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My

parents had a cupboard at the house where they kept the records. It wasnt a big stack but it was all great singers: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and a bunch of Elvis.
My brothers and I would listen to these records over and over. I remember starting off to school every day and the last song I heard would be a Jerry Lee Lewis tune. The record player was one of those old fashioned ones that looked like a suitcase and folded out. It had two little speakers, one on each side, about the size of a box of Kleenex. We thought it sounded fantastic, and scratchy sound or not, the records moved you. The years went by. They always do. But those songs that I grew up listening to stuck with me. My parents, always the bohemians, would have parties at the house. These were usually just a bunch of people and somebody brought some wine and somebody had some food and everybody got loud and laughed a lot... but in the middle of the party my brothers and I would be singing and playing guitar and we always played a bunch of the songs that we grew up listening to. More years went by. I was in Japan going to college and boxing. I was missing home like crazy, and one day walking down the street in Kyoto I saw a store selling records and guitars. I walked in and saw an album called Elvis Sun Sessions. It had a painting of Elvis on the cover (the painting made Elvis look like he might even be half Japanese) and I looked at the list of songs on the record and I recognized a couple from my folks records. I bought the record and to say it changed the direction of my life would be precise. I still have that record. I think I just about wore it out playing it. It was the first time that I realized that all those Elvis songs I had been listening to had come out of Sun Studio. Years before when I had been shopping in the secondhand store (we bought EVERYTHING secondhand) I had found an old 45 of Elvis on Sun Records. It was like finding a part of a puzzleI LOVED the music. I listened to Ill Never Let You Go until the record skipped and then I stacked pennies on the record arm and kept playing it. But as much as it was instant connection to the music, I really didnt know much about Sun Studio or all the great music

C.

A.

B.

(A.) Everybody on the boxing team had a buzz cut but I finagled the coach into letting me grow my hair as long as I won! (B.) I was lucky, I was winning and my hair got longer. (C.) Official Japanese I.D. (Im pretty sure somewhere on there it says Boxer, but would rather lead a band).

D.

E.

(D.) Hitting the bag in Tokyo (it doesnt hit back). (E.) Trying hard to look ferocious...I liked everything about boxing except the getting hit part.

that came out of there. Standing in Japan with that record in my hands brought me a lot closer. I loved the sound of the records. They were simple, straight ahead...I felt like I was in the room listening to the singers. It changed everything for me. At the time I bought the record I was fighting as a light heavyweight and had a flat top or sports cut as part of the boxing team. I immediately struck a bargain with my coach to let me keep my hair long as long as I was boxing well. I started wearing my hair greased up, my clothes started being a lot wilder. I sang so much that my Japanese landlady learned the words to I Forgot to Remember to Forget by osmosis!

When

I got back to the States I was playing guitar all the time at home and listening to Elvis, Jerry Lee, Orbison, Perkins, Johnny Cash...all the singers I grew up with.
They were as exciting as ever and I was getting better at picking out the songs. Little by little I found myself thinking less about getting a real job when I got out of college and more and more thinking about where I could find a great band. I was hooked on music. I didnt really have any big ideas of fame or fortune but I was just dying to have an electric guitar, a flashy suit, and a real microphone stand instead of the broom stick taped to the back of a chair that I was using at home. It took a lot

of looking, but I got the guitar, the microphone stand, and finally the great band I had always been
looking for. We played every honkytonk and bar, and little by little made a name for ourselves. We got the flashy stage suits (at first we all had secondhand blue gabardine...it was the only color we could all find at the junkstore!). I was writing a lot of songs, and we were recording and putting out records and the action never stoppedtouring, filming, TVand if you saw us on the records you might not have known that we were still playing those Sun Sessions tunes. We would sneak one or two into our live shows. For years we closed our live show with a version of an old Jerry Lee Lewis tune that was my Dads favorite and mine too, Bonnie B.

B.

A.

(A.) A white sports coat and a Shure microphone. (B.) A secondhand suit, a pawn shop guitar, and I was on top of the world! (C.) Any resemblance to the King is purely intentional!

just seem to always be a part of my life, always there somehowI guess I just love the music. When I was filming my television show I was really tired and I remember getting a copy of Oxford American Magazine. I was saving the magazine to read on a break as a treat because I knew it had an article about Sam Phillips, the guy who pretty much got rock and roll going. I cant explain all he did...its too much for the notes from a singer on the back of a record. You need to listen to his records, read a couple of books. I have and I still feel like I dont know much, but I do believe he is a bonafide genius, one of those guys who looks and sees how things are going to be, only he is fifty or a hundred years ahead of his time. He found Elvis. He found Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Orbison, and Jerry Lee.

and their music

hese singers
A.
(A.) The tireless Will Brierre and the man behind the glass, Mark Needham. (B.) Singing while Sun legends watch from the walls. (C.) A moment of reflection, shot from behind the glass of the small front office.

