD boxed set (28 x 28 x 7 cms ) with 2 hardcover clothbound books (300 total pages) in a clothbound slipcase, 623 tracks, total playing time: approx. 23 hours and 30 minutes. , -- This is it! ...... No, really, THIS IS IT! ,...
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Juke Box Boogie , The Sun Years, Plus Doctor Ross: Juke Box Boogie , The Sun Years, Plus Art-Nr.: BCD16939

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1-CD-Album Digipak (4-plated) with 44-page booklet, 32 tracks. Playing time approx. 88 mns. High quality sides by one of the iconic singers and musicians of Memphis blues and boogie ,- Doctor Ross, recorded when he was part of the small...
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Blues Like Midnight - The Sun Years, Plus Bill Yates: Blues Like Midnight - The Sun Years, Plus Art-Nr.: BCD17277

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1-CD Digipak (4-plated) with 48-page booklet, 33 tracks. Playing time approx. 87 mns. Contains all the singles made by Bill Yates in Memphis at the turn of the 1960's and an astonishing collection of unknown and unissued sides! Includes...
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Rock Me Baby, The Sun Years Plus Billy Adams: Rock Me Baby, The Sun Years Plus Art-Nr.: BCD17116

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1-CD Digipak (4-plated) with 48-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 80 mns. -- A wondrous CD reissue containing all the fabulous rocking R&B music Billy Adams made for Sun Records - and all the little-known sides he made for...
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Sun Rock Box 1950-1959 (8-CD) Various - SUN Records: Sun Rock Box 1950-1959 (8-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD17313

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8-CD Box (LP-format) with 224-page hardcover book, 255 tracks. Total playing approx. 620 mns. Sun Records at 60, Bear Family at 38 Between 1950 and 1960, Sun Records founder Sam Phillips discovered and produced B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf,...
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Sun Blues Box 1950-1958 (10-CD Box) Various - SUN Records: Sun Blues Box 1950-1958 (10-CD Box) Art-Nr.: BCD17310

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10-CD box set with 184-page hardcover book, 307 tracks. Total playing time approx. 13 hours and 50 minutes. The 'Sun Blues Box'. Finally, the last word on the Sun and pre-Sun blues recordings! Nearly 30 years after the original Sun Blues...
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Larger Than Life (6-CD) Sleepy Labeef: Larger Than Life (6-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD15662

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6-CD boxed set (LP-size) with 28-page book, 159 tracks. Playing time approx. 407 mns. Generally acknowledged as one of the greatest live performers in rock 'n' roll, Sleepy LaBeef has never received his due as a recording artist. It's no...
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Sleepy LaBeef - Sleepy Rocks Sleepy Labeef: Sleepy LaBeef - Sleepy Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD15981

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1-CD Album Digipak (6-plated) with 40-page booklet, 35 tracks. Playing time approx. 80 mns. Sleepy LaBeef rocks - yes, he really rocks on these 35 classic recordings. We're talking raw and authentic 1950s rockabilly here. And some 1960s...
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Let's Get Wild (CD) Rudy Grayzell: Let's Get Wild (CD) Art-Nr.: BCD16837

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1-CD digipack with 52-page booklet, 32 tracks. The first comprehensive anthology of one of the original legendary rockabilly stars! Includes the previously unissued complete version of Let's Get Wild, plus four other unreleased...
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Up Through The Years, 1956-1963 Jerry Lee Lewis: Up Through The Years, 1956-1963 Art-Nr.: BCD15408

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1-CD with 8-page booklet, 24 tracks. Playing time approx. 58 mns. You like Jerry Lee Lewis, but not enough to take a chance on our monumental boxed sets This is just what you need: a collection of Jerry Lee's classic Sun singles from...
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Man In Black 1954-58 Vol.1 (5-CD) Johnny Cash: Man In Black 1954-58 Vol.1 (5-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD15517

