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That room has got more of the history of rock and roll in it than any other place on earth.” Beyond the Sun goes beyond pastiche, however.
Isaak adroitly marries the various timbres of his heroes’ voices with the soft honeyed tones of his own.
While most bands get their new material out of the way early on, Isaak makes the Sun covers the centrepiece of the night. When you come to the end, do you think, did I make money, did I get a big house, did I get famous? All that counts is did you have fun at your work, were you any good at it and did you have good friends?
In a feat of musical alchemy Sam Phillips would be proud of, his intense performance momentarily conjures up the excitement audiences in the Fifties must have felt when they first heard these records.
” Indeed, with his retro look, many people have accused Isaak from the earliest days of his career of being a Fifties throwback, a charge he hotly denies.
“There was a misconception about me when I started off because I had my hair greased up and I have some vague resemblance to the hillbilly gene pool that Elvis came from.
You were in the same space where Howlin’ Wolf and BB King and Elvis had been.
Or Carl Perkins, sat at the piano, scared he was going to get sent back to the chicken farm.
But even I at some point had to recognise there was some magic in there.
I can sing loud if I want to, I just don’t usually step on the gas. Everyone was just bouncing along on the same rhythm.” While he never replicated his Eighties success in Europe, in America he has remained more of a star, and after the film roles – in Bertolucci’s Little Buddha and The Silence of the Lambs among others – had dried up, diversified into becoming a TV show presenter.
Like Bruce Springsteen, Isaak is a proudly blue-collar rock and roller, touring constantly, eschewing drugs, still living close to his parents, and saving his money.
Growing up near San Francisco in a family that had little money, Isaak bought his records and clothes from charity shops.
“I played these scratchy records on this scratchy old record player.