Though Charlie Rich found his greatest fame as a Nashville country crooner for Epic, the soul of his music was born in Memphis. Richâ€™s smooth countrypolitan ballads topped the charts in the mid-70s, but it was in fact a departure from the jazz, blues, rockabilly, gospel and soul flavors of his earlier work. And itâ€™s those earlier flavors that are revisited here, as thirteen artists – including Charlie Rich, Jr. – perform songs written and performed by Rich during his years as an artist, sideman and songwriter for Sun and Phillips International.
In addition to the well-known â€œLonely Weekendsâ€ (given a bluesy treatment by Jim Lauderdale) and â€œWho Will the Next Fool Beâ€ (sung with sultry southern soul by Holli Mosley), the set includes non-charting singles and B-sides. Highlights include the Malpass Brothersâ€™ crooned â€œCaught in the Middle,â€ Juliet Simmons Dinalloâ€™s hot rockabilly â€œWhirlwind,â€ Johnny Hoyâ€™s wailing â€œDonâ€™t Put No Headstone On My Grave,â€ Keith Sykesâ€™ snakebit â€œEverything I Do Is Wrong,â€ and Kevin Connollyâ€™s heartfelt closing title song.
The sessions were held primarily in the same post-Sun Sam Phillips Recording studio that hosted Rich for the originals, and the collection has been released on the same Phillips International label. You can find Richâ€™s original sides on the single disc The Complete Singles Plus: The Sun Years 1958-1963, or the deeper box sets Lonely Weekends: The Sun Years, 1958-1962 and The Complete Sun Masters, but these new takes are a treat, as Richâ€™s early work informs new generations of musicians with his unique blend of country, blues, rock, soul, gospel and jazz. [Â©2016 Hyperbolium]