Back on Top

Back on Top

by Carl Perkins


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Back on Top

Back on Top might be a slight overstatement in regards to Carl Perkins' late-'60s return to Columbia. He did not quite tear up the charts but he did have a considerable comeback, especially in terms of quality, creating music that arguably surpassed his Sun recordings in depth and range, even if it didn't produce any songs as iconic as "Blue Suede Shoes" or "Matchbox." This resurgence -- partially fueled by having been Johnny Cash's wingman -- on Columbia and his subsequent short stint at Mercury is documented on Bear Family's four-disc box set Back on Top, its title a play on the name of his 1969 album On Top, which peaked at 42. All his master recordings from On Top until 1973's excellent My Kind of Country are here -- including his NRBQ-supported 1970 set Boppin' the Blues -- along with a disc that's billed as demos, but these aren't stripped-down guitar-and-voice things from Carl; they're full-fledged band records, raw and vigorous, not so much an addendum to the rest of this box but a complete unreleased album that helps illustrate how Perkins was flourishing during this time. Perkins music during these five years built upon his Sun rockabilly, taking him further into country -- both honky tonk and melodic pop -- touching on folk and blues, plus a little bit of gospel and lots of lean rock & roll. Not surprisingly given his affiliation with the Man in Black, it's not far removed from Cash's records from this time, but Perkins' music is looser and not as hokey as some of Johnny's LPs from this period -- there aren't any kitschy Americana albums or songs for children -- and there's something charming about Perkins' casual, almost off-hand delivery. The wiry rockabilly cat is long gone, he's easing into his middle age, his voice getting a little rounder and warmer, which suits the rich tapestry of American music he plays here. He continually revisited his Sun songs, which may have been part of a contractual obligation, but these versions weren't tossed-off rip-offs of the originals, or self-conscious reworkings: they were full-blooded revisions representing where Perkins was at then, whether it's how "Dixie Fried" turned into a rowdy honky tonk shuffle or how he turned "All Mama's Children" turned into something a little funky with the assistance of NRBQ. These new versions -- fuller than the bare-bones Sun classics -- give a good indication of how rich this period was for Perkins, and they fit nicely between his own versions of his originals like "Daddy Sang Bass," covers of country hits like "Honky Tonky Song," and plenty of other country, folk, and rock & roll gems, plus a lot of terrific finger-picking from this peerless guitarist. All in all, it's as convincing an argument for Carl Perkins' greatness as any of his other sets, possibly more so as it captures him at the peak of his artistic maturity.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/12/2000
Label: Bear Family
UPC: 4000127164223
catalogNumber: 16422


Disc 1

  1. Constantly
  2. Restless
  3. 1143
  4. Little Cowboy Suit
  5. Blue Suede Shoes
  6. Matchbox
  7. Honey Don't
  8. Turn Around
  9. Daddy Sang Bass
  10. That's Right
  11. Boppin' the Blues
  12. Your True Love
  13. Folsom Prison Blues
  14. Mean Woman Blues
  15. Take It or Leave It
  16. Walk with Your Neighbor
  17. For Your Love
  18. Four Letter Word
  19. Soul Beat
  20. Baby, What You Want Me to Do
  21. Superfool
  22. Champaign, Illinois
  23. Riverboat Annie
  24. A Lion in the Jungle
  25. Power of My Soul
  26. Brown Eyed Handsome Man
  27. C.C. Rider (You're So Bad)
  28. I'm Gonna Set My Foot Down
  29. Boppin' the Blues
  30. Sorry Charlie

Disc 2

  1. Allergic to Love
  2. Turn Around
  3. All Mama's Children
  4. Step Aside
  5. Just Coastin'
  6. My Son, My Su
  7. State of Confusion
  8. The Big City Sleeps
  9. True Love Is Greater Then Friendship
  10. What Every Little Boy Ought to Know
  11. Just as Long
  12. I'll Fly Away
  13. Me Without You
  14. Always Be Mine
  15. Red Headed Woman
  16. Take Me Back to Memphis
  17. About All I Can Give Is My Love
  18. You Won't Have to Say You Love Me
  19. Cotton Top
  20. High on Love
  21. Always Be Mine
  22. Let Me Be the One You Love
  23. Baby's Gone
  24. So Warm
  25. The Trip
  26. I Still Miss Someone
  27. The Last Letter
  28. Someday

Disc 3

  1. Help Me Dream
  2. Bless the Children
  3. You Tore My Heaven All to Hell
  4. One More Loser Going Home
  5. Going to Memphis
  6. Lord, I Sinned Again Last Night
  7. Just as Long
  8. Dixie Fried
  9. Honky Tonk Song
  10. Love Sweet Love
  11. Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town
  12. Never Look Back
  13. Sunday Dinner
  14. Sing My Song
  15. I Want to Be Your Man
  16. You'll Always Be a Lady to Me
  17. Rise and Shine
  18. Mean, Mean Martha
  19. Low Class
  20. I Ain' Mad
  21. The E.P. Express
  22. Big Bad Blues
  23. Restless
  24. Honey Don't
  25. Turn Around
  26. That's Right
  27. Walk with Your Neighbor
  28. For Your Love
  29. Four Letter Word

Disc 4

  1. Cotton Top
  2. Good Times Are Just Around the Corner
  3. Born Equal
  4. Step It up and Go
  5. The Big City Sleeps
  6. Bottoms Up
  7. Poor Boy Blues
  8. When You're a Man on Your Own
  9. Take a Good Look at Me
  10. Restless
  11. The Bottom of the Bottle
  12. Sorry Charlie
  13. Wild Card
  14. So Wrong
  15. So Wrong
  16. The Lord's Fishing Hole
  17. Going to Memphis

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Carl Perkins   Primary Artist

Technical Credits

Jimmy Reed   Composer
Johnny Cash   Composer
Mel Tillis   Composer
Sonny Burgess   Composer
John Lennon   Composer
Paul McCartney   Composer
Carl Perkins   Composer
Alan Lomax   Composer
Larry Butler   Producer
Jerry Kennedy   Producer
Albert E. Brumley   Composer
Michael Ochs   Illustrations
Vic Anesini   Track Mix
R.A. Andreas   Illustrations
Richard Weize   Reissue Producer
Colin Excott   Liner Notes
Holger Von Bargen   Art Direction
Claude Demetrius   Composer
Roy Cash   Composer
Bill Denny   Producer
Wolfgang Taubenauer   Artwork
Asja Esha   Artwork
Hollie Dew   Composer
Buck Peddy   Composer
Howard Griffin   Composer

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