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Lewis, Jerry Lee: Last Man Standing

"50 years ago, Sam Phillips' legendary Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, was the home of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, the founding fathers of rock and roll. Today, Jerry Lee Lewis is the 'last man standing.' "

That (rather morbid) proclamation on the back of Last Man Standing - Jerry Lee Lewis' first new studio album in years - nevertheless sets the mood for 21 old-school tunes performed as duets by Lewis and veteran rock, country, R&B and pop stars. It would probably be too much to expect the ego-centric piano-thumping wild man to record an album of all-new material at age 70 almost 50 years after his first singles, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" and "Great Balls of Fire," bounced out of the Sun studio. So Lewis took a cue from other late-career legends who shared studio time with the artists they influenced. Frank Sinatra did it. Ray Charles did it. Now Jerry Lee Lewis does it.

But hold the cynicism. Lewis opens Last Man Standing with Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll," featuring Jimmy Page on guitar and a new piano-heavy arrangement that redefines the song as a rip-roarin', 1950s boogie gem. While Page's guitar is placed prominently in the mix, other guests aren't so dominant. Bruce Springsteen can barely be heard in the chorus to "Pink Cadillac," and Robbie Robertson also is barely audible on "Twilight." Meanwhile, Kid Rock remains uncharacteristically subdued on a version of the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman." That said, who is the marketing genius that suggested Lewis team with Little Richard for "I Saw Her Standing There" and Ringo Starr for "Sweet Little 16," both of which no doubt will remind alert listeners of Lewis' marriage to a 13-year-old girl in 1958?

Give Lewis credit for choosing songs from these artists' repertoires that aren't necessarily their biggest (or, in some cases, even their own). Lewis handles the majority of vocal duties while also playing the piano sounding more alive and stronger than a 70-year-old man who's lived his life has the right to sound. But Lewis and country legend George Jones do make a blatant concession to growing old on "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age." It's one of the more blatantly honest and moving moments on an album that manages to impress yet overreach at the same time.


Track Listing:
1) Rock and Roll (w/Jimmy Page)
2) Before the Night Is Over (w/B.B. King)
3) Pink Cadillac (w/Bruce Springsteen)
4) Evening Gown (w/Mick Jagger & Ronnie Wood)
5) You Don't Have to Go (w/Neil Young)
6) Twilight (w/Robbie Robertson)
7) Travelin' Band (w/John Fogerty)
8) That Kind of Fool (w/Keith Richards)
9) Sweet Little 16 (w/Ringo Starr)
10) Just A Bummin' Around (w/Merle Haggard)
11) Honky Tonk Woman (w/Kid Rock)
12) What's Made Milwaukee Famous (w/Rod Stewart)
13) Don't Be Ashamed Of Your Age (w/George Jones)
14) A Couple More Years (w/Willie Nelson)
15) Old Glory (w/Toby Keith)
16) Trouble in Mind (w/Eric Clapton)
17) I Saw Her Standing There (w/Little Richard)
18) Lost Highway (w/Delaney Bramlett)
19) Hadacohl Boogie (w/Buddy Guy)
20) The Irish Heart Beat (w/Don Henley)
21) The Pilgrim Ch.33 (w/Kris Kristofferson)

Added: October 1st 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Official Jerry Lee Lewis Web Site
Hits: 2523
Language: english

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