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Sun Records

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FROM CMT:

Set in Memphis during the tumultuous early days of the civil rights movement, Sun Records tells the untold story of nothing less than the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Guided by Sam Phillips, young musicians like Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis combined the styles of hillbilly country with the 1950s R&B sound created by artists like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Fats Domino and Ike Turner, and changed the course of music forever. The series chronicles these young artists’ often jarring and sudden meteoric rise to fame in the face of sweeping political change and social unrest.

Premiering Thursday, Feb. 23 at 10/9 c on CMT

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Sun Records founder Sam Phillips shapes the music of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. In the opener, Phillips moves his family to Memphis to open a recording studio and looks for his first hit musical act, but instead rekindles a steamy affair. Meanwhile, Elvis and Johnny Cash struggle at home.

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I hope this becomes a huge success and causes CMT to finally make the Walton Goggins/Merle Haggard Bakersfield-oriented TV show that I have been a grade-A crackpot about.

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Sam records B.B. King, but his new label struggles; Elvis is inspired by African-American music, but is chastised by his family and girlfriend for crossing racial lines; cousins Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart hit the scene.

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I hope this becomes a huge success and causes CMT to finally make the Walton Goggins/Merle Haggard Bakersfield-oriented TV show that I have been a grade-A crackpot about.

OMG, is this a show that only exists in your mind or something that is already on paper? Either way, I'M DOUBLE-DOG HERE FOR IT, because that is GENIUS.

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They're going to take my Southern membership because I did not know until reading this that Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Lee Lewis are cousins! And I "grew up in church"! I sure knew about Swaggart's whoring, though.

Anyhoo, I'm all over this. I'll be endlessly comparing it to Walk the Line.

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11 hours ago, bilgistic said:

They're going to take my Southern membership because I did not know until reading this that Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Lee Lewis are cousins! And I "grew up in church"! I sure knew about Swaggart's whoring, though.

Anyhoo, I'm all over this. I'll be endlessly comparing it to Walk the Line.

Yep. The two of them are also cousins of Mickey Gilley, if you can believe it! Lewis and Swaggart are double first cousins, related through maternal and paternal lines. Lewis and Gilley are first cousins. Gilley and Swaggart are first cousins once removed. ~Aaaaaaand, that's what I like about the Soooouuuuth.~

Edited by Al Lowe
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21 hours ago, Al Lowe said:
On 2/22/2017 at 11:25 AM, heatherkay said:

I hope this becomes a huge success and causes CMT to finally make the Walton Goggins/Merle Haggard Bakersfield-oriented TV show that I have been a grade-A crackpot about.

OMG, is this a show that only exists in your mind or something that is already on paper? Either way, I'M DOUBLE-DOG HERE FOR IT, because that is GENIUS.

Only in my head, but c'mon!

 

Merle_Haggard_1975_-_cropped.jpg

Edited by heatherkay
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There are some straight-ish lines in my family tree, and I'm distantly related to K.Fed, so we all have our crosses to bear.

Greatest comment of all time.

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No one?  All right, I'll give this a go.  

This is a hugely ambitious series taking on one of the high holy origin stories of rock music, and it mostly delivers.  Sure, there are a few pacing problems and some clunkiness there as it tries to lay an awful lot of groundwork quickly.  At times, Chad Michael Murray as Sam Phillips feels like he's really reaching for a Big Iconic Moment and wants to make sure we pay attention because this scene is History, and his accent is wildly uneven.  Even very young Elvis is a tough role that has felled better known actors over the decades because it's so hard to make him an actual person and keep from devolving into Elvis impersonator caricature.  I'm reserving a little bit of judgment on Drake Milligan in the role thus far, but I think he's mostly doing nice work as an unsophisticated misfit kid who knows he wants something different even if he's not quite sure what that is yet.  It also doesn't hurt that he sounds eerily like young Elvis.  I had to look at pictures of the actor playing Johnny Cash outside the role to figure out if he's continually making that squinty face on purpose as an acting choice or what's going on there.   Part of it just his look, but part of it I think is the actor trying to figure out how to give the character the gravitas most of us associate with the larger than life memory of older Cash.  As one of probably the best known members of the cast, Billy Gardell is an absolute hoot as carnival barker Colonel Parker. 

