Charlie Phillips

Sugartime

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AllMusic Review by

Bear Family’s 2011 compilation Sugartime contains all of the songs Charlie Phillips released between 1957 and 1967, filling out the lengthy disc with some ‘70s recordings, demos, and unreleased songs. Phillips is known for writing the ‘50s country standard “Sugartime,” turned into a hit by the McGuire Sisters and recorded by Johnny Cash, but Bear Family’s compilation digs much deeper, deeper even than his own answer song “No More Sugartime,” rounding up his singles for Coral, Columbia, Longhorn, Reprise, and Artco. Phillips strolled a little sleepily through his early-‘60s sides yet there was charm to his gentle touch; he had a warm, easy voice and his songs were simple and sturdy, the latter turning out to be a strength as his music turned toward purer country as the ‘60s rolled on. While he never had a veiled threat of menace like some hardcore honky tonkers, his geniality was a perfect fit for Western swing and friendly dancehall two-steps, and his late-‘60s sides like “Big Ball’s in Cowtown,” “Twenty Fools Ago,” and “Blue Blue Bottle” are terrific genre pieces, the kind that should be found on a roadhouse jukebox. Phillips may not have defined his era, but listening to Sugartime it’s possible to trace how the times shifted from the sweetness of “Sugartime” to the straight-ahead beer-joint tunes of the ‘60s, winding up with the mildly wacky novelty “You’re My LSD.” Although there may be a couple slow stretches along the way, this journey provided by Sugartime is definitely worth taking.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:08
2
2:40
3
2:39
4 2:37
5 2:17
6 1:51
7 2:43
8 2:19
9 2:50
10 2:19
11 2:37
12 2:29
13 3:02
14 2:39
15 2:03
16 2:29
17 2:14
18 2:13
19 2:16
20 2:13
21 2:07
22
1:47
23
1:51
24 2:46
25 2:04
26 3:25
27 3:45
28 2:28
29
2:10
30 2:25
31 2:30
32 2:12
33 2:18
34 3:43
35 1:53
blue highlight denotes track pick