Book Review: Sun Records Celebrates 70 Years in Style

By Brent Thompson

In the fast-and-furious age of iTunes, Spotify, SiriusXM, TikTok and Youtube, sometimes we need a reminder of where Rock’n’Roll began. Fortunately, that reminder comes in the form of The Birth of Rock’n’Roll: The Illustrated Story of Sun Records & the 70 Recordings that Changed the World, a hardcover treasure that Sun Records has delivered via Owen Weldon/Insight Editions (November 2022). Renowned journalists Peter Guralnick and Colin Escott have been charged with the honor – and responsibility – of being our tour guides on a 256-page journey through Sun’s legacy and importance. The first record label to record Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins, Sun’s catalog includes “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “I Walk The Line” and “Breathless” among countless other classics. A foreword by the recently-deceased Lewis lends weight and emotion to the project. Will music completists learn anything new by reading this book? Maybe not, but it’s still a worthwhile return visit to the blocking-and-tackling of Rock’n’Roll. More importantly, The Birth of Rock’n’Roll will potentially turn a new generation onto Sun’s significance and influence on today’s music.