Chris Isaak - Beyond the Sun
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Beyond the Sun (Vanguard, 2011)

Chris Isaak

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

Chris Isaak has spent the better part of his career clearly showcasing the influence of Sun Studios recording stars like Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley so it shouldn't come as any surprise that Isaak has finally turned back to his influences for "Beyond the Sun." The only real surprise is that it took him so long.

Citing the need to establish his own sound, but clearly tipping his hat to the influences of Sun, Isaak now takes on the raw, early sound of Sun Studios which helped launch the careers of those mentioned as well as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and the Man in Black, Johnny Cash. And he does it with respect and reverence throughout.

Isaak's take on the Sun sound is not to rearrange or remix, but to rather honor the sounds and he delivers literally each and every time. Listeners will thrill to Isaak's many takes on the King, from the raw rock n' roll of Trying to Get to You, the sheer romance of Can't Help Falling in Love, and the soaring vocal ending of Now or Never, among a few other lesser known tunes, each one spot on and superb.

Jerry Lee Lewis' Great Balls of Fire is another slam dunk, alongside both of Isaak's renditions of Cash tunes Ring of Fire and I Walk the Line, which are faithful to the originals. Among the lesser known Sun tunes, Carl Perkins' Dixie Fried rocks with Isaak relishing in lines like "jerked out a razor but he wasn't shaving" while it's nearly forgotten artist Jimmy Wages "Miss Pearl" that nearly steals the show, finding the artist biting off lines and spitting them back out with gusto.

Add in an original tune that fits seamlessly alongside other covers of Presley and Orbison and you're left with a collection that would have Sun Studios founder, Sam Phillips, reaching for his recording equipment and saying once again, "I don't keep up with the business like I used to, but I love to listen to Chris Isaak. He's very talented, and his music is so damned honest. It's incredible."

CDs by Chris Isaak

First Comes the NIght, 2015 Beyond the Sun, 2011 Mr. Lucky, 2009

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