SUN RECORDS Review: “Rising Sun”


Marion keeps SUN RECORDS alive when she finds new talent to record on “Rising Sun.”  Things are tough for Dewey Philips this week. He gets investigated by the FCC for letting a cuss word slip on air. Then, he gets suspended by the station manager and beat up by listeners that don’t like his choice in music or musicians. Poor Dewey, the world just isn’t fair to the progressive disc jockeys of the 50’s. On the other hand, if Dewey gets fired, it could be a chance for Marion to get better work than just reading copy. Hand Dewey a shovel, the man isn’t done yet. When the station manager does let him back on the air, Dewey calls for a midnight riot at the station HQ.

There still isn’t much movement on the Jerry Lee front this week. We see him flirting, kissing, and showering with Peggy. Whatever competition Swaggart may have put up is over, Peggy picked her man. These scenes do little more than remind us Jerry Lee is part of the story. Johnny Cash’s scenes in Germany are pretty much the same. He wants to propose to Vivian, but can’t seem to write a proper letter. His buddies help buy him a long-distance call so he can sing the proposal and Vivian loves it. It is pretty cool, but story worthy…eh.


The main drama still rests with Sam, Becky, and Marion. Sam wakes in the clinic after receiving his medically induced brain fry. He wants to get back to work but Becky argues it isn’t worth the beating he’s taking. She convinces him it’s time to pack up, sell the house, and return to Birmingham where her cousin has a morning drive-time slot for Sam if he wants to DJ again.  Sam agrees, but he doesn’t really seem to be thinking straight. Marion visits him right after and makes the case he’ll never be happy playing records, he needs to find and shape talent. Sam needs to see Sun Records bloom. Marion is the heart and the backbone of the operation, Sam is all danger and liabilities.

Marion makes a strong argument, but Sam returns to work low on energy and out of ideas. Marion suggests they check out an act she scouted at the local prison. Johnny Bragg and his group “The Prisonaires” are serving a combined 800 years. Bragg has talent and Marion convinces the warden to let Sun Records record “The Prisonaires” in the studio. Sam calls out his pork specialist to barbeque for the singers after they sing some songs for him. “The Prisonaires” are a hit and buy Sun Records some breathing room. Sam’s latest check from the B.B. King sessions is only .37 cents. That doesn’t keep the lights on. However, the young man from the Electric Company might help.


Elvis gets back together with Trixie this week. They go to the movies and have fun but Elvis is preoccupied with getting his mama a present for her birthday. Trixie suggests buying her a record, maybe Dean Martin. Elvis thinks it would be better to make his own record singing Dean. He heads to Sun Records where he interrupts a nooner between Sam and Marion. Sam isn’t too happy to record a song for this boy to give to his mama, but when he hears Elvis sing he recognizes a special quality. Elvis presents his mother with the recording at her birthday cookout with Trixie and her parents. Of Course, Vernon thinks it’s a waste of money, but Trixie and her family like it and most importantly, Elvis’ mama loves it.

Things are looking up for Sun Records and Marion pressures Sam to do the right thing for everyone involved and leave Becky now; while she’s still young, pretty, and can find a new guy. Sam agrees it’s time to be fair and tell Becky they’re through. Sam isn’t happy in the marriage and neither is she. Sam plans to tell her after a fancy dinner they have planned with the local preacher and Marion attending. Becky derails his plans by announcing she’s pregnant. Marion leaves in tears. Becky and Marion both deserve better.


Finally, we catch up with Col. Parker. He has more movement than Jerry Lee and Johnny Cash, but not much. He’s still ripping off Hank Snow and he’s still blowing their money gambling. This week, after he loses Hank’s cut in a dice game, he cons him into partnering up on a talent label. Hank agrees pretty quick. When the Colonel tells Hank he has maybe five years as a viable act, Hank doesn’t question it at all. He would like to go Hollywood, maybe make a movie or appear on TV. Later we see Col. Parker leave their latest engagement and hide their money under the hubcap of one of his tires. It’s a clever move because an enforcer shows up looking for payment, Parker proves he doesn’t have any money on him. However, he forgets he stashed it under the hubcap. The car hits a bump as he drives away, the hubcap pops off and the money blows away in the night. I’m looking forward to seeing how far they go with the last three episodes. Elvis is almost there, but how far behind are Cash and Jerry Lee?

Season 1, Episode 5 (S01E05)
Sun Records airs Thursdays at 10PM on CMT

Read all of our reviews of Sun Records here.
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Eric lives in a world where the television is great, the smiles are warm, the pizza is hot, the puppies are playful, and the zombies are slow and meander while he reloads.
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