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5-CD boxed set (LP-size) with 36-page book, 138 tracks. Playing time approx. 330 mns. It has been the most remarkable career in modern country music. 'Nobody But Nobody More Original Than Johnny Cash ' was the slogan they coined in the...
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Vol.17 - Rockabilly From The Vaults Of Sun Records (CD) Various - That'll Flat Git It!: Vol.17 - Rockabilly From The Vaults Of Sun... Art-Nr.: BCD16405

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1-CD with 40-page booklet, 34 tracks. Playing time approx. 70 minutes. Even more Rockabilly from the vaults of Sun Records! This is Bear Family's third trip through the Sun rockabilly vaults (see also Volumes 14 and 16 of 'That'll Flat...
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The Outtakes (2-CD) Billy Riley: The Outtakes (2-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD17122

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2-CD-Album Cap-Box, CD-size with 68-page Booklet, 79 tracks. Playing time: 148:59. Billy Riley is a classic figure from Sun's golden age. The set contains outtakes of every one of Riley's Sun singles. 78 tracks with studio chatter and...
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Carl Mann - Carl Rocks Carl Mann: Carl Mann - Carl Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD16684

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1-CD-Album Digipak (6-plated) with 46-page booklet, 35 tracks. Playing time approx. 78 mns. • Contains the best of Carl Mann 's rockin' Sun sides and more, replacing the out-of-print box set formerly issued by Bear Family! • Contains...
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Vol.16 - Rockabilly From The Vaults Of Sun Records (CD) Various - That'll Flat Git It!: Vol.16 - Rockabilly From The Vaults Of Sun... Art-Nr.: BCD16311

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1-CD with 28-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 62 mns. More Rockabilly from the vaults of Sun Records ! We're back at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis. 'That'll Flat Git It!' is about rockabilly, and 706 Union is where, to all...
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Vol.14 - Rockabilly From The Vaults Of Sun Records (CD) Various - That'll Flat Git It!: Vol.14 - Rockabilly From The Vaults Of Sun... Art-Nr.: BCD16210

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1-CD with 40-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 68 mns. Rockabilly from the vaults of Sun Records ! Here’s the other side of Sun; to pun Pink Floyd, the dark side of the Sun. These are the guys who wanted to get a deal but...
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Conway Twitty - Conway Rocks Conway Twitty: Conway Twitty - Conway Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD16670

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1-CD DigiPac (6-plated) with 36-page booklet, 30 tracks, playing time 68:38 minutes. Conway Twitty was one of the most successful country stars of all time. No one ever scored more No.1 country hits. But before he was a country star, he...
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Classic Recordings Warren Smith: Classic Recordings Art-Nr.: BCD15514

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1-CD with 32-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 76 mns. Classic indeed! Here are all of Warren Smith's Sun recordings. Some of the best country music and stompin'est rockabilly from the Fifties. You want classics Check out...
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Jerry Lee Lewis - Jerry Rocks Jerry Lee Lewis: Jerry Lee Lewis - Jerry Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD16396

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1-CD Digipak (6-plated) with 40-page booklet, 33 tracks. Playing time approx. 80 mns. Inevitably, our top-selling ROCKS! series now turns to the man who literally epitomizes ROCK: Jerry Lee Lewis! There have been plenty of Jerry Lee...
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Roy Orbison - Roy Rocks Roy Orbison: Roy Orbison - Roy Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD15916

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1-CD-album Digipak (6-plated) with 40-page booklet, 30 tracks. Playing time approx. 65 mns. Bear Family has put together a special compilation of all of Roy Orbison's rockin' material - the first of its kind - from his days at Sun all...
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The Memphis Days Vol.1 Howlin' Wolf: The Memphis Days Vol.1 Art-Nr.: BCD15460

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1-CD with 12-page booklet, 21 tracks. Playing time approx. 61 mns. Hailed by fans and critics as one of the greatest blues CDs ever issued, this set is the first installment of Wolf's incredible Chess and Memphis Recording Service sides...
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The Sun Years 1956-58 (CD) Roy Orbison: The Sun Years 1956-58 (CD) Art-Nr.: BCD15461

