Sun Records: The 50th Anniversary Collection

When revered producer Sam Phillips dies, his obituary will no doubt be led with the fact that his Sun label provided the springboard for rock'n'roll luminaries Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

When revered producer Sam Phillips dies, his obituary will no doubt be led with the fact that his Sun label provided the springboard for rock'n'roll luminaries Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. What may be overlooked is that when rock was young, Phillips did some groundbreaking work in supporting many of the era's black artists, then-considered taboo by many. The first disc of this lovingly produced relative smorgasbord of American roots music reminds us of that work, compiling tracks by the likes of Joe Hill Louis and Johnny London. The timeless, gut-bucket cuts come together to make for an extremely enjoyable listen; they're so seamlessly sown on disc one that it's almost disruptive when Elvis' "That's All Right" appears after 12 cuts. Of course, it wouldn't be a complete history lesson without the King, the Killer, and the Man in Black, yet these guys and fellow heavyweights Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins aren't the main attractions. They're wisely treated like peers. Disc two features the likes of Rayburn Anthony and Charlie Rich. Boasting 44 cuts, a boxed-set feel, and everything from jazz to hillbilly, this is simply a roots music bonanza.—WO