Tag Archives: Jerry Lee Lewis

Still with us: Jerry Lee Lewis

Our premise, revisited: Since we last gathered here a month ago, we’ve lost even more music greats. Keith Emerson, Sir George Martin and Gayle McCormick, the lead singer of Smith, even Clare MacIntyre-Ross, the woman who inspired the Harry Chapin’s classic song “Taxi.”

Time, then — well past time, really — to appreciate four music greats who are still with us. These are my four. Yours may be different. We started with the eldest, Chuck Berry. We then paid homage to Little Richard. We continue with …

The legend: Jerry Lee Lewis.

Age: 80.

Still performing? Apparently so. There are no dates listed on his website, but his last gig was about six weeks ago in Mississippi. I’ve never seen him play live.

What we must acknowledge but won’t dwell on: The Killer has gone through a whole lot of unsavory business. A scandalous marriage to a cousin who likely was 13 when they were wed in December 1957. Six other wives. Allegations of domestic abuse. Substance abuse. Arrested outside Graceland in November 1976, drunk and waving a gun. Jeebus.

Where I came in: Hm. Not really sure about this, either. Perhaps when he covered “Chantilly Lace” in 1972, or perhaps when “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” crossed over from country radio in 1973. It wasn’t until 1989 that I bought my first Jerry Lee record, the “Milestones” greatest-hits comp released on Rhino Records to coincide with the release of “Great Balls of Fire,” the film in which Dennis Quaid played Jerry Lee.

Appreciate the greatness: I have always loved piano pounders, and Jerry Lee stands with Little Richard as perhaps the greatest of them all. Jerry Lee’s late ’50s hit singles are among the cornerstones of rock ‘n’ roll. That said, here are some other tunes I dig.

jerryleelewisgreatestliveshowlp

“Live from the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium and the WVOK Shower of Stars, the one, the only, Jerry Lee Lewis!”

They recorded this on July 18, 1964, a Saturday night. (The liner notes incorrectly say July 1.) To hear this astonishing side, Jerry Lee clearly brought the greatest live show on Earth to town that night. In a mere 15 minutes, the Killer rips through covers of tunes by Little Richard, Charlie Rich, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Ray Charles.

“Jenny, Jenny,” “Who Will The Next Fool Be,” “Memphis,” “Hound Dog” and “I Got A Woman,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “The Greatest Live Show On Earth,” 1964. This is Side 1. It runs 14:58. It’s out of print.

Speaking of live shows …

“Well, I’d like to do one for ya now. Ah, hope you enjoy this one. Um, pretty good tune that, uh, has done quite well for a, a lot of artists. But I’m think I’m gonna give it a little treatment here that, that it deserrrrves. I’m gonna throw the old, real, true, down-to-earth, go-gettin’ rock-and-roll beat into this one now. Boy, if you can’t shake it, you better set down because this is one you can really shake it bahyyyy!”

At which point, Jerry Lee and his Memphis Beats tear into …

jerryleelewisbyrequestlp

“Roll Over Beethoven,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “Jerry Lee Lewis: By Request,” 1966. It’s out of print. Recorded live at Panther Hall ballroom in Fort Worth, Texas.

You’ll find both of those live records on “The Greatest Live Shows On Earth,” a 1994 CD.

jerry lee lewis soul my way lp

My friend Larry introduced me to this one over at his mighty Funky 16 Corners blog. It’s probably the best cut on an otherwise ordinary record on which Jerry Lee seems to have lost his way.

“Shotgun Man,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “Soul My Way,” 1967. It’s out of print, but is available on this double CD with “The Return of Rock” LP from 1965.

After turning to country music with some success, Jerry Lee returned to rock with mixed success on some interesting records on the Mercury label in the early ’70s. Here are a couple more rip-roaring covers.

jerry lee lewis killer rocks on lp

“Me and Bobby McGee,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “The Killer Rocks On,” 1972. It’s out of print, but is available on this import CD released in 2004.

jerryleelewissouthernrootslp

“Hold On, I’m Coming,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “Southern Roots: Back Home To Memphis,” 1973. It’s out of print, but is available on an expanded Bear Family import released in 2013.

This is Jerry Lee at his lewdest, his most lascivious, produced by the equally notorious Huey Meaux. Just filthy.

 

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Filed under March 2016, Sounds

Nice records, but no fish tacos

Yesterday was a day that started so promising — I found three nice records in just a few minutes of digging — but ended in minor disappointment. The place we go for fish tacos has closed.

There was nothing disappointing about the digging at Half-Price Books, a place I occasionally go. It has a bunch of vinyl that even if half-priced still tends to be overpriced. Digging there tends to be all or nothing, Sydney or the bush.

Our corner of Wisconsin rarely yields Clarence Carter records, so it was delightful to come across “Testifyin’,” his second LP, from 1969.

“Back Door Santa,” one of the naughtiest Christmas songs ever laid to vinyl, is on here, albeit with a different drum intro than the one sampled by Run-D.M.C. on “Christmas In Hollis.” “Snatching It Back” and “Making Love (At The Dark End Of The Street” were the singles off this record, and rightly so.