B. B.

C. C.

If somebody had found ONE of those artists they would have a claim to fame. But to have built the studio in the middle of Memphis way back when, to set up your recorder, and to have found ALL those singersand got all those amazing performances. He was really way out there on his own. I think just about anybody else would have turned away a young, sweaty, mumbling Elvis. Or they would have tried to turn him into a second rate Dean Martin. But Sam Phillips put Elvis, Bill Black (bass), and Scotty Moore (guitar) together. So I finally took a break from filming and took out the article about Sam Phillips...he is always fun to read. He tells it like he sees it and it is fun to hear that honesty in print just like it is to hear it on his records. But at the end of the article the interviewer asked Sam what new artists he listened to. When he said my name I just about fell out of my chair. It just felt like all that music that I had grown up listening to, his music, Sun Sessions, those great artists...it had all come full circle. I think it meant more to me than any gold record or award I ever received, because Sam Phillips was really the thread that connected all that music that I had been loving all of my life.

Sun Studio seen from Mark Needhams control board...probably the view Sam Phillips knew best. If rock and roll has a home this is the living room!

bout the

I dont think we ever had more fun in the studio. We played, we didnt work. I guess because we all had grown up listening to this music, and because we had been playing it at soundchecks and backstage for years, or throwing in songs at live shows...we were just having fun playing in the studio. I know that for me I had been singing some of these songs since I was a kid, and finally hearing them with the whole band playing and the guys singing in the background was just...a kick. We would rehearse at my house and after playing all day you would think that everybody would be over it...but it seemed that we kept sneaking back in and playing some more. I remember hearing the bass start a riff, I could hear it downstairs...and in a few minutes the piano was joining in and pretty soon everybody is back at it. And it was the same with recording. I think the only reason we stopped at the end of each day was we knew we had to get a little sleep. Also Sun Studio is a legendary music shrine, tourists would be coming in during the afternoon so we had to take a little break. We ate a lot of fried chicken and thanks to Matt, our local assistant engineer, we knew the right spots to hit. As soon as the tours of the studio would slow down we would be chomping at the bit and back in to record again. I have to mention, its a great sounding room at Sun, but its a POWERFUL room to anyone who grew up listening to rock and roll. To think of all the talents that have been in that little room, that plain, unpretentious little room. I remember we were in the middle of recording a Carl Perkins tune and I was singing away and thinking how good that room sounded...and I looked up for one second and on the wall above me was a picture of Carl and his eyeline was looking straight at me and he had a big grin on his face. It made me feel good. I know that on most records there are thank yous, but making this record I really dont think it would be possible to overstate how big a thanks we owe to the artists that paved the way. When I grew up I wanted to BE these artists. I cut my hair like them, I dressed as flashy as I could! I remember
The band in front of Sam Phillips Recording where we first met guitar legend Roland Janes.

recording

having alligator shoes with purple and pink socks...I guess I thought the wilder the better. I dont think without

Scotty Moore we would have rock and roll. I still play heavy guitar strings because I read that thats what Scotty Moore played. I think anyone who plays rock and roll is indebted to these folks. If you havent already, I really recommend getting your hands on their Sun Recordings and their early work. I am the first to say NOBODY is going to top them at what they did. I dont think I came into this project trying to outdo those classics, I came into it because I just was dying to sing these songs, and to maybe spread the word to some who hadnt heard. Its a tribute, a labor of love, the most fun I ever had and a record I wanted to make my whole damn life!

