Various Artists

Complete Satellite Recordings

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The Complete Satellite Recordings captures the Memphis-based label's early-'60's history -- before it took on its more familiar name of Stax Records -- and its mix of country, rock & roll, and R&B on this 32-song CD. There are no notes here (just release dates and catalog numbers), but there is a lot of delightful music across several genres. Country crooner Fred Byler, accompanied by the Tunetts (who sing most tunefully), opens the disc with the bouncy "Give Me Your Love" and follows it with the ballad "Blue Roses" -- then rockabilly artist Don Willis comes roaring out with the rippling "Boppin' High School Baby" and a pounding "Warrior Sam." Donna Rae & the Sunbeams present two different sides of country music on the ballad "Whisper Your Love," with its soaring chorus, and "Little Fool," a searing rock & roll number that makes Wanda Jackson's hardest sides seem almost tame. Ray Scott & the Demens were apparently intended as Satellite's answer to Jerry Lee Lewis, to judge from "You Drive Me Crazy," with a loud, pounding piano and acoustic guitar rock & roll sound. The Veltones, by contrast, offer a soft pop/rock sound, similar to Dion vocally, but with a pure pop chorus and a gorgeous steel guitar. Charles Heinz is a pop/rock crooner with an almost operatic delivery, recalling Roy Orbison on "Destiny." But the stars of this CD are the R&B performers, led (no surprise) by 16-year-old Carla Thomas and her father Rufus Thomas, dueting on "'Cause I Love You" and "Deep Down Inside." Carla Thomas also appears separately on a pair of numbers, "Gee Whiz" and "For You." The presence of the R&B singing group the Chips ("As You Can See" and "You Make Me Feel So Good"), Jimmy & the Spartans ("You're My Girl" and "Why Doesn't She Notice Me") covering the pop side of R&B, Prince Conley ("I'm Going Home," "All the Way"), Nick Charles ("The Right-Girl," "Ain't That Love"), and Barbara Stephens ("The Life I Live," "I Don't Worry"), plus the early incarnation of the Mar-Keys, make this CD a priceless musical document of Memphis' music scene as it existed at the turn of the 1950's into the 1960's.

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