But I’m digging another tune.

“Instant Reaction,” Clarence Carter, from “Testifyin’,” 1969. It’s out of print but is available digitally.

It’s said to be one of five great black bubble gum classics not influenced by the Jackson 5. As always, you be the judge. It’s certainly upbeat. It’s written by Wayne Carson Thompson, who also wrote the Box Tops’ “Soul Deep” … which Carter also covers on this record.

It must have been something to see and hear a young Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime. This LP, recorded live at the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 1, 1964, certainly lives up to its billing.

It’s the first of two live Jerry Lee records released on Smash. A while back, I found the other one, “By Request,” from 1966. The formula is the same: Rev ’em up with rockers, wind ’em down with a country tune and rev ’em back up.

“Who Will The Next Fool Be,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “The Greatest Live Show On Earth,” 1964. Both live LPs are on this hard-to-find two-fer CD released in 1994.

This is a cover of a Charlie Rich tune, and one appropriate for Jerry Lee.

It did nothing as a single for Rich in the early ’60s, when he was trying to figure out whether he was a rock, country or jazz artist. It barely dented the country charts when he re-released it in 1970. I’ve loved the song ever since hearing the Amazing Rhythm Aces’ cover of it on their “Stacked Deck” LP from 1975.

The third record, for the record, is “Six Silver Strings,” a B.B. King album from 1988.

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Filed under June 2011, Sounds

You eat cannibal. We eat wildcat.

On this St. Patrick’s Day, when we went out for perch — even though corned beef and cabbage were served at the roadhouse where we go for fish — another Wisconsin delicacy was on our minds.

A friend posted this to Facebook last night:

“Time for a couple of cannibal (raw beef, seasoned) sandwiches on onion rye bread and then off to bed.”

Hmmm. Is that something you really want to eat before bed? Is that something you really want to eat? We batted that around on Facebook for a while.

The former question, I guess, is a judgment call. On the latter question, the answer is yes, at least for some of us in Wisconsin. Before we go any further, here’s an instructional video on cannibal sandwiches “Krajewski style.”

This gent used ground round to go with his raw onions, rye bread and black pepper. Our panel of experts suggests ground sirloin — or better yet, ground steak — and either way, the fresher the better. This traditionally is washed down with cold beer. What this gent is doing with vodka and Red Bull, I have no idea.

The ingredients were Part I of the debate.

Part II revolved around what you call it. The elegant name is beef tartar.

My friend, who grew up along Lake Michigan in eastern Wisconsin, calls it cannibal sandwich. So do most of the folks around here, in the shadow of Lambeau Field.

But I was living in central Wisconsin when I was introduced to this delicacy. There, an hour and a half to the west, we call it wildcat. All these years later, I remain a wildcat man, and not a cannibal sandwich man.

There really only is one song for this. And, no, it is not by Total Coelo.

“Meat Man,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “Southern Roots,” 1973. (The buy link is to a two-fer CD also featuring “Boogie Woogie Country Man,” a 1975 LP.)

This wild tune (which I am shocked! shocked! to learn is really is not about meat) was written by Mack Vickery, a longtime Lewis pal and collaborator. He also wrote “Rockin’ My Life Away” for Lewis.

Vickery, an Alabama native, kicked around Memphis in the late ’50s and early ’60s as a singer. He didn’t have much success at that, but he wrote a bunch of hits for country stars in the late ’60s and early ’70s.

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Filed under March 2011, Sounds

Moonlighting again

Just a quick little post to remind you that we also do a bit of business over at a lightly traveled little blog called The Midnight Tracker.

We don’t post there often, but that frequency feels right. It emerges from the haze of time, reviving an old late-night FM radio show on which one side of a new or classic album would be played.

Tonight on The Midnight Tracker, we have a double shot for you. Not only that, it’s a double live shot!

Here’s a little hint of what you’ll find when you head back into the haze of time and spin a couple of LPs from 1966.

Imagine what you get when Jerry Lee Lewis announces from the stage at the end of the record (and presumably the end of the show):

“Well, I’d like to do one for ya now. Ah, hope you enjoy this one. Um, pretty good tune that, uh, has done quite well for a, a lot of artists. But I’m think I’m gonna give it a little treatment here that, that it deserrrrves. I’m gonna throw the old, real, true, down-to-earth, go-gettin’ rock-and-roll beat into this one now. Boy, if you can’t shake it, you better set down because this is one you can really shake it bahyyyy!”

At which point, Jerry Lee and his Memphis Beats tear into …

“Roll Over Beethoven,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “Jerry Lee Lewis: By Request,” 1966. It’s out of print. Recorded live at Panther Hall ballroom in Fort Worth, Texas.

Jerry Lee is just half of that double live shot from 1966. You’ll just have to head over to The Midnight Tracker to see and hear who else we’ve cued up in the midnight hour.

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Filed under October 2010, Sounds