The fifth volume in Bear Family's exhaustive assembling of every single issued by Sam Phillips picks up the story of the end of Sun Records and the beginnings of its Phillips International subsidiary. This follows Sun releases from 1962 to 1968 and the first two years of the P.I. imprint, beginning in 1957. By the early 1960s, Sun was back to being a small, local label with little -- if any -- impact on the national scene. Its final 13 releases drifted out over a period of three years to scant acclaim and little promotion.
Disc one kicks off with the pop stylings of teen idol wannabe Tony Rossini and instrumentals fromthe Four Upsetters. Other highlights include selections from Billy Adams, Bill Yates, Jerry Lee Lewis (including "Teenage Letter"), a reissue of Smokey Joe's "Signifying Monkey," and the final record from Johnny Cash. Disc two finds the label responding to the British Invasion in their own unique Memphian way with sides from Randy and the Radiants and the Jesters' "Cadillac Man" and "My Babe," possibly the last great Sun single. There are also diverse selections from Billy Adams, Bill Yates (including two issued under the pseudonym of Gorgeous Bill), Johnny Cash clone Dane Stinit, a reissue of David Houston's Phillips International single "Sherry's Lips," soul music from the Climates, gospel from Brother James Anderson, the final Sun issue from Load of Mischief and the final Sun record from Jerry Lee ("Carry Me Back to Old Virginia"). Disc three begins the chronicling of Sam's Phillips International label. Phillips International began in 1957 as somewhat of a "pop" alternative to the rockabilly fare that was the bread and butter of the Sun label, but quickly showed an all-over-the-road approach that eventually short-circuited the operation. Kicking off with the country-pop of Buddy Blake's "You Pass Me By," the first 11 singles in the catalog were a delightful collection of unreconstructed rockabilly, commercial rock & roll (including Bill Justis' mega-hit "Raunchy"), hot Memphis hybrid music and straight up pop-rockers. The final disc kicks off with Barbara Pittman's "Everlasting Love" and continues chronicling the rest of the label's output from 1958 and the first three singles from 1959. Among the many high spots are Ernie Barton's first single for the label ("Stairway to Nowhere"), a pair of great singles from Cliff Thomas, Ed and Barbara, Bill Justis searching for a follow-up to "Raunchy," Ken Cook's "Crazy Baby," and Charlie Rich's first single ("Philadelphia Baby").