The show's definitely got the look and sound of mid-century Memphis down pat.  I loved Sam and Marion's stroll down what would have then been a segregated Beale Street in their hunt for talent.  As long as I periodically remind myself that this telling is based on a musical version of the story and not a straight reading of history like Last Train to Memphis, I'm all in.   The voice over of the real Jerry Lee Lewis introducing the show as the last of them all standing even though we haven't met the fictionalized version of him yet was a nice touch.

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I really liked it.  It held my attention and the hour went by fast.   They had to pack a lot into one hour, and most of the main players I'm familiar with, except for Sam Phillips, so it should be interesting.  I knew he started Sun, but that's about it.   The actors I'm totally unfamiliar with, but I thought they did a great job. Love the 50's look, the clothes and the cars.

sun1ddd.jpg

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On 2/22/2017 at 7:20 PM, bilgistic said:

They're going to take my Southern membership because I did not know until reading this that Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Lee Lewis are cousins! And I "grew up in church"! I sure knew about Swaggart's whoring, though.

Anyhoo, I'm all over this. I'll be endlessly comparing it to Walk the Line.

I saw it and my comparison went to the Cadillac Records movie. I am assuming that Sun Records is more of a true story without mssing with the timelines and making composite characters like Cadillac. Don't beat yourself up over the Swaggart Lewis family, it has been awhile since they have been at the top of their fields and a TMZ headline story and Great Balls of Fire was 1989.

I

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Meet Colonel Tom Parker:


Filming Sun Records in Memphis:


The story:

 

Margaret Anne Florence And Drake Milligan on Build:


This is a cool 20 minute history about Sun Records (it was done a few years ago before the show was created):

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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19 hours ago, Razzberry said:

Love the 50's look, the clothes and the cars.

Me too! After the music, those are the main reasons I'm watching.

16 hours ago, Raja said:

I saw it and my comparison went to the Cadillac Records movie. I am assuming that Sun Records is more of a true story without mssing with the timelines and making composite characters like Cadillac. Don't beat yourself up over the Swaggart Lewis family, it has been awhile since they have been at the top of their fields and a TMZ headline story and Great Balls of Fire was 1989.

I

Cadillac Records was a fictionalized version of Chess Records from Chicago. This is more of a Hollywood retelling of the Sun Records/Million Dollar Quartet Story.

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I really enjoyed the first episode. Does the fact that it is listed as season 1 mean this could go beyond a single season, or is this a limited/mini-series and the season 1 designation is just standard operating procedure. Does anyone know/what to predict where season 1 will end, and if this goes to multiple seasons, what the overall end point might be?

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A few more screenshots.  Johnny Cash, Colonel Parker with Eddy Arnold, and apparently Phillips' favorite lunch, bologna & Velveeta!  I guess we'll see The Killer later on.

 

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2 hours ago, Sarah 103 said:

I really enjoyed the first episode. Does the fact that it is listed as season 1 mean this could go beyond a single season, or is this a limited/mini-series and the season 1 designation is just standard operating procedure. Does anyone know/what to predict where season 1 will end, and if this goes to multiple seasons, what the overall end point might be?

I moved your question here into the main episode thread.  Right now the show is listed as a limited run series but several actors/people involved with the show have mentioned in interviews that they're hoping or optimistic the show gets picked up for another season.  Lots of networks (AMC being a prime example) do this where they take a wait and see on how the show does before announcing any further plans.  

As far as where the show goes, I have no idea.  We know what the history was and what became of these guys after Sun, but we don't know how far they're going to get in the story in eight episodes.

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Mildly spoilery if you're interested in the potential pacing and timeline for the season:

Sun Records takes the history of rock 'n' roll on an entertaining ride

Memphis' local entertainment media's take thus far:

http://www.memphisflyer.com/FilmTVEtcBlog/archives/2017/02/24/sun-records-episode-1-a-positive-note

Just a short blurb, but the show actually beat its lead in of Nashville in the ratings. So so far so good.

http://deadline.com/2017/02/sun-records-premiere-ratings-cmt-1201976190/

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Dewey: You reckon we're related?
Sam: Hell, I got kissing cousins all across north Alabama.
[rimshot]

Trixie: You sound like you've been reading - what's that thing everyone's been reading? On the Road.
Elvis: I read a little of it.
Trixie: I heard it's dirty.
Elvis: Maybe I should have stuck with it.

