Charlie Feathers: He Had A Heart of Rock

25th October 2016

Title: Jungle Fever: 1955-1962 Recordings

Label: Hoodoo

This CD collection squeezes 30 tracks onto the single disc. All have been remastered and all cover stints at Sun, Meteor, Kay, Wal-May and King

There are a lot of labels in this collection and it rightly illustrates Feathers undoubtedly broad career but you always got the feeling that Sun had a special place in his heart. He had a distinct enthusiasm for it as you can feel from this quote that is featured within the CD liner notes, “Even though I was doing rockabilly, Sam (Sun’s owner and founder, Sam Phillips) had Elvis recording it. For a while it looked as though rockabilly was selling and then it slackened off a little and Sam said that he wanted to record me doing country. I always liked country music but I couldn’t feel it like I could feel rock & roll. I think I was worth more to Sam to arrange the music. I could hear people. I worked with Johnny Cash before we recorded him. We got this slapback. People think it’s the bass but it’s the tape delay. People in Nashville couldn’t compete with the sound. There ain’t a sound today that can compete with it when it’s done right. I could probably have done better elsewhere but those places didn’t have the Sun sound.”

It’s interesting to hear his views on country, considering that he was seen as an important country music stylist. It was this conflict with Sam Philips, that you can glean from the above quote, that pushed Feathers towards Meteor and other labels where he recorded Tongue-Tied Jill and Get With It (both of which appear on this CD collection). The success of that single then lead to his contract with King. At King, Feathers recorded a host of rockabilly classics such as One Hand Loose, Bottle to the Baby, Everybody’s Lovin’ My Baby, and I Can’t Hardly Stand It. Phillips must have had his head in his hands, wailing, “What have I done!”

There is plenty of compression swilling around these tracks – although that is more an ingredient of the times – so you’ll be looking to lower the volume a tad but Hoodoo has cleaned them up nicely retaining both the music’s energy and insightful detail.