An additional note about Roland Janes: I had no idea I would meetRoland Janes when I, by chance ran into him sitting in the front office of, of course, Sam Phillips recording studio. I have to say at this point in my life I have met a lot of famous people, Presidents and such, but I think I was way more shook up to actually shake hands with Roland. (I almost thought it wasnt going to happen.) My bass player and I were walking up to the door of the studio and Rowland (My bass mans name as well) greeted Roland by saying: Hello, Im Rowland. Mr. Janes, who was on the phone at the moment, kept talking and I heard him say: I have to go, theres another Rowland here and Ill have to drive him off.I thought we might be getting the bums rush, but thank God our little band mascot, Rodney the Maltese dog, was with us. I now know that Roland Janes, tough as he might want to appear to be, has a soft spot for little dogs. He took one look down at Rodney who was wagging his tail and asked: Are you guys with him? I still think the reason he invited us in was to get to hold Rodney. I dont know if Roland Janes has thought about that meeting, but I have replayed it in my head a hundred times. I do that when things turn out the way I dreamed they would. I had been listening to Roland Janes my whole life, every time he took a guitar break on a Jerry Lee Lewis record, I would play it over and try to learn it. Then I took to trying to make my guitar man Hershel learn some of Rolands parts. When Hershel met Roland there was an AH HA! look on Hershels face and he said: YOURE the guy he keeps telling me to listen to! Im sure I was a pest with my questions but Roland took it with a smile. There was so much I wanted to know, and so few that knew the answers. I loved the sound of those classic Sun records so much, like where did you put the microphones? Where did the bass man stand? How did you mic the drums? DID you mic the drums?...I remember asking Roland how loud did they play when they were recording back in the day at Sun (As the singer in a rock band this is an important question, I was going to sing all my vocals LIVE in the room, I had a lot of singing to do and wanted to know how loud I was expected to belt.) Rolands answer made me gulp and my guitar player grin. We played as loud as we wanted Roland replied, and then he added...of course you have to remember it was 1956 and we didnt WANT to play very loud. I coulda kissed him. Jack Clement, or Cowboy Jack Clement as he is known, was also a great help to this project. Jack has written so many great songs, timeless songs, and he has been the guy behind the glass on a plethora of classic recordings. I was thrilled that he came down to the recordings and I would have been happy to hear a story or two but Jack brought a lot more to the project. He brought a Uke, and the Gibson J 200 he used on so many classic Cash records, and more importantly he brings the energy of a 15 year

Troublemakers! (Kenney Dale, Scotty, Cowboy Jack, Chris, Roland Janes, Hershel, Roly)

old. I thought my bass player was looking a little ragged one day, it was only later that I heard he had tried to keep up with Cowboy Jack the night before...and failed. I have to say Jack came in the next day looking bright and fresh. He just brings a good time with him, no holds barred. I remember listening to playbacks of a take in the studio and suddenly Cowboy Jack is dancing with my manager (She is the shy type...WE THOUGHT). She tried to get away by saying she didnt dance, and quick as a flash, a smiling Cowboy Jack handed her a business card Cowboy Jack Clement, Dance Instructor. I think we could all learn a lot from Cowboy Jack Clement...if we could keep up with him! I am writing these notes in the back of a bus waiting for the show to startin a few minutes. Kenney just came in and we got talking about the record and I told him what I was writing, and more importantly, what I was hoping. Im hoping that Roland and Cowboy Jack and Jerry Lee and all the great players that led the way might listen to these recordings some time and smile. Not because we are such hot shots, but because I hope they can hear how much we fell in love with the music they gave us all. Sam Phillips and his crew put a message in a bottle and it changed everything. I love this quote from Sam: Whatever time you spend making music is never wasted. If I sell a million or never sell one, I consider the time spent making this record as some of the best spent days of my life. If you love doing something, if you get to do what you love with good friendsI call that lucky.

About the band

I am always thankful for being surrounded by musicians that play better than I ever will. On this record, more than ever, it was really amazing to just stand in a little recording studio and hear the band fill the room with music, everybody working together, looking at each other all the time. (At one point I remember bringing a shaving mirror down to set on the piano so the piano player could look behind him and not miss anything). The pressure when you do a live recording all together is that one mistake on anybodys part screws up the whole shebang. You would think that having that pressure on would have made these sessions a strain, but I dont think I have ever seen a band more relaxed and enjoying themselves. I have listened back to the recordings, usually there is a little chatter on the tape that we clean off before the public is presented the finished product. I listened back and on so many of the tunes on these records there is laughter or somebody making a joke before or after a take. I think being able to connect with the music right there in the room, to know we were all going all out on each take...to be so close to one another in that room...the fun and the music was just all around us.

All dressed up for our picture at Sun but the stage clothes came off when we started recording.

B. (A.) Roly with dark glasses after a night out with Cowboy Jack. (B.) Whether playing his good guitar or a beat up practice guitar we found at the studio, Hershel made it all sound great. (C.) The King of Rock n Roll and the King of the Congas...Rafael Padilla. E. (A.) Scotty Fireball Plunkett having way too much fun on the piano. (B.) They call him the Pan Handle Pounder but Kenney also has a soft touch.

A.

C.

D.

