Included on this session document is some well-chosen studio chatter. Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup tells his producer, Bob Koester, “Now, this swing number that you want me to make, I don’t know whether I can do it or not, Bob, ‘cause I got blues on my mind.” Crudup wasn’t kidding. On this album’s last track, “All I Got is Gone”, he seems scarcely able to muster the courage needed to make it through the first verse without breaking down. It’s a gripping performance, as gut-wrenching and profound as only the best blues can be.
Such knockouts abound on Sunny Road. The spare backing—sometimes a bit undercooked, which is to be expected with archival releases—further underscores the force of Crudup’s vocals, which throughout are bloody, bruised and raw. Highlights include the title track, “She Gives Me a Thrill” and “I’m Leavin’ Town”, but there are no bad songs to be found here. If you know Crudup as only the writer of such Elvis Presley classics as “That’s All Right” and “My Baby Left Me”, you owe it to yourself to seek out this release. It’s too brief at nine tracks (not including the aforementioned studio talk), but as a testament to Crudup’s genius, it’s remarkably potent.