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1-CD with 12-page booklet, 28 tracks. Playing time approx. 60 mns. Here's the definitive edition of Roy's rock 'n' roll years with Sun 1956-1958. The 28 songs include Ooby Dooby, Rockhouse, You're My Baby, Chickhearted, Go Go Go, Domino,...
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Who Was That Masked Man?  (4-CD) ORION: Who Was That Masked Man? (4-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD16330

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4-CD boxset (LP-Size) with 24-page book 108 tracks. Playing time approx. 284 mns. It was Orion Eckley Darnell , keeping the flame of rootsy Southern music alive in the Seventies, and doing it by sounding remarkably like Elvis Aaron...
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Carl Perkins - Carl Rocks Carl Perkins: Carl Perkins - Carl Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD16752

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1-CD-Album Digipak (6-plated) with 48-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 79 mns. Twenty-nine rockin' songs from across Carl Perkins ' career. Sun...of course, Decca, Columbia, and Mercury. The songs include Blue Suede Shoes...
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Charlie Rich - Charlie Rocks Charlie Rich: Charlie Rich - Charlie Rocks Art-Nr.: BCD16513

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1-CD-Album, Digipak, 40 pages Booklet, 31 tracks, playing time 74:51 mns. A deep look at Charlie Rich 's Sun, RCA and Smash rockers, beginning nearly twenty years before the 'Silver Fox' era. The only collection focusing entirely on...
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The Rock'n'Roll Years (8-CD) Conway Twitty: The Rock'n'Roll Years (8-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD16112

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8 CD album box set (LP format) with 62-page book, 202 single tracks. Playing time approx. 477 minutes. This CD album Boxset tells Conway Twitty's entire rock'n' roll story from that time before he switched to country music. After joining...
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The Sun Singles Vol.1 (4-CD & Buch) Various - SUN Records: The Sun Singles Vol.1 (4-CD & Buch) Art-Nr.: BCD15801

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4-CD box (LP-size) with 72-page book, 114 tracks. Playing time approx. 309 mns. Sun was the ultimate singles label. The original album catalogue was small, and mostly given over to Johnny Cash. Now here is the way Sun should have been...
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The Classic Carl Perkins  (5-CD) Carl Perkins: The Classic Carl Perkins (5-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD15494

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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...
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Some Think He Might Be King Elvis ORION: Some Think He Might Be King Elvis Art-Nr.: BCD15548

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1-CD with 8-page booklet, 27 tracks. Playing time approx. 72 mns. Was Elvis forsaking Vegas to return to his roots singing small group rock 'n' roll or was this a brilliantly orchestrated scam? You decide, and meanwhile enjoy some of the...
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Sun Gospel (CD) Various - SUN Records: Sun Gospel (CD) Art-Nr.: BCD16387

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1-CD with 36-page booklet, 32 tracks. Playing time approx. 80 mns. Without Sun Records, the face of popular music, indeed popular culture, would be markedly different. Record collectors know Sun Records as the birthplace of rockabilly,...
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Rockin' Daddy   (2-CD) Eddie Bond: Rockin' Daddy (2-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD15708

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2-CD with 20-page booklet, 51 tracks. Playing time approx. 118 mns. There are several Eddie Bond records with Rockin' Daddy, Slip Slidin' In, Flip Flop Mama and Boppin' Bonnie on them, but they're either bootlegs or re-makes. Only Bear...
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Onie's Bop Onie Wheeler: Onie's Bop Art-Nr.: BCD15542

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1-CD with 20-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 76 mns. Another of the hidden gems of the Bear Family catalogue! Onie sounded like no one. He played harmonica and sang some of the most moving, gutwrenching country music you'll...
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Gee... I Wish - The Sun Years, Plus Billy 'red' Love: Gee... I Wish - The Sun Years, Plus Art-Nr.: BCD17149

