Some albums are so obvious it’s a wonder they didn’t exist before, and so it is with Chris Isaak's Beyond the Sun, a salute to the classic rock & roll label Sun Records. Ever since his first album, Isaak has exhibited an enormous debt to the titans who recorded at Sun, particularly Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley, whose work is showcased heavily here. Isaak doesn’t stick strictly to songs released on Sun -- he covers “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” which Presley did not release during his time on Sun -- but he doesn’t stick to the obvious, either, finding excellent songs from the likes of Warren Smith. Still, Elvis rules the roost, not only in terms of songs covered, but in approach. Isaak croons like the King, smoothing out the rough edges of Carl Perkins' “Dixie Fried” and Jerry Lee's “Great Balls of Fire,” smoothing them out enough to push them to a smoky, late-night torch song. Beyond the Sun plays it cool and plays it authentic -- these aren’t reinterpretations, but sincere homages -- and if this doesn’t have much grit, it has plenty of style and heart.
Beyond the Sun Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine