FEEL LIKE GOING HOME-THE SONGS OF CHARLE RICH.

FEEL LIKE GOING HOME-THE SONGS OF CHARLE RICH.

When Sam Phillips first encountered Charlie Rich, he was singing demos for Sun Records, in Memphis. On hearing the demos, Sam Phillips thought Charlie Rich’s music wasn’t commercial. It was also: “too jazzy.” Sam Phillips then picked up a pile of Jerry Lee Lewis records and handed them to Charlie Rich. His parting words to Charlie Rich were: “come back when you get that bad.”

Despite Sam Phillips’ advice, Charlie Rich didn’t come back “bad.” Instead, he returned as a staff writer and session musician. Charlie Rich had his foot in Sun Records’ door.

Initially, Charlie Rich’s songs failed to make the grade. Soon, though, he cowrote Ways Of A Woman In Love for Johnny Cash; Right Behind You Baby and for Ray Smith; and Break Up and I’ll Make It All Up To You for Jerry Lee Lewis. In a relatively short time, Charlie Rich was one of Sun Records’ top songwriters. Despite this success, Charlie Rich still dreamt of making a career as a singer.

Charlie Rich released his debut single Whirlwind on the 25th of October 1958 on the Sun Records’ imprint Phillips International Records. This would become home to Charlie Rich for the next five years. Just like his early efforts as a songwriter, Whirlwind wasn’t a success. Neither was Rebound when it was released on the 20th of June 1959. However, it was a case of third time lucky for Charlie Rich.

Seven months later, and as a new decade dawned, Charlie Rich  released Lonely Weekends in January 1960. Just like the B-Side Everything I Do Is Wrong, it was written by Charlie Rich. With its Presley inspired vocal, Lonely Weekends began to climb the charts, and reached number twenty-two in the US Billboard. Eventually, it had sold over a million copies. This resulted in Charlie Rich receiving the first gold disc of his career. However, there was a twist in the tale.

Buoyed by the success of Lonely Weekends, Charlie Rich released the followup single School Days on the 15th of May 1960. Incredibly, the single failed to chart. Surely, this was just a  blip?

It wasn’t. Just under four months later, Charlie Rich released On My Knees on the 7th of September 1960. Just like School Days, On My Knees failed to trouble the charts. This was the second consecutive Charlie Rich single that had failed to chart. For everyone concerned, it was a worrying time.

Three months later, on 10th December 1960, a previously unknown singer Bobby Sheridan, released his debut single Sad News on Sam Phillips’ Sun label. What very few people realised, was that Bobby Sheridan was an alias of Charlie Rich. Despite this slight of hand, the single followed in the footsteps of School Days and On My Knees, and failed to chart. For Charlie Rich, this was another disappointment in what had a topsy turvy year.

1960 had started well for Charlie Rich, with his million selling single Lonely Weekends. After that, 1960 quickly went south. Surely, 1961 would see his luck change?

Charlie Rich’s first single of 1961 was Who Will The Next Fool Be. This was another Charlie Rich’s composition. So was the B-Side Caught In The Middle. Who Will The Next Fool Be was released on the 27th of February 1961. It was one of the finest compositions of Charlie Rich’s early career. Despite this, the single failed commercially. However, a year later in 1962, Bobby Bland enjoyed a hit single with Who Will The Next Fool Be. By then, other people,were enjoying hits with Charlie Rich’s songs. This was a small crumb of comfort for Charlie Rich.

Despite this, Charlie Rich was out of luck. When he released Just A Little Bit Sweet on 1st September 1961, it too failed to make any impression on the charts. That meant Charlie Rich’s last five singles had failed to trouble the charts.

Seven months later, Charlie Rich returned on the 4th of April 1962, with his ninth single, Midnite Blues. Just like Easy Money, Midnite Blues was another Charlie Rich composition. It showcased his talent and versatility. 

By 1962, Charlie Rich was a versatile vocalist, who was equally comfortable singing rock n’ roll, rockabilly, country, blues, jazz, and even gospel. Charlie Rich didn’t neatly fall into one musical genre, and flitted between disparate styles. Despite his versatility and talent, Midnite Blues failed commercially. For Charlie Rich, this was his sixth consecutive that had failed to find an audience. These were worrying times for Charlie Rich and indeed, Sam Phillips.

Another six months passed before Charlie Rich released his tenth single, Sittin’ And Thinkin’. Just like the B-Side Finally Found Out, it had been penned by Charlie. Upon its release on 18th October 1962, Sittin’ And Thinkin’ didn’t even trouble the charts. Some people felt there would’ve been a different outcome if Finally Found Out had been released as a single. However, little did Charlie Rich realise that it was too late.

Unknown to Charlie Rich, he had released his last single for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records. It was no longer enjoying the success it once had. As 1963 dawned, the times and music had changed. Sun Records was no longer the hit making machine it once was. Similarly, it was now three years since Charlie Rich had enjoyed his million selling hit Lonely Weekends. After that, his next seven singles had failed commercially. Charlie Rich’s career it seemed has stalled.

There’s no sentiment in music, and Charlie Rich’s time at struggling Sun Records was at an end. Next stop was Groove, a subsidiary of RCA Victor Records. This was just the next chapter in a career that would span thirty-seven years.