Sam: Who'd have thought I'd come from Nashville to record hillbilly music? Third rate hillbilly music.

Carrie: Your daddy loves you, John. He can't bear to lose another son.
Johnny: I believe I might just love him more from six thousand miles away.

Eddy: I've been wondering how you got all them ducks to dance.
Colonel: If it gets too hot, I got dinner.

Sam: You should have told me we was live.
Dewey: I knew you wouldn't say nothing dirty.

Marion: I'm hungry. Let's go back. I'll make your favorite - bologna Velveeta.

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I agree that there was a lot packed into the first episode, but I can forgive it since they were establishing many characters in multiple locations. I have this residual dislike of The Chad so seeing that he had a major role on this show made me hesitate. I'm interested enough in everyone else that I guess I can deal with him (especially since I know this season is only eight episodes).

Hiring actors to play real life singers can be very challenging (see: Britney Ever After) but so far I think they've done a good job finding actors who bear enough of a resemblance to make it believable but without resorting to just casting lookalikes who can't act or sing. One thing I liked was the contrast with Sam just barging into black clubs, black neighborhoods, etc. versus Elvis trying to hide in the back and be less obvious. I don't know how true that is to life (and if it is, I wonder if some of it was due to the difference in age), but I liked it from a story point of view.

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5 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

One thing I liked was the contrast with Sam just barging into black clubs, black neighborhoods, etc. versus Elvis trying to hide in the back and be less obvious. I don't know how true that is to life (and if it is, I wonder if some of it was due to the difference in age)

I'm not sure if it's age so much as personality. Offstage, especially early on during his career, Elvis was shy. I could see someone who is naturally shy to begin with, being in a place he is not sure he is supposed to be in at all, the reaction would be to hide in the back and try to be less obvious. 

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I looked forward to Sun Records, mainly because of Drake Milligan's portrayal of Elvis. I met him and his mother on The Elvis Cruise in 2007. Nine-year old Drake was the youngest Elvis Tribute Artist on board and he was better than some of the older "Elvi" who performed on the ship. Drake has competed in Elvis Tribute Artist competitions and often won in his age category in the Collingwood Elvis Festival. His only previous acting experience was in a short film about Elvis, entitled 'Nobody'--as in a young Elvis' comment when asked who he sounded like and he answered, "I don't sound like nobody." 

It's been quite a thrill to watch Drake's journey as he's matured and I can't imagine any other performer as Elvis in Sun Records.

You can see Drake on the cruise below. He had the moves down pat, but his voice hadn't quite matured yet. 

Edited by CruiseDiva
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Elvi is from an ancient SNL skit with John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd playing white jumpsuit Elvis and black leather jacket Elvis.  Can't remember who was who but it was hysterical.  Back to the show.  I loved Million Dollar Quartet and looked forward to this series.  The first episode dragged a bit but I can see that I'm going to enjoy it.

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I think I'll save this up on my DVR since I might enjoy it more as a binge. The first episodes seem to be more about showing everyone's parallel stories and background as things build to (I assume) the actual recording event. Nothing is exactly being seared into my memory and I'm apt to forget what happened watching week to week.

I do hope the real Marion and Sam had a confirmed affair; otherwise it's just nasty gossip to put that out there.

Edited by Lord Donia
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On 3/1/2017 at 11:18 AM, PaulaO said:

Elvi is from an ancient SNL skit with John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd playing white jumpsuit Elvis and black leather jacket Elvis.  Can't remember who was who but it was hysterical.  Back to the show.  I loved Million Dollar Quartet and looked forward to this series.  The first episode dragged a bit but I can see that I'm going to enjoy it.

 

John Belushi was fat Elvis, or as he put it "I'm The King after he discovered carbohydrates."

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Sam tries to find the follow-up hit to Ike Turner's "Rocket 88"; Colonel Tom Parker's conniving ways are exposed; Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart eye the same girl.

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This episode was all over the place, with a whole lot of tablesetting but with some very nice musical moments thrown in for good measure.  It does seem like the show is taking its sweet time getting into the real meat of the story when it only has an eight-episode run.

