Thursday, March 05, 2009

Jerry Lee Lewis - Original Sun Singles '56-'60

Jerry Lee Lewis
Original Sun Singles ’56-'60

Along with Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis was one of the original wild men of rock & roll. Not the safe, easily packaged/sanitized version presented by Elvis Presley, whose allegedly potent sexuality comes across more as naughty than actually lewd, but a guy you really wouldn’t want to leave alone with your daughter. I do my little boogie-woogie every day, he leers in Lewis Boogie – whatever it means, it sounds unsavory. And that’s the Jerry Lee captured on Original Sun Singles ’56-'60, which is just what it’s billed. Mixing his great rockabilly masterpieces (Great Balls of Fire, Breathless, Big Blon’ Baby, the immortal Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On) with glimpses of his future as a country star (You Win Again, Crazy Arms, I Could Never Be Ashamed of You), this disk collects the work that permanently enshrined Lewis and his pumping piano in the rock & roll firmament. Creeping Nashville production on Baby, Baby, Bye Bye and an oddly anemic take on Chuck Berry’s Little Queenie start to sap his strength near the end, but he rallies for an almost deranged run through Chuck WillisHang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes. Even though he loudly proclaims he don’t wanna hang up them shoes, he did not long after (thanks to his bad habit of marrying 13-year-old cousins and Middle America’s rejection of same) and settled into a long career as a C&W iconoclast. That a whole 'nother story, and it's a pretty good one, but the tale told here is the one that ultimately counts.

- Michael Toland

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