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Charlie Feathers: Get With It: Essential Recordings (1954-69)
Charlie Feathers: Get With It: Essential Recordings (1954-69)
turnover time:2024-06-22 04:29:24

Everybody who's paid attention to American roots-rock knows that Charlie Feathers is an important figure, but it's difficult to get two people to agree why. He did co-write "I Forgot To Remember To Forget," Elvis' breakthrough single, and he may have even worked on Presley's revolutionary cover of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon Of Kentucky." If the stars had lined up differently, Feathers might have had the career of a Carl Perkins or Jerry Lee Lewis. Hell, Feathers might have done a lot of things, and working through the tangled web of Feathers-related stories is made all the more difficult by the fact that Feathers himself is the biggest proponent of his own legend. But the music doesn't lie, and, as his new two-disc Get With It compilation proves, Feathers definitely had it. Something about Memphis in the '50s allowed for the unexpected marriage of country and blues, bluegrass and R&B, and the spirit of that time and place is captured in Feathers' music as powerfully as anywhere else. Whatever role he played in the story of Sun Records, he didn't release too many records for Sam Phillips, and those that he did—like the excellent "Defrost Your Heart"/"Wedding Gown Of White"—resembled straight country more than rock 'n' roll. After apparently receiving about $15 in royalties from Phillips, Feathers looked elsewhere, eventually landing on Cincinnati's King Records, where he released the primal rock that would later make him a favorite with European rockabilly fanatics. After King, Feathers returned to hillbilly music in the early '60s before spending the remainder of the decade fruitlessly attempting to kickstart his career. If Get With It were only to assemble Feathers' commercially released material from his first Flip single through his obscure work for the short-lived Holiday Inn label in 1962, it would already be doing a great service: Much of Feathers' work has been virtually impossible to find, scattered across countless bootlegs and obscure European imports. But Get With It goes one step further, filling a second disc with demos and home recordings that shed even more light on a neglected career. Though rough, these deeply affecting recordings help remove Feathers from the speculation of what he might have accomplished and move toward a better appreciation of what he did. A 1956 Sun demo of "Frankie & Johnny," for example, has a beautifully haunted quality, and the two extended tracks with Mississippi bluesman (and Feathers' idol) Junior Kimbrough are both musically revealing and historically important. Get With It is subtitled Essential Recordings, and that's an appropriate description in more ways than one. (Revenant, P.O. Box 198732, Nashville, TN 37219-8732)

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