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1-CD Digipak (4-plated) with 48-page booklet, 26 tracks. Playing time approx. 73 minutes. A landmark first CD reissue of one of the best... but least known... R&B singer-pianists from Memphis! Twenty six high class boogie, blues and R&B...
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Classic Recordings 1956-59 (2-CD) Sonny Burgess: Classic Recordings 1956-59 (2-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD15525

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There's nothing wilder in Fifties music than Sonny Burgess's Sun recordings. The complete story is here in 54 incredible rafter shakin', barn burnin' cuts. Several of the original singles have been transferred from newly discovered...
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Easy To Love, The Sun Years, Plus Mack Self: Easy To Love, The Sun Years, Plus Art-Nr.: BCD16519

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1-CD Album with 32-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 71 mns. Country artist Mack Self came from Arkansas to record one single for Sun and another for Phillips International, but that doesn't begin to tell the story. It's all...
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Memphis Days Vol.2 Howlin' Wolf: Memphis Days Vol.2 Art-Nr.: BCD15500

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1-CD with 8-page booklet, 19 tracks. Playing time approx. 51 mns. A companion to Volume 1, this includes all the released Chess masters from Memphis together with out-takes of both the issued and unissued recordings. A total of 19 songs...
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Rock-A-Billy Gal - The Sun Years, Plus Hayden Thompson: Rock-A-Billy Gal - The Sun Years, Plus Art-Nr.: BCD16131

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1-CD with 48-page booklet, 35 tracks. Playing time approx. 82 mns. A ten-year retrospective of one of the unsung Sun Records heroes! Previously unissued Sun recordings! He was there at the beginning... watching Elvis in Mississippi in...
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Up Through The Years 1954-1957 (CD) Carl Perkins: Up Through The Years 1954-1957 (CD) Art-Nr.: BCD15246

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1-CD Album with 8-page booklet, 24 tracks. Playing time approx. 61 mns. Carl Perkins, later called 'The King of Rockabilly', made his initial recordings for Sam Phillips' Memphis-based Sun Records in late 1954. His original version of...
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The Ballads of Conway Twitty Conway Twitty: The Ballads of Conway Twitty Art-Nr.: BCD15982

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1-CD Digipak (4-plated) with 36-page booklet, 33 tracks. Playing time approx. 79 mns. They called him 'The Best Friend A Song Ever Had.' Here are 33 reasons why. An exclusive compilation drawn from Conway's early years, before his...
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The Sun Singles Vol.3 (4-CD & Buch) Various - SUN Records: The Sun Singles Vol.3 (4-CD & Buch) Art-Nr.: BCD15803

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4-CD box (LP-size) with 72-page book, 101 tracks. Playing time approx. 238 mns. One of the most highly acclaimed series we've ever done, 'The Sun Singles Collection' shows that someone is finally doing the right thing by the legendary...
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It's Me Baby - The Sun Years, plus Malcolm Yelvington: It's Me Baby - The Sun Years, plus Art-Nr.: BCD16757

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1-CD-Album with 32-page booklet, 28 tracks. Playing time approx. 66 mns. Sun 209 and 210 were by Elvis Presley . Sun 211 was by Malcolm Yelvington . That says it all. He was present at the creation. He only recorded two Sun singles, and...
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Rock-A-Billy, Definitive Collection 1954-1973 Charlie Feathers: Rock-A-Billy, Definitive Collection 1954-1973 Art-Nr.: BCD16309

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1-CD with 8-page booklet, 26 tracks. Playing time approx. 69:28 mns. First released by Zu-Zazz Records in 1990, 'Rock-a-Billy' is the definitive collection of Charlie Feathers at his greatest. Here are recordings from the legendary Sun...
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The Sun Years, 1958-62   (3-CD) Charlie Rich: The Sun Years, 1958-62 (3-CD) Art-Nr.: BCD16152

