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On Top

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Album Review

Carl Perkins' first attempt at an album of new material in a decade is surprisingly successful, and one of the better records to come out of the early days of the rock & roll revival. Cut during the summer of 1969, it sort of follows the lead of Elvis Presley's 1968 comeback special, presenting Perkins doing blues ("Baby, What You Want Me to Do"), rock & roll ("C.C. Rider," "Brown Eyed Handsome Man"), and a few originals such as "Soul Beat" which, if they weren't distinguished, also do no harm to his reputation. There were a few touches that the album might've done well without, like the organ that occasionally crops up on some of the arrangements, and a runaway performance on the wah-wah pedal during one song, but the bulk of this was some of the better LP work up to this point in the career of an artist who was otherwise not especially known for his strong LPs. Among the real highlights is the obscurity "Superfool," written by a friend of Perkins; "Champagne Illinois," a collaboration between Perkins and Bob Dylan that grew out of the sessions for the latter's Nashville Skyline; Ronnie Self's "A Lion in the Jungle"; Perkins' powerful and touching "Power of My Soul"; and Buddy Holly's "I'm Gonna Set My Foot Down." On Top was subsequently deleted and, with a new cover and the deletion of a couple of songs, reissued on the budget Harmony Records line under the title Brown Eyed Handsome Man.


Born: April 9, 1932 in Tiptonville, TN

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

While some ill-informed revisionist writers of rock history would like to dismiss Carl Perkins as a rockabilly artist who became a one-hit wonder at the dawn of rock & roll's early years, a deeper look at his music and career reveals much more. A quick look at his songwriting portfolio shows that he composed "Daddy Sang Bass" for Johnny Cash, "I Was So Wrong" for Patsy Cline, and "Let Me Tell You About Love" for the Judds, big hits and classics all. His influence as the quintessential rockabilly...
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