The Lead Instrumentalists The Rhythm Section


I started this project by saying to my piano player and my guitar man that the one thing I wanted to do was to get this right, not to do a bar band version where you kind of slough through the songs and dont do the work to notice the details. Everybody in the band was really immersed in this music...I wanted us to know the originals so well that we could let go and play it ourselves...and in our own way. I never thought we should follow anything note for note, but I wanted to make sure we KNEW the music. Once we knew it we could let it go and just PLAY! And I am proud to say that Hershel took the guitar playing and tore it up, he goes from slow, pretty ballads to blistering fast rock and roll and he never missed a lick. Scotty was holding down the piano and B-3 and I dont think I can imagine a guy bringing more to the party. Im the singer, usually I listen to the vocals when I listen back to a record (its the way singers are), but when I listen to these recordings I find myself looking forward to the solos, the guitar on Trying To Get To You or Scottys left hand boogie piano playing on Im Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry. I think they really nailed it!

When most of us listen to records we hear the vocalist, then the piano or guitar leads. But, like the song says, it dont mean a thing if it aint got that swing. This kind of rock and roll calls for a very different kind of playing than most of the rock and roll we are used to hearing today. It is loose, light, it swings, it shuffles. If you listen to the rhythm playing on early Sun Sessions...well, a lot of musicians react by laughing, smiling, scratching their heads and asking how did they DO that?I think Kenney, Roly, and Rafael really put together the right touch for this record. They make it sound easy...and it aint. Listen to the guys on the breakdowns in My Baby Left Me. Thats what Im talking about, swinging loose and happy...and then on other songs slowing down and switching beats from a straight beat to shuffle in the middle of a tune Adding my 2 cents to the million dollar quartet. some CRAZY stuff going on!

We left with a clear conscience and tangled cords.

have always wanted to make this record

Theres a hole in the floor from Bill Blacks bass peg so the bass is always in the right spot.

Writing lyrics between takes, an old Sun tradition.

Me and Mr. Phillips.

We hope you like this record as much as we do. I have tried to mix in the heartbreakers with the rockers and even a few that I wrote myself. We called the record Beyond the Sun, because the music starts at Sun Studio and just keeps growing and going. I think Mr. Phillips would have liked that. He probably foresaw it

1. RING OF FIRE

DISC 1
(June Carter Cash, Merle Kilgore) Song of Cash Music (ASCAP) Painted Desert Music Corp. (BMI) (Rose McCoy, Charlie Singleton) Elvis Presley Music; Rockland Music /BMG Sapphire Songs (BMI) (Charlie Feathers, Stanley Kesler) Edward B Marks Music Company (BMI) (Otis Blackwell, Jack Hammer) Mijac Music & Unichappell Music, Inc. (BMI) Chappell & Co., Inc. & Mystical Light Music (ASCAP) (Luigi Creatore, Hugo Peretti, George David Weiss) Gladys Music; BMG Ruby Songs (ASCAP) (Howard Griffin, Carl Perkins) Carl Perkins Music, Inc./Hi Lo Music, Inc.; Wren Music Co., Inc. (BMI) (Chet Atkins, Boudleaux Bryant) Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI) (Eduardo DiCapua, Wally Gold, Aaron Schroeder) A. Schroeder Intl. Inc. Rachels Own Music/Gladys Music/BMG Ruby Songs (ASCAP) (Jimmy Wages) Hi Lo Music, Inc. (BMI) (Chris Isaak) C. Isaak Music Publishing Co. (ASCAP) (Johnny Cash) House of Cash, Inc./Bug Music/Hill & Range Songs (BMI) (Sam Phillips) Hi Lo Music, Inc. (BMI) (Jerry Leiber, Doc Pomus, Mike Stoller) Elvis Presley Music BMG Ruby Songs/Sony/ATV Tunes, LLC (BMI) (Borney Bergantine, Betty Peterson) Happiness Music Corp. (ASCAP)

1. MY BABY LEFT ME

DISC 2
(Arthur Crudup) Unichappell Music, Inc. & Crudup Music (BMI) (William Dees, Roy Orbison) Barbara Orbison Music Company/Orbi Lee Publishing R Key Darkus Publishing/Evergreen Copyrights/Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI) (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) Elvis Presley Music/BMG Sapphire Songs (BMI) (Carl Perkins) Carl Perkins Music, Inc./Wren Music Co. (BMI) (Ralph Mooney, Charles Seals) Songs of Universal, Inc./Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (BMI) (Chris Isaak) C. Isaak Music Publishing Co. (ASCAP) (Chester Burnett) Arc Music/BMG Platinum Songs (BMI) (Howard Biggs, Joe Thomas) Angle Music/Songwriters Guild of America (BMI) (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) Sony/ATV Songs LLC (BMI) (Clyde Otis, Willie Dixon) Elvis Presley Music/BMG Sapphire Songs (BMI) (Haven Gillespie, Beasley Smith) Beasley Smith Music Haven Gillespie Music Publishing Co./Larry Spier Music, LLC (ASCAP)