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3-CD box (LP-size) with 44-page book, 95 tracks. Playing time approx. 216 mns. The deepest and most complete look yet at Charlie Rich 's earliest recordings for the legendary Sun label reveals a startling talent only hinted in his...
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Up Through The Years, 1955-57 Johnny Cash: Up Through The Years, 1955-57 Art-Nr.: BCD15247

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1-CD Album with 8-page booklet, 24 tracks. Playing time approx. 58 mns. In 1954 Johnny Cash moved to Memphis, where he took a radio announcing course. During the evenings, he played country music in a trio that also consisted of...
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Rock Baby, Rock It (1955-1960) Johnny Carroll: Rock Baby, Rock It (1955-1960) Art-Nr.: BCD15928

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1-CD with 28-page booklet, 33 tracks. Playing time approx. 75 mns. Back in the 1950s, Johnny Carroll was one of the wildest of them all. For fans of explosive, no-holds-barred rockabilly, this is a dream collection. It includes all of...
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The Sun Singles Vol.4 (4-CD & Buch) Various - SUN Records: The Sun Singles Vol.4 (4-CD & Buch) Art-Nr.: BCD15804

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4-CD boxset (LP-size) with 72-page book, 100 tracks. Playing time approx. 239 mns. Sun was ultimate singles label, and this is the fourth boxed set in a six-volume collection of every Sun and Phillips International single. This set...
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Drinkin' Wine - The Sun Years, Plus Gene Simmons: Drinkin' Wine - The Sun Years, Plus Art-Nr.: BCD16758

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1-CD with 36-page booklet, 33 tracks. Playing time approx. 84 mns. -- • An underrated Sun legend finally gets his due! • Rare Sun classics in pristine, digitally restored sound! Many unissued. • Rockabilly at its very finest from a guy...
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The Sun Years, Plus Ray Smith: The Sun Years, Plus Art-Nr.: BCD16936

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1-CD Digipak (4-plated) with booklet, 34 tracks. Playing time approx. 79 minutes. In this CD, you get to hear all the original Sun and Judd 45s (that's 18 tracks). All the LP tracks issued on Judd (that's another 5). Plus unissued...
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Sun Records editions by Bear Family Records

Sam Phillips sensed that Memphis was a special place and he knew about the spiritual power of music. He rented an old building on Union Avenue that he turned into; "The Memphis Recording Service - We record anything – anywhere – anytime." His continuing experience as a producer combined with his instincts and vision. Ultimately created a legendary output and label: he literally changed the world! Bear Family offers many CDs by legendary Sun performers from Sonny Burgess to Bill Yates!

Sam Phillips

Sam Phillips once told the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art that, in his view: "To write or sing songs and make music is probably our greatest amancipator of the spirit. Memphis was made up of a great cross section of black and white rural people from the likes of the Delta and hills and woods and farms of Alabama and Tennessee.

Memphis is a special place, the repository of many proud, humble, friendly determined people. After the Depression and the Mississippi floods of 1927, there were meagre earnings for both black people and poor white. Out of adversity came people with their songs and a chance to catch their elusive dreams. I recognized all this – and I 'dared to begin'. Where it would take us, I didn't know."

The Memphis Recording Service

Where it took Phillips was to an old building at 706 Union Avenue that in 1950 he turned into Memphis' first recording business – 'The Memphis Recording Service: We record anything – anywhere – anytime' – and soon to the top of the R&B charts with his 1951 recording of Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm.

Phillips gave up his day job recording big band radio broadcasts and instead he recorded B. B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Junior Parker, Bobby Bland, Rosco Gordon, Rufus Thomas, and the Prisonaires vocal group. He recorded country singers Harmonica Frank, Slim Rhodes and Charlie Feathers. Then he recorded Elvis Presley, and the rest really, truly, was history.