I'm enjoying the portrayal of Dewey Phillips and how radio was promoting music at the time.  Billy Gardell's Colonel Parker may not be strictly accurate, but he's clearly having a ball with the part.  Good introductions to Jerry Lee Lewis and B.B. King.  The racial stuff in the B.B. King scenes was very subtle without some of the heavy hamfistedness in the "Elvis, stay out of the colored church!" storyline.  It does seem like Sam Philips, having just recorded the much more polished King should have been savvy enough to have had some idea why the Joe Hill Louis recording would have been considered too country for a major blues label, and Dewey Phillips with his reputation for musical savvy certainly should have known.  But it was probably an issue of not wanting to let go of an idea for the sake of not wanting to let go.  Does the actress playing Marion have any other expression than smirking?

There was something wonderfully surreal about watching a very young Johnny Cash try and fail to roller skate to a Hank Williams song.

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Edited episode title to reflect what CMT is listing rather than the earlier Rocket 88.

I just want to note here how damn giddy I am that we're getting an introduction to Ike Turner and the session that produced this song.

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I heard a couple of Hank Williams songs.  Not a Sun artist, but his 'Honky Tonkin' and 'Move It On Over' of 1947 were certainly major contributors to rock and roll.

Agreed about the "Elvis, stay out of the colored church!" storyline - enough already.   And just how naive is Mrs. Phillips supposed to be?  She's very sweet, but  this is beyond the pale.   I'd be wondering what exactly Marion does at Sun Records that's so essential to Sam.

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The Hank Williams songs were "So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "Jambalaya," which would come out in 1952 after Cash had already gone to Germany.  I periodically have to remind myself not to be that person and get hung up on the details and that the show is very purposely not giving us specific dates to work with in the timeline.  It's the early '50s.  Close enough.

I really wish the show had not gone to the office affair well with Sam and Marion.  I know it was rumored, but of course it was going to be any time a man and a woman worked together in that era and it doesn't really add anything to the story.  The very last thing I'm interested in seeing in a telling of the Sun Records story is two women fighting over Sam Phillips.

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5 hours ago, nodorothyparker said:

 It does seem like the show is taking its sweet time getting into the real meat of the story when it only has an eight-episode run.

What is the real meat of the story? Is the end point the Million Dollar Quartet Session or is the end point the fall of Sun Records as a major creative force in rock and roll, because those are two different end points.

On another note, I am loving the hair, clothes, music and cars not necessarily in that order.

Edited by Sarah 103
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My mother was a HUGE Elvis fan because her teen years were when he hit the scene so I was always a fan even though I was four when he died.  Even though he did some...questionable...things in his life, if he was really so accepting as he is being made out to be, I love him even more.

I am distracted how much the actors playing Elvis and Johnny look alike.

Otherwise I am liking this since I don't know much of the story so it's all new to me.

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What a waste of good material. While I like most of the actors, I just don't care about Sam Phillips as portrayed on the screen and his various storylines. Plus I have never been a fan of Jerry Lee "the younger and the more related to me the better" Lewis or Jimmy Swaggart. Every now and then we get a chance to hear a snippet of great music and then it has to cut back to the melodrama.  Meh.

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5 hours ago, WildPlum said:

Every now and then we get a chance to hear a snippet of great music and then it has to cut back to the melodrama.  Meh.

My guess is that as their music careers develop the ratio of music to melodrama will change, but I could be wrong.

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Latest write ups from the Memphis media.  In addition to commentary on the storylines in the second episode (they REALLY don't like the Elvis in the black church story either), this Commercial-Appeal piece points out that the B.B. King song was indeed an original composition for the episode rather than one of his own songs.  Copyright issues are speculated on. 

http://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/local/the-901/2017/03/03/901-sun-records-recap-char-beale-street-more/98680216/

And the Memphis Flyer's take.  Their biggest complaint in the sprawl of all the storylines:

http://www.memphisflyer.com/FilmTVEtcBlog/archives/2017/03/03/sun-records-episode-2-sprawl

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There was also the movie "Honeymoon in Vegas" with the Flying Elvi--skydivers dressed as Elvis.

As a huge Elvis fan (I saw him perform at the International Hotel in Vegas), I have three tabby cats named Elvis, Priscilla, and Lisa Marie. Yes, they all sing.

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