After moving between different labels, eventually, Charlie Rich found fame as a country singer in the early seventies. He  enjoyed a string of hit singles, including  classics like the Grammy Award winning Behind Closed Doors and The Most Beautiful Girl. This was just the tip of the iceberg.

Charlie Rich’s 1973 album Behind Closed Doors sold four million copies, and was certified platinum four times over. Across the border in Canada, Behind Closed Door was certified double platinum. That wasn’t the end of the success. There Won’t Be Anymore and Very Special Love Songs were both released in 1974 and were certified gold. By then, was Charlie Rich well on his way to becoming one of the most successful and celebrated country singers. That was the case until his death on July 25th 1995. 

Twenty-one years later, and Charlie Rich’s music continues to influence and inspire a new generation of artists. This includes those who feature on Feel Like Going Home-The Songs Of Charlie Rich. It’s a thirteen track compilation that was recently released by the Memphis International label. They brought together, thirteen artists who cover some of the songs Charlie Rich wrote or recorded for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records. These songs are delivered in a variety of styles, including rock ’n’ roll, rockabilly, blues and country by what’s a mixture of old friends and new names.

This includes Jim Lauderdale blistering cover of Charlie Rich’s million selling single Lonely Weekends. It opens Feel Like Going Home-The Songs Of Charlie Rich, and whets the listener’s appetite for The Malpass Brothers beautiful, heartfelt cover of Caught In The Middle Caught In The Middle. It’s one of Charlie Rich’s most underrated Sun sides, and incredibly, was relegated to the B-Side to Who Will The Next Fool Be. Another underrated Sun side was Whirlwind, which was Charlie Rich’s debut for Phillips International Records. Juliet Simmons Dinallo reinvents the song, as she combines blues and country. Other artists stay true to the original.

Meanwhile, Will Kimbrough stays true to original version of Sittin’ And Thinkin’. It’s wistful and country tinged. The same can be said of Susan Marshall’s heartfelt, needy cover of Time And Again. Charlie Rich Jr a talented artist in his own right, delivers a piano pounding version of Break Up. Stylistically, it sounds as if it was recorded by Sam Phillips in 1958.

Holli Mosley’s is just the latest in a long line of artists to cover Who Will The Next Fool Be. Her rueful, hurt filled vocal combines elements of country and gospel, is a spine-tingling cover of this familiar song. After this, it’s all change on  Feel Like Going Home-The Songs Of Charlie Rich. 

Shooter Jennings, the son of the legendary Waylon, unleashes a country rock cover of Charlie Rich’s sophomore single Rebound. Anita Suhanin chose to cover what was Charlie Rich’s penultimate single for Phillips International Records, Midnight Blues. In her hands, it becomes a beautiful, soulful and bluesy song. The same can be said of Preston Shannon’s bluesy, soulful cover of Easy Money. However, when comes to the blues, Johnny Hoy’s cover of Don’t Put No Headstone On My Grave is a modern day masterclass. Coming a close second is Keith Sykes and Grace Askew’s version of Everything I Do Is Wrong. This leaves just Kevin Connolly’s understated, heartfelt and country-tinged cover of Feel Like Going Home. It seems the best has been kept to last, and fittingly Kevin Connolly’s cover version lends its name to Feel Like Going Home-The Songs Of Charlie Rich.

It features two generations of artists paying tribute to one of the most talented and versatile singer-songwriters of his generation, Charlie Rich. The thirteen artists that feature on Feel Like Going Home-The Songs Of Charlie Rich, cover the songs that The Silver Fox wrote and recorded for Sun Records over a five year period.

During the five years Charlie Rich was signed to Sam Phillips’ Sun Records, he released ten singles. Sadly, Charlie Rich only enjoyed the one hit single, Lonely Weekends. It however, was a million seller. Other artists had more success with their covers of the songs Charlie Rich wrote and recorded at Sun Records. Despite his lack of success during his time at Sun Records, many of the songs covered on Feel Like Going Home-The Songs Of Charlie Rich would later become staples of concerts. By then, 

Charlie Rich was enjoying commercial success. 

This came during the early seventies. By then, Charlie Rich had found fame as a country singer. He  enjoyed a string of hit singles, including the Grammy Award winning Behind Closed Doors and The Most Beautiful Girl. This was just the start of the most successful period in Charlie Rich’s career.

His 1973 album Behind Closed Doors was certified platinum four times over in America and double platinum in Canada. Then in 1974, There Won’t Be Anymore and Very Special Love Songs were both certified gold. By then, was Charlie Rich well on his way to becoming one of the most successful and celebrated country singers. That was the case until his death on July 25th 1995. 

By then, Charlie Rich’s career had spanned five decades and thirty-seven years. He was a talented and versatile vocalist, who was equally comfortable singing rock n’ roll, rockabilly, country, blues, jazz, and even gospel. Each of these genres feature on Feel Like Going Home-The Songs Of Charlie Rich, which is a fitting tribute to the man that was known as The Silver Fox.

FEEL LIKE GOING HOME-THE SONGS OF CHARLE RICH.

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