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Interview:
Chris Isaak shining about new Sun Records album
 

By GARY GRAFF
for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Chris Isaak is always excited to get up and play on stage -- has been since he started performing as a teenager and especially since he want bad and nationwide following the release of his debut album in 1984.

But this year Isaak is even more stoked.

On Oct. 18 he releases "Beyond the Sun," a collection of songs by Sun Records artists (Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and more) that he recorded in the famed Memphis studio and says is "an album I've been wanting to do probably my whole life." But he's not waiting until then to let his audiences hear the music; in fact, Isaak says, fans can count on hearing "a bunch of them" on Thursday night (Aug. 11) at the Meadow Brook Music Festival.

"We'll throw six, seven songs in the show, and people love it," says Isaak, 55, who also wrote some new songs that will be included in both the Standard and Deluxe versions of "Beyond the Sun." "Usually the only times I've heard anybody do these songs, they do a bad bar-band version. You can't really destroy a song too bad, but when they take a song that's supposed to be a pretty song and play it way too loud and fluff through the vocals and don't have arrangements...it kills me."

Isaak, however, says he and his band have took a great deal of care in figuring out how to play the Sun material properly.

"We really learned the stuff," he says. "We really listened to it, really practiced it. We've got a real good feel for them. We don't overplay, don't play too distorted, don't play too loud.

"I just liked the attitude; those guys were making stuff up, having fun and weren't looking with one eye towards the future, about being in some Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They thought it was going to be over in three weeks, so they were just playing, y'know?"



A sampling of "Beyond the Sun" is available at: http://bit.ly/pfVJHO



But while the Sun material is an exciting addition to his shows, Isaak promises that he's not abandoning his own songs and older favorites.

"I want to make sure I play 'Wicked Game' and 'Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing,' the things of mine people come to see," Isaak says. "And I love playing those for them. The good thing is I don't run out of energy in 20 minutes; I'll play my songs and then throw in Johnny Cash, 'Ring of Fire,' or 'Can't Help Falling in Love' or 'It's Now or Never'...And people love that. It's a while different sound. It really breaks it up and makes it fun."



Chris Isaak performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Meadow Brook Music Festival on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester Hills. Tickets are $45 and $25 pavilion, $15 lawn with a $44 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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