Happy Birthday, Sam Phllips

Jan 28th, 2009 // 5 Comments

Not Sun Records head Sam Phillips, but former Christian pop singer/Gilmore Girls “la, la, la” supplier Sam Phillips, who turns 47 today. I’m not sure if the word “underrated” really fits in the Internet age of overinformation, but Phillips’ seven (!) albums since her name change from Leslie and split from Christian label Myrrh are all of a high quality and consistently seem to be released under the cloak of night. I would consider myself a fan, and somehow I missed the fact that her most recent album, Don’t Do Anything, hit store shelves in mid-2008. A YouTube tribute to her career is below the cut.

Obviously, I’m a bit more likely to enjoy Sam’s records as Leslie than most, but as far as albums that were marketed as being by the “Christian Cyndi Lauper” go, they’re still listenable—especially 1987′s The Turning, which might be the best album released by a Christian label ever.

“River of Love” (live):

“Libera Me” (live):

T-Bone Burnett has been a constant presence on Sam’s albums, from The Turning until 2004′s A Boot and a Shoe—which makes sense, considering the two were married for a stretch of that time. Sam’s first album after escaping the clutches of the Christian pop machine was 1989′s The Indescribable Wow, from which “I Don’t Know How To Say Goodbye To You” is probably my favorite track.

“I Don’t Know How To Say Goodbye To You”:

In the summer of 1994, when it seemed like Green Day’s “Longview” was everywhere, Martinis and Bikinis was a peculiar and strange pop record. You hate to use the word “Beatleseque,” but it really does seem like that was the album’s intended effect. If there was some way to determine what album I’ve listened to more than any other, this one might be in the top 10.

“Strawberry Road”:

“Same Changes”

Don’t Do Anything is Sam’s first album post-T-Bone and self-produced, but there’s no drop in quality. Thinking about it, it might be my third-favorite of her albums. It’s a little disappointing that it was seemingly dropped into stores with good intentions and not much else, but I guess that’s how things go these days.

“Don’t Do Anything”:

Happy birthday, Sam Phillips. Thanks for making music.

Sam Phillips [Official site]


  1. bcapirigi

    Don’t Do Anything was one of my favorite albums of last year. It’s really, really, really good.

  2. Chris N.

    My favorite Sam:

  3. cheesebubble

    Cool to see a post championing her. I must admit that didn’t know she was still making music. For me, the “Martinis and Bikinis” album was a great introduction to her talent.

  4. ObtuseIntolerant

    I need to buy one of her full albums…I was obsessed with this song in college:

    Thanks for reminding me of her!

  5. Chris Barrus

    Another vote for Don’t Do Anything as one of the unheralded best-of 2008s. “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” was covered on the Plant/Krauss album, so I hope she’s making some decent scratch off of that.

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