http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/3a64a36ea6d090edaa01f8d0aa35c00cc413f6f2.jpg Born to Rock

Carl Perkins

Born to Rock

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3 0
July 13, 1989

As one of the prime architects of rockabilly, Carl Perkins has had an impact on singing, songwriting and mostly guitar playing, and his influence can still be heard today in acts like Dave Alvin, Cheap Trick and Brian Setzer. Born to Rock, his first LP of new material in years, is an album for both the faithful and those just discovering him.

Born to Rock isn't on the level of his Fifties triumphs for Sun or Sixties successes for Columbia, but it shows the master still willing to get his hands dirty. Unlike many early rockers who coast through contractual-obligation records with glazed indifference, Perkins sounds feverishly interested in the ten tracks here. Produced by Judds producer Brent Maher and Judds bandleader Don Potter, Born to Rock shows Perkins summoning up intense performances that are both dignified and open-eyed. The vocal fireworks are most noticeable on the bluesycountry tunes like "Till I Couldn't Stand No More" and "Love Makes Dreams Come True," but rockers like "Charlene" compel Perkins to dust off his guitar and discover new lanes on long-traveled roads.

If there's anything wrong with Born to Rock, it's that the arrangements are a bit too dense for the lanky songs. The backup vocals don't add much: The center of each song remains Perkins's terse guitar and a tight rhythm section of Nashville sessionmen. The songs and the small-band performances don't need the extra layer. And at a time when most records by first-generation rockers are smothered in strings to hide the shortcomings of the aging performer at the center, that's quite an achievement.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Santa Monica”

    Everclear | 1996

    After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

    More Song Stories entries »