2. TRYING TO GET TO YOU

2. OH, PRETTY WOMAN

3. I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET 4. GREAT BALLS OF FIRE

3. DOIN THE BEST I CAN 4. YOUR TRUE LOVE 5. CRAZY ARMS

5. CANT HELP FALLING IN LOVE 6. DIXIE FRIED

6. LOVELY LORETTA

7. HOWS THE WORLD TREATING YOU 8. ITS NOW OR NEVER 9. MISS PEARL 10. LIVE IT UP

7. EVERYBODYS IN THE MOOD

8. IM GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND CRY 9. LOVE ME

10. DONCHA THINK ITS TIME 11. THAT LUCKY OLD SUN

11. I WALK THE LINE

12. SO LONG IM GONE 13. SHES NOT YOU

14. MY HAPPINESS

BAND

CHRIS ISAAK Vocals, Rhythm Guitar KENNEY DALE JOHNSON Drums, Vocals ROWLAND SALLEY Bass, Vocals HERSHEL YATOVITZ Guitar, Vocals SCOTT PLUNKETT Piano, Organ RAFAEL PADILLA Percussion

THANK YOU
The work is always easier with a good friend.

Its only about 50 feet from the recording studio to the diner and in the middle of the night they let us serve ourselves Roly turned out to be a pretty good soda jerk!

PRODUCED BY Chris Isaak ADDITIONAL PRODUCTION, RECORDING, & MIXING Mark Needham
ASSISTANT RECORDING & MIXING Will Brierre ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS Cowboy Jack Clement, Lee Thornburg, David Woodford, Waddy Wachtel ADDITIONAL VOCALS Michelle Branch (appears courtesy of Reprise Records), Ashley Monroe (appears courtesy of Warner Bros. Records), Jon Joyce, Richard Wells, Craig Copeland STUDIOS Sun Studio, Memphis The Ballroom Studio, Los Angeles The Sunset Studio, San Francisco East West Studios, Los Angeles Westlake Studios, Los Angeles ASSISTANT ENGINEERS Matt Ross-Spang, Ben ONeil, Marcus Johnson MASTERED BY Stephen Marcussen/ Marcussen Mastering MANAGEMENT Sheryl Louis and Howard Kaufman/ HK Management PHOTOS BY Sheryl Louis ART DIRECTION & DESIGN Carrie Smith

I would like to thank all the artists who led the way: Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Elvisthe legendary Cowboy Jack Clement, the always tasteful Roland Janes and all the incredible musicians who walked through the doors at 706 Union Ave. The depth and talent of those early musicians is amazing and without them this record would not be possible. When I was starting out I had a picture of Scotty Moore and a picture of Jerry Lee Lewis, I still recall the photos. Scotty was leaning back in a clean pressed shirt and looking very much the gentleman while tearing it up on the guitar. Jerry Lee was shirtless, a wild eyed rebel being led into a paddy wagon. From the range of the music they gave us I have a feeling these men were a mixture of both images, rebels and yet gentlemen. If you tried to learn the sound of rock and roll and left out these artistsI just dont think you could do it. They wrote the book. The music they came up with has inspired ever since. And Sam Phillips brought it all to us on a platter THANKS TO Stacie Surabian, Jamie Young, Penny Lambert, Marsha Haney, Gloria Balanay, Doug Casper, John Schorr, Caryl McGowan, Keith Sarkisian, Brad Goodman, Michelle Bernstein, WME, Gibson Guitars, Shure Microphones, Anne Symon, Jaime Castaneda, Erik Jacobsen, Ilene Feldman, James Austin, Brian Diaz, Liz Rosenberg, and Rodney who always gives 100 percent. SPECIAL THANKS TO Kevin Welk, Dan Sell, Bill Bentley and everyone at Vanguard Records I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship. Also, I offer a special thanks to Mark Needham, who brings so much to the party. He can play it, record it, try it your way or the right way, or just leave it alone. It is so great to have all that talent sitting in the studio and covering you. THIS RECORD IS DEDICATED TO MY FOLKS JOE & DOROTHY They have great taste in music and they let me play their records night and day. They never told me to get a real job or not to do what I love so much