CD Rock Review

Sonny Burgess and the Pacers: The Original Wild Man

Title: Thunderbird 

Label: Hoodoo

He was a wild man of rock, one of the original to covet that title. Even at his home, Sun Records, he had an exalted position and his hard rocking style, with his band the Pacers, was certainly a sight to behold. Interestingly, though, there was no country roots in his music, which was unusual when you look at his contemptries who were all infused with the genre. His many Sun releases never brought him much commercial success but his releases remain essential and iconic music of the genre.

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“The talent  at Sun was unbelievable but not everyone got the same breaks,” said Travis Wammack who was a guitar player for hire in Memphis in that time. “Sonny Burgess…was one of the best singers Sun ever had but Sam [Phillips, Sun founder] chose to push Elvis and Jerry Lee.”

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The thought was that Philips was under pressure to churn out hits to keep his business going instead of fully developing all of the artists under his wing. Maybe the pressure and the workload was too much. Philips seemed to have regrets, “Sonny Burgess has a distinctive voice that gives me the chills every time I hear him. He is a person that deserved much more that I could give him.”

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This CD includes 30 tracks for both Sun and the subsidiary label, Phillips International between 1956 and 1959 including Sadie’s Back in Town, Red-Headed Woman and We Wanna Boogie.

In mastering terms, the CD has been recorded at a low volume so your hi-fi has a chance to give you a decent sonic return. Burgess’ own, piercing, vocal attack will challenge any hi-fi systems though. Those systems that have care and attention applied to reduce inherent noise will fare best. Others may be challenged during crescendos within the upper midrange, shall we say.

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