But this was just the start. He discovered or recorded Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich - and many others then unknown but in whom Phillips heard that penchant and yearning to play, and to play a music that was 'different'. "Can you hear Johnny Cash with a steel guitar?" Phillips challenged, his withering look demanding a "no" in response.

if you're not doing something different, you're not doing anything

Sam Phillips liked to say to his artists, "if you're not doing something different, you're not doing anything." Phillips encouraged music that was individualistic but he also developed his own studio sound and style within which he framed their efforts.

He later explained: "Everything I recorded had to have a basic gut feeling to it, whether blues, gospel, country, rockabilly. I tried to help the artists where I could with a song structure or a lyric, but basically I tried to get them to record what they had, and to bring out of them what they were."

Sam Phillips' approach would have resonated with Mark Twain who unintentionally summarised Phillips' gift as a producer of records when he wrote – "all of us contain Music and Truth, but most of us can't get it out." Sam Phillips got it out. And he put it onto little yellow Sun records for the world to hear.  By Martin Hawkins

 

All SUN CDs -  All SUN Rock'n'Roll CDs - All SUN Boxsets - All SUN Country CDs - All SUN Blues CDs - All SUN R&B CDs

Sun Records editions by Bear Family Records Sam Phillips sensed that Memphis was a special place and he knew about the spiritual power of music. He rented an old building on Union Avenue... read more »
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Sun Records recordings on CDs re-released by Bear Family

Sun Records editions by Bear Family Records

Sam Phillips sensed that Memphis was a special place and he knew about the spiritual power of music. He rented an old building on Union Avenue that he turned into; "The Memphis Recording Service - We record anything – anywhere – anytime." His continuing experience as a producer combined with his instincts and vision. Ultimately created a legendary output and label: he literally changed the world! Bear Family offers many CDs by legendary Sun performers from Sonny Burgess to Bill Yates!

Sam Phillips

Sam Phillips once told the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art that, in his view: "To write or sing songs and make music is probably our greatest amancipator of the spirit. Memphis was made up of a great cross section of black and white rural people from the likes of the Delta and hills and woods and farms of Alabama and Tennessee.

Memphis is a special place, the repository of many proud, humble, friendly determined people. After the Depression and the Mississippi floods of 1927, there were meagre earnings for both black people and poor white. Out of adversity came people with their songs and a chance to catch their elusive dreams. I recognized all this – and I 'dared to begin'. Where it would take us, I didn't know."

The Memphis Recording Service

Where it took Phillips was to an old building at 706 Union Avenue that in 1950 he turned into Memphis' first recording business – 'The Memphis Recording Service: We record anything – anywhere – anytime' – and soon to the top of the R&B charts with his 1951 recording of Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston with Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm.

Phillips gave up his day job recording big band radio broadcasts and instead he recorded B. B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Junior Parker, Bobby Bland, Rosco Gordon, Rufus Thomas, and the Prisonaires vocal group. He recorded country singers Harmonica Frank, Slim Rhodes and Charlie Feathers. Then he recorded Elvis Presley, and the rest really, truly, was history.

But this was just the start. He discovered or recorded Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich - and many others then unknown but in whom Phillips heard that penchant and yearning to play, and to play a music that was 'different'. "Can you hear Johnny Cash with a steel guitar?" Phillips challenged, his withering look demanding a "no" in response.

if you're not doing something different, you're not doing anything

Sam Phillips liked to say to his artists, "if you're not doing something different, you're not doing anything." Phillips encouraged music that was individualistic but he also developed his own studio sound and style within which he framed their efforts.

He later explained: "Everything I recorded had to have a basic gut feeling to it, whether blues, gospel, country, rockabilly. I tried to help the artists where I could with a song structure or a lyric, but basically I tried to get them to record what they had, and to bring out of them what they were."

Sam Phillips' approach would have resonated with Mark Twain who unintentionally summarised Phillips' gift as a producer of records when he wrote – "all of us contain Music and Truth, but most of us can't get it out." Sam Phillips got it out. And he put it onto little yellow Sun records for the world to hear.  By Martin Hawkins

 

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