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Rockabilly pioneer still has chops

Tennessee Border
Tennessee Border
By Sonny Burgess

HighTone Records: 1992

This review first appeared in the August 14, 1992 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Original Sun rockabilly hero Sonny Burgess' new album captures all the fire and sense of musical fun that was the hallmark of his first trip 'round in the late 1950s. Of course, Burgess was with Elvis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis when that whole crew stormed out of Memphis' Sun Studios, close on the heels of Chuck Berry, to set the popular music world on its ear with their new music combining the best of country and blues.

A few years ago Burgess resurfaced nationally, fronting the Sun Rhythm Section (which also featured D.J. Fontana, Elvis' original drummer) on an excellent album for Flying Fish Records.

On this outing, he's joined by Dave Alvin, a former member of the retrorockabilly band The Blasters. As with the Sun Rhythm Section album, Burgess shows that age hasn't slowed his guitar picking down much nor dimmed his distinctively nasal vocals. (Of course, unless you've got a real good ear good luck figuring out just which solos are Burgess' and which are Alvin's. Or don't worry about it and just enjoy all the solos.)

Except for Lefty Frizzell's "Old, Old Man," most of the songs here are unknown, comprising both originals by Burgess and Alvin as well as covers.