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CD Review Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis - Last Man Standing

Shangri-La Entertainment
Reviewed By Scott Homewood

The title of Lewis' latest album refers to the fact that out of the major players on the old Sun Records label, he is the only one left. Sad, but true. His old mates and fellow Million Dollar Quartet members Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison as well as other Sun stars like Carl Perkins are long gone. The man some call The Killer has outlived the rest of them and is still recording, as this album proves. Unlike Cash, though, there is not really going to be a late career renaissance to speak of for Jerry Lee Lewis. And for that, I blame the producers of this album.
Now, in fairness, this album has appeared on a lot of critic's best-of's lists this year. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why, despite how much I love Lewis' music.
I mean, why couldn't the producers just take Lewis into the studio and just let him sing his heart out with the back-up of some sympathetic musicians? Instead, the producers do take Lewis into the studio, have him sing perfectly fine versions of some classic rock songs and then get a bunch of the rock stars that popularized these songs (and some other stars that have nothing to do with these songs at all and are simply ringers to help sell albums) to sing along with him.
What's the big deal, you say? Well, the musical concept in itself is fine. Get Lewis into a recording studio for the first time in how many years and get him to sing some modern rock and roll classics. Got no problem with that. Lewis rarely writes his own tunes and has always made a name for himself by being an exceptional (and by exceptional I mean one of the best ever) interpreter of other songwriters' work.The problem I have is these hacks thinking Lewis needs "help" to sing these songs and to draw people into buying a Jerry Lee Lewis album. When Rick Rubin got with Johnny Cash and began to rebuild Cash' career and turn him into a relevant artist again, he had Cash sing a bunch of modern rock songs. Sound familiar? What he didn't do was get Kid Rock and a bunch of other rock stars in to sully the album. Rubin was smart enough to know a good album featuring Johnny Cash was all the public needed to get on board. Rubin had faith in Cash. These hacks have no faith in Lewis' legendary ability to be the best fucking rock and roller alive, dammit.
So, instead of just letting Lewis be Lewis and having faith the best fucking rocker in the world could rise to the occasion, we get songs featuring Mick Jagger, Kid Rock, John Fogerty, Jimmy Page, Merle Haggard, Buddy Guy and a bunch of other stars of the same magnitude. Do I hate these guys? Hell no! These guys are all legends in their own way and all are talented except for that piece of shit hack Kid Rock. The point is, the Killer doesn't need them. Do they help sell albums? Sure. A completist for any of these artists might buy this album just for the track with his fave rock star singing a duet with Lewis. Now, you could argue that assertion with the rise of Internet music buying and the relatively new ability to buy and download a single track in place of buying the whole album but there have always been "singles" or the equivalent so that doesn't matter so much. What matters is the lack of faith in one of the most original, force-of-nature rock personalities to ever cut a song. Even worse is, if you check the liner notes, most of these performances were phoned in. In other words, these stars were not even in the same studio as Lewis when they sang their duets. They recorded their parts somewhere else and shipped them to Lewis and his producers as if the tracks were fruitcake or socks.
Total bullshit.
We and most especially Lewis deserve better. I am not a musical naif who thinks all songs are recorded with everyone present but, c'mon, it's the Killer for fuck's sake. Do you not have time to sing a duet with the Killer? Is your career going THAT well that you just can't find the time for Jerry Lee? Fuck Santana for starting this bullshit. What sucks even harder? Lewis sounds great here and could have done a wonderful album all by his lonesome.
Yell, write, scream, complain, do whatever you gotta do to show everyone, especially the Killer, that he needs to be allowed to do an album on his own. A great one. You know he can. And so does he.


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