Review done in 1999. Some bad mistakes have been marked with gray color (October, 2000).




When the 5 CD box set, "The Complete 50's Masters", was released in 1992, following Ernst Jorgensen's and Roger Semon's successful vault finds in Indianapolis in June 1990, most of the 50's RCA masters were mastered from first generation tapes for the very first time. Apart from a few songs such as Hound Dog and the spliced masters, the sound quality of the RCA songs was outstanding. Now, since almost all the original SUN tapes were lost, these recordings had to be remastered from the second best sources which in most cases ought to have been second generation RCA transfers made in 1956. These second generation tapes had been used for 45 RPM single re-releases for years, but didn't





appear on the regular LP and CD releases until "The Complete 50's Masters". The sound quality is actually pretty good on many of these 1956 copies. As we all know today, four masters were never turned over to RCA in the first place, Blue Moon of Kentucky, I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine, Milkcow Blues Boogie and You're a Heartbreaker. It seems the dubbing of these songs were done from SUN 78 RPM singles in early 1956 by producer Steve Sholes.

Since this excellent release in 1992, rumors on better sources have appeared frequently. Take for instance the "from recently found master tapes" lie on the otherwise more than decent bootleg "When All Was Kool". These songs didn't sound better on that release although That's All Right and I'm Left You're Right may be described as just as good, subjectively speaking. In fact, the 50's Box remained the best source for all masters but one. Subsequent BMG releases of SUN songs sound as if they all came from the same A/D transfers, the amplitude was all that differed. I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine is the worst sounding of all SUN masters and the version on the 50's Box was even a little more distorted than earlier releases. It should be obvious that this song would sound like a small disaster even if the tape used to produce the original single would be found. The heavy dynamic compression ruins the song even more than the 78 RPM-transfer situation.

In 1974, outtakes of three SUN songs, mastered from tape, were released on the now famous bootleg LP "Good Rocking Tonight" (Bopcat 100). The outtakes were of Blue Moon of Kentucky(slow version/breakdown), I'll Never Let You Go and I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine. The sound quality was good, but they were hardly mastered from first generation tapes since there was some added echo, most noticeably on Blue Moon of Kentucky. Some years later, probably in 1979, this LP was re-released as "Good Rockin' Tonight" (Bopcat 101). Although the outtakes were the same, the source used for actual mastering was not. The songs were completely without echo this time and the overall sound quality was excellent in spite of a few slight mastering errors concerning volume and speed. The first incomplete take of I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine even had half a line more ("lovin' in the evening time") instead of the fade-in intro used on the original release. This might have been the first generation tape. It is not impossible to guess how the tape was found and how the LP was released in the first place, but what happened after that? Who has been sitting on this tape for the past 20 years? In Paul Dowling's Ernst Jorgensen interview, Ernst revealed that he knew who had the tape, but that it couldn't be purchased! Unfortunately, RCA had made a transfer from Bopcat 100 in 1984. If the 1979 LP had been used instead, we would all have been able to enjoy the slow Blue Moon of Kentucky without the echo. But again, where is that tape today?

Before complaining about sound quality of damaged acetates, still unreleased songs and takes and stolen tapes, let's not forget that we don't have all the masters and known outtakes from the best sources yet. This has to be the most important issue. The mere fact that BMG was planning the Sunrise release as such gave us some hope that something new had turned up. Something had happened. Perhaps some of the original tapes had been found. New rumors saying tapes had been found in different warehouses started to appear. All of a sudden all the masters were going to be released from original tapes and why else would Ernst Jorgensen support such a vague thread as the Tiger Man rumor if not a tape or at least some notes had been found, someone suggested. More realistic would be to hope that the Bopcat tape had been purchased at least.

