CD Review: Chris Isaak

Beyond the Sun (Vanguard)

A cynic may say Chris Isaak has run out of ideas. A real cynic may say he ran out of ideas 20 years ago. His latest album, Beyond the Sun, pays tribute to Sun Records — where Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis got their starts — with famous cover songs and a few new originals recorded at the legendary Memphis studio. Isaak doesn't take too many risks here, mostly sticking to songs you've heard a million times. "Ring of Fire," "Great Balls of Fire," and "I Walk the Line" are so tied to their original versions — not to mention their original artists — that Isaak ends up playing a well-rehearsed karaoke singer most of the time. (And not to nitpick, but Elvis didn't record "Can't Help Falling in Love" at Sun.) Still, Isaak has always sounded like he should be making records at Sun in the '50s. He got his chance. — Michael Gallucci

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