Memphis was the town blues musicians passed through on their way to Chicago. But some of them stayed and the record companies sent their mobile units to record them. Over a three-year period from 1927, an astonishing amount of talent was recorded: local stars like the Memphis Jug Band, Frank Stokes, Cannon’s Jug Stompers, Jim Jackson, Furry Lewis, Robert Wilkins, Bukka White, Memphis Minnie, Joe Callicott and Sleepy John Estes.
The new multi-part documentary Elvis Presley: The Searcher, directed by Thom Zimny and airing on HBO on April 14, pushes past the larger-than-life image of The King of Rock and Roll, portraying him instead as a man and an artist "who wanted to heal, to find that thing that was always felt to be missing, and to do it through the music."
A really cool pairing of two relatively obscure and always overlooked early- to mid-'60s LPs by Jerry Lee Lewis that, respectively, capture him as a country crooner (and quite a good one) and a high-energy country-rocker with a bluesy edge. The original albums never sold any significant numbers to speak of, with the result that the material will essentially be new to all but the most hardcore fans. None of it is bad and a large portion of it is not only good but impressive, showing some sides to Lewis' talent that weren't always obvious amid the rippling ivories of the Sun Records hits.
Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach first collaborated on "God Give Me Strength," a sweeping ballad that functioned as the centerpiece in Allison Anders' Grace of My Heart. It was a stunning song in the tradition of Bacharach's classic '60s work and it was successful enough that the composers decided to collaborate on a full album, Painted from Memory. Wisely, they chose to work within the stylistic parameters of Bacharach's '60s material, but Painted from Memory never sounds like a stylistic exercise. Instead, it's a return to form for both artists. Bacharach hasn't written such graceful, powerful melodies since his glory days, and Costello hasn't crafted such a fully realized album since King of America. It's a testament to both that even if the album is clearly in Bacharach's territory, it feels like a genuine collaboration.