Picks and Pans Review: Biography: Sam Phillips
"He's tellin' you somethin' and you know he's full of prunes, but it's profound, whatever it is, ya know?" That's how a former associate describes the communication skills of Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records, discoverer of Elvis Presley and subject of this two-hour Biography, subtitled The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll. Written by Elvis biographer Peter Guralnick, the documentary may set off your prune detector as narrator Billy Bob Thornton and a few interviewees use rather grandiose terms to explain the social significance of Phillips and the music he championed. And when Phillips, now 77, does the expounding, you suspect his favorite sound is that of his own voice. But the program is more than redeemed by vivid reminiscences from performers such as Ike Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Bragg, whose all-inmate group the Prisonaires recorded what might be termed a breakout hit in Phillips's Memphis studio.
Bottom Line: Pretty good rockin' tonight