Now that Sunrise finally is here, let's explore the contents. The first disc has all the masters plus the three known takes of When It Rains, It Really Pours. The sound quality appears to be just as good as on the 50's Box. The volume is about 3 dB lower that's the only difference I can spot. The three 78 RPM pops on Milkcow Blues Boogie are still there and so is the annoying click at the beginning of Baby Let's Play House. Come on! It would take less than 5 minutes to remove these. More important, the master of I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine still comes from the old 78 RPM transfer. The original tape of When It Rains It Really Pours was stolen in the 1980's so the Legendary Performer volume 4 tape is the best source available today. Here it seems some noise reduction has been applied during the songs, but not during the studio talk, quite opposite of what one would expect. But the noise reduction as such is actually very good and doesn't seem to remove much of the actual signal. Impressive. This is probably the best sounding release of this recording so far even if it isn't mastered from the original tape. The LP, "A Legendary Performer" volume 4 used to be the best source.

The second disc contains the outtakes, private acetates as well as the Lubbock acetate and some new Hayride recordings from acetates.

The first acetate recordings, My Happiness and That's When Your Heartaches Begin come from the same physical acetate transfer of course, but they probably have been remastered digitally. Both still have a 16 kHz distortion signal that ought to have been removed although it hardly is audible. Apart from that, they have been filtered very differently compared to the 1950's Box. The 1992 release actually had a little more distortion removed here and there resulting in a slight overall signal loss. On Sunrise there's a huge 7 kHz drop of amplitude throughout all four early acetate songs instead. Now, that's cheap filtering! Is this Cedar? The best way to describe what this rough filter has removed of the actual sound is to compare the 'Sunrise' version of I'll Never Stand in Your Way with the unrestored 'Platinum' ditto. There's more signal removed than noise. What a shame. Still, it's fantastic to hear recordings like I'll Never Stand in Your Way and It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You at all.





'I'll Never Stand in Your Way' as filtered on Sunrise. The black horizontal part represents the 7 kHz filter.

'I'll Never Stand in Your Way' as released on 'Platinum'.





What about the outtakes then? Well, I Love You Because takes 1-2 and the three takes of That's All Right have actually been remastered from the RCA copy of the session tape, there can be no doubt about that. That's All Right even has one or two seconds of studio ambience that wasn't on 'Platinum' at least. The quality of the transfer as such is outstanding, but this tape and the one containing Blue Moon seem to be badly damaged with huge Left/Right channel dropouts. Or is this a result of different filtering of each channel? Keeping both channels is an honest way of presenting the material. Strange that they didn't keep just the best channel. The amplitude of That's All Right and I Love You Because is higher than on corresponding master takes on Disc 1. Perhaps not so strange considering that they were mastered from different tapes, but why the Blue Moon outtakes are mastered more than 3 dB louder than the master is a mystery. They all come from the same first generation tape. Even if the master take is an 8 year old digital transfer, wouldn't it have been appropriate to release all takes of the song with the same amount of amplification? And nearly all signal at 8600 Hz has been removed from the outtakes. Sure there was some noise there, but also too much of the actual signal. Again, is this modern noise reduction? Anyway, good to hear the rest of the "Blue Moon" tape.

Now, to the most exciting question to be answered, the Bopcat songs. Has BMG finally purchased the tape(s)? Let's see, first out is the slow outtake of Blue Moon of Kentucky and what a disappointment it is. It's the same 1984 Bopcat 100 bootleg LP transfer, complete with echo and stereo clicks! And the same goes for I'll Never Let You Go, naturally! Well, there's no need to listen to I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine then. Wait, that's different! Just when I was about to throw away my copy Sunrise and cry. So they have managed to use this original tape after all! But wait again, what condition is the tape in? There are Left/Right fluctuations during the first take although some of them were there in 1979 as well. New is a tape wrinkle that leaves two complete dropouts during the last solo. I don't want to know how this tape has been stored during the last 20 years. If somebody at BMG actually had listened closely to this tape, they might have found that the complete, so-called outtake, actually is the same take as the master. In other words, they didn't have to use the badly compressed 78 RPM transfer that was on Disc 1. Will they ever realize this? It would be interesting to find out if the tape pictured in the "booklet" is the newly acquired I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine, but it doesn't say. Sam Phillips' notes on it would explain everything if this is the case. An original tape to be sent to be dynamically compressed for release and then sent back to 706 Union Avenue.

Finally, the Hayride songs. It's obvious that the acetates are completely ruined so I didn't expect too much. Perhaps it would have been better to wait for new technology. We now have a "Gramafunken version" of I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone.











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