Various Artists

Sun Records: 25 All-Time Greatest Hits

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There's no Elvis on Sun Records: 25 All-Time Greatest Hits (for copyright reasons, presumably), and the fact that the collection focuses purely on chart hits means that many album classics are neglected while some amusing but slight novelties (like Rufus Thomas' "Bear Cat") are included. Still, for sheer gritty classic old-school rock & roll, it's hard to beat this set. Even many years later, the sheer energetic crudity of a cut like Little Junior's"Feelin' Good" sounds revelatory (imagine what it must have sounded like back in 1953), and there's nothing like hearing the likes of Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis at their rawest and most unleashed. In addition to several classics, there are some lesser-known cuts that are equally fascinating. Little Junior's version of "Mystery Train" actually sounds more polished and restrained than Elvis', believe it or not, while Billy Riley's ferocious "Red Hot" almost makes Lewis seem sedate. By the same token, Lewis' cover of Ray Charles' "What I'd Say" is definitely a welcome addition, not to mention Carl Mann's amusing rockabilly version of "Mona Lisa." In fact, there is a wealth of great music here, even if the set contains some real clunkers, most notably the Gentrys' turgid cover of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," which was the last chart hit Sun enjoyed in 1970. Still, when confronted which such classics as "Ooby Dooby" and "Matchbox," such misfires can be easily forgiven. Some fans might want to spring for the full three-CD The Sun Records Collection box set, from which this disc distills the best moments, but on its own, Sun Records: 25 All-Time Greatest Hits is a must for anyone interested in the roots of rock & roll.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:52
2 2:57
3 2:27
4 2:50
5 2:17
6 2:50
7 2:46
8 2:12
9 2:50
10 2:27
11 2:10
12 2:54
13 2:32
14 2:23
15 1:52
16 2:13
17 2:42
18 1:50
19 2:31
20 2:16
21 2:30
22 2:09
23 2:28
24 2:23
25 2:19
blue highlight denotes track pick